Taxation Bananas

This is good news don\’t you think?

Richard Murphy, a tax expert who advised the NAO on its report on the performance of the UK Revenue and Customs, said that large companies are effectively now able to set their own tax rates. "Corporation tax is falling worldwide as a percentage of profits. Corporations seem to be deciding what they should pay, not as a percentage like the rest of us, but as a sum above which they don\’t want to go."

John Christensen, a former economic adviser to the Jersey government and director of the campaign group Tax Justice Network, said the Guardian investigation confirmed that the flight of capital was continuing, having reached unprecedented levels in the 1990s. "The trend in the last 30 years has been to shift the burden of tax away from companies on to the consumer and labour. Capital is increasingly going untaxed."

For as we know, the taxation of corporate profits actually leads to lower wages. Proof here. So we can in fact celebrate these glorious upholders of the workers\’ wages at the expense of the predatory State.

We might also note that capital isn\’t in fact going untaxed: it\’ just being taxed where it ought to be, at the level of the individual, when they receive their dividends or capital gains. A good thing all round then.

WW III and Climate Change

This is nonsense of course:

The battle to deal with climate change needs to be fought like "World War Three", the head of the Environment Agency has warned.


"This is World War Three – this is the biggest challenge to face the globe for many, many years. We need the sorts of concerted, fast, integrated and above all huge efforts that went into many actions in times of war.

"We\’re dealing with this as if it is peacetime, but the time for peace on climate change is gone – we need to be seeing this as a crisis and emergency," she said.

Something that is going to happen over several centuries is nothing like a war at all. This is simply the institutional memory of a bureaucracy harking back to the days when they got to boss people around.

She said measures such as improving the resilience of existing homes to flooding, not building on floodplains and improving water use efficiency were needed.

That\’s more like the sort of level of things we\’re talking about. Sticking water meters in, not doing things isanely stupid like building on ht Thames Gateway flood plain….simple enough and not in any way "war".

Robert Watson, chief scientist of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, was asked later whether Britain needed to spend 42 per cent of its budget on climate change as the United States did on the war in World War Two. He said tackling climate change required will but was possible at relatively little cost.

Quite, in fact, if we were actually being sensible about this we could tackle it at no cost to us. Allow those in the future, who will be far richer than us, to deal with it.

Darling in Sensible Act Shocker!

I know I shouldn\’t say it, but it looks like the man actually did something sensible. How it grates to say it though….

Speaking to the BBC\’s business editor Robert Peston for a File on 4 programme tonight on Radio 4, Mr King said the emergency talks broke down after Lloyds demanded a £30 billion Bank of England loan at competitive rates as part of the deal.

Critically, he said he told Mr Darling this was "a matter for government" to decide.

The governor said: "I said to the Chancellor, \’This is not something which a central bank can do: they don\’t normally finance takeovers by one company for another – let alone to the tune of £30 billion, which is rather a large amount of money\’.

"So I said, \’This is a matter for government, but you have to recognise that if you were to make available such a facility to one bank, you would have to make it available to any other potential bidder and therefore it will become public.\’

"And I don\’t think it took the Chancellor very long to recognise that not only was this something which central banks don\’t do, it\’s also something that governments don\’t do."

For of course, any such deal would have rescued the shareholders in Northern Rock. Exactly what shouldn\’t happen. Preserving the financial markets, yes, but preserving the wealth of those who have gambled and lost, no.

Planners! Planners! Hurrah ! Hurrah!

Isn\’t this lovely boys and girls? We\’re to have two more areas of the economy planned for us. Works so well, as we know, doesn\’t it?

Gordon Brown will announce a house-building drive, creating a series of "eco towns" across Britain.

Yes, that\’s right. Instead of houses being built where people actually want to live, close to other people, they\’ll be built where no one currently lives. This amazing plan is brought to you by the same people who are knocking down 400,000 homes across the North. Amazing how incredibly intelligent they are, isn\’t it, to know that destroying housing at the same time as insisting we need more housing makes sense?

Further, they\’re going to build these new towns where there are no jobs. For, you see, these will be "New Towns". Eco-towns even, ones where everyone will have to commute to somewhere else in order to make a living. We\’re soooo lucky to have these clever people directing us, aren\’t we?

Ministers will also announce a new Immigration Bill, drawn up in the past few weeks amid growing criticism about the projected growth in population. It will introduce a new points-based system that will restrict immigration from outside the EU to those with skills required in Britain.

More joyousness! Seriously! Ministers will decide what skills the economy needs, they have that perfect knowledge require to work out that we actually need another plumber, but not a plasterer, another Gender Studies lecturer but not another ditch digger. Are we not lucky to be ruled by such omniscient beings?

This from the people running a school system that cannot even impart the most basic skills to a large chunk, after 11 years of forced attendance.

Yes, I\’m sure it will all work out very well, just as planned economies always do.

Aren\’t we lucky, lucky, little boys and girls.

The Angry German

An occasional series in Esquire:

What\’s with all the friendliness? Everybody in America seems to want to make sweet love to all their colleagues while behind their backs they want to ram rusty screwdrivers down their throats. In my country, it\’s the other way around: Everyone at the workplace is unfriendly to each other, and then they are best friends over the weekends playing football. When I started working here, one of my first e-mails went to a senior database administrator. It said: "Database is down. Fix it." It landed me a first-row seat in the department head\’s office, getting a talking down about work culture. To this day, I don\’t see anything wrong. I didn\’t say, "You stupid fuck, you let the database go down while masturbating to Mexican donkey porn. Fix it." Now, I learned that the proper way to say this is: "I know you are really busy, but I cannot continue my work while the database is inaccessible. If you don\’t mind, could you look into the problem and let me know if there is a chance you can rectify it? Sorry to be a bother." No wonder shit doesn\’t get done in time when you have to write a freaking novel for each simple thing.

Anyone who has dealth with both Germans and Americans will see the truth of his statements. More articles here.

Blogger Down!

We appear to have a UK based blogger who can do with a little bit of help. A graduate medical student who is about to get thrown off her medical course for lack of money.

Who she is and why this situation has arisen I don\’t know. But, Billsticker does know her and says that this is all kosher and that\’s good enough for me.

The blog of Merys is here.

So, as much as it pains me to do so… I\’m asking for your help. I know I\’m not a charity case, but I\’ve come too far to give up now.

The access to learning fund has rejected me, along with my university hardship fund. The bank won\’t give me a career development loan, so basically I\’m screwed.

Now I agree that someone who is, by any world standard, rich, is not the most urgent call on your limited charitable funds, so do make up your own mind as to whether you\’d like to toss the odd pound or two her way. She has PayPal enabled for your convenience if you should decide to do so.

Despite that suspiciously Welsh sounding name I\’ve done so: but then as the capitalist bastard that I am I can afford to do so, can\’t I?

Up to you.


The One Leg Necklace

I know, I know, I shouldn\’t believe everything I read on a celebrity gossip site. But this:

Paul’s daughter has exacted her revenge on her wicked stepmother by reportedly designing a one-leg necklace.


The silver, single-limbed pendant was unveiled to a select group of fashion industry players in Paris last month as part of McCartney’s debut jewellery collection, and is set to launch for spring/summer 2008.

Fierce? Good grief!

I\’m Very Confused

And please stop laughing at the back there, yes, I kow, not an unusual situation.

Richard Murphy:

But what is clear is that in this case the banks, despite having a useful role for which they have been given the right to claim for themselves about 97% of all seignorage, worth about £45 billion a year for their profits, have declined to support Northern Rock even though it is, according to the Bark of England solvent and able to pay its way.

Hunh? Are bank profits in the UK actually £45 billion at all? I\’d be astonished if they were (note, profits from banking in the UK, not of global banks that happen to have their HQ here). The links gives me this:

That technical factor also points the way to monetary reform at the national level. Dematerialised non-cash money (i.e. electronic bank-created money held in bank accounts and transmitted between them by modern information and telecommunication technology) is now overwhelmingly important. About 97% of this country\’s money supply is created in that form by commercial banks, and only 3% as banknotes and coins issued by the Bank of England and the Royal Mint.

The commercial banks create the non-cash money out of thin air, calling it credit and writing it into their customers\’ current accounts as profit-making loans. That gives them over £20 billion a year in interest, while the taxpayer gets less than £3 billion a year from the issue of banknotes and coins. Stopping
commercial banks creating non-cash money, and transferring to the central bank responsibility for creating it and issuing it debt free to the government to spend into circulation, will result in extra public revenue of about £45 billion a year. This is the reform with which this book is specifically concerned.

Errm, is this just fractional reserve banking all over again? I think it is you know. Didn\’t know that Murphy hung out with the LaRouchies.

New Blog!

Liberal Conspiracy.

Opening with many heartfelt paens to the joys of, well:

There is no denying that Liberal Conspiracy is partly born out of the frustration that many organisations who champion liberal-left ideals do not cooperate much with each other. It isn’t just the sectarianism that has traditionally been the preserve of hard-left socialists.

As our politics splits up into single-issue groups concerned about the environment, civil liberties, feminism, anti-racism, social justice, alleviating poverty etc – there isn’t much dialogue taking place between them and there is certainly a lack of broad coalition-building to push for political aims together. We want to be the network hub where other organisations sharing our ideals are promoted and their campaigns highlighted.

It’s all part of building a vast liberal-left conspiracy of course.

Mmmm hmmm.

I hate to tempt fate but, fingers crossed, touching wood and stroking a rabbit’s foot, this blog could turn out to be a rarity: a place where liberals and lefties gather to debate that I don’t feel an immediate urge to leave.

I doubt I’m alone in feeling that way. No need here to recap the British left’s long and turgid history of ideological introversion and sectarian scrapping.

Chris Dillow\’s a part of it which means that it will at least have some good writin and interesting arguments.

I\’d give them, say, three days before the ideological introversion and sectarian scrapping start. Maybe a little longer, perhaps until Chris points out (again, and correctly) that you can\’t have both a large State and a redistributive one. Or that markets actually solve many of the problems "left liberals" whine about.

The Low Carbon Kid Part II

This actually rather worries me. This bloke actually works as a news editor for Defra: thus he\’s influencing how the Beast of Government actually views these things:

Renewable energy will, by contrast and by definition, last forever. Oh yes, and it\’s free.

You what? Free energy? What is he drivelling about?


Paul Krugman: Wobbled By Wealth


The public wants change. … Nor is the demand for change solely about Iraq: there has been a strong revival of economic populism. Democracy Corps asked those who believe America is on the wrong track to choose phrases that best described … what’s gone wrong. The most commonly chosen were “Big businesses get whatever they want in Washington” and “Leaders have forgotten the middle class.”

So much, by the way, for pundits who claim that Americans don’t care about economic inequality…

Paul laddie. That first answer isn\’t a condemnation of economic inequality. It\’s a condemnation of the way in which the State pokes its nose into economic life. If Congress weren\’t so hell bent on detailing what we all may do then business wouldn\’t be in there buying the right to do as they wish. The way to stop business buying such influence is to stop Congress attempting to have such influence capable of being bought.

MP\’s Pay

So it would appear that MPs think that their pay should increase.

Ministers have already received a report from the Senior Salaries Review Body, which helps to set MPs’ pay and allowances every three years. It recommends that MPs receive an increase to the basic salary of £60,277 of more than the current rate of inflation, according to an official who has seen it.

The scene is now set for a clash with backbenchers from all parties. Some want their salaries raised to about £100,000, arguing that MPs have fallen far behind equivalent professions.

Over and above the issue mentioned already, that MPs who lose their seats actually find getting work anywhere near as remunerative terribly difficult, there\’s, again as mentioned, the point of supply and demand.

Given that there are at least five applicatns for every seat: and also given that this is a democracy, so that by definition, anyone capable of standing is capable of doing the job, it would seem that we\’re grossly overpaying MPs.

You What?


Dr Rant\’s employer is now insisting on taking the cost of a 1st class Royal Mail stamp out of all the hospital staff\’s paychecks each month to pay for posting the salary slips to them at their home address.

And do read the kicker.

Just Clean That Up For You, Shall I?

Belgium will set an uneviable record tomorrow for the longest period in its 177-year history without a government, after divisive election results in June.

Corrected it reads:

Belgium will set an enviable record tomorrow for the longest period in its 177-year history without a government, after divisive election results in June.

An Environmental Dictatorship

That does appear to be what is being suggested:

In a nutshell, the point is that to commit at the top level to sustainable development, you need to put on what the Low Carbon Kid (ie me) calls sustainable development spectacles, so everything you see and do is filtered through this way of seeing, which is, of necessity, holistic and all encompassing.

Every single act of government must filter through this lens to avoid inadvertently countering the overall aim.

Ministers cannot do this without special training. Civil servants, who have been in post for years, or who have Oxbridge legal backgrounds, cannot be expected to do it either.

Just hand over the power to me and people who think like me and everything will be OK!

Stunning credentials, don\’t you think?

David Thorpe is a freelance environmental journalist and a news editor for Defra\’s Energy, Resource, Sustainable and Environmental Management magazine.

He runs a blog, The Low Carbon Kid, and won a national competiton as a children\’s author with his novel Hybrids, published last May by HarperCollins.


As an example of his thinking:

Basically economic growth and sustainability are incompatible.

Now that will be a shock to the massed ranks of economists around the globe. That there are certain forms of economic activity which are not sustainable is not a shock: but that economic growth and sustainability are incompatible will be. Doesn\’t he know that technology is one of the drivers of growth?


Quote of the Day

In the comments to some anti-market eco-wibble at CiF:


Comment No. 906068

November 4 19:50


The article poses a simple question: do we want Government to decide how to allocate this valuable, scarce resource or leave it to the market?

Easy one. The scarcer oil becomes, the more important it is to leave its allocation to the market. That\’s what markets are good at.

Quite. Some things are simply too important to be left to governments.

Meera Selva

China has been quite rightly criticised for exploiting Africa, buying up mining concessions and primary goods in opaque deals that benefit African leaders but not necessarily their people.

Let\’s just clear that up a little, shall we?

African leaders have been quite rightly criticised for exploiting Africa, selling mining concessions and primary goods in opaque deals that benefit African leaders but not necessarily their people.

There, that\’s better.

Farmers\’ Markets

I am a nasty, nasty man, for I admit that I find these sorts of stories terribly, terribly amusing:

Farmers markets have become so popular – there are estimated to be about 550 across the UK – that there are concerns they are becoming victims of their own success. The argument is that if they get too big they lose what many feel they are all about: an opportunity for small-scale producers to sell goods produced nearby.

Just as the supporters of Farmers\’ Markets insisted, there is indeed a taste for good quality, locally produced food. Excellent, they worked that out and have built a system which provides exactly that. Might not be my cup of tea but so what, if it increases the consumer surplus of others then a damn good thing say I.

But that taste seems to be quite large, so much so that it looks as if it might turn into a real, large, industry. Horrors!

But then, how do they think the supermarkets, against which they see themselves rebelling, got so large in the first place. By, err, supplying what people wanted to buy, wasn\’t it?