And about time too.
I wish I had a link to the actual Agenda.
Friday, 31 August 2007
And about time too.
Per The Independent, Andy Burnham, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: "Increased taxes on motoring, holidays and household fuel bills will hit every person hard. It is the latest evidence of David Cameron's massive lurch to the right."
Honestly, it's hard to say who's the bigger twat here, DC with his muddled and mixed up tax policies or the Nulab MP.
Probably the Nulab MP. I guess the Green Party would love to see higher taxes on motoring and so on. Does that mean that the Green Party have made a lurch to the right?
My letter in today's FT.
Says it all, really.
Posted by Mark Wadsworth at 09:48
Thursday, 30 August 2007
Jacqui Lait (that's French for 'milk'), Tory housing spokeswoman, is there to represent the interests of home-owners in the South East by ensuring a very restricted supply of housing, thus (hopefully) maintaining prices at their current ridiculous levels.
Of course, this is at the expense of people who would love to move to higher-wage areas; of businesses in the South East who would love to have more potential customers and employees; of farmers in the South East who would love to sell off an acre of farmland for £millions for residential; and of home-builders who would love to build homes.
But sod them! Oh no, we can't put it as crudely as that. Quick! Think of an excuse, ah, yes, I've got it, say we are trying to prevent 'urban sprawl'!
Jesus H F***!! Everything was forests a thousand years ago, then we chopped them down and had fields, then we built houses (and supporting infrastructure) and then our population grew and then we built more houses (and more supporting infrastructure). I live in a house in East London that may have been 'urban sprawl' a century ago when it was built, which has quadrupled in value over the last ten years.
What right do I (as a home owner in the South East) have to deny the priced-out generation the same opportunity? Either we build loads of flats in cities ("overcrowding") or we build family homes with decent sized gardens at the edge of towns ("urban sprawl").
Update - Jonathan Guthrie of the FT says much the same in today's Notebook, but in a slightly more light-hearted manner (scroll down to "Get off my land").
Wednesday, 29 August 2007
Bastards, absolute f***ing bastards.
That's all, really.
Tuesday, 28 August 2007
"A third of UK’s biggest businesses pay no tax" is the headline in today's FT.
Er, read the article before you write the headline, a third of them pay no corporation tax (by fair means or foul).
Let's put discussions of economic incidence of taxes to one side for now, and whether tax treatment of equity and loans should be harmonised, in terms of collecting, administering and handing over the money, UK plc pays about three times as much in VAT (£80 bn), Employer's NIC (£40 bn), Business Rates (£20 bn) and fuel duties, tobacco and alcohol duties etc as it does in corporation tax (£50 bn).
That's even ignoring PAYE income tax and Employees' National Insurance, which would make it about six times as much.
So the comment in a more detailed article on page 3 that a "study by [total tossers] PwC ... showed that, for every pound of corporation tax, companies pay a pound in other business taxes" is miles off the f***ing mark as well.
I am disappointed to see the MSM trotting out this bit fat f***ing lie:
"The government has introduced free nursery education for all three-year-olds"
What actually happens is, if you have a child aged 3 to 5, you can choose between
a) up to one session of 3 hours (or is it two-and-a-half?) free nursery per day (not 15 hours per week!), or
b) about £7.50 per day (not £37 per week!) in nursery vouchers to be used at whatever private nursery you like.
Remember that an average full time nursery place costs £150-plus per week.
Finally, my little girl's nursery told me that they are discouraged from actually teaching them anything e.g. writing, so it's hardly f***ing surprising thay none of this has made any difference.
Monday, 27 August 2007
Tell me, what's more intelligent, "Wango Tango", the best song from Ted Nugent's otherwise pretty indifferent album of 1980, or quangoes complaining that 75% of their budgets are being swallowed by the cost of complying with burdens imposed by other quangoes?*
* Link pinched from Tim W
Sunday, 26 August 2007
Just returned from an afternoon out at the Epping-Ongar railway with extended family.
Pointless, but totally 100% enjoyable and relaxing, just like anything to do with old, privately run diesel and steam trains halfway into the countryside.
You've got to admire scientists, getting excited over stuff like this.
Friday, 24 August 2007
Not posted much recently as I managed to slice off quarter of a fingernail with a Stanley knife a couple of days ago, which makes typing rather painful.
Highlights so far:
1. Local GP receptionist ignores you for five minutes while filling in a twatty form and then say "Sorry, the nurse is busy, go to A&E instead"
2. To get seen at A&E (at 11 in the morning) you have to go through security (who sends you to reception), a receptionist (who sends you to yet another receptionist), who in turn asks "where did the accident happen?". I was still in shock and couldn't think of anything witty so I answered honestly.
3. After one hour, a nurse takes off my plaster and says "Ooh, that looks nasty, go and take a seat in reception, we can see you in one hour"
4. After about an hour, a doctor has another look and says "Ooh, that looks nasty, we'd better stick a bandage on". The same nurse comes back in and puts a bandage on and gives me a tenanus shot, which didn't hurt at all but started throbbing like crazy a few hours later.
5. Went back to local GP today to have bandage changed. As cute as a button that nurse!
6. On way out of GP's surgery, notice pile of 6-page glossy "England goes smoke free" leaflets translated into 22 different languages (I counted). Jesus H F***. Is this really necessary?
7. Oh yes, my local hospital consists of half a dozen buildings set in about a dozen acres of prime East London (plenty of grassy areas &c). The whole damn' site is a giant 'no smokin' zone. Off the top of my head, even if only 100 people who work there smoke five fags per shift, that wastes about 5,000 man hours per year (because they have to walk all the way to the exit at either end of said site). Times say 1,000 such hospitals in UK makes 5 million wasted man-hours per year, total cost £150 million.
Thanks to Lawrence, waiting for a bandage to be changed because his GP's nurse was on holiday and the GP couldn't be arsed to hire a locum, for helping me while away the time.
Wednesday, 22 August 2007
What a f***ing slick PR operation!
It's only a matter of time until they apologise for the retraction and so on.
That said, UKIP have failed miserably to capitalise on this whole 'deportation being blocked by an EU Directive' debacle, I know the MSM like to ignore them but there's not even anything on their website.
Tuesday, 21 August 2007
This press release got big coverage on yesterday's BBC news.
Apparently, "On average, between one and two children are killed by their parents or carers every week. This has not reduced for the past thirty years..."
That sounds like a low and stable level of violence to me, out of twelve million or so kids in this country, your chances of dying this way are 0.0075% in the first 15 years of your life. So why come up with a long list of airy-fairy solutions to an impossible problem? "Raising awareness"? What sort of crap is that?
To put it another way, your chances of being murdered by a parent are about one-third of the chance of being killed in a traffic accident (156 deaths in 2005). Seeing as a further 3,500 children are seriously injured, maybe that is something that we should be concentrating on, you can actually do things to reduce this even further.
Well what a blinding f***ing insight, how come nobody else thought of that?
So why do we have a welfare system that actively encourages single motherhood? Those stories about single mothers losing around £11,000 p.a. in benefits if they start a relationship are all perfectly founded in fact.
Update - there would also appear to be a correlation between the number of divorces and the number of 'violence against the person offences' (scroll down to page 56 of pdf or page 42 of the printed version, column 2). Quite what is cause and what is effect is a whole 'nother topic.
Every year, a think tank called Economic Research Council goes through the list of 'Public Bodies' and tots up how much they cost.
The headline figure of £167 bn p.a. that has been widely touted is not just running costs; about half of that is just education or health spending that has been reclassified.
But half of £167 bn is still plenty, enough to get rid of VAT or the super-tax on employment income (aka "National Insurance")!
An easier way of guesstimating waste and overspending in public sector is to look at number of employees in "Public admin, education and health" here. The number went up from 6.5 million in 1997 to 8.2 million by end of 2005.
So that's 1.7 million ripe for sacking (plus however many were already surplus back in 1997), let's say average cost per employee £50,000 (including salary, plus 30% for pension promise, plus overheads, office space, telephone). I make that an easy saving of £85 billion per annum.
Which ties in with the figure of one-half of £167 bn.
I thought we'd agreed on this, foreign criminals ought to be deported?
But our judges consider themselves above the law, sense of common decency, public duty etc.
Plus this sort of thing will go to appeal and counter appeal. Thus generating loads of lovely taxpayer funded income for barristers acting for State or Criminal.
Bastards, bastards, bastards.
Sunday, 19 August 2007
From today's Observer*
"Labour highlighted a series of green taxes that would be needed to fund Redwood's proposed £21bn tax cuts if the Tories want to avoid cuts in public spending. They include ... imposing VAT on the building of new homes, raising £7.7bn, adding £35,000 to the cost of a £200,000 new home"
This is complete and utter bollocks, of course.
Think about it ... most people are indifferent between buying a new home or a 'second hand' home. Eighty per cent of sales each year are of 'second hand' homes. There has to be an equilibrium between prices for new and second hand. Builders would not be able to put up the price of a new home to £35,000 unless people put up the prices of second hand homes by the same amount.
The prices that people can pay for properties are dictated by what they can afford, in other words the market. So the selling price of a new home would stay at £200,000 and the builder will have to absorb £35,000 VAT into his overheads. Builders will only build if they can make a profit out of it, so the one "made up" figure in the property market, pure land values for sites with planning permission will go down by £35,000.
Seeing as residential building land is currently worth about £1.5 million per acre on average in the UK (up from pretty much nothing in the mid-1990s), putting VAT on new homes would be a very good idea. It would hurt neither householders nor builders, it would raise money to pay for cuts in more damaging taxes and be borne by landowners who do f*** all for the economy.
Of course I am sick and tired of this 'green tax' crap as well, different topic.
*Thanks to Christina Speight for alerting me to this in one of her round robin emails.
From yesterday's Times:
"Three young swimmers were prevented from using their local pool because they were wearing the wrong type of trunks. Marc S, 13, his brother Ryan, 12, and cousin Eliot L, 12, were told to change out of their knee-length shorts for health and safety reasons by officials at Harlow Pool in Essex... Marc and Ryan’s mother, telephoned the pool and was told that long shorts could hamper weaker swimmers".
Of course, elsewhere on Planet Stupid, other swimming pools are having Muslim-only days, at which "men wear shorts which hide the navel and extend below the knee. Women wear a swimming costume that covers their body from the neck down to the ankle. There are separate sessions for men and women".
Are they completely stark staring f***ing mad?
Or am I mad for thinking that they are mad?
Scroll down to the very end of this and this for original articles.
Friday, 17 August 2007
Per Q&A over on BBC website:
"George Osborne: I want to simplify taxation and move towards a lower, flatter tax system. In a mature economy like the UK, moving directly to a "pure" flat tax would not in practice be viable. That said, many of the features of flatter taxes, such as simplicity and stability, can and should be actively pursued"
It is the poorest who pay the highest marginal rates of tax. Does he not realise that our system is not 'mature' it is 'manure'?
If you are sticking to fiscally neutral systems, you could go for flat 38% tax and £11,000 personal allowance (Bow Group Report) or you could be a bit braver and go for flat 33% tax and £9,000 personal allowance (UKIP flat tax). Or scrap the entire welfare system and have a Universal Benefit of £57 per week and tax everything at 33% without a personal allowance (Citizen's Income Trust).
Everybody can make up their own system - a Universal Benefit of £100 and a flat tax rate of about 45% works as well. Or scrap all benefit and old age pensions and get rid of income tax entirely. Let's have that argument.
Sure there'd be winners and losers under any of these schemes, there always will be, but stand up for what you believe in.
George Osborne has the courage of a fucking drunken hamster facing an alligator.
No idea whether these allegations are true, but assuming they are, then it should be a) him, b) our welfare system and c) the European Parliament with its all pervading whiff of corruption that takes the blame.
Not UKIP; "Subsequent to our discovering the truth, Mr Mote was immediately removed from the party and never took his seat as a UKIP MEP".
1. Scrap Inheritance Tax. Agreed. I've covered this before.
2. Scrap CGT on assets held for more than ten years. Nope, just scrap it. Scrap Stamp Duty on shares. Agreed. I've covered this before as well.
3. Reduce corporation tax to 25% and have 'targetted tax breaks'.
Dude, WTF? VAT raises £80 bn p.a., corporation tax raises £50 bn. VAT reduces output, increases the price that people have to pay and reduces the price that producers receive. It puts people out of business. For self-employed with turnover over the VAT threshold of about £63,000, it is like an extra income tax, it increases overall marginal tax rate to 50%.
Corporation tax on the other hand only has to be paid if you are making profits, so by definition does not put very many people out of business. It does not actually add to the cost of running the business. One man's 'targetted tax break' is another man's subsidy.
Damn ... we're in the EU, that's why we're not allowed to talk about reducing VAT (altho' we could reduce it to 15%).
Oh yes, and no mention of Employer's NIC, which raises another £40 bn. This adds to the cost of running the business, it widens the gap between the tax rate on the employer and the tax rate on the employee, so it reduces employment. The additional NIC can also be enough to put low-margin producers out of business.
4. Reduce corp tax for small companies to 20% 'the same as the standard income tax rate'. But the small companies rate is only 19% (possibly to be increased in near future) now so how is that a cut? Fuckwits. Secondly, the 'standard rate of income tax', i.e. tax plus National Insurance paid by basic rate employees is 33% (possible to be reduced in near future). So double fuckwits with knobs on.
5. The group says that one million more are paying higher rate tax and the threshold should be raised. Nice step in right direction, but how about getting rid of higher rate tax entirely? How about doing something about the effective tax rates of up to 100% on benefit claimants?
So, all in all, vote winning crap from people who don't know the first thing about anything and will just end up making things worse.
Thursday, 16 August 2007
After yesterday's dental treatment, I returned to reception and proferred my debit card as usual.
"Sign here" said the receptionist, brandishing an A5 pale blue/dark blue form bearing the 'NHS' logo.
"Why?" asked I. "I'm paying for my treatment, not asking for a freebie"
"It's a form to say that you are paying the charges and are not entitled to free treatment"
"Yes, but that is blindingly obvious, that's why I'm giving you my debit card. What is the point?"
"We have no idea what the point is" summarised the receptionist "but sign and date on the front and again on the back, please. It's for their computer"
Wednesday, 15 August 2007
The good doctor summarised my main thoughts on tax and welfare in a brief interview twenty years ago.
Bascially, Land Value Tax is the "least bad" tax, and if you really have to have income tax, keep it as flat/simple and as low as possible.
He also supported low-level universal cash benefits (which he referred to as "negative income tax"), which (mathematically at least) is the same as a Citizen's Basic Income (just with more admin and faff).
He also supported legalising and taxing marijuana.
Funny how people cottoned on to the idea of Monetarism, which is attributed to him, and actually implemented it, despite it is bloody difficult to understand or explain and probably seemed like a damn' risky strategy back in the 1970s (ditto privatisations); but they didn't follow his advice on anything else.
This is in the context of nothing in particular.
The bitch Tessa Jowell has had the nerve to write to The Metro (London freesheet) accusing the Taxpayers' Alliance of overstating the hidden costs of the Olympics, which they reckoned was about £4 billion.
The f***ing cheek of the woman, given that she's two or three hundred per cent over original Olympics budget. So she overspends by £8 billion (and counting), and slags them off for overstating the hidden cost?
Tuesday, 14 August 2007
As cool as most of John Redwood's recent output was, it seems that the Tories are going to re-hash this idea of three years ago.
It was shit then and it's shit now, and little different to a similar shit savings scheme dreamed by Nulabour (i.e. authoritarian left-wing) think-tank IPPR. It's petty minded social engineering at its most pointless.
My preferred solution? Scrap CGT completely, scrap all tax-breaks for investment (a tax-break is a subsidy so by definition it just raises the tax burden elsewhere and hence distorts the system; the deadweight costs always outweigh the benefits), scrap higher rate tax on dividends (basic rate taxpayers don't pay tax on dividends) and tax all interest at a flat 20% with no higher rate tax.
No annual limits, no rules, nothing.
Says the BBC.
Super, a crash bang on cue. They happen every 18 years, see graph of house price-to-earnings ratio here, or for the more discerning reader, look up Fred Harrison's 1983 classic "The Power in the Land"*, which explains why they happen.
Further, per the BBC, house prices have already gone into reverse in Scotland, being down 2.2% this quarter.
*I can't track that book down on-line (it was written 1983), not even a review, but it's summarised in the opening lines of a review of Fred's new book.
Sunday, 12 August 2007
Red Ken, along with most businesses in London is in favour of building Crossrail, which appears to be a good idea from what I can see.
Problem is, the GLA can't or won't just borrow the money and get on with it, and repay the interest by slapping a precept on Council Tax and Business Rates. Oh no, Red Ken's "... only concern is that the Treasury will take too cautious a financial view and put too much strain on the financial contribution London has to make".
If the project benefits London, why shouldn't we Londonders pay for it?* Or maybe he fears that the benefits will not justify the costs, and he's hedging his bets?
Answers on a postcard.
*The same goes for flood defences and anything else that boosts land values in a particular area, of course. If you buy a house on a flood plain, you can pay for your own flood defences!
Friday, 10 August 2007
Answers on a postcard, please.
At the back, there is a super article on why cities are good for us, leading up to the following blinding insight:
"The high prices drive people away from New York, an environmental and cultural disaster. London's green belt has a similar effect, pushing economic activity away from London, where it is less resilient and less successful, and stretching commutes over longer distances."
Contrast this with this article, moderately interesting, but then they slip in the following fallacy:
"...there are concerns that the recent introduction of business rates on empty properties will act as a brake on regeneration"
Like f*** it will.
Think about it, if you have an empty property, what's more likely to make you get off your arse and do it up and find tenants for it (or sell it to somebody else who will) - if you have to pay tax on it, or if you don't have to pay tax on it?
Here's what I posted over at Tim W, I was so pleased with it that I'll repeat it here:
"There was something in 'A brief history of time' where Stephen Hawking reckons that maybe these sub-atomic particles DO travel through time.
It is observed that sometimes a negative and a postive particle appear from nowhere, and sometimes they collide and disappear.
He likens this to an observer in a helicopter flying uphill above a zig-zag road up a mountain. The cars going uphill seem to disappear and turn into cars travelling in the opposite direction (i.e. turn from positive into negative) at the ends of the curve.
Compare the left/right zig-zag with a forwards/backwards through time zig-zag. What appears to be a negative particle flying off to the left and a positive particle flying off to the right is in fact the same positive particle, moving constantly to the right, only the first part of its journey it is travelling backwards through time, so it APPEARS to be negative and APPEARS to be flying to the left.
The point (in space and time) when the two particles appear is just the point (in space) that the particle has reached (at the point in our time) when it goes from travelling backwards through (our) time to travelling forwards.
It's probably bollocks though."
Thursday, 9 August 2007
They intend to build more waste incinerators, reducing need for landfill and generating relatively cheap electricity.
So who's complaining?
Ah yes, this lot. But funnily enough they're not big fans of landfill either.
NB, this landfill tax is way off piste. I am all in favour of taxes on land/location values, but the landfill tax is something like milions of pounds per acre (I can't be bothered looking up the right figure) whereas agricultural land is only worth around £4,000 per acre (i.e. the net present value of the CAP subsidies - the land itself is nigh worthless).
Difficult to say who's more fuckwitted in this instance, the parents who want to give their child a frankly ridiculous name, or the petty-minded officials who won't let them.
Wednesday, 8 August 2007
I know it's a bit lazy just linking to an article in the FT, but this free-market plea for legalising heroin makes perfect sense to me.
Tuesday, 7 August 2007
Pleased to announce that the House of Lords, just like the House of Commons a couple of years back, has broadly supported the idea of a Citizen's Income to replace as much as possible of the UK's completely fucked-up welfare system.
Please also check out the brief "Introductory booklet" (I helped with the calculations at the back).
My heart dropped like a stone when I saw this headline.
To my great delight, they are only being forced to forfeit £20,000-odd; they can keep the rest of Alan Bown's donations.
What a result!!
Saturday, 4 August 2007
If I lived in Australia, I'd join this lot.
But as I live in England, I'm in UKIP.
This chap is a legend in his own lifetime.
Accurate, incisive and hilariously funny, check out his videos on YouTube.
It's not his new concept album, it's his thesis.
Brian May, you rock!
Thursday, 2 August 2007
I have always considered them a truly dreary organisation, but they appear to be a beacon of freedom. Apparently there are only six countries in the world without a Scouting movement.
Yes, you've guessed: Cuba, Burma, Laos, China and North Korea.
And Andorra, not sure why they're on the list, but hey.