Archive for September, 2010

Hold the roast, bring on the vegetarian

I know someone who won’t be buying her Sunday roast from Waitrose anymore.

In the Daily Mail today there is a fine exposé, highlighting another example of the creeping Islamization of the UK.

Britain’s biggest supermarket chains are selling Halal lamb and chicken without telling unsuspecting shoppers. Those stocking meat slaughtered according to Islamic law include Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Somerfield and the Co-op.

If you buy lamb from Waitrose then you are buying Halal slaughtered meat. What that means is that the animal is killed by having its throat slit whilst conscious and then having Islamic verses said over it whilst it bleeds to death. I’ve seen a video of an EU-approved slaughter house killing animals according to Halal ritual. It isn’t pretty. I had toyed with the idea of posting the clip here so you could see for yourself. But I decided against it. The animals are in great distress and as someone once said, “there are things that you are going to see that you cannot unsee…”
This is a great example of the hypocrisy of politically correct multi-culturalism which divides society into a hierarchy of victim groups in which Islam always trumps all. Animal rights? Against battery farming? Yeah right on! But Halal butchery? Ur no, can’t offend.
I was listening to a podcast featuring the superb Mark Steyn over at ricochet.com. They were talking about Bridget Bardot, the 1960’s actress turned animal rights campaigner. No one had a problem when she was flying into the Grand Banks of Newfoundland to object to the seal cull. Everybody was cheering when it was the pasty white folks of Newfoundland she was protesting against. But when she protested against the Halal slaughtering of sheep in the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha – now that was racism and she was slapped with a 15,000 Euro fine by the French courts.
Anyway, worth reading the whole article – and time to start writing some letters.

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Bouncer Ken is not on the job

Remember this from the last election? From the Times in October 2009 we had Kenneth Clarke promising a bonfire of red tape.

Ken Clarke promised a nightclub-style “one in, one out’ policy on new rules on business today, vowing that a Tory government would introduce no new regulation without getting rid of an old law.

I wonder what happened to that policy?

“We will introduce a system of regulatory budgets across government, that means no new red tape will be introduced without a compensating cut in the costs and burden somewhere else,” Mr Clarke said.

He would serve as a “bouncer” to prevent red tape from reaching the statute book, promising to chair a new body to scrutinise regulation.

That sounded great.  So why then why do I see this over at Douglas Carswell’s blog (One of the few truly conservative MPs).

This great pile of papers are copies of all the new laws that Brussels has imposed on us over the past six weeks. 

My friend James Clappison, the brilliant MP for Hertsmere, plonked them on my desk on his way to the European Scrutiny Committee – which can neither delay nor veto any of it.

On the day we launch a campaign for an “in / out” EU refereundum, it is appropriate that you should be able to physically see that most of the laws and regulations that govern us are imposed by commission officials – merely rubber stamped by those we actually voted for.

Now I wonder why Europhile Ken Clarke forgot to mention that more than 75% of our laws and regulations come directly from Europe, completely bypassing Parliamentary scrutiny? 

So Ken, where’s the other pile of papers of all the old laws you promised you were going to get rid of then?  Just asking.

 

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Time to stop loving the accountant and start loving the Flat Tax

Last week I had been thinking of writing a follow up to the email I sent you regarding the HMRC but never got round to doing it.

I then saw something on the Adam Smith blog which was very similar to what I had wanted to say. The point I wanted to make was that the reason that there are so many mistakes made in the calculation of taxes is that the system is just too complex. The shifting flotsam of different tax bands, rebates, subsidies and tax credits that change and gets added to with every passing year creates the kind of uncertainty which requires huge departments of tax accountants and lawyers to sort out. The article in the Adam Smith Blog pointed out recent research which shows that the more complex the tax system, then the greater the extent of tax evasion.

As Gordon Brown increased the tax burden and complexity of the system, more productive work was pushed into the shadow economy as the cost of formality rose.

This goes hand in hand with the Laffer curve which predicts that as tax rates rise, then the marginal rate of increase of taxes collected falls as peoples’ behaviour changes. If the more you work and invest to increase your earnings leads to more taxes then the incentive to work and invest falls. Indeed there comes a point when increasing taxes leads to falls in tax revenues as individuals stop producing or look for ways of avoiding paying taxes altogether.

The other week I was watching on cable a documentary on the Rolling Stones and their famous album ‘Exile on Main Street’. They had just fled Britain to escape the penal tax rates of the time. A couple of years later Dennis Healey said he would ‘squeeze the rich until the pips squeak’. Well squeak they did – all the way to Nice in France. Britain’s 1970’s Chancellors thus gave the French taxman the chance to cash in on one of the most successful albums in rock music history.

But at least the Rolling Stones got around to making their album, even if they did it in France. The real misery however of the Vince Cable type of class envy politics lies not just in the lost tax revenues. Higher taxes also leads to lower economic growth, less goods in the shops, less money to buy services, less innovation and more unemployment. This is always the problem with a modern democracy. A politician can get easy and immediate benefits making populist class-envy statements. David Cameron can splash all over the Sun that he will sock it to the bankers and impose a 50% tax on their bonuses. But the maintenance man and sandwich supplier will never know that the job they would have got now no longer exists because the hedge fund has moved to Switzerland. And how many life saving new medical devices haven’t been produced because the capital gains tax rate made it too costly to invest in the project? Politicians love to talk about increasing taxes on cigarettes and alcohol to reduce their consumption. Hence, the current concern about cheap supermarket booze and its impact on binge drinking and falling pub revenues. However, there never seems to be a connection made between raising the cost of work, savings and investment through taxes and regulations, and the fact that by doing so, you get less work, savings and investment.

A far better system would be a Flat rate tax system. Set the tax rate at 20% for everybody no matter how much they earn. There would be no allowances, tax bands or tax credits. People could calculate their taxes on the back of an envelope because all they would need to do is add up all they have earned in the year, take of 20% and send the cheque off to the tax man. Of course this would lead to mass unemployment amongst tax accountants, lawyers and bureaucrats, but I don’t think many people would feel too sorry for them. In fact the ones this would most impact would be the very rich who would no longer be able to use their expensive tax lawyers to avoid paying tax. If you earn $20,000 a year you pay $4,000 in taxes. If you earn 100 times that amount, you pay 100 times more in taxes. No quibbling, no fudging.

There is a reasonable philosophical argument that it is good that everybody has ‘skin in the game’. If you pay taxes you are more likely to want to vote for responsible politicians rather than just vote for those promising more handouts. However, the reality is that the first $10-12,000 is vital to keep people off the breadline. You need every penny just to pay your basic bills. So I would advocate that the first $10-12,000 should be tax free and then after that 20% on all income.

Anyway, here’s a good video on the Flat tax from Dan Mitchell at the Center for Freedom and Prosperity.

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Can I have my pocket money now?

I was shocked to see this article in the Daily Telegraph today. I remember joking with Mathew a couple of weeks back that Gordon Brown and socialists like him would prefer the tax rate to be 100% and then give people back an allowance according to how much they deem we all should have.  Much in the same way as a parent gives pocket money to his children.  The state provides for all the important things such as health and education, leaving the people an allowance to spend on frivolous items like Flat Screen TVs and holidays.  Except of course, in a true socialist utopia we would be lucky if the allowance stretched to an extra portion of potatoes on a Sunday.

 And on that line where one end is liberty and the other tyranny, the idea that a government could tax you at 100% and then let you have an amount back according to what Vince Cable currently thinks is a fair distribution of wealth, would be considered by most reasonable thinking people to be definitely placed on the tyranny side of the line. Yet, the reach of the state has grown not with the jackboot.  Uniformed sofa inspectors bashing down your door and carting away the third sofa under the latest two-sofa-per-household pogram.  Today’s Big Government grows because it is good for you.  Today’s tyranny always comes with a smiley face.  It’s for the good of the folks.  So expect to see lots of stories in the press about millions of people suffering from a system in chaos.  It would be so much better if you would just hand all your cash over to the nice chaps at the HMRC and let them sort it out.

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