Informal Drinks, Libertarian Home Meetup Thursday 5th May

As many of you will be aware Simon has been very busy organising the Benevolent Laissez Faire conference. Also a group of Fascists… sorry I mean the Police… have booked our usual spot at the Two Chairmen in Westminster.

As a result we’ve decided to revert back to an Old Skool meetup of just drinks and a chat. Due to popular demand, AKA Andy’s continuous complaints, we will be holding this meet up at the Crown Tavern in Farringdon — see the map below.

Take a look at our Meetup Event, let us know you’re coming, and to confirm the details… May 5th, 6:30 till late at the Crown Tavern near Farringdon Station.

We hope to see you there for a beer, a wine and chat about Brexit, what a twat Osborne is and whatever else takes your fancy…

Normal service will resume in June. And remember to get your tickets for Benevolent Laissez Faire

Screenshot 2016-04-21 at 10.08.02

The Panama Papers Tell Us Nothing and We Have No Solutions

What exactly do the Panama Papers tell us? Nothing, absolutely nothing. There is nothing surprising in the Panama Papers at all.

The Guardian have made a good job of the whole shock horror, class war, what about the poor millenials thing, but ultimately there is very little to say.

Is anyone surprised that wealthy people like to keep hold of their money? That maybe they don’t see handing it over to an incompetent State as the best option available to them? Or that crooked tyrants from Russia to China to Africa and even Icelandic Premiers use these tax schemes? The answer to all these questions is no! Not a single person should be surprised by any of this.

One interesting aspect to this story, that Nico raised in his post, is why this leak occurred, who was behind it and who benefits from it. It certainly isn’t Dave the Lorry Driver from Dagenham…

Of course something must be done about the Panama Papers and all this tax haven stuff. If something isn’t done what about the children..?

There have been calls for greater transparency, light is the greatest disinfectant and all that… It’s not by the way, I believe Dettol is… Either way, ‘transparency’ is a typical look at John with the new BMW, not at me policy. Transparency is a ‘great idea’ if it just applies to large corporations and the rich… But imagine if we all had to be transparent. Imagine if we all had to reveal what we were earning. How difficult would it be to work out that Steve and Janice across the road were living off their credit cards? I mean, a big house, two new cars, 3 kids, a holiday in Lanzarote and only earning 40k. Who are they kidding..?

Transparency is a terrible idea because it means the end of privacy and absolutely everyone has something to hide. The only proven method of reducing evasion and avoidance are flatter, simpler, lower taxes. Russia implemented a flat tax of 13% in 2001 that has been very successful, it even increased revenues God forbid… The reason flatter, simpler, lower taxes work is because they reduce the need to avoid or evade tax — the risk is no longer worth it. They also make it far easier for authorities to administer and enforce them — just look at Estonia.

No one I’ve seen however is suggesting we move to flatter, simpler, lower taxes. There are obvious reasons why no one is suggesting this. It would entail a significant reduction in the size of the British State. And as we know our money is the cocaine our State thrives on…

However we could move to a flatter, simpler system that removed all other taxes, even if that meant we had for example a two rate system based on income of 40% and 60%. Now those rates may not be high enough to cover the largesse of the British State, but even if we had to set the rates higher it would still solve a lot of problems.

Despite the obvious logic of a simpler tax system it hasn’t happened and doesn’t look like it will. The reasons for this isn’t necessarily obvious at first. However it’s rather simple, it’s all to do with image. The reality is our government and politicians like and benefit from our complicated tax system. It’s politically convenient and it looks good — it looks progressive. On the one hand politicians can claim they’re redistributing wealth via taxes and at the very same time they can leave open or create various loop holes to keep their system ‘competitive’.

There is also a myth that persists which states that you can tax a legal entity. When I say legal entity I of course mean a company, it’s why we have Corporation Tax and Sales Taxes. We like to pretend we can tax companies. I mean we can’t just let them do their evil work here and not pay any tax, that would be outrageous!! Sadly though all taxes ultimately fall on the individual — higher costs, lower wages, etc, etc…

The reason we have taxes like Corporation Tax is because it looks good, it seems fair. Companies must contribute something to our green and pleasant land… However as most contractors know, myself included, our ‘companies’ pay all the taxes and we pay as little as we can as individuals. This though is simply an accounting trick, a little bit of magic. I am the one who goes out and earns all the money for my company, every penny of tax paid by my company comes out of my labour. The legal entity doesn’t just magic the money and tax out of thin air, I have to work for it, it’s not as if I work for Goldman Sachs…

A simpler system would just tax the income I take from the company. Then there would be little need for any trickery and company directors would pay the same amount of tax as the company cleaner.

There is though another reason governments like our current tax system. It obfuscates how much Tax we actually pay. People don’t notice tax so much when it’s 20% here on your income, 20% on the TV you just bought and 10% in ‘National Insurance’. Our current system reduces the direct impact of our State’s largesse. Imagine if we actually had a flatter, simpler tax system like the one outlined earlier and this meant all income over 20k was taxed at 50% and over 40k at 70%. People would be furious, the next elected government would deliver austerity on speed. Both the government and the electorate prefer to rob and be robbed quietly over an extended period of time, not upfront and in your face like some sort of Mafia gangster…

If we actually want to reduce tax evasion and avoidance we need to move to a simpler more competitive system. Continuing to complicate our current system with more rules and regulations simply won’t work and we will see more and more Panama Papers.

Christopher Snowdon [@cjsnowdon] Releases the First EU Nanny State Index

Christopher Snowdon of the IEA has released the first EU Nanny State Index and it makes depressing reading for those of us in the UK. According to the analysis, that assesses the tax and regulation of ‘sins’ such as smoking and drinking, the UK is rated 3rd worst — far, far behind places like Germany!!

This is important work by Chris so go check it out and share it far and wide…

nanny_state_index

#BrusselsAttacks Are Not an Excuse for Arresting an Idiot

As many of you will be aware earlier this week a group of crazed jihadists brought death and destruction to the streets of Brussels. They killed over 30, injured hundreds and damaged important infrastructure.

After incidents of this nature emotions often run high and some people react in stupid ways. One example is Matthew Doyle from South Croydon who supposedly confronted a Muslim women and asked her to explain the attacks. He allegedly posted to Twitter…

I confronted a Muslim women yesterday in Croydon. I asked her to explain Brussels. She said “Nothing to do with me”. A mealy mouthed reply.

As a result, according to the Daily Mail, he has been arrested, charged and held in custody…

A talent agency boss alleged to have posted a controversial tweet about confronting a Muslim woman over the Brussels terror attacks has been charged with inciting racial hatred.

The tweet, said to have been posted by Matthew Doyle, 46, from south Croydon, sparked social media outrage and countless parodies after it went viral in the wake of Tuesday’s atrocities in Belgium.

Doyle, who attended private Wellington College, was arrested on Wednesday, and police today said he had been charged with with publishing or distributing written material which is threatening, abusive or insulting, likely or intended to stir up racial hatred, under the Public Order Act.

A spokesman said he was being held in custody, and was due to appear at Camberwell Green Magistrates Court tomorrow morning.

There is little doubt that My Doyle potentially posted something stupid, some may even find it deeply offensive — it’s certainly something I wouldn’t do. However it is an outrage that this man has been arrested and charged.

It seems that there is no actual evidence that he did what he said he did in his Tweet, which explains why he has only be charged with making “racist comments”. Quite how someone can be charged with “racist comments” when the target of his idiocy was a global religion is beyond me though. Remember there over 1 billion practicing Muslims worldwide and the country with the largest Muslim population is Indonesia. It is a non-racially defined religion just like Christianity.

But enough quibbling, the true outrage is that we have a law that can be used to lock people up for “publishing or distributing written material which is threatening, abusive or insulting, likely or intended to stir up racial hatred”. The important point here, and I’ve stated this before, is none of these things are objective, they are all subjective and open to interpretation.

What someone finds threatening, abusive or insulting is entirely down to them. When a drunk man in a pub recently called me a “boring ginger bastard” it didn’t particularly bother me, I was more concerned that he was harassing my friend’s wife. I certainly wouldn’t want to see him locked up for a drunken remark. I just wanted him to F the F Off…

This sort of law places untold power in the hands of the prosecutor, AKA the state, as it could be applied to almost any scenario. For example, imagine I shouted at someone in the street, “F*** off you McDonalds eating pleb!”. Is that not insulting or abusive? Yes it is. Should I be locked up for it? In a free country, no. Under this law though I probably should be, because associating someone with McDonalds may be very distressing…

It seems a little pointless to me to claim that the ‘Free World’ is fighting the scourge of Barbaric, Anti-Freedom, Salafist Jihadism when the ‘Free World’ criminalises certain forms of Free Expression. Even if that Free Expression is completely idiotic. In a free society you allow society to deal with the idiotic, not the state.

As one Twitter user proved, social ridicule is often the best ointment for the idiotic…

Confronted a self-service machine in Tesco, Asked it to explain Brussels. It said “Please place items in bagging area”. Mealy mouthed reply.

Update 2016/03/26: It would seem the CPS have seen sense and forced the police to drop the charges. The fact that the police have the idea that they can arrest people for this sort of thing is very worrying though.

#JuniorDoctors We Don’t Pay Doctors for Saving Lives

If you’ve been following the wonderful Sam Bowman on Twitter recently you will have noticed his rather amusing ‘Trolling Campaign’ against the #JuniorDoctors pay dispute. Or as some of us might describe it, his attempt to talk sense to them.

Sam’s intelligent, logical views can be summed up in a nice article he wrote for the International Business Times. Do go read it

However what I find interesting are the responses to Sam’s views which are often very emotional. A good example of this is provided in one of the Facebook comments in response to Sam’s recent post. Note I am ‘mr software engineer’…

Than scale the wages to keep the juniors interested long enough to stay in before quiting or biting out. Ok mr software engineer, when was the last time you saved a life? I don’t hold with the argument that they need to stick into it till they are earning well. Peoples lives are literally in there hands, what we do is inconsequential in comparison..Sam you talk a lot, and software engineer dude you write code well I guess but c’mon they save lives! You can’t put a price on that!

You can see in this comment that saving lives has been conflated with a doctor’s pay. That is we place an infinite value on our own lives thus doctors deserve almost infinite levels of pay and respect because they help safeguard and save these objects of infinite value…

The issue is though we don’t pay doctors good wages because they save lives — far from it. And how do we know this? Well because there are plenty of professions that also save lives but the individuals involved don’t get paid anywhere near as much. So there must be another factor that explains doctors pay.

There are many examples, and a very good one is a Fireman. This is a very dangerous job that results in saving many lives. A Fireman though will earn depending on seniority somewhere between £22,000 and £57,000. Not even close to the £100,000 salary of an experienced doctor.

In other ‘socially valuable roles’ that deal with matters of life and death the picture is the same. As an officer in the Army you’d have to reach the rank of Lt Colonel before you were playing in the same ball park as a Doctor. And if you enter as a private you’re never going to get close, even if you run up an exposed hill several times under heavy enemy fire, saving your comrades and fighting off 20 heavily armed members of the Taliban…

It’s the same for Paramedics, Nurses and the Police. It’s also the same for people in professions who make life possible and sustainable. Farmers are not rewarded in the same way as doctors despite being the bedrock of civilisation for thousands of years.

The simple fact of the matter is doctors are paid a handsome salary because they are intelligent, highly skilled professionals, in high demand. It is not because they save lives. They are no different to highly skilled Lawyers, Accountants or ‘mr software engineers’.

They cannot expect to simply click their fingers and get whatever they want. They are not of unique social worth. And if we did base pay on perceived social worth then as far as I’m concerned Firemen should be paid £200,000 per anum… Cos I ain’t gonna go running into no burning building any time soon…

I’ve written about this before, if doctors are unhappy about what they are paid and how their contracts are negotiated then they need to change the way it is done…

Beware Outlawing the IT Contractor Mr Osborne

It seems Mr Osborne’s attack on contractors continues apace… In the last 12 months or so we’ve had VAT Moss, the Dividend Tax and the proposed but defeated 1 month IR35 rule.

One suspects Mr Osborne really doesn’t like contractors and now we’re going to have to watch the budget, once again, very closely

George Osborne is planning a clampdown on a tax dodge used by media stars and mandarins who have their salaries paid through special companies to save thousands of pounds a year.

The Chancellor is expected to use Wednesday’s Budget to tackle the practice of paying staff ‘off the books’, which costs the Treasury more than £400 million a year.

As many as 100,000 people – including senior civil servants and NHS staff – receive their income through personal-service companies: it is intended to benefit temporary workers, but is widely used as a perk by long-term employees.

A couple of points to make here… First you shouldn’t base legislation around a minority of celebrities and useless, overpaid bureaucrats. It won’t end well…

Second the £400m figure lost to the treasury has clearly been plucked out of thin air. It is based on what contractors are paid today. If contracting were outlawed wages would drop dramatically so there would be far less to tax — also no VAT to collect. My prediction, an even bigger black hole in tax receipts…

But my main point here is that huge swathes of Government IT infrastructure is supported by contractors. The very people George wants rid of. The reason is simple to understand, contractors are far more flexible and they don’t add to the employee head count. If George continues with his war he will shoot himself in the foot eventually and I can imagine a little conversation in a few years time between him and one of his SPADs…

SPAD: Wake up George, wake up!!

Gideon: What… What is it..?

SPAD: Nothing’s working George! None of it’s working!!

Gideon: What do you mean, ‘none of it’s working’?

SPAD: The servers, the applications, the IT infrastructure… It’s all offline, it’s all down!!

Gideon: What!! How?!? Is it the Chinese?!?

SPAD: No, no, not the Chinese… There’s no one left to maintain it… I mean there’s that guy Steve who we promoted from admin to Head of IT, but no one else.

Gideon: How?!? How is there only one man maintaining our whole IT infrastructure?

SPAD: Well sir, and you’re not going to like this, you outlawed contractors.

Gideon: Didn’t you offer them permanent positions?

SPAD: Yes, but as one developer put it, “I’m not working on a Government IT mind fuck for £35k a year!”

Gideon: But that’s a good wage, you said they could earn 50 if they worked hard for 10 years? I mean where have they all gone..?

SPAD: Yes, yes we told them all that, but they just laughed and said they were going to work in Advertising…

Gideon: Advertising?!? Why?

SPAD: Well it turns out you get free coffee, a beer trolley on Fridays and there are floors and floors of young, normal, attractive people who might talk to you…

Gideon: Shit!!

The Crime the Baby Boomers Actually Committed

In typical fashion Brendan O’Neill has taken it upon himself to once again prick the bubble of Generation Y moaners. This time in relation to their gripes with the Baby Boomers and all their ‘wealth’…

To see how entrenched historical amnesia has become, consider this remark made by a member of Generation Y, those born between 1980 and the mid-1990s, in theGuardian this week: ‘My parents’ generation [the Baby Boomers] was luckier… they were able to go straight from university and move to London and afford their own flat.’

Excuse me? Whose parents went to university? Mine didn’t. I can’t think of a single kid at the Catholic comp I attended in the 1980s and early 1990s whose parents ever darkened the door of a university. As to that earlier generation, the Baby Boomers, buying flats in London — what are you talking about? I remember being surrounded by renters when I was a kid. You’d hear snatches of conversation about cobbling the rent together, keeping the council off your back, etc. Where is this generation, these Boomers, who all went to Uni before waltzing into a secure job and slapping down a few grand on a mortgage man’s desk and saying: ‘Gimme that apartment’?

It doesn’t exist. It is pure myth. And it’s a pernicious myth. There are many ugly things about the new generational politics, or what some refer to as the ‘generational jihad’ of Generation Y in particular, many of whom now devote great energy to slamming those born between 1946 and 1964, the Boomers, whom they accuse of having had such plush, resource-sucking lives that there is now no money left for the new generation to buy homes or be happy. But perhaps the ugliest thing is its mythmaking, its promotion of the utterly false idea that an entire generation, the Boomers, had it good.

He is quite correct that the Baby Boomers didn’t have it easy. Many were born when rationing was still in place — it ended in 1954 after my mother was born.

He does miss one minor point though, the value of graduates has fallen dramatically. As he points out the number of graduates entering the market place has increased from 5% of 18 year olds to 43%. In addition the cost of education has increased massively, almost infinitely for the individual paying. Now we can argue over the rights and wrongs of this and the impact of globalisation. However some may feel rightly aggrieved that they are encouraged into something that results in little value and a lot of debt. That though is probably a subject for another time…

Generally many Millennials have little to complain about. On almost every scale life has improved since the 1950s, and many Baby Boomers had it far worse. To provide another anecdotal example, my mother grew up on a council estate in Blackburn in the 1950s. She dragged herself up through grammar school, to Leeds university and then went off to France to study further.

On her return she met my father. A man who came from a broken home in the south of England. While a highly intelligent man, he reads Le Monde every day, it took him some time to find his place in life. He met my mother while working as a painter and decorator at a university when she was training to become a teacher.

Money was tight for the first 15-20 years of their relationship. The first house they bought was a tiny, gutted, terraced house in a small town in Hertfordshire. My dad at the time was about 30 and my mother slightly older, so not dissimilar to the buying age today.

My father then spent nearly 10 years rebuilding and extending the house and my sister and I had to share the same bedroom for many years. Eventually we did move to a bigger, nicer place when my Dad’s career in construction began to progress.

If you meet me today you would think I come across as very middle class — I do, I’m not ashamed of that. This though is not a result of money but because both my parents are capable, hard working and intelligent people who encouraged me to make the best of myself. Despite one or two difficulties in life I simply can’t claim that my parents have had an easier life than my sister or I. In so many respects mine has been far, far easier. As a 31 year old I probably earn double what my parents combined income was at the same age. This has taken a decade of hard work, but still I am very lucky.

Yes the Baby Boomers benefited from a massive boom in house prices and it is difficult for me to buy a property in London… However they had to get through a period when interest rates were at 15% — just imagine that… I live and grew up in a far richer, advanced and pleasant country than they did, and life is generally good. Even when you compare the poor of today vs the poor of yesteryear.

There is though one crime that the Baby Boomers did commit and we Millennials can and should be justifiably angry about. The only problem is that it looks like we Millennials will continue to commit the very same crime.

The crime of course is that the National Debt now stands at over £1.5 trillion; the annual deficit at over £70 billion; and the state now spends over £700 billion per annum. In addition Government spending has increased every year for at least the last 15 and there hasn’t been any significant decrease in the last 50, possibly longer. One must seriously question therefore whether austerity really exists.

So if the Baby Boomers committed a single crime it is that they have built, or let politicians build, a huge, bloated, interfering state that spends far too much and is borrowing from future generations to fund itself. This will of course cause significant harm to future generations when this debt needs to be paid off or it simply explodes. Some may even go so far as to say that this nannying state has played a significant part in moulding and creating what Brendan calls ‘Generation Whinge’.

The really sad point here though is that instead of attempting to resolve this issue the Generation Y moaners look like they will demand it continues, or even increases.

So maybe Brendan wasn’t harsh enough, we Millennials are not only spoilt, moaners, we’re also greedy and stupid…

#SadFace 😦