Friday, 22 June 2012

Poverty

The Guardian have put up a nice little tool on their website to calculate how far you are from the poverty line.

Apparently, I'm pretty much on it.

What. The. Actual. Fuck?

I earn the equivalent of around £18,000 a year. I'm not fantastically well-off. But I wouldn't describe my living conditions anywhere close to poverty. I have heat, shelter, clothing, food, water, security and access to medical treatment. Hell, I even have Sky TV. I cannot, in any serious use of the term, be described as being 'in poverty'.

Now, I don't doubt that there are a small minority of people in the UK that still do live in poverty. If your quality of life is so poor that you are effectively denied access to one or more of the above criteria, you are in poverty. Given that we are fortunate enough to live in a society where security and access to medical treatment are provided by the State (although not particularly efficiently, but that's a different argument), that leaves us only 5 considerations for ourselves.

So, a minimal energy bill would cost around £60 a month, say? That's based on my bill of £90 a month which allows me to live in relative comfort. The rent on a small bedsit - £150 a month. Sustainable food for one person - about £80 a month. Average water bill - around £30 a month. That's a total survival bill of £350 a month, or £4,200 a year.

Being unable to afford Sky TV is not poverty. This is poverty.
 So that's the real poverty line in this country. Not around £9,000, which the Guardian calculates it is for a single person.

The fact that real poverty still exists in the UK shows that:
  • The current benefits system isn't fit for purpose, because it gives money to people who aren't actually poor;
  • Poverty cannot be eliminated simply by throwing money at the problem, as that's what we currently do, and poverty still exists.
Of course, that throws into confusion the entire ethos of the current welfare state set-up, doesn't it? So maybe it's actually time to start addressing the causes of poverty, rather than just its symptoms.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Tax Avoidance

I am getting bloody sick and tired of the constant Leftist rhetoric on tax avoidance. I am also sickened that some of this pathetic nonsense is emanating from Government Ministers.

'Oh, it's an outrage!'

'How DARE those people avoid paying taxes?'

'The rich should pay their fair share.'

Which leads me onto a little question: why is tax avoidance classed as immoral?

Because it shouldn't be, and here's why.

Tax avoidance is often conflated with tax evasion. It is important to make the difference. Tax evasion is deliberately not paying tax that is due. Tax avoidance is arranging your affairs in order to make sure that you aren't paying any more tax than you need to.

There can be no doubt about tax evasion being immoral, and illegal. The State, although it does have an unpleasant tendency to waste a lot of our money, does need to be funded, in order to guarantee individual freedoms, property rights, the rule of law and mutual defence and security.

However... why should anyone pay more tax than they need? The State is not a charitable cause. The State is not a voluntary organisation. The State is not virtuous. The State funds itself by robbing others. The State is a necessary evil, nothing more.

If some people want to give more money to the State, of their own free will, they will receive no criticism from me. They're entitled to do whatever they like with their money, even if I personally disagree with it. However, what I do with my money is nobody else's business. And after I have paid my taxes, what is left is my money, which I have received in exchange for my labour. And I will do what I like with it.

I, personally, choose not to give more money to the State than I need to, because the State has a high propensity to waste money, and spend it on things I don't want. Much as though I am sure that many of the charities the Government funds do sterling work, I do not value that work. I do not identify with the causes of Stonewall. I do not visit the opera, and therefore find it ridiculous that my taxes should subsidise tickets that I don't buy. I don't go to art galleries. I do not use leisure centres. Yet I am forced to pay for them all, through the taxes I have to pay. I resent that enough, so I'm certainly not going to voluntarily give more money to those causes.

I will spend my money on the things I want it spent on. I will give money to my brass band, and my local working men's club. I will give money to my local church. I will give money to the charities that I like, such as the National Trust. Then I spend half of what's left on wine, women and song. I'll probably waste the rest.

So, if a millionaire comedian decides that, actually, he really doesn't want to give an extra £1million A YEAR to the Government for them to spend on shit it thinks we need, I'm not going to criticise him. I'm going to fucking applaud him.

'Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.'
- Matthew 22:21

In other words, pay what is due.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The Civil Service

I found this little gem on the Telegraph website today.

The Government are apparently announcing a plan to reform the Civil Service. Not surprising - just about every Government tries to reform the Civil Service. Which, in itself, speaks volumes about the effectiveness of reforming it.

But what caught my eye was a few little entries.

The article clearly states:

'We are very aware that the public’s and the media’s perception of the Civil Service is too often that of the clich├ęd "Sir Humphrey". So let’s dispel some of these myths now...'

And then goes on to say...

'The Civil Service has to have a culture which is pacier, more innovative, less hierarchical and focused on outcomes not process. We also need sharper accountability, in particular from permanent secretaries and those leading major projects...' (Bold highlights are mine).

Hmm... sound familiar?

So, basically, what you're saying is, the Civil Service is absolutely nothing like Sir Humphrey Appleby, that famously obtrusive Permanent Secretary in 'Yes, Minister'. And then go on to describe exactly how the Civil Service suffers from Sir Humphrey's most notable characteristics.

Perversely, with such an act of misdirection, obfuscation and verbal meandering, Sir Humphrey would be delighted to express his warm satisfaction with the expression of ideals that fundamentally underpin the necessity of a Civil Service which promulgates and perpetuates the continued government of Britain, whilst maintaining its consistent integrity and impartiality.

In other words, he'd be proud of the way you tried to lead us up the garden path. Isn't that right, Humphrey?

"Yes, Minister."