Ritchie should but Ritchie won’t

Tax reliefs, terrible things, they deprive the government of necessary funds, restrict the good it can do, cause austerity.

And we really shouldn’t be subsidising the consumption of energy now, should we? Not in this world of climate change. In fact, that reduced rate of VAT on energy is part of that $5 trillion we’re said to, globally, use to subsidise fossil fuel consumption. Really, we should stop doing that.

Or maybe we shouldn’t? This being a useful litmus test for those who will try to use these figures. There will indeed be, as there is, shouting about that £4 billion. But that’s as near nothing compared to that £53 billion. So, people who are serious about reducing tax relief so as to reduce austerity – which should they be saying we should do away with? And which will they say we should do away with?

Who wouldn’t want a 20% pay rise?

Since I started teaching part-time, my Friday mornings have begun to look remarkably different. Rather than waking up at 5:30am as I do during the rest of the week, I roll out of bed at a leisurely hour and often start my day with a yoga class. After enjoying the luxury of breakfast at my kitchen table instead of a classroom desk, I spend the rest of the day planning my year 10 lessons for the following week. Occasionally, I treat myself by popping out to the post office or the bank. More often than not, I’m sending emails trying to secure writing commissions – now I am teaching part-time, I need to find other ways to top up my income.

This probably sounds appealing to most teachers, who have usually spent most of their Friday dreading that year 9 double lesson after lunch. And there’s no doubt that teaching part-time has kept me in the classroom; I was very close to becoming one of the 31% of teachers who leave the profession within their first five years of qualifying.

But there are two glaring issues with the Friday I have just described: first, I am still continuing to do school work even on my day off; and second, I’ve had to take a cut in my salary and seek out additional work to make up the difference.

You do less work and you get paid less. Hmm, shocker, eh?

Rather than the option of working part-time being available only to those who can afford it, what if all teachers everywhere were able to work a four-day week, and crucially, without a loss in pay?

Sounds good to me too. When are you going to start paying me five days’ pay for four days’ work?

An important concept

Patisserie Valerie executives Luke Johnson and Paul May are facing fresh questions after failing to disclose they were also landlords to the stricken bakery chain.

The duo, the chairman and former chief executive respectively, own Patisserie Valerie’s Tunbridge Wells site, a fact that was not disclosed as a “related party” in the accounts of operating company Stonebeach.

A spokesman for Mr Johnson said the company’s board had been made aware of the relationship, but decided it was below the threshold – called a “materiality level” – at which details needed to be disclosed.

Materiality. Sure, all sorts of thing happen, which are important and which are not? That depends upon the relative size of the happening to the whole.

Landlord of one shop out of 160? Sure, not material. Own 50% of the freeholds and renting them at top notch rates to the company? Material. In between, well, look up Sorites.

Are there people fiddling their tax bills by paying in cash? Sure are – do we abolish cash to deal with it? Nope. Suspend civil liberties? Nope.

Is it material, germane to the subject under discussion?

This is actually possible

The “Little Ice Age” of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was triggered by the genocide of indigenous people in the Americas by European settlers, new research shows.

Scientists have long wondered what caused the drop in temperatures so severe it sometimes caused the River Thames to freeze over.

Now, new analysis by University College London (UCL) argues that so many people were slaughtered or died of disease that the amount of agricultural land dramatically reduced, in turn sucking carbon dioxide (CO²) from the atmosphere.

Known as the “Great Dying”, the upheavals following the first contact with Europeans in 1492 is thought to have slashed the population of 60 million living across the…

Whether it’s true or not is another matter. Can’t say I’m entirely sold on it. For I’m pretty sure that we generally start it off, the little ice age, before 1492.

However, entirely willing to believe it contributed…..

Squaddies are squaddies

Further east than grandpa got”

I’m told this is a real thing.

Could be wrong, but I was under the impression that the Hun (eventually) put a medical unit into Afghanistan, with a protection/security unit attached. Which caused enough internal political grief, what with the post-war constitution and all.

Which the Kraut squaddies promptly added to, getting photographed wearing t-shirts proudly emblazoned with the slogan “further east than grandpa got”.

But in German, obv.

I’m also told that this might be true:

Pcar – so you’re saying that the Battle of Britain Memorial flight has more functioning warplanes than the Luftwaffe!


Both delight for different reasons.

Terrible indeed

Internal Zimbabwean police documents passed to the Guardian suggest the army has been responsible for murder, rape and armed robbery during the ongoing brutal crackdown in the southern African country.

Just goes to show what happens when you give the state lots of power.

A question

Being a woman in public life is not without challenge. Female MPs, athletes and actors are subjected to abuse on and offline.

I know why actresses are now called actors but I’m not sure why, in the past, we didn’t use the word athlettes. Is it just because we didn’t have any back when we were coining words?

A question

Why is it that when people propose US government health care it’s always Medicare for everyone and not Medicaid for everyone?

Might we have an admission here that government health care isn’t always lovely?

It’s an odd belief really

Where have 70% tax rates worked? In the USA, for a start….

The Spud doesn’t seem to know his history. Nor does the historian:

And here’s the problem. Hauser’s Law. Pretty much whatever anyone does the Federal tax take doesn’t rise above about 20% of GDP. And it’s not true that those high marginal tax rates of the 1950s did much, even anything, to get that tax take up.

There’s a reason why this is true as well. Taxation of incomes isn’t going to get you much more than that.

Erm, why?

Unlike plastic waste, there is a ready market for used tyres within the UK. They are – or were – compressed into tight blocks to make road foundations, embankments and drainage beds. It’s not the closed-loop recycling that should be applied to everything we consume, let alone the radical reduction in the use of materials required to prevent environmental breakdown.

Doesn’t rubber grow on trees? You know, it’s a renewable resource?

Other things that don’t work

“Buzzfeed is the most important news organisation in the world,” wrote Ben Thompson, a technology analyst closely followed by the Silicon Valley set.

By rejecting advertising in favour of advertorials distributed via the same social media channels as its journalism, Thompson believed Buzzfeed founder Jonah Peretti had created a new kind of media organisation that “perfectly aligned” the interests of staff and readers. With no need to write so-called clickbait to attract big audiences for advertisers, for the first time digital journalists would be completely free of commercial concerns.

That’s to rather miss the point of journalism, which is filling in the white spaces between the ads.

That we call them advertorials doesn’t change that the people paying want the audience to see them….

No, really, this is very interesting

England will have no new cases of HIV by 2030, Health Secretary says

That’s toss of course. Even if we limit the statement to no new transmissions within England as opposed to tourist activities etc. We don’t even manage that with measles let alone HIV. But this bit is fascinating:

“Today we’re setting a new goal: eradicating HIV transmission in England by 2030,” he will tell the event in London, pledging £600,000 of funding towards the efforts.

Technology marches on and now HIV transmission is a trivia, a rounding error on the state, even health, budget. That’s not bad as a change is it? We didn’t even know about it at all until 1981, had no treatments until the early 90s and now? Not that eradication, that’s not what I mean, but £600k? It’s trivia, isn’t it?

Yes, yes, of course, it’s not trivia for anyone who gets it etc. But as a public health problem…..

Suppose we can’t really call him a twat, can we?

Will Young has threatened to report The Grand Tour to Ofcom over its alleged “homophobic” content.

The pop star accused the Amazon Prime motoring show – hosted by Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond – of making “repulsive” jokes at the expense of the LGBT community.

During the latest episode of the show, the trio drive through Colombia, with Clarkson in a Jeep. His co-hosts suggests the vehicle is for gay people, with Hammond suggesting Clarkson needs a new grooming routine and a change of clothes.

He said: “Maybe some nice chaps. Suede but ventilated at the back.” Later, The Weather Girls’ hit It’s Raining Men plays from the Jeep’s stereo.

After raising concerns over the episode on Twitter, openly gay Young said on Tuesday evening he had received no response from Amazon, so industry regulator Ofcom “beckons”.

That’s a rather, erm, expansive meaning of the word homophobia, isn’t it? I mean sure, “hate the pooftie shirtlifters who’ll all get AIDs” might be something we’d prefer TV shows weren’t beaming into homes. But a very mild joke indeed about chaps?

Which, one should note, the point of which is that they are all ventilated at the back, that’s the difference between them and trousers anyway.

This sort of level of whining is as if the actress and Bishop stuff is anti-clerical. Or even luvviephobic.

He added: “Enough is enough and I’m pissed and fed up. I want Amazonprime and the producers of grand tour to meet young lgbt who want to kill themselves because of shaming and laughter and normalising of shaming homophobic narratives.

“Your time is up and it’s time to take a stand. Is there a legal case ? Who knows . ……. watch this space.”

Young, who rose to fame after winning Pop Idol, said the show was guilty of stereotyping.

He said: “I DON’T drive a Wrangler Jeep. I DON’T wear pink shirts . I DON’T wear arseless chaps. You can be honest and funny without this ridiculous ‘lad’ ooh being gay and let’s laugh about it mentality . It’s repulsive and how DARE you do it and put it out @PrimeVideo.”

Get a life matey.

How times changeth

With the 31 January self assessment deadline looming, a campaign group has highlighted statistics showing the ongoing unfair tax advantage available to self-employed business owners.

Figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) show that an employee earning £40,000 a year will pay £12,262 in tax. This is £4,556 more than a self-employed person who earns the same but has opted to incorporate as a self-employed company manager/owner. The overall rate of tax paid by self-employed manager/owners can be as low as 19%, far less than the 32% rate likely to be paid by an employee earning the same salary.

Ritchie’s gone from promoting such ideas in The Observer to condemning them now.

He used the system for far longer than he publicly approved of it, of course. In fact, he used until after he’d been paid to condemn it. Funny that.