Archive for August 2012

Clegg’s comical timing over “wealth tax”

The timing of Nick Clegg’s suggestion yesterday that a temporary “emergency wealth tax” should be instituted so “the rich” can help fix the economy was comical.

Nick Clegg Winning Here

There’s only one “n” in wining

On Tuesday morning, the City AM newspaper revealed that a top financial sector recruitment agency in London has seen a 51% increase in French-speaking jobseekers looking to abandon France to avoid Francois Hollande’s 75% tax on high earners.  As expected, the 75% tax rate will bring in 0% tax from a great many high earners who are simply taking their money elsewhere.

Like council tax, Clegg’s “wealth tax” would tax people on the value of their assets and not their income and hence ability to pay.  Council tax is calculated on the value of your house in 1991 and whether you’re a millionaire or a retired couple who bought their house at the “right” time, you are expected to pay the same tax.  Clegg’s “wealth tax” would apply the same flawed logic that says if you own something expensive then you must have money.  It isn’t a tax on income, which can be spent, it’s a tax on the ownership of valuable things which can’t.

The suggestion that Clegg’s “wealth tax” would be temporary is as comical as his timing.  Income tax is a temporary tax, introduced in 1798 to pay for the Napoleonic Wars.  Once they get their hands on the money they won’t want to let go of it and we will be stuck with this unfair and counter-productive tax which is driven entirely by jealousy and political opportunism.

To fix the economy requires bold tax cuts, not ill thought out tax increases.  Cut tax and put more money in people’s pockets and they will spread that money around, creating jobs and reducing the drain on the welfare state which means less tax is needed to support public spending.  Big tax cuts will boost the economy and pay for themselves, big tax rises will drive the wealth creators out of the country and damage the economy.

It’s time to abolish Sunday Trading restrictions in England

Pope Benedict XVI

God says it’s a sin to buy medicine on a Sunday

Embarrassed at the thought of the world mocking the way we pander to medieval superstitious beliefs by banning shops from opening all day on Sunday in the name of a religion that only 10% of the population actively engage in, the British government relaxed Sunday Trading laws in England and Wales during the London Olympics.  Now the debate is open on whether to tighten them back up again.

The last serious attempt to get Sunday Trading laws relaxed in England was back in 2006 when a group of companies, including the big supermarkets, petitioned the Secretary of State for Trade & Industry to relax them so they could open for more than 6 hours on a Sunday.  The Secretary of State declined.  The Secretary of State had no business making the decision because the Secretary of State was Alistair Darling, the MP for Edinburgh Central, whose own constituents don’t have to put up with the inconvenience of Sunday Trading restrictions because there aren’t any in Scotland.

Scotland is by far a more religious country than England yet they are sensible enough to realise that translating those minority religious views into restrictions on economic activity benefits nobody.  It’s a shame that the politicians they inflict on us don’t share that same sensibility but when they’re messing up someone else’s country, I suppose they don’t really care.  But if Scotland can dispense with Sunday Trading restrictions despite being a more religious country than England, why should we endure these ridiculous restrictions because of the irrational beliefs of a declining number of adherents of the state religion?

The economy is on the rocks at the moment and anything that can give it a boost should be welcomed.  We need drastic tax cuts and people spending money to create jobs.  The drastic tax cuts aren’t going to come under Labour or the Tories because all either of them know how to do is spend more and more of our money but abolishing Sunday Trading restrictions is just about compatible with today’s Tories, even if they have all but abandoned their conservative principles.

On average, those of us who still have jobs are working longer hours to pay for those that don’t, bailing out the €uro, Indian space missions, etc. so we have to do more things at the weekend.  If we want to do our weekly shopping at 9pm on Sunday then why shouldn’t we be able to?  If we need a pharmacy at 3 o’clock on Sunday morning, why should we have to drive 30 miles to find one of the increasingly small number of independent pharmacies that haven’t been snapped up by big chains that don’t have to comply with Sunday Trading restrictions?  Why can we go for a bagel at McDonalds at 8 o’clock on Sunday morning but can’t go to Tesco’s and buy a packet of bagels to make our own?  This ridiculous rule about observing the Jewish religious law of observing the Sabbath has no place in England in 2012 and it’s time to consign Sunday Trading restrictions to the history books they came out of.

Why I won’t be supporting Team GB or the Olympics

I don’t like the Olympics.  It’s not an irrational dislike of the Olympics or an ideological objection to the Olympic ideals, it’s for a number of (in my opinion) rational reasons …

Official Olympic Sponsor London 2012There is no English Olympic team and I’m not British.  For me the British Olympic team is as foreign as the French team.  Sure it’s mostly made up of English competitors but they’re competing under a false flag that I bear no more allegiance to than the Stars and Stripes or the Tricoleur.  There is nothing other than a lack of political will or corporate support preventing the replacement of the British team with English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish teams which, I suggest, would get far more support than the British Olympic team.  The precedent has been set with the Hong Kong team that is still competing in its own right despite having been subsumed into China in 1997.  Until such time as there is an English team in the Olympics, I will continue to shun the games.

The superficial Britishness that’s on display during the Olympics is really grating.  The imperial flag is everywhere and it’s even replacing the English flag at a lot homes which is something that no other British promotional activity has even managed to do in the last decade or two.  The proliferation of the imperial flag and public declarations of being “proud to be British” are the result of a relentless promotion of Britishness by the British government and big business who love having one brand covering four nations that they can promote instead of all that inconvenient respecting our historic nations and identities.

The amount of taxpayers money that’s being spent on this British vanity project is obscene.  I don’t know how many homeless, ill or deprived people could have been helped with just the £9bn direct cost of the Olympics let alone the billions more that have been spent by local authorities and public bodies but it’s a better use of taxpayers money than the Olympics.

The oppressive way the Olympic brand and the monopolies are being protected are an annoyance as well.  Why couldn’t the Olympic Kebab shop in London continue to be named the Olympic Kebab shop just as it has for years?  Why can’t schools use the Olympic rings on a poster produced by kids?  Why can’t a chip shop sell chips if the Olympics have moved in next door for a few weeks?  Why can’t you turn your wi-fi hotspot on on your mobile phone if you’re in an Olympic venue? Why are you forced to buy food and drink from approved suppliers? Why has the Olympics sold out so utterly and completely to corporate interests?

Why are politics allowed to interfere in the Olympics?  Why does Taiwan have to be called Chinese Taipei just because the Chinese like to bully their smaller neighbour?  If they’re offended by the name Taiwan being used screw them.  Why does Macedonia have to be called the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia just because the Greeks get all prissy about them using their country’s name in case some people see it as giving merit to the idea that Macedonia might have a claim to the Greek state by the same name even though they’ve expressed no interest in making such a claim?  If the Greeks don’t like it screw them too.

Why did the British government and LOCOG allow a bunch of French Language fascists dictate that the French language must be used in the Olympics and not only must it be used but it has to be used before English?  I don’t care whether it’s in the founding charter of the modern Olympics (the idea for which was nicked from the English by a Frenchman) says that French and English are the languages of the Olympics, the French have never insisted on the French language being used until London beat Paris to the right to host the Olympics – if was a deliberate, calculated insult aimed at Les Rosbeef.

While there is a British team it should be names properly.  Team GB doesn’t cut it – that name represents half of the constituent territories of the Olympic team.  Great Britain is a geographic term for the island on which England, Scotland and Northern Ireland reside.  Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are also represented by Team “GB” but they’re not in Great Britain, they’re in the British Isles.  But so is the Republic of Ireland and they aren’t represented by Team “GB” so Team British Isles doesn’t cut it either.  The fact is, there is no short and snappy title for what Team “GB” covers because it’s just not a natural, historical or cultural entity.  The shortest accurate team name would be Team UK and Crown Dependencies.  I refer back to my earlier use of the word “superficial” – it applies equally here.

Finally, the most annoying thing about the Olympics: Seb Bloody Coe.  If ever there was a case for pre-emptive euthanasia, he surely has to be it?