Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas & A Prosperous 2011!

Or if you prefer...

Best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral, winter solstice holiday, practised within the most joyous traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, but with respect for the religious persuasion of others who choose to practice their own religion as well as those who choose not to practice a religion at all; plus... A fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the generally accepted calendar year 2011, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions have helped make our society great, without regard to the race, creed colour, religious, or sexual preferences of the wishees.

By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms:
This greeting is subject to no further clarification and while it may freely transferable with or without any alteration, the sender's right for its withdrawal at any time with no explanation is reserved. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/himself or others and is void where good tidings are prohibited by law. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first. Warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher. Any injuries or distress caused are purely tough luck.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Dear Luke Pearce

This is in response to a letter by Luke Pearce to Sir Philip Green as published on

Dear Luke Pearce

You do make a poor argument. You will undoubtedly carry out your purchases from another, possibly very similar business to the Arcadia Group, which will have their own ways of minimising the impact of taxes on their bottom line.

As with all outgoings in a business, tax is just another expense. This, combined with other expenses affect the cost of products, the wages of staff and the profitability of shareholders (many of which, if not most are ordinary people like you and me), who actually own the business. Sir Philip Green's job is to minimise these costs to be able to (a) provide a return to shareholders, (b) keep prices of his products low and competitive and (c) generate enough money to be able to pay his workforce in line with or above market rates.

The assertions in your letter seem to suggest that Sir Philip Green should voluntarily pay more tax than he legally owes. Why would anyone in the their right mind structure their business in a way to maximise costs? How absurd would that be?

Please note the distinction between tax avoidance and tax evasion. Tax evasion is non-payment of taxes due and a crime. Tax avoidance is a way of structuring your finances in a way so that you don't pay more than you have to. As allowed by law.

Sir Philip's partner, born in South Africa and a resident of Monaco is not liable for taxes in the UK. You are assuming that £285 million is untaxed. That's wrong. It IS taxed. In Monaco. Are you suggesting Her Majesty's Government tax people who are not British and not resident in Britain?

As a public servant, you are not driven by the need for growth and profitability as people who risk their all in running a business are, but I am sure you understand what it means to reduce costs. You do it too, when you shop around for food, clothes, mortgage deals, benefit entitlements, etc. Or buy cigarettes and liquor from trips to the European mainland. Okay, I'll admit there's a difference in scale but the principle is the same.

I don't see how you see yourself as 'shortchanged' and a victim. Was it your money that he earned? I wonder if you have ever voluntarily paid more tax that you were legally obliged to. I think not.

What if I suggested that every time you make a purchase, donate a percentage of the cost to the HMRC? It's the same thing - if Sir Philip Green pays more taxes, his products will cost more. Eventually it is YOU, the customer who will have to pay more.

On another note, you were able to shave off a whopping £120,000 or 45% of your non-staff and overtime budgets. I can only imagine the amount of flab there might have been for you to be able to almost halve that. And I suspect you already know you're going to better that.

If you must protest, then do so to bring down taxes in this country so we are competitive internationally. And if we're all in this together, surely there are 'culprits' other than Sir Philip Green's wife (who dutifully complies with the law of the land), who you could be targeting. For example, that great bastion of the left - The Guardian Media Group's parent company is one half of a joint venture that is incorporated in the Cayman Islands. Eden Bidco, the holding company formed by the Guardian Media Group and private equity house Apax last year to acquire Emap, is also registered offshore.
I wondered if you knew.

Yours sincerely

A very concerned citizen

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Graduates, here's one view

Graduates are ten-a-penny these days and half of them cannot spell to save their lives. University has become one big 3-year long drunken haze for most young people. I know, because I've hired a few over the last few years. Imagine, a literature graduate who didn't know where "One may smile and smile and be a villain..." came from! None of the people protesting seem to have done the sums on the new proposals. That's how bad their level of functional maths is... Pay for it and only then will you make it pay for you.

There are of course a lot of graduates that actually go to university for the right reasons and none of this is about them.

The Liberal Democrats' pledge does not matter. It really does not. They did not win the election, so they can't be held to it. What they have done in terms of concessions from the Conservative manifesto is laudable. If anything, Liberal Democrat voters should be proud. A lot of things have to be cut, a lot of sacrifices have to be made. Some of it WILL be driven by ideology, some by pragmatism and some simply because there is no room for any kind of manoeuvring...
They would have probably kept the pledge at the cost of something else - HAD they won outright, which we all know was highly unlikely. So why is university funding a more emotive issue than cuts in primary and secondary education or weekly bin collections or cuts in speed cameras? Well that's because some interest groups are more easily led (and mobilised) than others. Students are a classic case. They say that if you aren’t a liberal at 20 you have no heart. And if you’re aren’t a conservative at 40, then you have no head.

The tragedy is that most students in the UK have no idea what it's like to want an education so badly that you'd walk bare feet for 10 miles and study under street lamps. What they're objecting to is freebies being withdrawn. Like a spoiled child. The truth is nothing is free. Someone ends up paying for it. The old system makes posties and cleaners pay for educating doctors and diversity officers. What do they get in return? Nothing. Nothing at all.

Yeah, the argument is that we need doctors, we need teachers, doctors, dentists, etc. But we pay them handsomely for it, through our taxes or incomes. Should we pay for their degrees too? I don't think so.

This isn't about Tory-Labour-LibDem. It's about being so fanatically socialist (liberal?) that peoples' sense of responsibility is usurped and they end up completely impotent and dependent on the state. I'm no Neocon, but I don't think a race towards the lowest common denominator is the right way for any society.

I talk from experience in the real world. Actual people, actual capabilities, actual claims of competence. And actual let-downs. A few days ago, I got into a discussion with a sales assistant who said her 3-year, £18K, 'Meeja studies' degree was a way of 'finding herself' and a hobby', and I'm thinking - "I helped pay for that? Sheesh!"

A few days ago, I was debating this with a group of young people, one of which was a protester. I asked him if he'd read The Browne Report. His answer? "Wots dat?" A truly jaw-dropping, facepalm moment.

What students SHOULD be protesting against is the level and standard of education (dumbed down GCSEs to break records each year, Mickey Mouse degrees that mean nothing in the real world).