April 2009

Umm, Seamus laddie?

Now, clearly, the 50% tax can\’t both be a fiscal lynching and an ineffective waste of time.

You\’d think that someone writing regularly for a major national newspaper would be able to grapple with logic, wouldn\’t you?

People threatened with lynching tend to change their behaviour. That\’s the purpose of the threat of course. So if people do indeed change their behaviour (change their working patterns, work less, leave the country, whatever) the results can indeed be an ineffective waste of time in revenue raising terms precisely because people have been threatened with a fiscal lynching.

Changing your name

The Identity & Passport Service, which addressed her as \’Mrs Bear\’, told her in a letter: "It is deemed to be a frivolous change of name, which would bring IPS into disrepute. It could also pose problems for you at border control in some countries.

"IPS is not questioning the validity of the deed poll, however, it is not prepared to issue a passport in a frivolous name which could compromise our mission statement \’safeguarding your identity\’."

This about the woman who changed her name by deed poll to "Pudsey Bear".

And I\’m afraid the IPS is entirely in the wrong here. If you change your name by deed poll you have changed it in a legal manner. That means both that you have changed it using the legal system and that the legal system now regards that as your name.

That is, that this is now your name.

You may have done this for frivolous reasons. You may have been taking the piss.

And the IPS has entirely fuck all fuck all discretion in the matter.

Or. rather, the IPS should have fuck all discretion in the matter.

For there\’s a very great difference between being ruled by the law and being ruled by the whims of bureaucrats. It\’s the difference between being free and being a helot.

The law allows you to change your name by deed poll. The woman has done this. Her name is now "Pudsey Bear". She is entitled, as a matter of right, on the payment of the applicable fees, to a passport in that name.

What the bureaucrats want, what they desire, is as buggery to the desire of a free person in a free country to use the democratically agreed legislation of the land to do as she wishes.

Me? I would hang the pencil weevils in the IPS for their impertinence. We pay them, they work for us, we are not here to conform to their desires.

No, seriously, fuck \’em.

Then hang them.

A description of the left and leftists.

When charming leftists stick their nose into things they don\’t understand they become ratchet-jawed purveyors of monkey-doodle and baked wind. They are piddlers upon merit, beggars at the door of accomplishment, thieves of livelihood, envy coddling tax lice applauding themselves for giving away other people\’s money. They are the lap dogs of the poly sci-class, returning to the vomit of collectivism. They are pig herders tending that sow-who-eats-her-young, the welfare state. They are muck-dwelling bottom-feeders growing fat on the worries and disappointments of the electorate. They are the ditch carp of democracy.


High earners who make contributions to their pensions in the next tax year are set to benefit from the introduction of the 50% tax rate.

The Treasury confirmed today that people earning £150,000 or more, who will be paying the new marginal income tax rate of 50% from April 2010, will also benefit from 50% tax relief on any contributions they make to their pension. For one tax year only, for every pound they pay into their pensions they will save 50p in tax.


But it now seems the changes will backfire on the government in a move which could cost the exchequer the £1bn it hoped to raise from introducing the tax rate.

Isn\’t that amusing?

Even the government is now saying that there might not actually be any revenue raised by increasing the tax rate?

(It has to be said as well that the print version of this is rather stronger. "a move which could cost the exchequer up to £1.5 billion".)

Of course, we\’ve been told that any shortfall in the projections from this 50p tax rate could only possibly be because the rich bastards aren\’t paying their debt to society.

It couldn\’t possibly be as a result of their using the provisions in the tax code which Parliament specifically puts there for them to use, oh no siree.

Mike Davis

The Mexican swine flu, a genetic chimera probably conceived in the faecal mire of an industrial pigsty, suddenly threatens to give the whole world a fever.


Entirely the wrong way around, completely.

We worry about small scale units, where birds, pigs and humans live cheek by jowl. For the thing we are worried about is such a disease crossing from being infectious amongst solely, say, pigs, to being  infectious directly amongst humans.

This is why these outbreaks occur from, say, Hong Kong in the 1960s, when it was a verty poor place indeed. Or SARs which came from Vietnam, again, a poor place with many small hold farms. And now Mexico.

The one thing that we really do know about these mutations of flu is that they are not part of industrial farming. They\’re the result of not industrial farming actually.

So The Guardian\’s lead article on hte subject is entirely and completely wrong in it\’s first sentence.

Wondrous, eh?


How could or should a Muslim indicate that they\’re not planning jihad?

Perhaps I could carry a sandwichboard with the slogan "I \’heart\’ John Stuart Mill".

That would be one way to get locked up immediately by the current crowd, yes.

Just a short note on patents

Viagra has been making a fortune for Pfizer for some years now. It\’s going to stop doing so soon.

Pfizer\’s worldwide patents on sildenafil citrate will expire in 2011–2013.

Now I think we can all agree that the invention of the drug has increased human happiness? At least, it has done amongst men. Whether their female partners of a certain age are quite so happy about it is another matter. And of course there are those cases like Rod Liddle where he was able to chase a much younger secretary (while, amusingly, stating that he was "testing" the drug for an article) much to the distaste of his then wife.

One can think of various other methods by which one might pay for the development of drugs. In an entirely free market they\’re difficult things to make money from. The marginal cost of production is usually pennies. But the R&D costs (the largest of which are usually the clinical trials) are in the $800 million per drug range. So you spend your $800 million and when the drug looks like it has a market you find everyone and their grandmother selling stuff they\’ve been making for pennies.

Other methods might be paying a bounty out of tax revenue for the successful development. Not entirely convinced personally, as I can see the political difficulties of charging tax just so that middle aged men can get hard ons.

The patent system means that Pfizer has had a monopoly on manufacture since 1996. That monopoly, as above, runs out in a few years\’ time. Then anyone can indeed make it for those pennies and sell it in a free market.

This is very much the same argument used about copyrights. We want more innovation, we like lots of innovation. But the huge upfropnt costs and the very low costs of duplication mean that it\’s difficult to make money out of innovations. Thus we get less of it than we might desire. So, we institute a limited monopoly so as to allow earnings and thus encourage innovation.

There might be other systems possible and there are those who propose such. However, a lot of the criticism seems to me ill founded, in that it can just be aimed at "big companies making profits" without understanding the basic economic problem that we\’re trying to solve. That without some mechanism of rewarding innovation we\’re not going to get much of it.

I will admit though that I could be biased. The current system is going to make Viagra cost pennies a dose just as I enter my 50s…….


Will Hutton today

Doom and gloom, the shrinking of the economy will make Britain a third ranking rather than second power.

Britain is going to feel very different in the years ahead. Already the markets have given their judgment; the pound has suffered a devaluation since 2007 that is bigger than those in 1931, 1949 or 1967. The British economy, in dollar and euro terms, is now emphatically smaller than those of France or Germany, and our new peers are Italy and Spain. Just as those previous devaluations all marked a long decline in what the Chinese call zonghe guoli, or comprehensive national power, so does today\’s. Like the empires of Venice, Spain, the Netherlands and Austria before us, Britain no longer has an economy large enough to finance our ambitions and overseas commitments.

Hmm. Although, you know, I think he\’s committing one of the cardinal sins of comparison.

He\’s pitting where the UK will be against where Germany, France and the rest were. It\’s said that German GDP might shrink by 6% this coming year. So while the UK economy is indeed shrinking in absolute terms, it\’s not all that clear that it is in relative terms.

That\’s what happens in global downturns of course, there is a downturn globally.

Dominique Moisi

In the US, as the financial sector soared, the manufacturing base contracted sharply.

Erm, no it didn\’t. US manufacturing output has continued to rise.

I wouldn\’t buy an economic analysis from someone getting such basic facts wrong.

Top tax

This is one way of looking at it:

"Tax got to 82 per cent [in the 1970s] and I thought this was kind of unfair," he said. "Also, I see… that the government has taken it up to 50 per cent and if it goes to 51 I will be back in America.

"I will not pay the Government more than I get. No way, ever. So they\’ve reached their limit with me. That\’s the lot."

It\’s a reasonable way of looking at it too….

That budget in full


Well, not quite in full.


12:39 Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ… that thing is fucking huge

12:31 Harriet Harman is taking the top off what seems – and I may be mistaken – to be a tube of some form of lubricant.

12:29 Quietly, but with a determined look fixed on his face, Alistair Darling is unwrapping what appears, from this distance, to be a massive strap-on dildo.

World class accountancy

From guess who?

But profit is not waht itn used to be. Under IFRS profit is the change in the net worth of your balance sheet on a mark to market basis: it is not the result of your trading in the quarter.

So if you made incredibly harsh provisions (and most banks did) and then some of the provided for assets perform again you make a profit as a correction to the previous provision.

Under historic cost you wouldn’t.

But when most people don’t appreciate that this looks like a real profit.

This is true of course. But the flip side of this statement is that using historic cost accounting they didn\’t make a loss either in the earlier quarters.

For those in London

If you\’re around and about in London over the next couple of weeks might I suggest a little outing? The London Marathon will take rather longer to complete than it normally does.

Major Phil Packer, 36, will not reach the finish line at Buckingham Palace for another fortnight, during which he plans to drag himself around the course in one of the most painstaking challenges in the event’s history.


Last month Major Packer took his first unaided steps, although he will be unable to walk unaided during the marathon. He plans to use crutches to assist him to complete the course, but said that he will “drag myself around it if I have to”.

Major Packer, of the Royal Military Police, was rendered paraplegic in a rocket attack on the British base in Basra in February last year. Deployed as the force marshal overseeing up to 5,000 men, he was injured when a vehicle rolled over him during the chaos of the attack. He suffered bruising to his heart, broken ribs and an injury to the base of his spine.

Leading to:

Major Packer will attempt to complete the marathon in two weeks. He expects to be walking just under two miles a day (the maximum he has been medically advised), taking about six hours, because his progress will be so slow.

He will stay at his own home in Central London each night, as it is equipped for his disability, before returning to where he left off the previous day.

A man doing that deserves a little show of support don\’t you think?

To find out where is he on any given day subscribe to his RSS feed here.

Interesting number

Six years on, the reality is that a pre-tax salary of slightly less than £16,000 is all that a single, childless worker requires to attain the standard of living of the typical person in Britain.

Yet poverty is defined as £13,400 a year*.

There\’s not exactly a great deal of clear blue skies between those two numbers, is there?

Clearly the general standard of living is too low….have to carry on with this capitalism thing for a while longer to keep raising it, eh?


*Joseph Rowntree Trust and actually a pretty good number.