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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Photo Minute: A Lost England? 1870-1930

A Lost England? Incredible black and white photos reveal what life was like for people in the 19th and early 20th centuries and how the issues they faced were not so different than the ones we do today

English flooding is certainly not a new phenomenon, as demonstrated by this archive of photographs
More than 1,200 photographs revealing late 19th and early 20th-century England have been released 
Lost England 1870-1930 shows resemblances between issues we face today and those of 100 years ago

Incredible photos, released for the first time, show what life was like in late 19th and early 20th-century Britain.
More than 1,200 black and white photos are published for the first time together in the book Lost England 1870-1930.
Some of the amazing images show people dealing with the issues we still face today, including flooding in towns and cities.
Others show factory workers, some of them children, lined up and operating huge machinery. 

The British labour force is particularly well documented with stunning photos showing builders working on the Manchester Ship Canal in 1889, traders at Newcastle's Bigg market in 1920 and female munitions factory workers building bombs in 1917.

Iron mongers taking a break 1897

Cunard Shell Works in Birkenhead in 1917. The women are making weapons that were shipped over to France during WWI

Children in a country lane, Dinton, Buckinghamshire, 1904. The child on the left is in a rather basic perambulator, which was thought to be good for the health

J Plater's Cart, Van & Carriage Works in Haddenham, Buckinghamshire in 1903. Young apprentices who are barely 12 years old can be seen working alongside the men 

Construction workers pause to have their picture taken while building the Manchester Ship Canal in 1889

Residents in the aptly named Lake Street in New Hinskey, Oxfordshire deal with flooding in 1890

The Picture House in Liverpool (pictured left in 1912), which has since been demolished. Pictured right in 1891 is Sunderland Town Hall. The building was demolished in 1971 after a controversial £50,000 investment

Women in dark dresses and aprons are pictured working in neat rows at the Cellular Clothing Company factory in Swindon in 1902

Traders at work in Newcastle's Bigg Market in 1920. The Town Hall (pictured centre) was demolished in 1973

Street entertainers with monkey 1887

An interior view of ward six at the Leeds General Infirmary in 1895

More than 1,200 historic photos of Britain are published in Lost England 1870-1930 by Philip Davis 

Story by Rachel Buford

Cronyism will be hallmark of Trump’s economic policy

Infrastructure plan seems a scam to enrich the well connected at taxpayers’ expense

“Why not just have the government do the spending, the way it did when, for example, we built the interstate highway system?”

Steve Bannon, US president-elect Donald Trump’s chief strategist, is a white supremacist and purveyor of fake news. But the other day, in an interview with, um, the Hollywood Reporter, he sounded for a minute like a progressive economist.
“I’m the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan,” he declared. “With negative interest rates throughout the world, it’s the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything.”
So is public investment an area in which progressives and the incoming Trump administration can find common ground? Some people, including Bernie Sanders, seem to think so.
But remember that we’re dealing with a president-elect whose business career is one long trail of broken promises and outright scams – someone who just paid $25 million to settle fraud charges against his “university”.

Fraudulent plan
Given that history, you always have to ask whether he’s offering something real or simply engaged in another con job. In fact, you should probably assume that it’s a scam until proven otherwise. And we already know enough about his infrastructure plan to suggest, strongly, that it’s basically fraudulent, that it would enrich a few well-connected people at taxpayers’ expense while doing very little to cure our investment shortfall.

Progressives should not associate themselves with this exercise in crony capitalism. To understand what’s going on, it may be helpful to start with what we should be doing. The federal government can indeed borrow very cheaply; meanwhile, we really need to spend money on everything from sewage treatment to transit.
The indicated course of action, then, is simple: borrow at those low, low rates, and use the funds raised to fix what needs fixing. But that’s not what the Trump team is proposing. Instead, it’s calling for huge tax credits: billions of dollars in cheques written to private companies that invest in approved projects, which they would end up owning.

For example, imagine a private consortium building a toll road for $1 billion. Under the Trump plan, the consortium might borrow $800 billion while putting up $200 million in equity – but it would get a tax credit of 82 per cent of that sum, so that its actual outlays would only be $36 million. And any future revenue from tolls would go to the people who put up that $36 million.

There are three questions you should immediately ask. First, why do it this way? Why not just have the government do the spending, the way it did when, for example, we built the interstate highway system?
It’s not as if the feds are having trouble borrowing. And while involving private investors may create less upfront government debt than a more straightforward scheme, the eventual burden on taxpayers will be every bit as high if not higher. Second, how is this scheme supposed to deal with infrastructure needs that can’t be turned into profit centres?

Gratuitous handout
Our top priorities should include things such as repairing levees and cleaning up hazardous waste; where’s the revenue stream? Maybe the government can promise to pay fees in perpetuity, in effect “renting” the repaired levee or waterworks – but that makes it even clearer that we’re basically engaged in a gratuitous handout to select investors.

Third, what reason do we have to believe that this scheme will generate new investment, as opposed to repackaging things that would have happened anyway? For example, many cities will have to replace their water systems in the years ahead, one way or another; if that replacement takes place under the Trump scheme rather than through ordinary government investment, we haven’t built additional infrastructure, we’ve just privatised what would have been public assets – and the people acquiring those assets will have paid just 18 cents on the dollar, with taxpayers picking up the rest of the tab.

Again, all of this is unnecessary. If you want to build infrastructure, build infrastructure. It’s hard to see any reason for a roundabout, indirect method that would offer a few people extremely sweet deals, and would therefore provide both the means and the motive for large-scale corruption. Or maybe I should say, it’s hard to see any reason for this scheme unless the inevitable corruption is a feature, not a bug.
Now, the Trump people could make all my suspicions look foolish by scrapping the private-investor, tax-credits aspect of their proposal and offering a straightforward programme of public investment. And if they were to do that, progressives should indeed work with them on that issue. But it’s not going to happen.

Cronyism and self-dealing are going to be the central theme of this administration – in fact, Trump is already meeting foreigners to promote his business interests. And people who value their own reputations should take care to avoid any kind of association with the scams ahead.
Paul Krugman

A sobering Yuletide tail... a dog is for life, not just for Christmas

Toys cover a stop sign for a new Dogs Trust campaign which highlights the plight of the horrendous conditions on Puppy Farms. Pic: Fran Veale

WHAT’S that they say: “I wish I was the person my dog thinks I am”? And little wonder because there is, quite possibly, no better feeling than the one that washes over you when a dog comes charging out to greet you at the front door.
There is no love like the love of a dog. They are always glad to see you. They don’t care what you look like, what you’re wearing or how clever you are and, for the most part – aren’t there always exceptions? – they’ll shower you with unquestioning, unconditional love. What harm, if it’s a little spittle-tinged and messy.
Better still, they provide a wonderful example of how to live life in the present tense. You don’t have to look any further to see what living in the moment looks like. The rapturous welcome is followed by the Dance of Ecstasy when you put some dried pellets into a plastic bowl. Though, that’s nothing compared to the gushing excitement that comes when there’s the slightest hint of a walk.

They also have a knack of finding the sunniest spot in the garden, the comfiest spot on the sofa and the tastiest crumb on the kitchen floor, though I don’t begrudge them the latter.
Dogs have also made me realise that I’ve completely missed the point of slippers. The human tendency to wear them on stockinged feet seems terribly unimaginative after seeing what a Jack Russell can do with them. It turns out that they are the perfect prop for that great game – pull, tug, then shake the living daylights out of the furry-animal substitute. (Warning: real slippers may be harmed in the making of this merriment).

No wonder it seems like a good idea to add a canine to the household at Christmas. What better way to light up a child’s face than putting a furry ball of wriggliness under the tree on Christmas morning. The thought of a little mouth curling into a wonder-filled ‘O’ as it takes in the sight of a pug in a Santa hat would melt the hardest heart.

But please don’t be tempted to do it. The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) and other wonderful organisations, such as Dogs Trust, warn every year that dogs are for life, not just for Christmas.
I’d go even further than that and say that they shouldn’t be bought at Christmas at all. The festive season is not the time to bring a new dog into your home, particularly if you have children.
Parents may be under immense pressure to allow Santa bring a puppy. Heaven knows, that’s not easy. As a child, I remember starting my campaign for a dog around July. If truth be told, it was more like a war of attrition: my mother nicknamed me the ‘steamroller’, though she was well able to withstand the attempt to flatten her resolve.

And hard though it is to admit, mother did know best. She knew only too well that the contract between human and dog is not one to be entered into lightly. At Christmas, there are far too many distractions. Just where are you going to fit ‘house-train puppy’ into a schedule packed with parties, visiting relatives, family meals and get-togethers?
‘Cute’ doesn’t go very far when your bare foot steps into puppy wee – or worse – on the kitchen floor on St Stephen’s Day, or you realise that the leg of your favourite chair has suddenly got teeth marks in it.
Dogs are very, very smart and can do wonderful things when trained but that takes time, commitment – and money. Patience, too, of course. Anyone who has found themselves with a distracted dog in the dog obedience class will know that but, hey, no tales out of schools (about canines – or humans).

Honor, a springer spaniel who was rescued from a puppy farm and subsequently rehomed by Dogs Trust. Picture: Fran Veale 

The point is that dogs are an utterly joyful addition to a household, but they need time, training, company and lots of exercise.
They will also cost you an estimated €10,000 over a lifetime, according to Dogs Trust.
The dog welfare charity has just launched a campaign (#stopkeepingmum) to highlight the plight of dogs in puppy farms. As part of its annual ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’ initiative, it is asking people who are thinking of buying a dog to always ask to see the mother first to ensure that they are not buying from a puppy farm.

At a time when so many families are homeless and so many migrants are facing an uncertain future, it might seem a little indulgent to be talking about the welfare of dogs, but conditions at those farms are horrendous.
Dogs Trust says dogs are used as breeding machines, producing litter after litter, often in shocking conditions and without any interaction with humans or dogs.
The demand for so-called ‘designer’ dogs has made things even worse. The trend to own dogs that look impossibly cute, like some kind of living teddy bear, fuels the puppy farming trade.
Crossing purebreds also has huge ethical and health implications. Such dogs can have physical and behavioural problems because of poor breeding and transport conditions.

Then, there are those awful made-up names: yorkipoo, schnoodle, maltipoo, puggle, cockapoo? Seriously, that’s far too many poos for comfort, though I suppose that’s the least of it.
What’s really disconcerting right now is the sharp increase in the number of puppies being advertised online.
If you are going to buy a dog this Christmas, at least take the advice of the dog-welfare experts and make sure you are not inadvertently supporting puppy farms. How you can do that is spelled out in detail by the Irish Pet Advertising Advisory Group (

If you can wait, get in touch with one of the great organisations rehoming dogs in the New Year and give an abandoned dog a home. Doing just that was one of the very best things we did in 2016.
Clodagh Finn