Sunny\’s complaint

But what really shocked me was that no one appears to have the authority to call out the campaign. When I filed my complaint, I was told by the ASA that it can\’t interfere and that it\’s a matter for the Electoral Commission. The latter, however, now says it\’s a matter for the ASA, as it only deals with political parties.

So, in effect, the No2AV campaign falls into a grey area that is now being exploited by a group that steadfastly refuses to reveal who is backing it and by how much.

Would you look at that?

There\’s no bureaucracy responsible for stopping people from running ads that Sunny doesn\’t like.

Obviously, I agree that this is terrible, political activists should clearly be able to, by law, stop people from doing whatever it is that said political activist doesn\’t like them doing.

What would be the point of being a political activist if it were otherwise?

Tiny little stylistic point

Max Robins of the New York-based Paley Center for Media pointed out how significant it was to scrap a show that still attracts almost 15 million viewers an episode. \”It makes CBS a tonne of money and for them to do this it had to be incredibly serious.\”

The difference between tonne and ton is not a matter of mere spelling differences between English English and American English.

The ton is either the Imperial (or long) ton of 2,240 lbs, or the short ton of 2,000 lbs (either could be common in US usage). The tonne is the metric tonne of 1,000 kg (2,204 lbs).

Agreed, this might seem trivial, but to one who works in the metals trade when you see \”ton\” the first thing you ask is \”ewhich ton\”? Whereas \”tonne\” has a well defined meaning.

But what this means is that when an American says \”ton\” we do not automatically transcribe it as \”tonne\” in English English.

It\’s fine that we change \”color\” and \”harbor\” to \”colour\” and \”harbour\”, but not \”ton\” to \”tonne\”.

Hmm, what\’s that? Yes, I suppose I ought to, you\’re right, get a life……

USUncut: even more stupid than UKUncut

\”Bank of America paid no federal tax and we gave it $45bn in the bailout,\” said Alisa Harris, one of US Uncut\’s New York organisers. \”People are tired of sitting at their computers and seething, they want to get out there and do something, It\’s not enough just to talk about it on Facebook.\”

Bank of America said it had made a loss of $4.5bn in 2010 and had therefore has not owed federal taxes….

And, of course, the federal tax on corporations is the corporate profit tax. Don\’t make a profit and don\’t pay tax.

Pretty simple really, but seems beyond the understanding of some.

However, Harris said the focus on Bank of America was just the start for US Uncut activists. \”This movement appeals to people because it\’s focused on something a diverse group of people can agree on – corporations should pay taxes. It\’s a very commonsense, basic, non-partisan cause.\”

Well, apart from the fact that corporations cannot pay taxes and therefore do not, that\’s just fine.

But taxes on what? On profits? Sorta necessary for a company to make a profit first, isn\’t it?

According to US Uncut, nearly two-thirds of US corporations and 68% of foreign firms operating in the US pay no income tax.

And I do hope that USUncut hasn\’t made the most glaring of errors there.

There are two types of corporation in the US: S corporations and C corporations. These correspond, roughly, to our LLP and LTD/PLC. Thus an S corporation:

An S corporation, for United States federal income tax purposes, is a corporation that makes a valid election to be taxed under Subchapter S of Chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code.

In general, S corporations do not pay any federal income taxes. Instead, the corporation\’s income or losses are divided among and passed through to its shareholders. The shareholders must then report the income or loss on their own individual income tax returns.

Just like an LLP: no corporation tax, no corporate profits tax, is payable because those profits are taxed as income to the shareholders.

I really do hope, for their sakes, that they\’ve not made this mistake. Wouldn\’t surprise me if they had though…..

Female quotas on boards

\”And this is despite the fact that there is plenty of evidence that putting women on boards correlates with better business performance.\”

Therefore quotas are unnecessary. If having women on the board increases profits then profit maximising companies will put women on the board.

That said greedy, manipulative, capitalist pig dog profit maximising companies do not put women on the board would seem to be evidence that having women on the board does not improve performance.

After all, we\’re hardly trying to argue, in The Guardian, that those who run companies are insufficiently greedy, are we?

Australian carbon tax

This bit is sensible:

Australia\’s government launched a third attempt on Thursday to make carbon polluters pay for their emissions, unveiling plans for a fixed-price scheme from 2012 and vowing not to surrender this time in the face of fierce opposition.

Yup, a carbon tax, just what is needed. One single fixed price for emissions, whatever the source or technology.

But crucial details, such as the actual starting price and the level of compensation to be paid to affected industries or households, have yet to be agreed with the Greens. Gillard said no decision had yet been made on any of these issues.

This bit is not sensible.

Making it revenue neutral is very sensible indeed, one might increase the income tax allowance, reduce social security taxes of GST by the amount you think you\’ll raise. But even the idea of compensating the industries affected is ludicrous.

Oh well done Sunny, well done!

The No2AV campaign illustrates how our democracy is up for sale

Yup, complete with they\’re bastards for not revealing where their money is coming from.

Meanwhile, over here:

I have been on the trail of the ‘Yes To Fairer Votes’ (YTFV) campaign, attempting to discover the real source of their funding. What I found reveals a catalogue of undeclared donations, hidden money trails and one massive conflict of interest of such comical proportions that even Berlusconi would blush. It shows, in effect, that the largest single donor to the \’Yes\’ campaign is Britain\’s no1 vendor of ballot papers and vote counting services – a massively profitable outfit whose commercial interest in a new, complicated Westminster voting system is clear.

Sunny\’s timing is just impeccable, isn\’t it?

More glory about the RBS results

It\’s also noteworthy that RBS made a pretax loss of £399m but had a tax charge on those losses of £634m. That\’s about –160%! Given all the accusations of tax dodging that have been thrown at the banks, not least by Treanor herself, I would have thought this was noteworthy. Wouldn\’t you?

That\’s fun, isn\’t it?

They\’re paying profit taxes on profits they don\’t have.

Hands up all those who think the banks are undertaxed?

Today\’s churnalism: the cost of raising a child ain\’t £210,000

This is quite joyous.

So Liverpool Victoria (LVsomethingtrendyinnotnormaltypeface) puts out a cod report saying that the cost of raising a child is now £210,000.

They get credulous newspapers all over the country to repeat this, some, like the Guardian, even going so far as to link to the report.

Excellent, we\’ve now just raised the Google Page Rank of the LV site, done a little white hat work to make people more likely to see LV when they search for life insurance etc etc.

Sadly, of course, the result, the number, is entire codswallop.

Partly for the reasons listed here.

And partly because it entirely misses the largest cost of raising a child.

The loss of wages from doing so.

We know that there is a \”gender pay gap\” which actually turns out to be a \”mothers\’ pay gap\”. Whether it should or shouldn\’t be so, having children in this current society cuts your lifetime earnings.

Note \”lifetime\”, not just for some few years when the little bastard is still vomiting over titties (or even the two periods, extreme youth and university).

Mean wages are around £25,000 (close enough) the pay gap is 17%, that pay gap persists from primagravidae to retirement: on average, the former is 30 years old now and the latter will be 65 for women.

£150,000 or so.

That\’s the largest cost of having a child.

In praise of the NHS

I give them enough stick, so fair dos.

On Monday Pater went to the surgery \’coz he was feeling rough. Out of breath, hands turning blue.

On Tuesday he was in the cardiac ward, today he is home with a pacemaker inserted.

Resting heartbeat is up from 34 to 60.

Well done to the NHS, the Royal United Hospital in Bath, we\’re all very grateful.

Now all we need to do is get the whole health care system up to that level of efficiency……

Well done to the Royal Bank of Scotland!

The Guardian has reported in the last few minutes:

Bailed out Royal Bank of Scotland reported losses of £1.1bn for 2010 – but still plans to pay out bonuses of £950m to its bankers.

The contempt bankers have for society is evident in the comments made by Stephen Hester made. The Guardian reports:

He admitted that he was not able to hire staff as easily as he hoped because the bank has often become a “political football”.

“Our ability to attract, retain and motivate the best people is still not what we want it to be. Our business challenges and the external environment lead to management compromises that add risk to the achievement of our business goals. We are working hard to move forward and balance staff motivation with external acceptance that past mistakes have been addressed,” he said.

Motivation is not created by £950 million in bonuses?

Just think.

If RBS had paid no bonuses, then there would be just a small little loss. Which would mean that the government would get no tax money: you don\’t pay 28% corporation tax on a profit that hasn\’t been made.

If you pay out £950 million in bonuses then of that £950 million, 63.8%* will go in tax to the government.

So, the government, all those front line services, are better off by £606.1 million.

Well done the Royal Bank of Scotland!

In more detail, we might look at the actual results:

Hmm, no, that\’s not formatting, so have a look at page 23.

You will see that the City style stuff, the markets, the investment bank style bits where people do get large chunks of wonga as a bonus made huge great big gobs of money.

You will also see that the losses came from \”impairments\”, losses on past activities, and these losses were in retail and commercial (Ulster Bank did something very wrong there).

That is, the peeps getting bonuses made huge amounts for the bank, the people who don\’t normally get huge bonuses (retail and mortgage managers etc) in the past lost huge amounts.

At which point I defy you to tell me that paying bonuses is a bad idea.

* Assume, a not unlikely assumption, that all those getting bonuses are already at the top tax rate of 50%, add 13.8% employer\’s national insurance.

Action on Smoking and Health: deluded morons

This woman:

Deborah Arnott is the mother of two teenage boys and director of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH).

Says the following:

So it wasn\’t disparities in tax that led to the growth in smuggling.

As if it wasn\’t bad enough that she wishes to overturn hundreds of years of empirical evidence on tax rates and smuggling, her next sentences are:

And though you report that HM Revenue and Customs officials \”admit that widening disparities between European tobacco tax rates are likely to be pounced on by industrial-scale tax evasion gangs\”, due to changes in tax and exchange-rates in Europe, the disparities are likely to decrease, not increase, over time.

That is, that prices do indeed influence the extent and volume of smuggling, but because the price disparities are shrinking thus the smuggling will shrink.

Despite appearances, I\’m not really a grumpy old patriarchal bastard, I am indeed feminist (for a certain value of \”feminism\”).

But if this is the standard of logic we\’re going to be exposed to as a result of women claiming their righful place in the agora, might I humbly suggest that you\’d be better employed making sandwiches for those teenage sons?

A site to take note of.

The website,, created by charity the Media Standards Trust, allows readers to paste press releases into a \”churn engine\”. It then compares the text with a constantly updated database of more than 3m articles. The results, which give articles a \”churn rating\”, show the percentage of any given article that has been reproduced from publicity material.

The Guardian was given exclusive access to prior to launch. It revealed how all media organisations are at times simply republishing, verbatim, material sent to them by marketing companies and campaign groups.

Pumping Louise Grey\’s stuf on the environment in the Telegraph through this would just be too easy.

Would be useful to aid in finding where Johann\’s getting his \”facts\” from though.

One fun use would be to run today\’s Guardian (where this story appears) through it,…..

The Vatican on science


Up to a point. Priya Shetty is among those to note that the Vatican is hosting an Aids conference on 28 May, but wonders whether a forthcoming update on bioethics issues in stem cell research and reproductive technology will be as \”pragmatic\” as its new stance on condom use.

But, umm, ethics, bioethics, are not a matter of science. They are a matter of, umm, ethics.

TPA funding

A charity that gave more than £500,000 to the Taxpayers\’ Alliance (TPA) campaign group has been warned by the Charity Commission that its reputation risks being damaged \”if its relationship with the alliance is not properly managed\”.

This does rather amuse.

\”In instances where trustees decide to award all or the majority of its funding to one organisation they must be able to demonstrate that in doing so they have acted in the best interests of the charity,\” it said. \”They should also take appropriate steps to ensure that any risks arising from this decision are appropriately managed – this could include risks to the reputation of the charity if members of the public question the charity\’s independence from the organisation that it gives its funding to.\”

The report continued: \”Trustees should also be aware of the objectives and purpose of the non-charitable organisation and whether association with the organisation could impact negatively on the charity\’s independence or perceptions of its independence.\”

For of course the crowds will be out protesting because the TPA are baby eating bastards because they recommend that more money be left fructifying in the pockets of the populace.

The thing is, this sort of arrangement is simply not uncommon. A trawl through the Charities Commission site will show any number of charities out there whose main, indeed only, function is to raise money to run this or that think or wonk tank, campaigning group etc.

I read through the accounts of one such (having seen someone warbling in the papers about something or other) just this week although I\’ll be damned if I can remember the name of it.