December 2013

Laurie Penny wants to tell us something

It’s very important as well. I just wish I knew what it was.

We are the fools, if we believe that accepting aggressive distinctions between nice, safe western sexism and scary, heathen Muslim sexism is going to serve the interests of women. The people making these arguments don’t care about women. They care about stoking controversy, attacking Muslims and shouting down feminists of all stripes.

For decades, western men have hijacked the language of women’s liberation to justify their Islamophobia. If we care about the future of feminism, we cannot let them set the agenda.

As far as I can tell it’s that Laurie is a very brave woman for fighting about the white, western, patriarchy that insists that she is sexually, legally, and economically free to fail or succeed as she wishes and we’re all the most horrible bastards for pointing out that women in any forms of Islam are not sexually, legally or economically free.

Really, complete and horrible bastards for it takes away from the bravery of Laurie’s stance. At least I think that’s what is being said. Difficult to understand her point.

It’s either that or the gender pay gap is exactly the same thing as a clitorectomy.

This is part of Ritchie’s tax gap

HMRC is likely to lose £2.1m in VAT, PAYE and National Insurance contributions on top of existing £4.8m bill after Blockbuster collapse

Companies do indeed go bust and they do often owe tax when they do so.

But to Ritchie this is a scandalous example of how HMRC doesn’t have enough people to collect tax due. Instead of, you know, just an inevitable part of having a bankruptcy system.

If you take money from Big Tobacco then you’re beholden to them

But if you take money from the EU then you’re not…..

The European Union is paying green campaign groups millions of pounds effectively to lobby itself.

Activists are being given the grants from a European Commission environmental fund, which enables a network of green groups to influence and promote EU policy.

The practice has been branded a “cash carousel” by critics, who have called for the special fund — called Life+ — to be scrapped.

In total, the fund has handed out more than £90 million to green groups in the past 15 years, according to the TaxPayers’ Alliance, which has analysed its spending.

Apparently so anyway.

Hmm, wonder if they’ve thought this through?

Meat should be taxed to encourage people to eat less of it, so reducing the production of global warming gases from sheep, cattle and goats, according to a group of scientists.

Several high-profile figures, from the chief of the UN’s climate science panel to the economist Lord Stern, have previously advocated eating less meat to tackle global warming.

The scientists’ analysis, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, takes the contentious step of suggesting methane emissions be cut by pushing up the price of meat through a tax or emissions trading scheme.

“Influencing human behaviour is one of the most challenging aspects of any large-scale policy, and it is unlikely that a large-scale dietary change will happen voluntarily without incentives,” they say. “Implementing a tax or emission trading scheme on livestock’s greenhouse gas emissions could be an economically sound policy that would modify consumer prices and affect consumption patterns.”

Y’see, the thing is…..pasture locks up huge amounts of carbon in the soil. Much more, over time, than forests. And yes, having the cows out there eating the grass then defecating on it does indeed lead to more carbon sequestration in pasture.

Meaning that what we actually want to know is the net emissions from grazed pasture, not the gross emissions from ruminants.

Anyone know that answer?


MacShane, who is due to be sentenced on Monday, after admitting making bogus expenses claims worth almost £13,000, wheeled out a string of senior politicians to provide character witnesses when he appeared at the Old Bailey.

Among those who spoke up in defence of the former Europe Minister was Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman who described him as “well liked and admired by leaders in politics throughout Europe”.

She added: “I have never known him to be duplicitous, financially greedy, or deceptive.”

My interactions with him have been limited, this is true, concentrating around his accusations that Nigel Farage was living it up on MEP expenses at the last euros.

But duplicitous is exactly the word I would use to describe him.

Another in the list of people I went to school with

Yet for many, the real stars of the show are Dominic and Stephanie Parker, otherwise known as The Posh Ones for their upper crust accents, chintzy sitting room and incessant drinking.


In fact Steph, 47, and Dom, 49, also run what could well be Britain’s poshest B&B in a Lutyens Grade I listed building in Sandwich, Kent. As Steph famously said when watching Downton Abbey: ‘I wonder how many windows they’ve got? We’ve got 63.’

Earlier this year, the couple put the house and its grounds on the market for £4.5 million.

There might have been a lesson or two at that school that I missed.

Polly on charity

When the Wall came down, a most chilling revelation about communist states was their lack of any civil society – no charities, no buffer zone, no voluntary spirit, all natural generosity deliberately atrophied.

Yup, that’s what totalitarianism means.

But as all charity leaders say, they are no substitute for state funding, as the right imagines.

We’d rather have a bit more civil society please….

These people are mad aren’t they?

The New York City Council has voted to add electronic cigarettes to the city’s strict smoking ban.


City Council speaker, Christine Quinn, who sponsored the bill, said at a press conference on Thursday that the public use of e-cigarettes threatens to undermine enforcement of anti-smoking laws because their appearance is similar to traditional cigarettes and could “re-normalize smoking in public places.”

Next up NYC will ban the drinking of apple juice in public because it looks like white wine.

Dear oh dear, why does Bloomberg allow this nonsense?

Wal-Mart has 2.2 million employees, including 1.3 million hourly workers. It employs 1.2 million people in the U.S. alone. Gross revenue is $475 billion, generating profits of $17.20 billion. It dominates the discount retail space, and according to Bloomberg, has a 66.70 percent market share.

The size of Wal-Mart is sometimes difficult to visualize. To put it into some context, consider the following: 100 million U.S. shoppers patronize Wal-Mart stores every week. Wal-Mart has twice the number employees of the U.S. Postal Service, a larger global computer network than the Pentagon, and the world’s largest fleet of trucks. Americans spend about $36 million dollars per hour at the stores. Wal-Mart now sells more food than any other company in the world, capturing one of every four dollars spent on food in the U.S. The average American family of four spends over $4,000 a year there. Each week, it has 200 million customers at more than 10,400 stores in 27 countries. If the company were an independent country, it would be the 25th largest economy in the world.

Sigh. Ritholtz is comparing the GDP of a country to the turnover of a company. Which ain’t right as any fule kno.GDP is value added, not turnover.

Both Ritchie and Margaret, Lady Hodge, get it wrong again

HMRC’s calculation of the tax gap does not include an assessment of the amount of tax lost through tax avoidance, therefore it represents only a fraction of the amount that the public might expect to be payable.

I have, of course, been saying this for years.  It is, I admit, pleasing to have it noted publicly.

The challenge now for HMRC is how to respond. The PAC are, in very many ways, the representation of the people to whom they are supposed to report – that is parliament and through parliament, us. Parliament has now said their reporting of the tax gap is not fit for purpose. If they do not change it will they be in contempt of parliament?

No, this is incorrect. HMRC’s estimate of the tax gap do indeed include tax avoidance. It’s just that they include what HMRC defines as tax avoidance, not the drivel that Ritchie defines as tax avoidance. For example, Ritchie would say that Google’s Irish profits are tax avoidance. HMRC will say that they’re fully compliant with the law and so not tax avoidance.

It’s a different definition. And it’s HMRC that is working in the real world here.

Jesus Christ, get it right will you, Telegraph?

This is just such total bollocks:

The report is the latest stage of an attempt by Vodafone to get on the front foot against criticism of its tax affairs by campaign groups such as UK Uncut. It paid £1.25bn to settle a high-profile dispute with HMRC in 2010 over interpretation of the Controlled Foreign Companies legislation in relation to the company’s Luxembourg subsidiary, which acts as financier to its international operations, thus avoiding UK tax. The taxman alleged Vodafone owed up to £7bn.

It wasn’t £7 billion it was £6 billion. And the taxman never alleged that it was that sum at all. That was an invention by Richard Brooks at Private Eye. And Vodafone did not pay £1.25 billion to settle the dispute at all. What it did do was bring foreign earned profits into the UK in order to pay a dividend, something which all agree is subject to UK corporation tax.


And the Mail:

 The group has also been allowed to reduce its bill further because it shelled out for airwaves on which to broadcast its mobile signal.

It paid £802million earlier this year to gain the rights to use a superfast 4G mobile broadband.

Even though this money went straight into government coffers, the company is allowed to write off interest payments from loans it took out to make the purchase against its tax bill.

What? “Even though”?

We’ve let the insane run the asylum

Amec was legally obliged to consult certain statutory bodies, incuding Natural England and the Environment Agency, on the scope of the “Strategic Environmental Assessment” report.

This looked at the potential impacts on the environment and jobs of licensing a vast new area of Britain for fracking to search for shale gas.

But Mr Davey decided that green non-governmental organisations Friends of the Earth, the World Wide Fund for Nature and Greenpeace should also be consulted, a spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change confirmed. The NGOs had asked Mr Davey to be included.

Barry Ritholtz is almost as bad as Ritchie here

Here’s where things get interesting: A full-time worker (40 hours a week) in the U.S. making minimum wage earns only $15,080 a year. For some context, median individual earnings are $40,404 a year (BLS), while the U.S. poverty level is $23,550 (HHS). Full-time minimum wage earners make 62.7 percent less than median income and are 36.0 percent below the poverty level. (The number you probably hear quoted most often is median household income at $51,017, according to the census. The minimum is 70.4 percent below that).

That’s a truly appalling piece of statistical manipulation.

That minimum wage is the single earner wage. The median is also individual earnings. That poverty line is actually for a two parent, two children, household.

The poverty line for a single person is $11,490, for a two person household, $15,510.

That really is egregiously misleading. Just horrible. I’m amazed that Bloomberg are letting that stand.


Apparently tax evasion destroys money these days

The argument on the scale of tax evasion is vibrant. I have contributed figures for the UK and EU. I have in the past contributed to research on losses to developing countries. I think such figures help. The OECD is not endorsing any today. They do not need to do so: I am happy that the loss to the world that I have estimated of $3.1 trillion is indication enough of the seriousness of the issue.


Tax evasion does not, of course, whatever Ritchie says, cost the world anything. We are still a closed system. That less money goes to governments does not mean that that money ceases to exist. It still gets spent or invested somewhere or other.

Indeed, dependent upon what happens to that money, and how badly the government that didn’t get it would have spent it, tax evasion could, conceivably, result in an improvement in the human condition. But even leaving aside such an extreme (for example, someone takes the loot from tax evasion and invests it in a malaria vaccine, as opposed to the British Government which would have used £10 billion to build an NHS computer system that does nothing at all) it’s still true that tax evasion does not mean a loss for the world. Only a different distribution of the cash.

My word this is an incredible surprise

A pre-op transsexual locked up in a women’s jail for a savage torture-killing has been moved to a different prison after claims he was having sex with female inmates.

Murderer Paris Green, 22, who was previously known as Peter Laing, was allowed to serve his 18-year sentence in Cornton Vale women’s prison, in Stirling, because he says he is transgendered.

But today it emerged he has been moved amid suspicions that he was involved in casual-sex relationships with other convicts there.

Isn’t that just an unbelievable story? My word so it is.