#workfare #werspartacus #wrb #leftfootforward #nhs #dwp
New Labour – Greatest Definition Ever
10 March 2008 9:08PM
Bob Marshall-Andrews summed up the Blair/Brown government brilliantly on Have I Got News For You:
‘A psychotic thinks 2+2 = 5, a neurotic knows 2+2=4 but hates it and we have a psychotic in number 10 and a neurotic in number 11′
1 March 2008 10:23PM
This is the earliest ever that it has been mathematically impossible for the Spurs to catch us (OK not quite true)
1 March 2008 9:16PM
As the dollar drops it is true that US exporters gain an advantage but given that a vast range of imports are priced in dollars a drop in the price of the dollar reduces the cost of buying those products irrespective of their origin. Is is also hard to see how the US can compete on price with other economies when even the Chinese are now finding themselves being undercut.
‘ Aside from cutting their own margins, factories and traders can first look to their clients, many of whom charge huge mark-ups on the wholesale price, to take on more of the financial burden.
For instance, the price of making a branded T-shirt in China may be just a few dollars, but they are typically sold in US malls for 10 or more times that price.
Companies intent on paying bottom dollar for their products could move operations to nations with cheaper overhead costs, such as Vietnam, Sri Lanka or Cambodia.
Alarm bells are definitely ringing in boardrooms across China.
Eating into exporters’ profit margins, producer prices jumped 6.1 percent last month to a three-year high.
Meanwhile, labor wages last year rose 20 percent and the yuan has appreciated more than 9 percent against the US dollar in the past 14 months.
This has meant that more exporters face bankruptcy unless they lift prices to salvage their disappearing margins, which is just what most plan to do.
According to a survey by brokerage and research firm CLSA, 80 percent of Chinese exporters intend to raise prices this year in response to higher raw material costs.
“The appreciation of the renminbi [yuan] against the US dollar is a secondary factor driving these price hikes,” Shanghai-based CLSA economist Andy Rothman said in the survey.
Yatta Mao, a trade manager at Shanghai-based chemical trading firm Hanren, said the tighter business conditions that have emerged over the past year were making it difficult to survive.
“The yuan appreciation has a huge impact on our business. It costs us much more in the production and delivery costs. What’s worse, the export tax rebates of 13 percent were cancelled so our total costs are up 20 percent,” she said.
And in Guangdong Province, which is one of the nation’s main export hubs, there are deep feelings of pessimism.
Thousands of Hong Kong and Taiwanese-owned factories based in Guangdong are likely to close soon as they seek cheaper overheads elsewhere, said Alexandra Poon (潘婉華), director of policy research at the Federation of Hong Kong Industries. ‘
1 March 2008 10:23PM
I’ve never claimed to be perfect (well not often)
I really wish the UK had had the balls to join the Euro – that way we the UK would at least be protected from the worst excesses of our ever more ridiculous governments that since 1979 have decided that the US actually provided a good model to follow – maybe we can join just before we go bankrupt and share the problems with the rest of Europe, the US will just have to hope the rest of the world doesn’t switch to the Euro as it’s reserve currency of choice thereby removing the huge subsidy they have have received since the decline of sterling at the end of the 19th century beginning of the 20th.
3 March 2008 6:56PM
‘One question I have is are there any software macro economic simulators out there ? Do big banks and governments have any even ? Are they free, do they cost millions and do they exist ? And at what level do they model everything if they do ?’
the British government has a computer simulation of the UK economy – it costs a fortune, is under IP rights protection and is used by only a few other large organisations.
10 March 2008 10:33PM
‘most of the criminals seem to be products of the welfare state, not the free market.’
Enron Barings Bank Conrad Black Robert Maxwell Worldcom Michael Milken Sumitomo Corp John Rusnak Amaranth Advisors LLC BCCI Paul Wolfowitz BAE ‘bribery’ cash for honours, money for questions, the Hamiltons, Aitken…
the list is long and full of names from Who’s Who unfortunately it is not a list that fits your stereotype of a criminal
10 March 2008 10:47PM
I see nothing illogical about saying that the current government is crap and then stating the Tories would be worse given that the only Tory policies I have heard of are more tax cuts, less public spending, the introduction of a failed US welfare policy in which the unemployed and criminals will be indistinguishable as they will be working side by side on community projects like street cleaning, opposition to workers rights for agency staff….
19 March 2008 8:22AM
‘Two-thirds of voters in a recent poll say the government should tax less and spend less’
no shit Sherlock!
now ask the same people what cuts they want to see and you will find rather less agreement – although I should think a rather sizable majority would vote for a large cut in MP’s allowances and tax breaks for billionaires.
30 March 2008 9:37PM
‘UK GDP per capita at record high
The average UK person is projected to have a greater income this year than his American counterpart for the first time since the 19th century.
UK GDP per capita is projected to reach £23,500, which is £250 more than US GDP per capita, Analyst Oxford Economics says.
The higher GDP per capita notwithstanding, the average Briton enjoys lower purchasing power than his American counterpart due to the generally higher prices of consumer goods in the United Kingdom, the AOE noted.
The UK also has a higher GDP per capita than Germany (£21,665) as well as surpassing that of France (£21,700), BBC quoted Adrian Cooper, managing director of the Analyst Oxford Economics as saying.
It is worth noting that the UK’s GDP per capita during the country’s last major recession in 1993 was 34 percent lower than the US, 33 percent lower than Germany and 26 percent lower than France.’
‘Ten key inequality facts
* The top 1 per cent own 21 per cent of the nation’s wealth – three times as much as the bottom half (who own 7 per cent). (HMRC) * The UK has twice as many poor children as Sweden, Finland and Denmark and half as many again as Germany and France. (Eurostat) * Of the 12 EU or OECD countries wealthier than the UK, 11 are more equal. (comparing GDP per head to Gini coefficient) * The average house price has gone up four times faster than the average wage over the last ten years. (DCLG) * The UK is the third most unequal country in Europe, and its citizens are the second most likely to be the victim of crime. France is the 10th most unequal and has the 14th lowest crime. (European Crime and Safety Study of 17 EU countries) * If trends continue by 2012 FTSE 100 chief executives will be earning more than £5 million, 150 times more than the average full time wage. (Income Data Services. ONS – TUC calculation) * Only six out of 18 OECD economies provide less training at work for those with no or low skills. (OECD) * A son of wealthy parents leaving school in the 1970s would, on average, earn 17.5 per cent more than a son of poor parents by his early thirties. For 1980s school leavers, the gap has risen to 25 per cent. * The richest fifth pay £18 tax on every £100 of disposable income, while the poorest fifth pay £30. (HMRC direct and indirect tax). * Boosting benefits sufficient to halve child poverty would cost each year less than one third the cost this year’s city bonuses. (JRF+ Guardian survey)
Other interesting facts:
‘The tax and benefit system exerts an equalising effect on the distribution of income. In the annual publication by the Office for National Statistics on the impact of taxes and benefits on household incomes, Lakin (2002) has shown that before taxes and benefits are taken into account, the richest fifth of all households had an average income 18 times higher than the bottom fifth (it is important to note, however, that in the absence of any tax and benefit system, we would expect labour market behaviour, and so incomes, to be considerably different). Once incomes are adjusted to include the effects of direct and indirect taxes, cash benefits and government benefits in kind, this ratio falls to 4:1.’
‘Under Thatcher (1979 -90).. the income growth of the richest … was over eight times that of the poorest. A very different picture is shown under the leadership of Major (1990 -97). A consequence of the general economic downturn experienced under Major is that there was very little real income growth. Of the gains that existed, the benefits were highest for the poorest. The income of the lowest quintile increased by approximately 1.2 per cent on average per year, compared with the sluggish growth of 0.4 per cent per year for the richest …
Finally, under Blair (1997 -2001), … income growth was more or less evenly distributed over the quintile groups, ranging from between about 1.9 and 2.2 per cent each year, with the gains to the poorer households largely reflecting increases in means tested benefits to families with children.’
2 March 2008 12:11AM
‘I understand 0.001% of this thread.’
Congratulations you just got an A* at GCSE.
26 March 2008 9:33PM
Want to know the true state of what is happening in our schools?
‘Students have to learn basic maths at university’ http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/education/article1701561.ece
‘Half of all universities have to teach remedial maths and English’ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/main.jhtml?xml=/education/2004/07/24/tenedu18.xml
‘On the whole foreign students have better mathematical abilities than home students (the example given was that Irish students do well, with the explanation that this is due to them taking mathematics at school till the age of 18).’ http://www.mathcentre.ac.uk/resources/casestudies/mathsteam/dean.pdf
‘Universities are dismayed by the poor levels of literacy and numeracy among school leavers who arrive in higher education expecting to be “spoon-fed”, according to a new study.’ http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/news/story/0,,1706051,00.html
‘PUPILS were able to gain good GCSE passes with scores as low as 45 per cent in more than a hundred examination papers this year. The controversial grade boundaries were revealed after national test results showed that more than a quarter of children aged 14 also failed to meet the expected standards in maths and English. Last night critics called for a review of the public examination system, claiming that the results were misleading and indicated a “progressive lowering of expectations”. The revelation that pupils scoring as low as 16 per cent could be awarded C grades in one Edexcel maths GCSE paper and an A* grade with only 47 per cent in an AQA business studies paper was made after an investigation by The Times Educational Supplement.’ (The TES, The Times, Daily Mail) http://www.tes.co.uk/2129186
‘Employers also report that among all school leavers, but particularly the 53% who do not reach the benchmark, deficiencies in maths and English basics often leave teenagers unable to function in the workplace because they cannot make simple calculations in their heads, speak in a suitably articulate manner, or understand written instructions.’ http://www.cbi.org.uk/ndbs/press.nsf/0363c1f07c6ca12a8025671c00381cc7/3a4c5e2bef4e2b6080257337005841a4?OpenDocument
The Quantum nature of Time in the Political Sphere
1 March 2008 10:37PM
Best piece of political comedy I ever saw happened in the house of commons.
A committee meeting was taking place in one of the committee rooms and it had to finish by midnight on the Tuesday, so they did what they always do when an overrun occurs on such an occasion and stopped the clock when it reached midnight.
The meeting was still going on when the chamber convened on Wednesday afternoon and an MP rose to raise a point of order asking why the meeting hadn’t finished and Betty Boothroyd (the speaker) stood up to explain ‘It may be Wednesday in here but it’s Tuesday upstairs’.
If anyone can find the a clip it is well worth watching.
10 March 2008 7:30PM
Scottish Executive ’1 April 2006 – 31 March 2007
* Appointments under government programmes to assist the long term unemployed = 0′
19 March 2008 8:17AM
Nice try from the centre-right Policy Exchange propagandist but:
‘Using private providers in welfare-to-work schemes is perhaps the simplest part of the prospective changes. Companies and charities pay more attention to the individual needs of benefit recipients, and have done so more cheaply than government agencies in schemes in Australia and the US.’
please note this paragraph has no factual support within the article nor any links to back it up because it is untrue.
12 March 2008 10:12AM
‘The dual-citizenship thing is clearly a nonsense.’
And British rule in the north of Ireland is a bigger nonsense.
Tax Evasion / Avoidance
12 March 2008 7:23PM
‘The UK is the worlds second largest tax haven after the USA. Even during the worst years of old left wing socialist Labor government, the City’s nominee to head the Bank of England got the job. Foreign nationals who held external accounts with UK financial institutions could trade tax free from London. Until the mid l990s the UK even had legislation permitting the registration of exempt international companies on the model of Cayman and the Isle of Man. The people in charge understood that to try to tax the international businessman would only result in the money flows going elsewhere. Those who could not vote with their feet would vote with their money.
Substantial tax benefits accrue to UK residents who are not UK domiciled. It is possible for a non-UK national who has no UK capital or income to live indefinitely within the UK and legally avoiding paying any UK tax. This has resulted in London having a larger number of expatriate millionaires then the rest of Europe’s capitals combined. This also explains London real estate prices and the UK’s popularity as a corporate headquarters for firms investing into the EU. To this one must add the civility of the administrators and the advantage of speaking English.
A person who is UK resident but not UK-domiciled for tax purposes, pays income tax only on income and capital gains which arise within the UK and foreign income which is remitted to the UK. This allows a non-UK domiciled person to reside in the UK free of tax as long as they have a foreign source of income. Most wealthy investor can arrange their affairs so as to qualify. Furthermore if a non-UK domiciled individual creates an offshore trust with non-UK assets then these assets will be exempt from UK taxation.
The UK corporation tax rates are the amongst the lowest in the EU. Tax is levied at 23% on a UK company which has net profits under GBP 300,000 and 33% where profits are over this figure.
UK Non-Resident Companies Generally speaking, a UK company is taxable on its world wide income. However, in certain cases, a UK incorporated company may be classified as non-resident for tax purposes, and therefore non taxable in the UK on non UK source income. Such a company must be managed and controlled from a country with which the UK has signed a double taxation treaty. By careful selection of the country from which the UK company is managed it may therefore be possible to create a non-taxable UK entity. For example, Portugal has a suitable tax treaty with the UK so a UK company managed from Madeira, a part of Portugal, would neither be taxable in Madeira nor the UK.
UK International Headquarters Company (‘IHC’) Another recent innovation, by statute in l994, has created the UK IHC. This status may be accorded to ordinary UK companies which are at least 80% beneficially owned by non-residents. An IHC is a useful vehicle for the collection of foreign dividend income as, in general terms, a full credit is given against UK tax for any tax paid on the remitted profits before arrival in the UK Thus as long as the dividend income has already suffered tax at a rate higher than or equal to the applicable UK rate (33%/24%) no UK tax will be payable on that income either on arrival or on distribution. For example, a Danish subsidiary of a UK IHC would pay tax on its profits at 34%. If the Danish subsidiary distributed profit by way of dividend to the IHC parent no further tax would be levied on arrival in the UK because a credit would be given for tax paid in Denmark. This makes the UK IHC an attractive holding company vehicle for investment into Europe or otherwise and in many cases will be more attractive than competitive structures available through the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland etc.
It is sometimes desirable to have a UK company structured for international trade as opposed to establishing a pure and visible offshore structure which may cause unwanted publicity and tax department interference from the countries in which the beneficial owners reside or where the company is effectively trading. To meet this need , there is the low tax UK company option. A UK company established for international trading purposes may only be liable for corporation tax on 10% of its profits provided that the UK company is structured in a way that it acts an agent to its offshore principal. This relationship does not have to be disclosed to any foreign tax department or foreign third parties.
The UK company can still be registered for VAT, conduct its banking activities in the UK The company must not be: (a) owned by UK residents; (b) managed from the UK; or (c) conduct any trading operations within the UK.
If the company meets these tests, then 90% of its profits may be paid to an offshore company principal without liability to UK taxation, ‘
14 March 2008 11:33PM
‘the DOE and EPA government ‘scientists’ cannot be trusted to provide unbiased answers to scientific questions regarding the earth’s climate or biofuels.’
‘The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended
‘b) In order to carry out the policy set forth in this Act, it is the continuing responsibility of the Federal Government to use all practicable means, consistent with other essential considerations of national policy, to improve and coordinate Federal plans, functions, programs, and resources to the end that the Nation may –
1. fulfill the responsibilities of each generation as trustee of the environment for succeeding generations;
2. assure for all Americans safe, healthful, productive, and aesthetically and culturally pleasing surroundings;
3. attain the widest range of beneficial uses of the environment without degradation, risk to health or safety, or other undesirable and unintended consequences;
4. preserve important historic, cultural, and natural aspects of our national heritage, and maintain, wherever possible, an environment which supports diversity, and variety of individual choice;
5. achieve a balance between population and resource use which will permit high standards of living and a wide sharing of life’s amenities; and
6. enhance the quality of renewable resources and approach the maximum attainable recycling of depletable resources.
(c) The Congress recognizes that each person should enjoy a healthful environment and that each person has a responsibility to contribute to the preservation and enhancement of the environment.’
‘There has been concern over links between staff members and industry. The organisation was described as “a hard-line group of advisers with close links to the US oil industry”.
CEQ chairman James L. Connaughton was formerly a partner at law firm Sidley Austin LLP, where he lobbyed to reduce government regulation on behalf of clients including the Aluminum Company of America and the Chemical Manufacturers Association of America.
Former CEQ chief of staff Philip Cooney, was previously a lobbyist employeed by the American Petroleum Institute. In June 2005, the New York Times published a memo internal to the CEQ which showed he had repeatedly edited government climate reports in order to play down links between emissions and global warming. Cooney, who says he had been planning to resign for two years, resigned two days after the scandal broke “to spend more time with his family.” Immediately after resigning, Cooney went to work for ExxonMobil in their public affairs department’
15 March 2008 8:36PM
Climate change myths
Myth 1 – Ice core records show that changes in temperature drive changes in carbon dioxide, and it is not carbon dioxide that is driving the current warming
The bottom line is that temperature and CO2 concentrations are linked. In recent ice ages, natural changes in the climate (due to orbit changes for example) led to cooling of the climate system. This caused a fall in CO2 concentrations which weakened the greenhouse effect and amplified the cooling. Now the link between temperature and CO2 is working in the opposite direction. Human-induced increases in CO2 is enhancing the greenhouse effect and amplifying the recent warming.
Myth 2 – Solar activity is the main driver of climate change
The bottom line is that changes in solar activity do affect global temperatures. However, what research also shows is that increased greenhouse gas concentrations have a much greater effect than changes in the Sun’s energy over the last 50 years.
Myth 3 – There is less warming in the upper atmosphere than at the surface which disproves human-induced warming
The bottom line is that the range of available information is now consistent with increased warming through the troposphere (the lowest region of the atmosphere).
Myth 4 – The intensity of cosmic rays changes climate
The bottom line is, even if cosmic rays have a detectable effect on climate (and this remains unproven), measured solar activity over the last few decades has not significantly changed and cannot explain the continued warming trend. In contrast, increases in CO2 are well measured and its warming effect is well quantified. It offers the most plausible explanation of most of the recent warming and future increases.
Myth 5 – Climate models are too complex and uncertain to provide useful projections of climate change
The bottom line is that current models enable us to attribute the causes of past climate change and predict the main features of the future climate with a high degree of confidence. We now need to provide more regional detail and more complete analysis of extreme events.
Myth 6 – 1998 was the warmest year in the global annual temperature record and this has led some to claim that temperatures have been decreasing ever since.
The fact remains that the rise in underlying surface temperature has averaged in excess of 0.15 °C per decade since the mid 1970s. A simple mathematical calculation of the temperature change over the latest decade (1998-2007) alone shows a continued warming of 0.1 °C per decade. The diagram (right, bottom) ranks global temperatures for the last 150 years. It can be seen that the 17 warmest years all occur in the last 20 years.
16 March 2008 11:29PM
The greatest lack of freedom in Cuba is in the part of it known as Guantanamo Bay.