Saturday, 31 March 2012

Postage and pasties: some more fine messes that Brussels has got us into

Christopher Booker,Telegraph
"The system whereby VAT must be levied on goods and services derives, of course, from the EU, and its basic ground-rules are laid down in what is known as the Sixth VAT directive (most recently updated as 2006/112/EC). One of these rules is that certain goods, such as food, may be “zero-rated”, meaning that no tax need be paid. But back in 1984 our Tory government decided that, by making an exception (which is unique among EU countries) for fish and chips and other “hot takeaway food”, it could, over the years, raise billions of pounds in VAT. This controversially brought takeway shops into line with restaurants which, under EU law, already had to charge VAT for providing a “service”.

In 1994, however, Herr Manfred Bog, the German owner of three snack vans, embarked on a long legal battle after his local tax authorities ruled that, because his vans had an awning, beneath which his customers could shelter while eating their wurst, he was providing not “goods” but a “service”. For this he must therefore pay full VAT. Last year, as my colleague Richard North explains in detail on his EU Referendum blog, this and other cases were finally decided by the European Court of Justice, which ruled that Herr Bog’s takeway snacks were indeed “food” and not a “service”. He and other takeaway sellers could therefore, as the Sixth VAT directive allowed, be taxed at a lower rate of VAT.

This ruling excited the Fish Fryers’ Federation and other takeway concerns in Britain, where food is zero-rated. It meant, they thought, that not only could they drop their prices by 20 per cent, but also they might be able to claim billions of pounds back from the Government, for all the years they had wrongly been made to pay VAT. To avoid deep embarrassment, our Government had to think hard. The result was Mr Osborne’ s recent decision that hot food sold by shops must now be included as “hot takeaway food”, under the system introduced in 1984 and approved by Brussels. Hence, thanks to EU law, the bizarre new arrangement whereby the price of a cold sausage roll sold tax-free by a village shop will immediately go up by 20 per cent when it is popped into a microwave for 30 seconds."

Friday, 30 March 2012

George Galloway's victory confirms the demise of the radical Left, not its resurgence

"Galloway and his dwindling online fanclub would have us believe that this was a vote for a clear, Left-wing, anti-war agenda. It wasn't. It was not any political virtues on the part of Galloway that won him the election but rather the absence of virtue, and of vision, amongst today's mainstream parties, particularly Labour. Galloway is merely a beneficiary of the decay of politics as we knew it, which means that, far from representing a surge in radical Left-wing sentiment, his victory isn't that different to when a member of the BNP wins a seat on a local council or some UKIP suit gets sent to Brussels."

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

How to get tough with a terrorist: As UK agonises over Qatada, Italy simply ignores Euro judges and kicks out fanatic

Daily Mail
#We can't reverse Italy's deportation of terrorist to Tunisia, admits ECHR
#Tory MP leads calls for Britain to follow suit with hate cleric Abu Qatada

Monday, 26 March 2012

Paracetamol: The stealthy killer lurking in every home

Daily Mail
"Paracetamol is one of the most common painkillers we use — every day thousands of packs are sold in supermarkets and chemists, and it’s our favourite remedy for dealing with a headache. But should there be tighter controls over its sale, when one of the hidden side-effects can be devastating liver damage? The family of Desiree Phillips certainly thinks so — the 20-year-old single mum died last August of acute liver failure caused by paracetamol poisoning. Paracetamol had built up in her body without anyone noticing — the drug produces a by-product known as NAPQI, which attacks the liver. As it gradually accumulates, it can result in a ‘staggered’ overdose. Last November, a medical journal published research showing that just a few extra paracetamol daily can be fatal and that a staggered overdose is much more likely to be fatal than a deliberate one. Doctors say that when the danger levels of toxicity are reached, many patients show no symptoms for 24 hours, by which time it may be too late."

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Why money-printing is like 'global warming'

"It’s like this. The governments and their central banks make as much free money from thin-air through fractional reserve banking and other methods as they can get away with — it benefits those who “spend that new money first”. They spend it at current prices, and pay it back later, after inflation has decreased its value. The people who pay the difference are those who saved and held money while its purchasing power fell. Speculators grow rich, while retirees and savers get poorer."

Fiddling in the shadow of a debt mountain

Daily Mail
"There is virtually nothing in the Budget, either, to beef up a recovery that’s being driven by increased exports (a result of the 20 per cent devaluation of the pound against foreign currencies) or to place real muscle behind the kind of technological and research-based enterprises that are giving such a lift to the economies of America, China and India. Received wisdom is that initiatives such as those were absent because Osborne has so little room for political manoeuvre thanks to the push-me-pull-you nature of the Coalition. But the real reason is starkly revealed in the Budget Red Book that outlines the economic figures behind his public announcements. It’s true that if Mr Osborne can deliver further cuts – including the £10billion of savings from the welfare budget mooted yesterday – then the proportion of national output eaten up by public spending will fall from 48 per cent now to 40 per cent in four years’ time. But the reality is that for all the talk of austerity, government spending is growing inexorably, and is projected to rise year by year from £688billion in 2012 to £756billion in 2016, giving the lie to all the talk of savage cuts".

Osborne Biggest Loser in Budget

Guido Fawkes
"Osborne is spending more than Brown, borrowing more than Brown and taxing more than Brown. The official numbers revealed yesterday show that spending is still rising in real terms, there is no hope of for an “expansionary fiscal contraction” if there is no fiscal contracti0n. The national debt is still rising. The coalition government’s self-defined primary mission, to close the deficit by the next election, is on course for failure. As long as this obsession with fiscal neutrality and timidity towards cutting spending continues the tax burden will not be reduced, the debt will not be reduced and growth will flat-line. Fiscally neutrality is just another phrase for tinkering with the tax burden."

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Cannabis vending machine trialled

Stuff NZ
"Vending machines normally cure the munchies with shelves laden with chips and chocolates, but one being trialled in West Auckland may well cause them.

New Zealand's first cannabis club, the Daktory, has been using the machine - which sells one gram bags of cannabis for $20 - at it's New Lynn headquarters to avoid any of their members being charged with dealing the Class C drug.

The hired vending machine is a standard dispenser but has been filled with cannabis rather than confectionery or toys.

The Daktory was opened in November 2008 and boasted a membership of several thousand before its founder Dakta Green was jailed for eight months for possessing, selling and for allowing the Delta Ave warehouse to be used for drug taking in June 2011."

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Taxman denied more than £1BILLION as rich and famous register their townhouses, mansions and castles abroad

Daily Mail
"A Sunday Times investigation found that rich homeowners have registered properties worth £200billion in 122 different locations around the world to avoid the taxman in Britain in the past 12 years.

The most popular is the Isle of Man, with 23,147 properties registered since January 1999. Other popular places include the U.S., Uganda and Libya as well as The Republic of Ireland, Netherlands and Germany.

Jagger signed a 99-year lease on his Chelsea home in west London in 2008 through a company based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI)."

Road tolls: Yet another gratuitous exploitation of the motorist

Daily Mail
"One consequence of the chronic mismanagement of our economy since 1945 has been the punishment of the motorist. Because driving is the only way for many people to get to work, to get their children safely to school, or to do the shopping, it is a soft target when Governments are hunting for ways of raising extra money. David Cameron’s plan to let the private sector take a stake in our roads network, including by building toll roads, is another such act of exploitation. Motorists already pay through the nose for an overloaded and crumbling roads system via their Road Fund licence, and through the VAT and excise duty paid on increasingly expensive fuel.However, the Government admits that all the revenues from Road Fund licences, duty and VAT on fuel are not used exclusively on building and maintaining roads, and have not been for decades. The truth is that an estimated £33bn is raised from motoring taxes each year, but only £9.1bn is spent on roads. This scandalous fact proves the dishonesty of calling the levy on motorists the “Road Fund - and emphasises how successive and incompetent governments have cynically leeched money off road-users."

I can’t get no satisfactory tax exemption

Daily Mail
"Sir Mick Jagger's Chelsea property is, we learn, registered through a company in the British Virgin Islands. Furthermore, he has been non-resident for tax for the past 40 years. But this will come as no surprise to keen students of his songs.

Professor Christopher Ricks, an international authority on the Rolling Stones and Associate Professor of Satisfaction at Harvard University, says that because Jagger’s enunciation is so variable, for many years even his greatest fans have misunderstood what he has been on about.

‘The majority of Rolling Stones fans have been under the illusion that their songs are about sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll,’ Professor Ricks said in a keynote speech to the London School of Economics last night. ‘But for the past 40 years or more, the songs of the Rolling Stones have been principally about tax avoidance.’

Monday, 19 March 2012

Memo to Cameron and Obama: if you want cheaper oil, stop printing money!

"The point Ron Paul makes is a very simple one: when you print money everything – including oil – gets more expensive. Sure it may suit the Obama/Cameron narrative to insist that the oil price rise is down to external factors like Chinese demand or the tensions with Iran. But the truth is that a lot of it is a problem of their own making thanks to Quantitative Easing (QE) policies which are not only stealing money from savers, encouraging a misallocation of resources, and punishing pensioners, but which are also massively increasing the cost of living and the price of oil.

As Paul notes, "someone is stealing wealth and it's very upsetting."

As Paul also notes, by some measures, the price of a gallon of gasoline has gone down since 2006 (when Bernanke took over the Fed) not up. He demonstrates this by pulling a silver ounce from his pocket. Six years ago that silver ounce would have bought just four gallons of petrol in the US. Today it could buy eleven gallons. The difference is the devaluation of the world's reserve currency caused by quantitative easing.

Think of that next time you hear an expert telling you that QE is the measure best designed to save us all from ruin."

Monday, 12 March 2012

Global liquidity peak spells trouble for late 2012

"The global liquidity cycle has already rolled over. Assuming that no fresh action is taken, world economic growth will peak within a couple of months and then fade in the second half of the year - with grim implications for Europe’s Latin bloc."