Stephen Hawking once made a terrifying prediction, claiming ‘Stupidity and greed will kill off humans’
It is that stupidity and greed, we see reflected in the politicians of today.
Forget artificial intelligence and nuclear war, Professor Stephen Hawking sensationally warned it will be humans’ stupidity and greed that will usher in the end of time.
In 2016 Hawking was reminiscing with US TV legend Larry King about an interview the two held six years previously in which Prof Hawking lamented the population growth and said that people need to be more careful.
Professor Hawking said: “Six years ago, I was warning about pollution and overcrowding, they have gotten worse since then. The population has grown by half a billion since our last interview, with no end in sight.
“Air pollution has increased over the past five years,” he said. “More than 80% of inhabitants of urban areas are exposed to unsafe levels of air pollution.”
Towards the end of his life in a discussion, held at the Starmus science conference in Tenerife, the Oxford-born author echoed similar sentiments and argued that the situation has in fact gotten worse.
Speaking at the Starmus science conference in Tenerife, themed that year as a tribute to his life’s work. The cosmologist said:
“The increase in air pollution and the emission of increasing levels of carbon dioxide. Will we be too late to avoid dangerous levels of global warming?”
Professor Hawking went on to outline his concerns about the future of artificial intelligence technologies, and specifically their primary use in weaponry.
He said: “Governments seem to be engaged in an AI arms race, designing planes and weapons with intelligent technologies. The funding for projects directly beneficial to the human race, such as improved medical screening, seems a somewhat lower priority.
Yet Hawkins put both ‘stupidity and greed’ at the top of the danger list and it is clear to see why. While MPs, Lords and even governments are open to the corruption of greed, the planet and people will always come a distant second.
It is greed that allows a member of parliament to Lobby, it is ‘greed’ that motivates most to take a second job, let’s face it with a basic of £80k plus a year, it is hardly the fact they need to cover their utility bills, or at least not yet.
The insatiable greed of politicians
Mahatma Gandhi’s famous quote stating that there are enough resources to meet human needs, but not enough to meet human greed, was never more true.
Globally, in their quest for money, political leaders and their minions have wrecked up the financial system, destroyed the value of money, which is the foundation of a capitalist society, and created innumerable conflicts which have displaced millions and generated hatred. Some things never change.
So far, economic problems are solved by creating fiat money and throwing it into the world. The central banks, egged on by political leaders, keep trying this remedy despite an unproven link to desired results, viz, economic growth and job creation.
But through all this nothing is more apparent than the self-serving rabble we call politicians who use their positions as public representatives to create their own fiefdoms of greed, stupidity and corruption.
While the world is pillaged of its resources and forcing temperatures up, the “blah blah blah” of COP26 boils down to their only concern, their only question about the imminent danger of climate change, ‘what’s in it for me?‘
Even the Green new deal has to make economic sense and a big fat profit. Nothing will be done for the sake of the planet, the balance will be counted in banknotes, not an ecological partnership.
At present UK citizens have little opportunity to understand who is lobbying whom, for what purpose and with what funds.
They just can’t get enough
Political reporter Sophie Morris pulled together a list of parliamentarians showing which MPs have worked as consultants?
Data compiled by openDemocracy suggests that MPs have earned at least £6m from second jobs since the start of the pandemic.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid stood down from his £150,000 a year consultancy role at JP Morgan when he took up his new cabinet position, a sum he was paid for 80 to 96 hours of work a year – an average hourly rate of between £1,562.50 and £1,875.
But some MPs’ continue to earn six figures from their second jobs. There is no suggestion of wrongdoing.
• Andrew Mitchell: When added up, Conservative MP and former international development secretary Mr Mitchell earns over £180,000 per year working for firms including investment companies Investec, SouthBridge and Kingsley Capital Partners, along with accountants Ernst & Young and consultants Montrose Associates. The work totals 32.5 days. Averaged, the rate works out at in the region of £5,500 per day.
• Julian Smith: Conservative MP and former Northern Ireland secretary earns £144,000 per year from three companies including a hydrogen distributions company. The workload totals up to 84 hours. If all 84 hours were used, Mr Smith worked at an average rate of £1,714.28 an hour. If the fewest number of 64 hours’ work were completed, Mr Smith earned at an average rate of £2,250 an hour.
• Chris Grayling: Conservative MP and former transport secretary Mr Grayling earns £100,000 a year from Hutchison Ports Europe – which operates ports and terminals in over 26 countries – for 336 hours work. The rate works out at £297.62 an hour.
• Conor Burns: The Conservative MP for Bournemouth West received £120,000 for 40 hours of consultancy work for Trant Engineering Ltd. The rate works out at £3,000 per hour.
Those earning less than £100,000 per year from second jobs include:
• Sir Graham Brady – Conservative MP and chairman of the 1922 group of backbench Tory MPs Sir Graham declared £10,000 per annum for “about 3 hours a quarter” of work for Snowshill Allied Holdings Ltd. The rate works out at £833.33 an hour.
• Andrew Bridgen – The Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire earned £12,000 per annum for “an expected monthly commitment of 8 hours” of work as an adviser to Mere Plantations Ltd – totalling 96 hours at a rate of £125 an hour.
• Steve Brine – The Conservative MP for Winchester earned a total of £58,392 for 288 hours of work as an adviser to healthcare recruitment company Remedium Partners (£19,200 per annum for 96 hours), Microlink PC (UK)(£19,200 per annum for 96 hours) and pharmaceuticals company Sigma (£19,992 per annum for 96 hours). Averaged, it works out at a rate of £202.75 per hour of work.
• Alun Cairns – Conservative MP for Vale of Glamorgan and former minister Mr Cairns earned a total of £60,000 for up to 224 hours of work advising global life science and diagnostic company BBI Group (£15,000 per annum for up to 70 hours), private hire transport company Veezu Holdings (£15,000 per annum for up to 70 hours) and global property investment firm Elite Partners Capital Pte (30,000 per annum for up to 84 hours). The average rate works out at £267.86 per hour.
• Sir Ed Davey – According to the register of members’ financial interests, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed earned £60,000 for 72 hours of work as a “consultant on political issues and policy analysis” for Herbert Smith Freehills and £18,000 per annum for 48 hours of work as a member of the advisory board of Next Capital Energy – a firm in the international solar sector. It works out at £78,000 for 120 hours of work, an average rate of £650 per hour.
• Philip Davies – Conservative MP for Shipley earned £12,000 per annum for between 60 and 120 hours of work as a parliamentary adviser on pawnbroking to the National Pawnbroking Association. If 120 hours were worked, Mr Davies worked at a rate of £100 an hour. If the fewest number of 60 hours were worked, Mr Davies worked at a rate of £200 an hour.
• David Davis – Former cabinet minister Mr Davis earned £33,900 per annum for 16 hours of work for German investment company THI Holdings GMbH and £16,948 per annum for 168 hours of chairing the supervisory board of German property company 15 Verwaltungs AG. It totals £50,848 for 184 hours of per work at an average rate of £276.35 per hour.
• Sir Iain Duncan Smith – The former Conservative Party leader earned £20,000 per annum for 30 hours of work on the international advisory board of Tunstall Health Group and £25,000 per annum for 144 hours work at Byotrol Technology Ltd. It works out as a total of £45,000 for 174 hours of work in a year, an average rate of £258.62 per hour.
• Ruth Edwards – The Conservative MP for Rushcliffe earned £60,000 per annum for 192 hours of work for HR software company MHR International Ltd. It works out at a rate of £312.50 per hour.
• Ben Everitt – The Conservative MP for Milton Keynes North earned £15,000 per annum for 60 to 80 hours of advisory work to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. This works out at a rate of £187.50 per hour if 80 hours were worked, or £250 if 60 hours were worked.
• Richard Fuller – Conservative MP for North East Bedfordshire Mr Fuller earned £20,000 per annum for 48 hours of work as an advisory director of venture capital company Investcorp Securities. The rate works out at £416.66 an hour. Mr Fuller has also received an additional £29,900 for 19 hours of work in 2021 so far.
• Mark Garnier – The Conservative MP for Wyre Forest earned £60,000 per annum for 120 hours of work as a member of the advisory board of start-up satellite company Laser Light Communications and £30,000 per hour for 120 hours of work chairing the advisory board of the Shetland Space Centre. It totals £90,000 for 240 hours of work, at an average rate of £375 an hour.
• Damian Green – The Conservative MP for Ashford earned £40,000 per annum for 288 hours of work as a consultant on rail policy to Abellio Transport Holdings. It works out at a rate of £138.89 per hour.
• Stephen Hammond – The Conservative MP for Wimbledon earned £60,000 per annum for 50 to 100 hours of work acting as a strategic adviser to investment company Darwin Alternative Investments. If 100 hours of work were completed, Mr Hammond earned at a rate of £600 per hour. If the fewest number of 50 hours were worked, Mr Hammond’s hourly rate works out at £1,200.
• Sir John Hayes – The Conservative MP for South Holland and The Deepings earned £50,000 per annum for between 80 and 90 hours work as a strategic adviser to international energy company BB Energy Trading. It works out at an average hourly rate of between £555 and £625.
• Daniel Kawczynski – The Conservative MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham earned £36,000 per annum for 360 hours of consultancy work for US mining company The Electrum – at a rate of £100 per hour.
• Sir Greg Knight – The Conservative MP for East Yorkshire earned £16,000 per annum for 108 hours of work for Cambridge and Counties Bank Ltd at a rate of £148.15 per hour.
• Andrew Lewer – The Conservative MP for Northampton South earned £4,800 per annum for 48 hours of work as a consultant providing public policy advice to Drakelow Development Holdings Ltd. The sum works out at a rate of £100 per hour.
• Tim Loughton – The Conservative MP for East Worthing and Shoreham earned £37,000 per annum for 144 hours of work as an adviser to the board of the Outcomes First Group – which provides care for vulnerable young people. The sum equates to £256.95 per hour.
• Paul Maynard – The Conservative MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys earned £6,250 per annum for 32 hours of work for cash machines company Link Scheme Ltd. His register of interests states the sum was paid directly to charity.
• Sir Bob Neill – Conservative MP and chairman of the Justice Select Committee Sir Bob earned £12,000 per annum for 72 hours consultancy work to property and business firm the Substantia Group and £7,500 per annum for 10 hours work advising the Mason Charitable Foundation. It works out at a total of £19,500 for 82 hours work – an average hourly rate of £237.80.
• Andrew Percy – Conservative MP for Brigg and Goole Mr Percy earned £36,000 per annum for 72 hours of work as a member of Canadian clean energy company Iogen Corporation’s advisory board. Mr Percy worked at an hourly rate of £500.
• John Redwood – The Conservative MP for Wokingham earned £5,000 per annum for 12 hours work as a member of the advisory board of Epic Private Equity – an hourly rate of £416.66.
• Laurence Robertson – The Conservative MP for Tewkesbury earned £24,000 per annum for 120 hours of work as a parliamentary adviser on sport and safer gambling to the Betting and Gaming Council – an hourly rate of £200.
• Dean Russell – The Conservative MP for Watford earned £2,100 for 30 hours of work providing consultancy on marketing and training content for business provider EPIFNY Consulting – an hourly rate of £70.
• Chris Skidmore – Conservative MP for Kingswood and former universities minister Mr Skidmore earns £10,000 per annum for 48 to 96 hours of work on the advisory board for Oxford International Education Group. His hourly rate is between £104 and £208.
• Royston Smith – The Conservative MP for Southampton, Itchen earned £18,000 for 90 hours of consultancy work for Barker Mill Estates – an hourly rate of £200.
What other jobs do MPs have?
Other MPs receive financial payments for providing legal aid:
One of the MPs who have recently earned the most aside from their set salary is former attorney general Sir Geoffrey Cox, who according to the members’ register of interests, has received more than £900,000 since the beginning of 2020 for providing legal services.
Sir Geoffrey has declared work as a barrister, including receiving £400,000 annually for “up to 41 hours a month” of work as a “consultant global counsel” for the legal firm Withers LLP.
The sum was declared on the day of the Commons emergency debate on standards and equates to £813 per hour based on 41 hours of work completed.
Sir Geoffrey has been an MP since 2005, but a barrister since 1982, and has continued to provide legal services throughout his time in Parliament.
Sir Keir Starmer
Labour are facing accusations of hypocrisy given the past activities of its leader, Sir Keir Starmer.
Entries in the MPs’ Register of Interests for 2015/2016 show Labour’s leader earning just under £200,000 from outside legal work.
In recent days, Starmer has argued for the rules around second jobs to be tightened. He may have to answer some uncomfortable questions about his past conduct if Labour hopes to capitalise on the ongoing sleaze row.
Starmer, Keir (Holborn and St Pancras)
1. Employment and earnings
Payments for legal advice given before 2020:
31 July 2020, received £927.50. Hours: approx. 4 hrs. (Registered 21 August 2020)
13 August 2020, received £14,130. Hours: approx. 50 hrs. (Registered 21 August 2020)
7 December 2020, received £2,399.58. Hours: approx. 10 hrs. (Registered 23 December 2020)
16 December 2020, received £5,936. Hours: approx. 25 hrs. (Registered 23 December 2020)
According to his register of interests, the Labour leader earned £23,393 for giving 89 hours of legal advice prior to being elected as head of the party in 2020.
The sum averages an hourly rate of £262.84.
Some MPs receive funds for their work as medical professionals:
• Rosena Allin-Khan: The Labour MP for Tooting is a trained doctor and completes regular shifts at St George’s Hospital NHS Trust in London. Ms Allin-Khan has earned between £268.96 for a four-hour shift and £672.40 for a 10.5-hour shift. From 1 April 2020 and 3 March 2021, Ms Allin-Khan registered 21 shifts, earning her a total of £10,627.36 – an average shift rate of £506
• Maria Caulfield: The Conservative MP for Lewes works as a registered nurse at the Royal Marsden Hospital. Between 23 March 2018 and 15 March 2019, Ms Caulfield has registered eight shifts ranging from £156.47 for 8 hours’ work and £243.81 for 25 hours’ work. Ms Caulfield has earned a total of £1,374.80 for 93 hours’ work – an average hourly rate of £14.78.
• Nadia Whittome: The Labour MP for Nottingham East went back to her former role as a care worker during the pandemic, earning £468.12 for 54 hours of work, an average hourly wage of £8.66. Ms Whittome’s register of interests states that payments, net of tax, were donated to charity.
• Sir Paul Beresford: The Conservative MP for Mole Valley is a part-time dental surgeon at his own dental practice, receiving £500 a month for “up to 300 hours a year” – an average hourly rate of £20.
Others have earned money for giving speeches, making media appearances and for entertainment purposes:
• David Lammy: Labour’s justice secretary David Lammy has earned £32,975 from 15 speeches on black history, inclusion and equality between October 2020 and July 2021 – an average of £2,198.33 per speech. Mr Lammy also hosts a show on LBC, and between 25 September 2020 and 24 September 2021 earned £35,460 for presenting 44 shows – an average rate of £805.90 per show.
• Kevin Brennan: The Labour MP for Cardiff West earned £5,540 for performing as part of Parliamentary rock band “MP4” in 2018.
• Jess Phillips: The Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley received £15,824 for editing a publication, writing articles and speaking on talk shows and events between October 2017 and May 2020.
There are also MPs who hold additional local government positions:
• Dan Jarvis: The Labour MP for Barnsley Central is also the Metro Mayor of Sheffield City Region and earns £79,000 a year for this role – which it is estimated requires 120 hours of work a month. The sum equates to £6,583 a month or an average of £54.85 an hour. Mr Jarvis says in his register of interests: “This money is used to support good causes.”
• Ben Bradley: The Conservative MP for Mansfield has also been a local councillor for Nottinghamshire County Council over the last few years, earning £14,613 a year for his work – £1,217.75 a month – since April 2019. Completing 10 hours’ work a week, Mr Bradley has received an average hourly rate of £121.77. Since the last register of interests was compiled, Mr Bradley was elected leader of Nottinghamshire County Council and will have received a significant pay rise alongside his new position.
Some politicians and campaigners are calling for MPs to face tougher lobbying rules which could mean that they are not allowed to receive a secondary income.
At present, MPs are paid a basic salary of £81,932 – but can earn more if they are ministers, the chair of a committee or the Speaker.
Another point of contention is how second jobs could be assessed. For example, being a minister counts as a second job – so could work funded by the state be accepted?
Other options could include MPs facing a cap on how much they can earn outside of their role as an MP or being limited to a certain range of industries that they can lawfully accept payment for completing work within – such as writing a book, for example.
And some have raised concerns that prohibiting any member to have a second stream of income could affect those sitting MPs who also work as medical professionals in order to keep their licenses.
Meanwhile, others worry that a total ban on outside work could severely diminish the quality of candidates wanting to become MPs.
Chris Bryant, the Labour MP who chairs the cross-party Commons Standards Committee which found Mr Paterson guilty of an “egregious” breach of the ban on paid lobbying by MPs, cautioned against a rush to change.
“I don’t think we should leap into making sudden changes. One of my principles is that the government should stay clear of independent disciplinary processes,” he told Sky News.