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Money | Anorak - Part 3

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Money in the news and how you are going to pay and pay and pay

Europe’s robot sex brothel provides stiff competition for sex workers

The robots are coming! Well, not yet. But one day they will. The Daily Express says flesh and bone prostitutes have forced a mechanical sex parlour in Barcelona to shut. What the paper calls “Europe’s first sex robot brothel” is no longer open for business because women complained that the plug and play sex dolls were ruining their livelihoods.

We hear from Janet, a sex worker in city’s Raval district. “It is another strategy of the patriarchy that presents us as objects without rights or soul,” says Janet. “A privilege of the wealthy classes.”

 

lumidoll sex brothel

Live cam

 

For those of you uncertain if you were shagging an on-the-clock polymer sex doll or an on-the-clock woman, the Express tells its readers who have been on Stag dos, rugby club dinners and business trips to the Spanish city that the the house of ill repute was at 2 Baixada de Sant Miquel “in the Spanish city’s Gothic quarter, north of the cathedral”.

“The rooms are decorated with candles,” the paper noted in a previous story, “a single glass of cava and a bowl of strawberries, with pipped music that is similar to Michael Bolton. The TV also plays pornography.”

Yeah, that one. The one that shows Keeping up with the Kardashians on loop.

Posted: 22nd, March 2017 | In: Money, Reviews | Comment (1) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Unions are good because it’s hard to sack bad workers

There are many way to praise the public sector but in the Guardian you can read about a new one. In a story entitled ‘Do the maths’  Abi Wilkinson praises unions and the work they do securing workers’ rights and improved pay. All good, then. She tells us unions ‘save taxpayers money in the long run’.

‘Research undertaken on behalf of the Trades Union Congress found that, in the public sector, there are 8,000-16,000 fewer dismissals every year thanks to union reps,’ she tells us. Employers prevented from sacking staff they consider inefficient or slack is a good thing and makes sound economic sense. Who knew?

Not stopping there, she adds, ‘Recruiting and training new employees is expensive, and it’s estimated that £27m-£54m of public money is saved by reducing staff turnover.’

How on earth does it help productivity and efficiency if you create an environment wherein its very hard to get rid of failing workers?

Posted: 16th, March 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Money | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


The F-rating doesn’t give an F-word about movies

The movement towards creating explicit codes of behaviour for every aspect of life – especially the messy bits about sex –  welcomes the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), which is now using the ‘F-rating’ to signal films of a feminist type. This is “so [viewers can choose films that fairly represent women on screen and behind the camera.” It is “applied to all films which are directed by women and/or written by women and/or have significant women on screen.”

That part about ‘significant women’ opens up a few issues, not least of all when it comes to grot movies, especially the girl-on-girl sort. The F-rating might not be the best guide to family entertainment or indeed anything approaching entertainment of any strain. But, then, the F-rating is not about films; it’s about educating the masses and turning people – wonderfully complex humans – into quotas. The official F-rated website explains the vision:

‘The stories we see on screen need to be told by a broad spectrum of people to represent our diverse culture. Without change, we will train the next generation to only recognise white males as the protagonists and the ones in control of the cameras, scripts and budgets. As well as equality on screen and behind the camera, more female film critics from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities need to be welcomed into the industry so that opinion and feedback is balanced.’

It’s certainly not about viewers, many of whom are women. It’s about gender. The thinking is that female film fans go to the cinema not to seek escapism but to reaffirm their identity. You’re not watching them; you’re looking at yourself. But you’ve already got free use of Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook to gawp at idealised filmic versions of yourself, so why spend good money on watching a narcissistic film?

Note 1: If equality is the mantra, then the IMDb could look at itself. According to Wikipedia, the IMDb ‘originated with a Usenet posting by British film fan and computer programmer Col Needham entitled “Those Eyes”, about actresses with beautiful eyes.’ Col is a white male – and since he flogged the site to Amazon, a very rich one.

Note 2: Amazon is owned by Jeff Bezos, a rich white male. Amazon Inc. has 7 ‘Officers’. All are white. One is a woman. Amazon has 11 directors – 9 of whom are male. Should businesses get an F-rating, too – and if so would the IMDb warrant one?

Posted: 15th, March 2017 | In: Film, Money, Reviews | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


The North Face’s revenues v profits

More financial illiteracy in the Guardian (natch.), wherein we learn about those anoraks TV reporters love to wear:

It’s a sales pitch that has yielded big profits. The North Face reported annual revenue of $2.3bn last year, with 200 stores around the world.

Profit does not equal revenue. They’re not the same thing. The North Face is a thriving business controlled by the VF Corporation, which also owns brands like Vans, Reef, Timberland and Eastpak. To equate annual revenue with profit – negating all costs – is absurd.

As for which brands are doing best, the company’s report for 2016 tells us clearly:

 

the North Face profit

 

The profit margin across all brands for 2016 was 9.95%.

 

Posted: 7th, March 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Money | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Uber driver are workers not employees and Travis Kalanick should drive

uber row

 

The video of Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick arguing with an Uber driver is all over the media. Kalanick is seen talking with Uber driver Fawzi Kamel. The conversation between the man Forbes estimates to hold a net worth of over £5.1billion and the mini-cab driver runs like this:

TK: Good to see you man, thank you.

FK: Good to see you too. I don’t know if you remember me but it’s fine.

TK: So we are reducing the number of black cars on the system over the next six months.

FK: Yeah it’s good.

TK: Yeah you probably saw it on the email.

FK: I saw the email, it starts in May. It’s all about the rating but you, you’re raising the standard and dropping the prices.

TK: We’re not dropping the price on black cars.

FK: Yeah but in general.

TK: We have to, we have competitors. Otherwise we’d go out of business. 

FK: But you have the business model in your hands, you could have the price as you want but you choose to buy everybody a ride.

TK: No, no, you’re misunderstanding. We started high end. We didn’t go low end because we wanted to, we went low end because we had to.

FK: Why? (Because of) Lyft?

TK: Yeah.

FK: That’s a piece of cake right there.

TK: No, it seems like a piece of cake because I’ve beaten them. But if I didn’t do the things I did, we would have been deep (inaudible).

FK: Why? We could go higher and more expensive.

TK: So here’s the thing. Luxe is in San Francisco so I have guys working on Luxe which will be 15 to 17 percent more expensive than black…

FK: But people aren’t trusting you anymore. Do you think people will buy cars anymore? We’ll buy them through Europe and invoice, nobody wants to buy a car. I lost $97,000 because of you. I’m bankrupt because of you. You keep changing every day.

TK: Hold on a second, what have I changed about black?

FK: You dropped the prices.

TK: On black?

FK: Yes.

TK: Bulls***. Bulls***.

FK: We started with $20. How much is the mile now, 2.75? 

TK: You know what, some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own s***. They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck.

FK: Good luck to you too but I know you’re not going to go far.

Kalanick comes across as a greedy and rude swine.

Newsweek says this is just the latest episode in a company mired by a ‘dysfunctional culture, bad press, a sketchy financial outlook [and] dissatisfied employees’.

Is there a certain delight in hoping the mighty will fall? ‘Every time we take an Uber we’re spreading its social poison,’ says Laurie Penny in the Guardian.

Keep in mind she’s talking about catching a taxi when she writes:

What we’re dealing with here is a new class of bastard: the bro gone pro, the freewheeling post-Randian slimeball whose insecure sense of entitlement is the foundation of his business model… This matters because Uber is more than just a tech firm. It is a social engineering outfit masquerading as a tech firm… Here’s the awful truth: we have entrusted the reorganisation of our social infrastructure to the sort of people who shout at their subordinates and drivers and view women as a collection of parts. We do not owe these people our money or our admiration.

All that from hailing a car. And more!

It remains to be seen whether Uber will be damaged by the activist call for riders to please, for goodness sake, stop using this service. A great many people feel they have no option but to be complicit. Uber grew in the social sludge of American cities with patchy and precarious public transport provision and high unemployment. In areas where there are few late-running trains and taxis are unaffordable, taking an Uber home is the ethical equivalent of the greasy late-night kebab: you know it’s bad for you, but there’s a filthy, guilty pleasure in being able to meet your immediate animal needs. Your gut might make you answer for your midnight takeout, but it won’t kill you.

Using a service like Uber, however, is slow social poison. We are living in a socioeconomic reality whose driving philosophy can be accurately described by a sauced-up frat-boy in the back of a taxi, and we continue to venerate its winners. How much complicity can we tolerate before we get off this dodgy ride?

First world problems never got so important.

Another Guardian writer is conflicted. Sonia Sodha writes: ‘My finger has hovered over the delete button on more than one occasion. So far, I haven’t pressed it.’

And you thought President Trump had issues with that other button.

And then he looks at the fact – and gets them wrong:

The extent to which drivers are satisfied in the here and now is irrelevant to whether they are employees or self-employed in the eyes of the law, and the rights to which that entitles them. In a scathing ruling last year, an employment tribunal ruled that Uber drivers are, in fact, employees, because Uber exerts a degree of control over them – including dictating the price they can charge consumers – that should not exist between a company and its self-employed contractors.

Wrong. They are classed as ‘workers‘. Workers enjoy some of the rights of employees but not all. They also get a degree of flexibility, which many Uber river prefer.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 5th, March 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Key Posts, Money, Reviews | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Fake views: George Osborne on post-Brexit Protectionism

It’s not fake news – it’s just spin. In a story called ‘Project Fear is BACK’, the Mail spots former Chancellor and perpetual Remainer George Osborne warning that the UK leaving the European Union without trade deals would be the ‘biggest act of protectionism’ in British history.

Speaking at the British Chambers of Commerce annual conference in Westminster, Osborne opined:

“Let’s make sure that we go on doing trade with our biggest export market, otherwise withdrawing from the single market will be the biggest single act of protectionism in the history of the United Kingdom and no amount of trade deals with New Zealand are going to replace the trade that we do at the moment with our big European neighbours.”

What utter nonsense. Protectionism is about what you import not what you export.

If tariffs can be rebranded as protectionism, which is bad, why not allow free trade on goods traded with all countries? Mixing politics with trade is fraught with bias and agendas.

By way of an example as to how stupid things can get, the Economist told us:

FORD makes transit vans in Turkey, with passenger seats in the back. When the vans are shipped to America, the brand-new seats are immediately torn out and recycled.

Why? Because 46 years ago, Europe slapped tariffs on American chickens. America retaliated with a tax on European commercial vans.

To get round this, an American firm’s European factory adds passenger seats to its commercial vans so they can be classified as passenger vans, which attract a lower tariff. Then it trashes the seats once the vans are safely landed in Baltimore.

Sometimes the rules that make the least sense last the longest.

Unless you vote out of a trading bloc and trade the world as an open market.

 

Posted: 1st, March 2017 | In: Money, Politicians | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Coffee-housing to win The World Series of Poker

We often hear of a poker face, but what of a poker mouth? Most of today’s tournament players try not to give anything away in the game’s cut and thrust. They sit still, stoic in baseball caps, hoodies and sunglasses. They only speak to state their move. It was very different at the 1973 World Series of poker, where the aim was to rile and unsettle opponents with ‘coffee-housing’, what would now be called ‘banter’. Get a reaction by irritating opponents and watch them go ‘on tilt’. Keep going and look for ‘tells’. These verbals unsettle and misdirect the other players. If used skilfully they can mask the talker’s own ticks and telltale signs.

It’s not civil. It’s not sportsmanlike. But it sure can be effective. Poker is a human game. Communication is not banned. Your noisy bluff can get your opponent to fold – which might be your only chance of winning the pot.

The 2016 WSOP Tournament Rules dealing with table talk are listed below:

113. Table Talk / Disclosure: participants are obligated to protect the other participants in the Tournament at all times. Therefore, whether in a hand or not, participants may not:
a. Disclose contents of live or folded hands.
b. Advise or criticize play at any time.
c. Read a hand that hasn’t been tabled.
d. Discuss strategy with an outside source while involved in a hand.
e. The one-participant-to-a-hand rule mentioned in Rule 111 will be enforced.

Special Exceptions:
1. A participant is allowed to mention the strength or content of his/her hand if no other participant in the hand will have a decision to make.
2. In heads-up events or when down to the last two participants in a Tournament, participants may speak freely regarding the contents of their hands.
3. The Floor Person reserves the right use his/her judgment to determine if one participant intentionally helped another participant. Participants who violate this rule are subject to penalty in accordance with Rules 40, 111, and 112.

116. Etiquette Violations: Repeated etiquette violations will result in the imposition of penalties assessed by the Tournament Staff. Examples include, but are not limited to, unnecessarily touching other participants’ cards or chips, body, or clothing, delay of the game, repeatedly acting out of turn, betting out of reach of the dealer, or excessive chatter. Excessive chatter includes, but is not limited to, talking or conversation that causes a disruption of participants who are in a hand.

The video hereunder of that 1973 series features Walter ‘Puggy’ Pearson ‘making a speech’, telling Bryan ‘Sailor’ Roberts: “I’m not trying to bust you now. I guess you trying to bust me, go ahead.” Roberts goes all in. He’s holding a flush. “Sailor, please have a hand,” says Pearson. “He can’t have one this big.” Pearson then reveals his pocket aces. Will Roberts cave in and fold? No.

The last card is served. Person gets lucky and scores a full house. Roberts’ flush is beaten.

 

Posted: 27th, February 2017 | In: Money | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Blaming fat kids for the NHS ‘crisis’ is absurd

More new on fat people, society’s pariahs. The Telegraph has news:

Fat children, not the elderly, are fuelling the NHS crisis, a leading doctor has said.

Has anyone whose attended an NHS clinic or hospital been confronted by pods of fat children waiting to be treated? No, me neither. But Lord McColl of Dulwich, a  middle-aged non-fat former surgeon, thinks fat kids are to blame.

Th paper has form with fat-blaming. These are just two recent stories it’s featured:

If your child is fat then you are a bad parent

Why you never get over a fat childhood 

The Tele’s not alone in its assault on fat children. The Mail told its readers: “Fat children will ‘collapse the NHS’: Number of 11-year-olds weighing more than 15st DOUBLES in a year.”

The latest barb aimed at young bloaters is rooted in Lord McColl’s words to the Lords:

“It’s not so much the old people getting older – because old people have always been getting older. The difference in the last 30 years is the grotesque increase in young people getting fatter and fatter.”

What can be done? Narrow the hospital doors? Maybe we can wonder why at a time when lo-cal diets are all the rage and  TV news routinely features dire warnings on fat, people are getting fatter?

Lord McColl has repeatedly warned of an obesity epidemic, telling peers last year it was “killing millions, costing billions and the cure is free – just eat fewer calories”.

Eat less and the NHS will be saved billions. No need to invest at all, then. you need to starve them.

Posted: 10th, February 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Money | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


The Guardian seeks unpaid BAME workers for its ‘society of journalism’

“Young BME people! We know you need help getting into journalism. Come work for us for free!” tweets Marie Le Conte (@youngvulgarian). She spotted his great advert in the Guardian. The paper wants to give BAME journalists the chance to be unpaid workers. Although you BAMEs do get BFH – Bus Fair Home.

 

 

The Guardian BME jobs

 

Previously.

‘Join the fight against unpaid internships’ – say the Guardian.

Posted: 6th, February 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Money, Reviews | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Brexit: get football agents to negotiate best deals for UK plc

The Government is advertising for trade negotiators. This might be the job to suit the country’s brightest and best football agents, the kind of people who understand that the day a client signs a contract is not the end of their role in matters. There is always the next deal and the next to arrange and sound out. The best agents work to protect their clients’ futures. They focus on the long-term. And they do their prep work.

One Guardian writer doesn’t get it. The top “post-Brexit international trade negotiator, tasked with sealing deals from North America to New Zealand”, will earn £160,000 a year or more, he tells us. And then he says this:

Critics also think the salary is a waste of money for the first two years of the five-year contract because the UK will be unable to reach agreements until the terms of divorce from the EU are finalised in 2019.

You can’t sign the deal until the trade window opens, but you can negotiate any deal before hand.

When looking for signs of idiocy it’s always useful to consult Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, who opines:

“Appointing a trade envoy on £160,000, who will be paid more than the prime minister, who cannot actually do their job for two years, shows how frankly stupid this government is being over Brexit.”

Tim, no. They can do their jobs. They can negotiate and daft agreements. They can showcase their talents. And when the trade window opens, they will have done their homework and be ready.

Posted: 29th, January 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Money, Politicians | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


No, FTSE CEOs do not take home 130 times the average wage

The Guardian’s take on finance continues to entertain. In “Here are six ways to achieve a truly ‘shared society’”, Frances Ryan turn to ‘Income Equality’.

She links to a Guardian article which states CEOs at FTSE 100 companies are paid “130 times more” than the median pay of other staff (source). But Ryan alters that to become: “FTSE 100 CEOs take home 130 times more than their staff.”

Surely not. What of tax on wages, which is progressive – the more you earn the more tax you pay? Tax rates are how society views pay. It might not be fair that the man or woman at the top earns lot more than the average toiler in a shareholder-owned entity, but to negate the effects of tax is absurd.

 

Posted: 14th, January 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Money | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Fatcat bosses and the Daily Mirror’s shareholder problem

Who is the “Fattest of Fat Cats”. The Mirror leads with news that he’s banker Horta Osario. He earns £8.7m a year. But he’s just one of the “fatcat FTSE bosses”[who] will have raked in £28,200 each in 2017 – the same as the average worker will earn on the whole year.” The Mirror lists the fatsos raking in the dough. We see again Osorio (Lloyds Bank), Tony Pidgley (he founded “house building giant” Berkeley and is paid £23.3 million a year) and Jeremy Darroch (the £16.9m-a-year chief executive of Sky plc) and more.

 

daily mirror pay

 

The Mirror does not show that chief executive Simon Fox “saw total pay and benefits for the year [2015] rise to £2,349,000, compared with £1,678,000 in 2014″.

In 2012, the Guardian reported:

Trinity Mirror boss Simon Fox awarded £1.2m in less than four months – Newspaper publisher chief executive’s salary, benefits and shares were awarded between 10 September and end of 2012

His wage is above average.

On page 2, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady (the Mail says her deputy gets “£88,000 a year, 47 days holiday and a gold-plated pension”) says “even when they [fatcats] perform badly top bosses get huge rises and bonuses.”

Back to the Press Gazette’s report on Trinity Mirror and Simon Fox’s massive pay packet:

Regional and national newspaper publisher Trinity Mirror has announced operating profit down £16.4m to £82.2m for 2015 on turnover down £44.6m to £592.7m.

“Are bosses really worth 172 times a nurse or 145 times a teacher,” asks Dr Wands Wyporska of the Equality Trust.

Maybe the Mirror’s board can help provide an answer.

Of course, what the CEO of a big company gets paid might be none of our business. Their pay is down to the shareholders.

Posted: 4th, January 2017 | In: Money, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Wages, inflation a Guardian reader’s cup of coffee: a journalist’s confusion

Journalists are notoriously bad at numbers. Writing in the Guardian, Patrick Collinson is talking about how things were better years ago.

The Bank of England governor told us this week there has been a “lost decade” of wage growth. But is the truth really a lot worse than that?

It turns out that the question is rhetorical. Collinson knows. He’s looked at his dad’s old tax returns:

In 1963-64 his pay as an accounts clerk in London was £1,357 a year. In today’s money that equals a little over £25,000 a year once inflation is taken into account.

Is it? Inflation is the percentage change in the value of the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) on a year-on year basis. The Office for National Statistics tells us: “The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) is the price of a representative basket of wholesale goods.”

Changes in the prices of goods bought and sold by UK manufacturers including price indices of materials and fuels purchased (input prices) and factory gate prices (output prices).

And there’s the Retail Price Index, a comprehensive measure covering goods and services bought by most households. And there’s the Consumer Price Index, of which the FT says:

On a particular day every month, thousands of ONS inspectors collect 110,000 prices for more than 650 goods and services in 150 places and over the internet. This basket of goods and services is based on a survey of the spending patterns of 6,000 households and is continually updated.

Since there is no such thing as a typical household – not everyone smokes, drinks, eats out, buys rail tickets or pays school fees or a mortgage – the inflation rate of each household will differ from the average.

People who spend a lot of their money on services – childcare, hairdresser visits and restaurants, for example – will have faced a higher inflation rate in recent years given the much larger rise in services inflation than goods inflation.

Inflation is measured by comparing the price of the same or comparable things over time.

Collinson continues:

In some ways that £25,000 doesn’t look so great. After all, someone working in a similar role with his level of experience at the time might expect £35,000-£40,000 today. But then look at what an income of £25,000 bought in 1963 in London.

And look at what it buys you now. Yeah, it buys you the same stuff. Collinson has compared wages by looking at inflation.

His granddaughter now works in the same city, London, for the same pay, £25,000. But what does an income of £25,000 buy you in 2016?

As Tim Worstall notes: “Well, actually, it buys you a basket of goods worth exactly the same as £1,357 bought you in 1963. Because that’s how we work out what the inflation rate is.”

Quite.

PS: The Guardian is appealing for cash. It wants readers to pay £5 a month to read the paper online. And in the Guardian’s world the desired £5 donation is “the price for a cup of coffee”. The headline of Collinson’s story: “Oh for the 1960s! People earned less but could afford more.”

Life was frothier than your expensive coffee back then.

 

Posted: 10th, December 2016 | In: Money, Reviews | Comment (1) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Jose Mourinho’s tax problems shame Manchester United and Chelsea

Jose Mourinho is “the rich one” in the Sunday Times’ look at the Manchester United manger’s financial affairs. The allegation is that “a complex offshore structure” has allowed Mourinho “to dodge tax on his image rights income”.

Is it all legal? We should suppose it is. But after the words “criminal investigation”, the paper looks at the cash – pots of it. The paper says since arriving in the UK in 2004 Mourinho has been paid – get his – £120m in salary. Much of that cash came from Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea. Perhaps the paper would be best served looking at the owner’s sources of income. In 2015, the Times Matthew Syed was scathing of the Russian:

The money that has bankrolled Chelsea these past 12 years, which has brought multiple trophies while sanitising the image of one of the most dubious individuals ever associated with British sport, was corruptly amassed

Back to the Mourinho, then, and his cash:

An investigation by The Sunday Times has found evidence suggesting that the Manchester United boss’s advisers misled the tax authorities in Britain and Spain during inquiries into more than £10m in earnings hidden through a Caribbean tax haven.

In an attempt to reduce his tax bill, Mourinho’s advisers appear to have fabricated more than £1m in costs run up by a British Virgin Islands shell company with no employees.

They also withheld from the tax inspectors the fact that Mourinho’s family were the true owners of the shell company.

The story is based on a “1.9-terabyte cache of data was originally handed to Der Spiegel, the German news magazine, by a whistleblower who does not wish to be named”. We are told why he’s leaked the data. “It is time to finally clean up football,” he says. “The fans have to understand that with every ticket, every jersey they buy and with every television subscription, they are feeding an extremely corrupt system that is only in it for itself.”

As is the way with big scoops of the past years – politicians’ expenses; the US embassy cables;  Hillary Clinton’ emails – the source is huge wad of data dropped on the media’s mat. It;s quickly packaged up as story of bad versus good. But how many of us see the Tax Man as a force for righteousness?

The paper notes:

It shows how the super-rich can employ highly paid advisers and lawyers to shield them from the tax laws that apply to everyone else. The public rarely gets a glimpse into this world. Until now.

Of course it all boils down to one thing: greed. But let’s not too be hard on Mourinho. Football relies on talent. The more talented the football name the more more they get. Revenues run to the workers. Jeremy Corbyn should enjoy that.

Whether or not Mourinho is overpaid or underpaid is neither here nor there. You could defend Mourinho by looking at the vast amounts of tax he has paid. You could say that a foreigner deciding to spend and invest his cash overseas is to be expected. You could see the taxman as an arbitrary force of state power.

What makes us curious is the power Mourinho enjoys. If the man who was indulged at Chelsea so long as he was winning – witness his hideous treatment of referees and Dr Eva Carneiro – is mired, it is not so much down to him as it is the clubs that stuck him on a pedestal and ignored and deflected criticism of odious behaviour that in any other industry would get him sectioned.

Mourinho’s people say they and he have done nothing wrong. But if he has cheated, the clubs that poo-pooed criticism of his antics and in so doing encouraged belief that he is free to exist outside the laws of acceptable behaviour, need to answer questions, too.

 

Posted: 4th, December 2016 | In: Back pages, Chelsea, manchester united, Money, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Camelot hackers make Daily Star readers worry more than most

The Star once more leads with Lotto news. And as ever it’s bad news. “Lottery site hacked, it could be you,” warns the front-page headline. The story goes that hackers have “stolen” the passwords of 26,000 people registered with the National Lottery’s website – “Dozens had email addresses and passwords stolen”. It looks like they did. But the theft did not occur on the Lotto site.

 

daily-star-lotto-hack

 

‘Experts say it could have “serious consequences” for those who use online bank accounts,” says the paper. Why the Star should lead with this story can have nothing to do with the fact that it’s owned by Richard Desmond – the Press baron who also owns the Health Lottery, a rival to the Lotto.

The Mirror has a slightly different angle on the same story:

Thousands of National Lottery players’ accounts are feared to have been hacked after Camelot confirmed “suspicious activity”. Around 26,500 accounts fear to have been compromised after the log-in details were accessed by a third party. Camelot claims it doesn’t believe it’s own system was hacked, but that the details were taken from elsewhere. It added that no money has been withdrawn or added to any accounts.

 

daily-star-lotto-hack

 

And in the Guardian, we get this:

About 26,500 National Lottery players are facing compulsory password resets on their online accounts after they were apparently accessed by cybercriminals.

Camelot, the firm that operates the game, said it had become aware of “suspicious activity on a very small proportion” of accounts, and it was now taking steps to understand what had happened. Logins may have been stolen from other websites where players use the same details, it said.

Far be it for us to stick up for the greedy, kak-handed so-and-sos at Camelot, but it’s useful to have all the facts.

Says Camelot:

We would like to make clear that there has been no unauthorised access to core National Lottery systems or any of our databases, which would affect National Lottery draws or payment of prizes. In addition, no money has been deposited or withdrawn from affected player accounts.We do not hold full debit card or bank account details in National Lottery players’ online accounts and no money has been taken or deposited. However, we do believe that this attack may have resulted in some of the personal information that the affected players hold in their online account being accessed.

The advice is to change your passwords and use different passwords for different products. And if you read the Star, look at least one other news source for the full story.

Posted: 1st, December 2016 | In: Money, Reviews, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Work at Buckingham Palace for ‘less than minimum wage’ and a flat in Mayfair

Buckingham Palace is been given a refit. The Mail’s Sebastian Shakespeare is shocked and dismayed that the penny-pinching Queen will not chip in to help with the £370m refurb. So tight is Her Majesty that staff are being short-changed. Below the headline “Gardener at Palace won’t get London Living Wage: Staff member would have cost of living in docked from their salary”, he writes:

The Royal Household is advertising for an experienced, qualified gardener who will be paid £17,000 per year — which works out at £8.72 an hour for a standard 37-and-a-half-hour week.

Grrr!

However, the successful applicant will, in fact, be paid less than £17,000 because they will be obliged to live in, the cost for which will be docked from their salary.

A small studio flat in Mayfair will set you back at least £2,000 a month.

And the job includes perks other than living in the Royal Mews:

You will be rewarded with a comprehensive benefits package, including 33 days holiday (inclusive of Bank Holidays), a 15% employer contribution pension scheme (with the option for flexibility – to increase contributions or draw down as salary), meals provided, training and development, as well as a range of recreational facilities. In addition, as this is a live-in role, you will be provided with single accommodation, and if eligible, be able to apply for self-contained accommodation, for which your salary will be adjusted.

So you don’t get paid less than minimum wage at all.

Posted: 22nd, November 2016 | In: Money, Reviews, Royal Family, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


It’s time to ban the £50 note and befuddle the villains

Big notes attract big criminals. The Indian government plans to thwart villains by doing away with larger bills. Politicians are upset:

The prime minister last week outlawed 500- and 1,000-rupee notes in a drive to rein in corruption and a shadow economy that accounts for a fifth of India’s $2.1tn gross domestic product.

In southern Spain I met a woman whose estranged husband funded her and their young son’s lifestyle with wads of 500 euro notes. I know this because when the lad flushed a clutch of them down the toilet, she wailed, “Those were for my new t***. ” Could she get more cash? Not easily. The husband, an ex-pat, earned his wedge doing a bit of this and bit of that. She’d have to wait and see.

In India another sort of t** gets the big notes:

With no state election funding, illicit cash is the lifeblood for political parties that collect money from candidates and businessmen, and then spend it on staging rallies, hiring helicopters and on “gifts” to win votes.

Spending on the Uttar Pradesh election is forecast to hit a record 40bn rupees ($590m), despite the cancellation of big denominations.

“We will have to plan the entire election strategy all over again,” said Pradeep Mathur, a senior Uttar Pradesh leader of the Congress opposition party that was trounced by the BJP in national elections in 2014.

Big notes are gong out of fashiin,

In 2000, Canada got rid of its $1,000 bills and Singapore called time in its $10,000 bills.

In April 2016, the BBC reported: “The European Central Bank (ECB) says it will no longer produce the €500 (£400; $575) note because of concerns it could facilitate illegal activities.”

Why? In 2010, we read:

After eight months of rigorous analysis of currency trading in the UK, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) has established that the 500 euro note is at the heart of money laundering. The reason is simple: it’s easier to shift.

 

500 euro

 

Harvard brains have studied it in a reports called “Making it Harder for the Bad Guys: The Case for Eliminating High Denomination Notes”:

Our proposal is to eliminate high denomination, high value currency notes, such as the €500 note, the $100 bill, the CHF1,000 note and the £50 note. Such notes are the preferred payment mechanism of those pursuing illicit activities, given the anonymity and lack of transaction record they offer, and the relative ease with which they can be transported and moved. By eliminating high denomination, high value notes we would make life harder for those pursuing tax evasion, financial crime, terrorist finance and corruption. Without being able to use high denomination notes, those engaged in illicit activities – the “bad guys” of our title – would face higher costs and greater risks of detection. Eliminating high denomination notes would disrupt their “business models”.

 

Posted: 17th, November 2016 | In: Money, Politicians, Reviews | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Busy Bins: ripped off Manchester homeowners pay private company to collect rubbish

Human skill fills the voice in Manchester, where bin collecting has become a luxury. You’d think getting rid of human waste would be a priority for any Western society, living longer and better on the back of improved hygiene and the availability of fresh water and cheap food. But in Manchester, collecting rubbish is a lifestyle choice.

Some householders in Greater Manchester are paying a private firm to empty their bins. Many are angry because some councils have reduced rubbish collections in an attempt to cut costs, and to motivate people to recycle more.

You’re motivated to recycle by having overflowing bins? Maybe not. For every problem, ingenious humanity conjures a solution:

A local businessman who bought himself a truck eighteen months ago is now emptying up to 800 bins a week.

Where there’s muck, there’s brass. Across the Manchester area, councils plan to empty bins every three weeks.

Manchester Council had a plan:

Between 1 August and the end of October 2016 we’re taking your old rubbish bin away and replacing it with a new, smaller grey one. We’ll put an information sticker on your old bin on the collection day 2 weeks before the swap.

On the day of your swap we’ll take away your old bin and recycle it.

We’ll leave new grey bins outside front doors or in front gardens, anytime during the day until 7pm. Your address will be on your new bin.

We can’t let you keep your old larger bin – the switch to smaller bins is to help cut the amount of waste from grey/black bins and increase recycling – so we won’t empty old bins after the swap.

In June 2016, the MEN reported:

Coun Nigel Murphy, the council’s executive member for neighbourhoods, said: “When recyclable waste is put into the wrong bin, money is being needlessly being thrown away. Taking this action to boost Manchester’s recycling rates now will save the city almost £2.5m every year in waste disposal costs, helping to protect the vital council services that residents care about for the long-term future, while also helping the environment.

“Doing nothing is not an option and we are determined to work with residents to ensure that as much waste as possible is recycled.”

In steps Bury Bins.

Josh Morris, a 25-year-old businessman who is licensed to handle environmental waste, manages the bin collection service in Greater Manchester.

Local authority rubbish collection day – green wheelie bin being loaded onto a refuse cart, UK ALAMY

After starting in his hometown Bury, he quickly expanded his services to nearby Rochdale and Oldham due to a huge spike in demand.

He told the Daily Mail: “I started with a van last year. Now I have three trucks collecting 200 bins a day.”

He sends the rubbish he collects to a private sorting plant.

Says Josh of Busy Bins, “…apart from the regular emptying of their bin, they absolutely love the fact we put their bins back outside their home & not down the road.”

Adding:

“Many households struggle to keep on top of their rubbish following the reduced bin size, citing problems with overflowing bins, fly-tipping, bad smells and increased problems from flies and rats.

“It’s a problem that a significant number of households’ face and our service provides people with the option to have their bin emptied before it is overflowing”.

People will pay for a good service. Demand and supply, right?

Posted: 7th, November 2016 | In: Key Posts, Money, Reviews | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Apple fans delighted a new range of Mac laptops costs less here than in America

If you use Apple computers you are an “Apple fan”, says the Daily Mail. You’re also a mug because the Apple stuff you buy in the UK is pricier than the same stuff you can buy in the US, the paper notes.

The Mail thunders: “That’s not how you convert from dollars to pounds, Apple! British fans outraged as new range of Mac laptops costs far more here than in America.”

Fans, of course, never mind paying a surcharge to support their touring idols. But Alexander Robertson has a spotted the outrage and is keen to report on it.

Apple fans in the UK are once again being hit in the pocket after the tech giant announced prices for its new laptop. The company’s latest range of notebooks were announced on Thursday, with the cheapest option coming in at £1,449 in Britain and $1,499 in the US.

That’s the kind of exchange rate only Brexit and the bureau de change on Times Square can recreate.

The pricing means customers in the UK will pay £218 more than their American counterparts after converting the two currencies.

 

apple mac new

 

What a rip off! The Mail sense the “fury”. And then readers get this:

The majority of American buyers will pay slightly closer to the UK price due to many states putting a sales tax on top of the price. In New York for example, where the sales tax is 8.875 per cent, customers would only be saving £50 compared to their British counterparts.

As Tim Worstall says, “US prices are quoted exclusive of sales tax, UK prices are quoted inclusive of VAT.”

Robertson fails to mention that. Apple does. Take this quote for one of its products:

2.0GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor
Turbo Boost up to 3.1GHz
8GB 1866MHz memory
256GB PCIe-based SSD1
Intel Iris Graphics 540
Two Thunderbolt 3 ports
£1,449.00
Includes VAT of approx. £242.00.*

You can claim the 20% VAT back if you are VAT registered. So, yeah, the Apple stuff might be cheaper over here than it is in the USA!

Posted: 28th, October 2016 | In: Money, Tabloids, Technology | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Arsenal balls: Ivan’s pay eclipses all

Money in football is always a news story to get people angry and agitated. The BBC says Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis will face “intense questioning from shareholders” over his salary .

The BBC says he earns £2.65m a year. Better perhaps to break his salary down into weekly components, much as the media does for players. It’s about £51,000 a week.

The Daily Mail picks up the story. “Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis faces flak over £1m jackpot,” says the headline. Charles Sale tells of Ivan’s “extraordinary” salary. Is it that extraordinary?

In 2014, the HuffPost told us Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre earns a basic £1,311,975 salary and a £500,000 “supplement” for each full year he completes after his 60th birthday. The Mail’s chief executive earns over £2m a year.

So what is extraordinary about a top executive at a large company earning such a sum?

The Mail told readers in March 2016, Aston Villa’s chief executive Tom Fox earned £1.25m.

 

Pay football club chief executives

 

Maybe Ivan’s being underpaid.

In 2016, the Guardian reported: “UK’s top bosses received 10% pay rise in 2015 as average salary hit £5.5m.” (Guardian chief David Pemsel gets a £600k salary.)

Sale then takes a flight of fancy:

The Emirates Stadium summit…is normally used by Arsenal fans to interrogate manager Arsene Wenger about his transfer plans. But with the Gunners joint top of the table, Gazidis will be in the firing line instead.

Fans will more worried about the chief exec’s pay than they will playing matters?

No. They won’t be.

Posted: 20th, October 2016 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Money, Sports, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Liverpool move to lower footballers’ obscene wages

Liverpool are keen to prevent the “too much, too young” culture that infects professional football by bringing a wage cap for younger players.

The Telegraph says Liverpool will not allow a footballer age 17 or under to earn more than £40,000 in their first season as a professional.

Too often players go off the rails when they are given the financial power that comes with being a professional footballer, and Liverpool are looking to try and reduce the risk of young and talented players going to waste.

The youngsters will be allowed to boost their salaries with performance-related bonuses and breaking into Under-23 and senior sides.

Is 40k too low? Too high? In 2016 the Daily Mail reported the average wages paid in British football.

Last season, first-team average salaries were around £1.7million a year

Average basic pay in the Championship was £324,250 per player per year

Figure dropped to £69,500 in League One and £40,350 in League Two

Would you prefer to earn £40,000 playing for Liverpool youth sides or the Plymouth Argyle first team in League Two?Should wages be more performance-related?

In 1960, Jimmy Hill was embarked on in his campaign to abolish the Football League’s maximum wage which stood then at just £20 a week. Hill won.  A wage bill from August 17, 1960, shows that Liverpool’s Roger Hunt took home £22 after bonuses, tax and insurance. He’d go on to be part of the England team that won the World Cup in 1966. What would he earn in these post-Bosman times?

In The Football Man, Arthur Hopcraft says such wages were “derisive in comparison with what could be earned by entertainers performing in front of much smaller audiences in, say, the theatre or cabaret… [and] small beer to what could be earned on the production lines of the country’s post-war, streamlined factories.”

Nowadays players earn a fortune. In 2009, Premier League clubs spent £1.2 billion on players’ wages in 2007-08, so passing he billion mark for the first time.

The game is rich with TV cash and owners’ money. But if the players don’t get the cash, who will? Will club owners use it to reduce ticket prices or pay dividends to shareholders?

Oliver Kay writes:

It is obscene, obviously, but it would be more obscene to see the money generated by the Premier League — whether through television, sponsorship or ticket sales — simply sit on the balance sheet as profits go up and up. Football clubs do not exist to make profit. They exist to give something back to communities. Unless the clubs’ intention is to give more and more back to the grassroots, which sadly seems unlikely, then it would be indecent to suggest that the benefit of this latest television deal would not be felt by the players.

He’s right. Footballers can get paid very well. But so do many other workers, top talents in their fields. Do we know what others earn a week, like TV’s Ant and Dec or a soap opera actor? Why do footballer always have their wages discussed in terms of what they earn a week?

Simon Barnes:

The first thought on hearing a player’s weekly earnings is to measure it against your annual salary: why, that little bastard makes more in a week than I do in a year.

The second reason is snobbery. Wherever there is an anomaly in British life, check out snobbery before anything else. The wages of working men — rough types from the working class, you must have heard of them — have always been calculated in weeks.

He notes that the wages are paid by us, the fans who buy the TV packages, tickets and tat.

What do we get from all this money? Not much. Only beauty. Only incomparable skill. Only great bravura performances of mental and physical strife. Only individual and corporate levels of brilliance and defiance. Only the chance to identify with such people, to revel in the fact that they belong to us, that we are part of them and they are part of us.

Only the opportunity to watch as the myths and legends of our times are forged before us. Only the chance to participate in great dramas of will against will, skill against skill. Only anguish, only elation, only inconceivable joy, only the chance to taste despair without any actual suffering. Only the chance to drink down Life in great big gulps.

Do young footballers get too much too soon? Yes. Some do. But we enable them to get it. We invest in them because unlike most of us, these tyros have a chance to shine at something many of us would pay to do.

Posted: 14th, October 2016 | In: Liverpool, Manchester City, Money, Reviews, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Brexit: Guardian says Zara shoppers epitomise the working class

What does it mean to be working class? Aditya Chakrabortty knows. Having analysed the 17m people who voted to leave the European Union and found them “delusional”, he tells Guardian readers what it is to be working class:

What the pound’s weakness will chiefly achieve is to stop Britons buying as much. The middle classes will swap the wonders of the Alhambra for a week in Anglesey. The working classes will find Zara 15% more expensive.

 

working class

Tops, shits, hobnail boots and hats by Zara. Grime: models’ own

 

The working classes rather enjoy packages holidays to Spain. But, yeah, shopping at Zara is just what defines the working class, those people employed in the blue collar trades who having put food on the table and coins in the gas metre can’t afford market-stall schmutter and catalogue shopping and are forced to do with Zara fashions.

PS: In April the Guardian increased its cover price in the UK by 20p, taking the cost of the weekday print edition to £2 and Saturday edition to £2.90. The working class should form an orderly queue at the newsagents.

Posted: 12th, October 2016 | In: Broadsheets, Money, Reviews, The Consumer | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Cinema ticket alternative makes everyone look like George Clooney

Alcohol remains relatively good value. Cinema tickets less so. Laura Donnelly is shocked, telling Telegraph readers: “Alcohol now so cheap 13 pints can be bought for price of cinema ticket.”

Or to flip that: Cinema is so expensive you can buy 13 pints and watch telly for the price of one ticket.

She writes:

Teenagers are able to buy more than 13 pints of cider for the price of a cinema ticket, according to a new report which says children are being put at risk by “pocket money prices.”

Teenagers buying cider? Do they get it cheaper than the rest of us. She means people over 18, right?

The study from the Alcohol Health Alliance says supermarkets are selling alcohol at prices that are attracting children and harmful drinkers, because of the absence of minimum prices.

And now the facts:

Consumers could buy two and a half bottles of the cheapest white cider – Frosty Jacks – containing more than 13 pints for the standard £8.24 paid for an off-peak cinema tickets, the study found.

You can get big bottles of cider for the price of a discount cinema tickets. Why not forgo a peak-time trip to the cinema and buy a bottle of champagne?

PS: drink enough and everyone looks like a movie star – in glorious technicolour (yawn).

 

 

cinema ticktes

Posted: 6th, October 2016 | In: Broadsheets, Key Posts, Money, Reviews, The Consumer | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0


Signs Apartheid is over: 42,000 South African whites live in poverty

Good news and bad news in the Daily Mail. The good news is that apartheid in South Africa has well and truly ended. The bad news is that South Africa is not a very rich country and productivity is low enough to mean poverty grips blacks and whites. No longer protected by a system designed to give them the biggest slices of pie and privilege over blacks, South African whites are free to fall.

Chris Summers is shocked.

The WHITE ghettos that blight South Africa: 20 years after the fall of apartheid, how it is now white people who live in squalid camps?

Answer: see above.

While the black South African middle class has grown and many live in big houses, with swimming pools and drive around in BMWs like their white peers; many poor whites live in squalid squatter camps just like their black peers.

There were poor whites before Apartheid ended, but the system meant they were elevated above the blacks. You whites might be poor, but you’ll never be as poor as the Untermensch.

Around 42,000 of the 4.5 million white South Africans are thought to live in poverty, which equates to 0.9 per cent.  But 63.2 per cent of the country’s 43 million black South Africans also live in poverty and around 37 per cent of ‘coloureds’ – people of mixed race.

Apartheid is over but it’s legacy continues.

PS – This from The New York Times:

Most first-time visitors to Cape Town are mesmerized by the majesty of Table Mountain, and wowed by the vivacity of the Victorian-era waterfront. As a new visitor myself last month, I was captivated by both. But what has lodged most in my memory is something very different.

Driving from the international airport, I was struck by the sheer wretchedness of Cape Flats: the series of black townships, comprising mostly shacks with corrugated steel roofs, that stretch from the highway almost to the horizon. Few people — tourists or locals — want to talk about the Cape Flats. But there is no better starting point for a discussion of the state of contemporary South Africa.

Show me the money.

Posted: 5th, October 2016 | In: Money, Reviews, Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0