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Friday, 28 September 2012

Ce qui est à toi est à moi

Earn over a million euros in France next year or the year after, and you can expect three quarters of the excess to go to the government.

Which is why Bernard Arnault, head of luxury empire LVMH and France’s richest resident, is asking for a Belgian passport. Talk abounds of a rush of French tax exiles to friendlier havens. In the age of high-speed trains and Internet, the CFO of a French-based company can easily work from Brussels or London.

The reason for the tax hike is to give the French government political headroom to slash spending.  Not such a bad idea.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Who would be queen?

What a day for old age pensioners living in big houses.  First of all the BBC pick up on your conversations with the Home Secretary and splash them all over the airwaves.  Then the next thing you know, some washed up politician from a has been party masquerading under the title of Deputy Prime Minister (even though one had no say in the matter) announces that if he has his way, one would lose one's bus pass, winter fuel allowance and free TV licence.

Now I don't want to overstate the obvious, but it is clear that like most Lib Dem proposals, this hasn't been though through and would actually work.  let's give it the thought tat it lacks:

1. How many mansion dwellers have a bus pass? Probably none or as near as next to none as would make little difference

2.  If you live in a £1m mansion, and you are aged over 80, it probably costs a small fortune to heat the place, and the winter fuel allowance would be dwarved by the VAT receipts the government makes on the oil or gas fuel.

3. Cutting the free TV licence would just be churlish.  For the over-75's it makes no difference.  Strictly they need a licence which is available free of charge, but have you ever heard of an over-75 year old being prosecuted for not having a TV licence.  And would TV Licensing seriously prosecute on the basis of the valuation of somebody's assets?  Sounds doubtful  If the government wants to cut the cost of TV licenses for the over 75's they would make more money by reclaiming the cost paid to the BBC of the unexpired portion of the licenses given by the government to the over 75s when they die part way through the term of the licence.

It seems that the Lib Dems are tapping into the last remaining permissible form of discrimination, against the rich, or to put it more succinctly, envy.  We don't means test use of the NHS, roads or schools and quite right too.  Universal services and benefits mean just that.  Either we all get them, or no-one does.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Making up the news

World Twenty20 chiefs must re-examine giving women players a third less daily living allowance than men, England captain Charlotte Edwards has said.

.... or so run the headlines in the BBC website article here, where the England captain didn't say anything of the sort.  More's the pity for the BBC reporter who repeated the same line on Radio4 this morning.

The England Women's T20 team may be one of the best 10 women's teams in the world, but they aren't a patch on the men's team.  They get paid £60 pounds or so living costs in Sri Lanka, which is enough to live like a king or queen in Sri Lanka, but £40 less than the men.

Nobody quite frankly could give a damn, least of all the women on tour (flown out Economy compared to the men in Business), except for our intrepid BBC reporter who makes up the news as she goes along.

I'd rather be a pleb part 2

The Mitchell saga continues, and so shall I.

The most offensive thing about Mitchell calling a policeman a pleb is that he obviously lied when he denied doing so.  He is a politician. They lie. Get over it.

The second most offensive aspect is that Mitchell is giving himself airs and graces.  He is quite definitely a pleb himself, not the patrician he would have us believe.

He is an MP, and the son of an MP, albeit a largely undistinguished one, and his father was a wine merchant, which is definitely plebeian, which paid the fees for the younger Mitchell to be schooled at Rugby (a step or two up the ladder from his father's Aldenham), which is a bit grand, but a notch or two down from my own school where fewer than 1 in 10 classed as a patrician.

True enough Mitchell worked at Lazard, but in London that is a little boutique in a'60s concrete building above the escalators at Moorgate tube station, so still plebeian.

The distinction between patricians and plebeians in Ancient Rome was based purely on birth. Although modern writers often portray patricians as rich and powerful families who managed to secure power over the less-fortunate plebeian families, most historians argue that this is an over-simplification. As civil rights for plebeians increased during the middle and late Roman Republic, many plebeian families had attained wealth and power while some traditionally patrician families had fallen into poverty and obscurity.

Better to be a pleb than a prole.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

I'd rather be a pleb

.. than a prole.

The police will always be plebeian and should never be patrician.  That way lies a police state.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

The chutzpah is breathtaking

Anybody who has been involved in an election campaign against the Lib Dems will be aware of their legendary capacity to be two-faced while talking through their collective rear end, as evidenced by Clegg's apology last week, niot for going back on a pledge but for making a pledge in the first place.

What he is saying is that not only is it perfectly reasonable for a politician to go back on a firm promise to the electorate, but by implication, the voters should never trust even the most explicit promises made by politicians.

Which makes today's statement that the Conservatives should stick to the Coalition agreement and consider some sort of wealth tax and House of Lords reform is doubly disingenuous.

Not only were neither point mentioned in the Coalition agreement, but it is the Lib Dems who are flouting the agreement by refusing to honour the part of the agreement which explicitly linked the AV referendium (which we have had) with constituency boundary changes (which we haven't because of Lib Dem opposition).

The hypocrisy is stunning.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Do as I say, not as I do

So Labour came out with their idea for the pre-distribution of wealth.  Chuck-us-ya-money, the Labour Shadow Business person explained it on the radio this morning.  The big idea is to get people earning more by restructuring the economy so that there are more high value jobs in industry.

Like duh! That is exactly what the rest of the world have been 5trying to do for the last 100 years, while Labour have been undermining industrial evolution for the sake of their vested interests.  Worse than that, from 1997 to 2010, the proportion of GDP represented by industry fell from around 22% to 11%. Under Thatcher it fell from 25% to 23% and under Major from 23 to 21%, but under Blair and Brown it really fell off a cliff (or rather it stagnated while the rest of the economy became bloated on government borrowing).

To put the causes in perspective, remember that it was the Labour government that dropped the rate of corporation tax from 30% to 28% (sounds like a good thing), but then announced that the entire measure 2would be funded by reducing the rate of writing down allowances from 25% to 20%.  So in other words, the amount of corporation tax stayed the same, and while all the advertising, PR, film and TV production companies paid a lower rate of tax, the bill for doing so was picked up by the people who spend a lot of money on plant and machinery - i.e. industry.  Which is one reason (amongst a host of similar why industry will never grow under Labour).

So why vote Labour when you can vote for the real thing

Hang on a 'mo

A couple of weeks ago, the ex-management team at Barclays 'fessed up to the NY Banking regulator and ponied up half a billion or so of shareholders' funds to settle a complaint that Barclays had misreported LI(BOR.  OK, everybody knows that misreporting LIBOR was a bad thing, and the culprits should be sacked and punished, but nobody really knows the scale of the misdemeanour, and as LIBOR was being under-reported, borrowers (who are the ones we are supposed to like, kids), wouldn't have been hit at all, although cash depositors and swaps traders might have (but we certainly don't like the latter).

But this week, we hear that RBS is negotiating to settle as well.  Now, hang about.  Who says the costs of fixing LIBOR (the LONDON interbank offered rate) is anything to do with NY regulators.  The whole idea behind the London interbank market was that it was outside US (and French, German etc) regulatory control, and there is no evidence that there has been any cost to any US person as a result.

But worse than that.  As a joint shareholder through a 90% government interest in RBS, why is my money being used to pay for the misdeeds of the bank before my taxes bailed it out.  And why is my money being paid in to the US tax coffers for an act that took place in London?