Whip Your MP

No, really.

The campaign to offer the right of entry to those Iraqis who have been working for us and who are now being murdered for doing so needs your help.

Here is how.

Get them to turn up: don\’t forget they work for you so your views matter to them.

Polly on Taxing the Rich

She\’s still not quite got it, has she?

Those registered as a non-domiciliary, absolved from British tax although they live here, would pay a flat rate of £25,000 a year.

Err, no. Income made in hte UK is taxed exactly the same as that of any other resident\’s. It\’s the taxation of overseas income that is at issue here. If you want to think of it in moral terms (which no doubt Polly would), well, what right does the UK State have to income made in, say, Russia? By a Russian?

It\’s not just the non-doms and non-residents, but the private equity tax avoiders and all the mega-rich.

Non-residents now? What, you mean that people who don\’t even live in the UK should be paying UK taxes?

The UK has one of the lowest top rates in the OECD 30 nations, yet the rich use the same roads, services, police and national security to conduct their business in a well-regulated environment, with the NHS to save them when their Porsches crash.

Now that is interesting. The implication of course is that the rich should be paying more because they use the same services. That there might be some fixed amount that people should pay for services does not, of couse, cross Polly\’s mind. However, let\’s look a little more closely. How much of all of the tax take do the rich contribute? And how does that compare to other countries? This is the top 30% of the people (just because that\’s the stat I found) but it doesn\’t actually show what Polly would like it to show.

In the UK, the top 30% of the people, the richest 30%, pay 62% of th total tax take. This is lower than the US for example, at 65% or so. But what about the Nordics? Those perfect social democracies, which Polly would so dearly love us all to be like? Hmm. Finland 56.8%, Norway, 53.8%, Sweden 53.3% and Denmark 48.7%.

So, err, for us to become the sort of society which Polly would like we should be lowering the tax take on the richest 30%.

As house prices rise, more people fear that their estate will creep into the £350,000 level most recently set by Gordon Brown; 37% of estates are now worth over £350,000 (homes, pensions, cash), so if everyone died today then 37% of estates would be liable. But everyone is not dying today. According to Carl Emmerson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), by the time people grow old and die they have divested themselves of money, giving it away when children and grandchildren need it, downsizing their homes to spend on cruising, enhancing their pensions or going into long-term care.

Didn\’t Polly recently call for al lifetime gifts to be taxed as inheritances? I\’m sure she did you know.

Good grief!

People think IHT is an unfair "double taxation" out of already taxed income. But no one pays it from income: it is only paid after death by inheritors.

No it isn\’t! it\’s paid by the estate! If £5 million is left to one person or the same £5 million is left to 100 different people the tax paid is the same. If inheritances were taxed at the level of the recipient then there\’d be a great deal less fuss about the whole subject.

Is it worth asking, you know, pleading almost,  that journalists know what they\’re writing about?

Well, Quite…

When my uncle bought his Provençal house he called on his neighbour, a farmer in his sixties, and jokingly apologised for the fact they now had "des anglais" next door. The farmer merely responded, "Heureusement, vous n\’êtes pas Parisien."

After all, everyone hates the Parisians.

S\’Not My Fault!

Interesting little thought:

The paper, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, looked at the ultimatum game, in which a proposer makes an offer to another person on how to divide a sum of money.

The researchers found that twins were more likely to behave in the same way as each other when deciding whether to accept an offer.

"This raises the intriguing possibility that many of our preferences and personal economic choices are subject to substantial genetic influence," said the study\’s lead author, Bjorn Wallace of the Stockholm School of Economics.

See, I can\’t help being a greedy capitalist bastard: I was born this way!

Putin as Prime Minister

Well, yes

Vladimir Putin has announced that he intends to return as Russia\’s prime minister after stepping down as president next year.

Doesn\’t he have to win an election first. Oh, wait….

Teacher Training Days

So surprising, eh?

Sending children home from school to allow teachers to train is a waste of time, a leading academic says.

Pupils in England lose about a week of schooling every year as staff take "inset" days to brush up on the latest teaching techniques and Government reforms.

But research claims there is "depressingly little evidence" that it has any effect on teaching standards.

So teaching teachers the latest trendy educational nonsense doesn\’t improve teaching. Fancy that!

The Perils of Expatria

One of the perils of living aborad is that the infrastructure might not be quite as robust as what is expected in Northern Europe. We\’ve entered the rainy season here and so we\’ve got regular thunder storms and buckets of rain. Fine….but the local power station (down the hill in Tunes: it\’s actually the vast field of transformers they have there that gets hit) is always the first place hit by the lightning. Thus 50% of the storms knock out the electrical power.

Thus the late start to this morning\’s blogging: apologies to the paying audience (size, nil) and those who are getting it for free, well, you get what you pay for, eh?

Is There Actually a Use for Teddy Kennedy After All?

I might have to start thinking so:

Late last night, to the amazement of refugee advocates, the Senate approved by unanimous consent an amendment by Senator Kennedy to a defense bill that will make it easier for America’s Iraqi friends to be admitted as refugees to the United States. The Administration lobbied against it this week—the talking points included complaints about infringement on executive-branch authority—but Kennedy’s office agreed to a number of compromises, and won the support of holdout Republican senators.

The amendment raises the number of Iraqi interpreters and U.S. government employees (with at least one year of service) who can be admitted under a special immigrant visa program from five hundred to five thousand each year for the next five years. It creates a special category (“Priority 2”) of persecuted Iraqis—including U.S. employees, people working for American news and nongovernmental organizations, contractors, and members of religious minorities, and their families—whose refugee applications can be heard directly by the U.S. government without a United Nations referral, which should speed up and streamline an extremely sluggish process. And the bill allows for these applications to be reviewed at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, so that Iraqis don’t need to flee the country and become refugees elsewhere first (though the language on this point is vague, and there will have to be continuous pressure to make it happen).

But then it\’s not exactly been a difficult moral decision to make now has it? Even the US Senate, not known anywhere outside its own hallowed halls as a centre of wise reasoning and moral decision making was able to see the correct path here: unanimously indeed.

So, what\’s your excuse, and what\’s yours?

Look, if the rum soaked bloviate can get it, why can\’t you? Or do you really want to go down in history as having less moral sensibility than Teddy Kennedy?

To repeat, less than Teddy "Chappaquiddick" Kennedy!

Relatedly, the meeting at Parliament is next week.

Richard Murphy Gets One Right!

I know, it\’s a bit of a shocker but this is simply quite wonderful. You see, Non-Doms don\’t not pay tax at all:

George Osborne has begun to talk tax. On domicile Bloombreg report that he is proposing a flat levy of £25,000 pounds ($51,000) on non- domiciled residents who currently avoid tax.

I’ve got news for George Osborne. The average tax paid by a non-domiciled person now is £26,800, based on Treasury data.

Bravo Mr. Murphy, Bravo!

The Council House as Slavery

Very provocative this and with more than just a grain of truth to it:

But this also casts an odd light on the labour movement and on trades unions. Through their adherence to the ideas of jobs for life, and their demands that working class people be able to depend on benevolent and paternalistic forces, be they employers or the state, or both, and take the consequent lack of freedom that results from this they not only stand in direct line of descent from Roman slaves, but they also demand that they be able to remain as slaves. The dignity of labour is no more than the degrading comfort of the steel slave collar on the neck.

And for all their Pooterish, John Major, Little Chef aspects, the lower middle classes have this in their favour: they came from there. They would not accept the collar. They aspired to independence and freedom.

Until the psychology of the working class disappears, Britons will always include some slaves among their number.

One View, Certainly

As he says:

And what’s wrong with sleaze on TV, if that’s what people want to watch? BBC stands for British Broadcasting Corporation, and if a particular program gets high ratings, it’s because that’s what British people like to watch. If Beyer doesn’t approve of the tastes of British people, he’s welcome to fuck off out of our country. Personally I think it’s absolutely disgusting the amount of filth, depravity and lesbian sex on TV; there’s nowhere near enough.


How is This Possible?

A really rather wonderful scientific result:

Bar staff have seen huge health benefits from the ban on smoking in public places, a study by the Tobacco Control Collaborating Centre in Warwick – funded by Cancer Research UK – has found. Researchers tested the air quality in 40 pubs, bars and restaurants across the country and measured the level of cotinine – the metabolic byproduct of nicotine – in the blood of those who worked there.

Quite amazing how you can measure the effect of smoking in public places by measuring something on private property really, isn\’t it?

Rape Conviction Rates

I\’m reasonably certain that Daphna Baram didn\’t mean this to be taken this way but:

There is no indication of more judicial mistakes in rape convictions than in any other field of crime.

So, the low conviction rate is not a result of judicial mistakes, it\’s simply part and parcel of the nature of the crime and the difficulty of proving it. So can we have an end to the talk of the way in which the low conviction rates show that it\’s a uniquely badly dealth with crime?

The Myth of Mars and Venus

I love this. Deborah Cameron sets out to show that men and women are not as different as many claim. Things like the use of language, empathic versus systemizing behaviour etc. She even quotes Simon Baron Cohen:

The difference between the two lists reflects what Baron-Cohen takes to be the "essential difference" between male and female brains. The female-brain jobs make use of a capacity for empathy and communication, whereas the male ones exploit the ability to analyse complex systems. Baron-Cohen is careful to talk about -"people with the female/male brain" rather than "men and women". He stresses that there are men with female brains, women with male brains, and individuals of both sexes with "balanced" brains. He refers to the major brain types as "male" and "female", however, because the tendency is for males to have male brains and females to have female brains. And at many points it becomes clear that in spite of his caveats about not confusing gender with brain sex, he himself is doing exactly that.

Baron Cohen is very clear in his academic papers that he\’s talking about brain type, not XY or XX. Anyway, what amuses me is that having accused him of confusing gender with brain sex she then goes on to talk about the averages of men and women: that is, not making the distinction between brain type and gender.