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Everything posted by Wayo

  1. e) A larger population means a larger GDP figure (regardless of per head) which satiates their megalomaniac tendencies (I am in charge of the xth largest economy, we are the xth biggest) etc.... f) They employ some of the immigrants they let in. Do you have trouble finding a good nanny? UK Population density is 413 per km2, 255 is for the UK including Scotland (for the time being).
  2. Pretty irrelevant 'what about isms'. Western Europe wasn't left for Hitler and Stalin and today Eastern Europe won't be abandoned and left for Putin to pick over. Assuming you are in Western Europe, you should be grateful that someone chose at least twice to interfere a very long way from their own borders. The majority of those in East Ukraine are not ethnic Russians, so nor is there any reason to 'guess' it would be their wish to be picked over either.
  3. I am unsure what is worse - not getting lots of money you were expecting, or realising you weren't going to get it before the sum was even due? If the base on which the fiscal plan was calculated was artificially inflated by a one-off effect caused by the 45p rate, that sounds to me to be worse than one particular year being a bit soft. I certainly don't think Ladbrokes will offer odds on Osborne or anyone else getting close to balancing the UK budget by 2020, let alone 2018-19.
  4. At least the fine does seem to be based on a failure to undertake a duty required in an Act of Parliament, and not a politicians personal view of what is or is not 'moral'!
  5. It seems to destroy the myth that parking enforcement is done to raise revenue! Perhaps the politicians are telling the truth for once - and it is actually done to punish and deter dangerous, illegal and inconsiderate parking on pavements, main roads, dropped kerbs and pedestrian crossings? If they don't want to deter people from using town centres, they need a flexible parking charges policy that accommodates these sort of trips. Clearly sustainable town centres will always be at a disadvantage if the planners give up endless green fields for metal sheds, with hundreds of free parking spaces, only to tell aspiring home owners there is no land for housing. Often in these developments 50% of the land is given to parking and yet there is minimal business rates liability created. Another misallocation of resources that a land value tax would start to address. If the management contract were competitively tendered it is difficult to see how something so low risk with little value added could create much opportunity for profiteering.
  6. It is a good job President Roosevelt wasn't in this mindset in 1941, or Western Europe would have been left for Hitler and Stalin to pick over.
  7. If Iran had nukes, Israel probably wouldn't exist. If Saddam had had nukes in 1991, Israel, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia probably wouldn't exist, unless your argument is that the Gulf War wouldn't have happened because nobody would have dared lift a finger to him? Which is hardly a comforting thought given some of the crackpots that manage to end up running countries. If Russia hadn't discovered / stolen nuclear technology, we might not have had the Cold War nor the Cuban Missile Crisis. Perhaps ISIL and North Korea should be given nuclear weapons to better balance the odds? For the many faults of Western leaders, many people living in the west don't realise how safe and well run their countries actually are.
  8. How can they fine someone for not breaking the law? Inevitably when this gets debated, politicians indulge themselves in trying to define some sort of moral duty to pay tax. There is no moral duty to pay tax, and company directors have a legal duty to act in their shareholders interests. If government wants them to pay tax, they need to change their own tax code so it isn't so ludicrously easy for them to avoid paying.
  9. My reading of the 2015 changes is that 75% of any sum you take out is taxable as pension income, but you could take the whole lot if you wanted. Contrary to the BBC article, this can only happen after age 55, savers won't be able to take out sums 'when they want'.
  10. A four bedroom house, with four toilets? They might as well call it a small block of flats...
  11. Most low paid employees are worth far more to employers than they get paid. An abundant supply of cheap labour means profits are rising and wages are falling. There are already huge costs attached to this, as taxpayers subsidise low pay in the form of top up benefits and tax credits. If the government wanted to lower housing costs, it should stop paying over the odds to build them in woefully inadequate numbers. There are plenty of people with the money, it is government taxes, levies and of course Planning Controls that inflate the cost of both land and house building.
  12. I think everyone's understanding of real and nominal GDP is correct. Confusingly the graph is an error chart - cumulative errors in the June 2010 GDP forecast (Chart 2.5 from the OBR Forecasting Evaluation Report of Oct 2014). Basically inflation has been much weaker than the OBR predicted, so nominal GDP has been much lower (below forecast) as a result. Debtors often rely on inflation to inflate their debts away and UK plc is no exception. We can guess much of the rest without even reading the Telegraph article - fiscal drag hasn't brought in as much tax as they hoped as inflation has stayed down and wages haven't increased. Wages are taxed at a higher rate than most economic activity. The article even quotes the OBR telling us we get more tax from fewer workers in high paying jobs than more people in work, but earning lower wages! Who'd have guessed? Cameron sees his role in life as getting as many people into work as possible, almost regardless of what they earn. It is a pity they didn't also look at population growth, which is around 0.5-0.7% per annum. Sadly politicians, with megalomaniac tendencies are preoccupied with being the biggest, or growing their economy faster then Frank or Angela at No.20. More people means more public services, and the current and increasingly unrealistic expectation is for these to be of a 'first-world' calibre. However 'second-world' wages and productivity are becoming entrenched, thanks to an unregulated EU labour market and government subsidies for low pay through in-work welfare. The OBR is working to a yardstick of Osborne's promised 'balanced' budget in 18/19 - it won't be of course because he can't keep cutting real terms wages for nurses and subsistence level benefits, while people wait for weeks to see their doctor and there are elections to win through bribing people with costly cash withdrawals made on their own credit card. Long before then, spending will ramp up, and like Brown, his much talked about, but little seen, fiscal responsibility will be pushed another 5 years into Narnia.
  13. When will Nick Clegg be writing a cheque for £2.4m of stolen money that was donated by a convicted fraudster? Although the money was stolen, they haven't returned it to the victims, and their defence seems to be 'it's the Electoral Commissions fault for not checking', 'we've already spent it', 'we didn't realise it was stolen at the time' and 'Mr Brown made £60m through fraud, so it isn't fair to concentrate on the £2.4m he gave to us'. I see some bank in Australia is making a gambling addict pay back a $150k bank error at $150/week, probably with interest too, after he burnt through the lot.
  14. The minimum wage would not need to be £21k/yr if housing were not so expensive. Such a high minimum wage would be going after the symptoms and not the disease. That said, there needs to be a recognition this country is based on high wages and high skills. People expect public services and welfare far in excess of what can be afforded in a '£10/month labour market' and employees need to be far more productive than those in low wage economies. World Class public services are unsustainable in any such of race to the bottom. Sadly the narrative that we need large numbers of low wage / low skill migrants to subsidise our pensions black hole is leading us down a blocked alleyway.
  15. British Rail was starved of money. Since 1995, like everywhere, credit has been easy and the card has been worn down. Network Rail now has a debt pile of over £30bn, underwritten by us and until recently 'off the books'. The main difference between East Coast and the others, is it is today run not unlike the flagship route of British Rail (which it was) in contrast the attitude of the privateers. The fundamental difference between utilities and railways is railways generally lose money - even East Coast isn't fantastically profitable when you have paid for the infrastructure. So most franchises are profit maximising by service minimising - delivering the basic franchise commitments without spending any more than it has to on frills like cleaning things or cutting queues. East Coast have long, busy trains with big payloads. Cross Country, West Coast and others have gone for lots more new, very expensive trains and high frequency. There aren't many more trains from Kings Cross to the North as from St Pancras to Sheffield and Nottingham. Not being a 7 year franchise going from mobilisation to marking time in 2-3 years, is definitely an advantage. Contrary to public belief, the public sector is also far more risk tolerant than the private sector and it was a bold step to introduce a full meal service on all of their trains when no doubt the bean counters were telling them the cost of everything and the value of nothing. But don't underestimate the capacity for government screw ups. The new Japanese Intercity Express trains (which come with their own UK factory for purely political reasons) will cost twice as much to lease as even the tilting trains Virgin bought for the West Coast line, so don't expect the dividends to last once Whitehall really gets stuck in...
  16. The last thing I would want to see is the Government trying to decide which markets are specialised or not. They are already Soviet in their outlook on energy generation, health and social housing. If you take the view the budget should roughly balance (unlike recent years) then simply grant work permits only where they are backed by a job paying at least the median / average wage. That way working migrants should be paying in roughly a minimum of what they will take out in public services and benefits. Restricting their access to benefits only means they will take jobs below the minimum wage, driving down pay and living standards for everyone, going 10 to a house to put a roof over their heads. The idea that working migrants earning £6.50/hr, paying almost zero tax and being eligible for first-world public services is benefitting the exchequer, was always a shameless fiction, just as it is for non-migrants. Next start raising the minimum wage and shrinking the benefits envelope that exists between a minimum living standard and the minimum wage. Things will cost quite a bit more, but we are already paying once through unemployment, once through wage subsidies and a third time for what we are actually buying.
  17. Some of the questions are completely ridiculous. A cook at home steak is what £4.50? They aren't asking for anything else to itemised to that level of detail. It is more tick boxing and liar loans - are they going to ask for till receipts to see if you eat steak or fresh pizzas that cost much the same? Are they going to repo the house if you said £10/month at the hairdressers and then decide to get extensions? They need to stick to hard facts - student loans, service charges, council tax, basic salary before bonuses and ditch the ridiculous scrutiny of noisy and discretionary spends. But anything that puts a pin in the currently crazy inflation in asking prices has to be a good thing.
  18. It is widely quoted that thanks to Green Belt planning regulations, more of Surrey is gold courses than housing. So the argument goes, people want the green belt preserving, even though they often have little or no right of access to it, as in the case of golf courses or intensive farming. Although the biggest NIABY (not in any backyard) going, and no doubt the owner of half a dozen country piles, Jenkins does talk some sense on this topic. There is a virtual war going on, where even if local planning refuses the most outrageous development plans, the developers have them forced through over their heads on appeal. The government has bought hook line and sinker the developers narrative that almost all the new homes needed must be built on greenfield sites, when there are hectare after hectare of unused and under developed sites in towns and cities. Jenkins cites the Peak District being under siege from development plans, while down the road in Sheffield, there is mile after mile of post industrial land, crying out for developing. Rather than develop in a structured, planned and though out way, building communities, we are just loosening our belt a notch and allowing the urban spread to expand another 500m at a time, until the next round of development. Take the example here in Swindon, the northern fringe of the hugely bloated suburbs is now at Tadpole Farm, approx. 5 miles from the centre. Meanwhile developers went to the Planning Inspectorate to gain permission to despoil the area close to Coate Water with 900 homes right next to one of the few genuine beauty spots in the town, while much of the existing urban area is chronically underdeveloped, not least thanks to the decision to build the new hospital more than 3 miles out of town on a main road, when so much of the town centre is barren. Two thirds of the hospital site is car parking (about 2,000 places now, completely full, tailbacks, missed appointment etc...) not surprising given the totally detached location and difficulty reaching the site from across town by public transport, and now of course more housing development is proposed around what was a largely rural setting. When the hospital moved it was only given permission to be out of town on condition a maximum number of spaces were permitted - since ripped up of course in light of the ensuing chaos. What housing is being built is aesthetically terrible and you can see this from the air too - a shambles of different designs scarcely two buildings seem to be the same height, facing to differing aspects, set back different amounts from the streets with incredible amounts of wasted space, land for car parking and vastly over engineered local road infrastructure. Because these new estates are completely detached from the towns and cities they are completely unsustainable, with one car per adult, every journey beginning and ending on the driveway. It doesn't even matter being in the shadow of a motorway (Wichelstowe) as a rapid exit to the M5 is now a major selling point. Jenkins is also an advocate of a land value tax, which apart from the many other things going for it, would be a serious step towards curtailing the over development of our rural landscape and focussing on what already exists in our built up areas. The experience in Harrisburg is well worth reading up on in this respect.
  19. From a historical point of view it would be interesting to know how Reading ended up with these 2+1 terraces with the stairs coming up the middle of the main reception. However bedroom 3 only being accessible through bedroom 2 is no use for modern living and defies even the obvious remedy of moving the bathroom from the back of the kitchen to upstairs. Reading like much of the south I imagine, is crazy at the moment, with houses around the £180-250k mark on at 25%+ of their 2006-2010 highs. Very little seems to be hanging around on the books and agents are doing open house events as well as demanding best and final offers. Just looking at 31 Connaught Road, sold Mar 2012 for £149,950 on this week at £205,000 - a delightful 2+1 format terrace. Some people are going to get badly burned when this one blows...
  20. Can you highlight some areas where large private companies are forced to spend money on diversity or sustainability? Forcing and choosing are different things. Having a strong PR ethic, means you are quickly sucked into the vortex of setting yourself carbon emission and recycling targets, but a lot of sustainability is just about saving money and has very little to do with the environment. Very few of the jobs cited sound like they have much to do with any sort of legal compliance. Perhaps there are new EU regulations saying that all organisations with over £1m turnover now have to monitor all media comment referencing themselves, sustain an active social media presence, run stakeholder panels and commission regular market research into public perceptions and attitudes toward them? On diversity, the disparity between HR headcount in public / quangoland and the private sector is startling. How did the BBC ever manage to have 1,000 people working in HR?
  21. This is a new angle - price rises so more people sell houses increasing the supply of houses. House prices will only return toward normality when their generous tax treatment changes and / or the absurd levels of lending are reined in that allow people to buy on such large income multiples with such low deposits.
  22. Female and state school educated. Practically untouchable. The Telegraph also suggested her aides made thinly veiled threats about press regulation while they were digging up her rampant abuse of taxpayers money.
  23. The 650 in Westminster certainly do. Buy a house in London. Bill the taxpayer, Move in parents, remortgage for double the purchase price, bill the taxpayer. Sell for £1m profit, tax exempt as primary residence.
  24. The only person who got to Downing Street this century with any policies declared was Clegg, who broke most of of his promises. We now have a lame duck coalition that has no agreed policies and can't agree on any new ones. Cameron is already talking about tearing down the onshore wind farms that he (sorry we) have spent the last four years subsidising. Tony Blair 1997 - Class sizes of 30 for 5-7 year olds Fast track youth sentencing £100m NHS red tape saving Not much of a manifesto? Weird Ed has done more in opposition than many do in Downing Street - energy price freeze and full market reform pinched and adopted by HMG. Stopping the missiles going raining down on Syria after Cameron has practically opened the launch tubes. Blair was loathed for being style over substance, but a whiff of substance and folk start complaining about his voice and other irrelevant nonsense.
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