Money in the news and how you are going to pay and pay and pay
As ever, the review begins with the vital stuff, the manna of British life: booze up; fags up.
A pint of beer will be 4p more expensive. A bottle of wine will be 14p more expensive. A bottle of whiskey will be 55p more expensive. If you are a cocktails man, you will be 73p-a-drink worse off.
And the ciggies. A packet of 20 cigarettes will rise by 11p.
The Government does not enjoy taxing smokers, taking their money. It wants you to give up. Of course, if you do give up, you might spend your money on something else, say, chewing gum. In which case, chewing gum will rocket in price and become taxed. It costs a fortune to clean it off streets. What is needed is chewing gum zone, paid for out of chewing gum chewers’ taxes, and policed.
YOU cannot help but notice that David Cameron’s kitchen is not too shabby.
Very soon all MPs will be setting up a camera in their kitchens. News is that MPs are now allowed to claim expenses of up to £10,000 for a new kitchen.
And they can kit it out. There is an additional £2,000 allowance for furniture and £750 for a TV or stereo. The one proviso is that they should own a second home. Or, failing that, they should invent one.
It all part of the so-called “John Lewis list” used by Commons officials to list maximum amounts for items.
MPs can claim items up to £23,000 per year.
That list in full:
CURLY says the Budget has hit Nissan Micra divers – it will cost £40 more to drive one…
THE TIMES: “The hangover Budget”.
The story is underscored by the Times, er, offer: “Eat out for £10.”
THE INDEPEDENT:” MR DARLING AND HIS BOX OF TRICKS.”
The image is or Darling holding his red box up over his face. All that remains of him in view are a body and a tuft of white hair. Is that a rabbit? Or Knut?
ZIMBABWE: “A US $100 bill in Zimbabwe now buys 20kg (44 pounds) of local currency, as Zimbabwe’s currency tumbled to a record low of 25 million Zimbabwe dollars per USD. Zimbabwe has the world’s highest inflation rate of 100,000%.”
Got any spare change, guv’nor…
SAYS Simon Carr on Northern Rock: “The Sketch’s recommendation is the imprisonment and/or the impoverishment of the directors. At least the public would get some sort of entertainment for their money.”
John Leaver is at his detached three-bedroom property in Caerleon, South Wales. All fixtures and fittings are in the garage.
The lodgers are out. Says he. “We agreed a rent of £650 a month. The rent was paid into my bank account on time and there were no reports of any problems.”
The looks on the front doors have been changed. So Mr Leaver gets a ladder and climbs in through a skylight. “I opened a skylight and got inside. It was pitch black. There was a young Chinese-looking guy standing right in front of me on the landing. I was frightened, and he looked petrified.”
THE Budget: 2The Iraq and Afghanistan wars will cost approximately $12 billion a month — triple the rate of their earliest years — Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and coauthor Linda J. Bilmes report in a new book.”
“CLIMATE change may spark conflict with Russia, EU told,” announces the Guardian.
This front-page story appears alongside the report: “Darling plans Labour’s greenest budget yet.”
Can the two tales be linked? Is this green budget delivered with a nod to Russia?
The Mail’s front-page headline is grist to the mill of they who warned us against Gordon Brown’s love of stealth taxes.
The Queen’s guard at Buckingham Palace stand still. Are they exempt? Or is it one Still Tax for all?
And how still is still? Is the Government engaged in a giant game of Dead Lions, walking among us looking for signs of life to tax?
If you remain still, you must pay. If you remain too still you are most likely dead, which leads us to think that this new Still Tax is a likely replacement to Inheritance Tax. In which case, is the £800 a one-off payment, or is the Still Tax calculated each year, meaning that the longer you are dead the more you pay?
Reading on, the Mail says the Still Tax is brought on by the high cost of heating, petrol and mortgages. You might be better off dead.
But, then, they get you there as well…
They Always Want the Writer To Work For Nothing – I’m thinking of having this tattooed on my tongue…
Shall we whoop or cry?
IN: “Ikea’s cheap lines upset the Danes”, the Telegraph reports:
Academics in Denmark have accused Ikea, the furniture chain, of “Swedish imperialism” for naming its cheaper products after Danish towns.
The researchers claim to have discovered a pattern where more expensive items, such as beds and chairs, have been named after Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian towns whereas doormats, draught excluders and runners are named after Danish places.
“The stuff that goes on the floor is about as low as it gets,” said Klaus Kjöller, of the University of Copenhagen, who described the phenomenon as “Swedish imperialism”.
Officials at Ikea’s headquarters in the district of Scania – which once belonged to Denmark – rejected the criticism. “It’s nonsense to say that we did this on purpose. It was a pure coincidence,” said Charlotte Lindgren.
PORTFOLIO asks: “Why on earth should it be more difficult to estimate potential revenues for a blog than it is for other forms of media? In the short term, most big blogs, like TechCrunch or BoingBoing or Huffington Post, know pretty much exactly what their revenues are going to be. And in the long term, no one knows anything in any medium.”
Our publisher Nick Denton loves to point out that no major media company could buy Gawker and keep up the site’s outsider angle. Of course he wants you to believe Gawker does something special and to think of it as a competitor to decades-old media empires. But he’s not lying.When this network tried licensing stories to Yahoo News two years ago, the editors bitched about it (this was before he replaced them with inexperienced, unsure toadies like me), and the stories never did well. Gawker and Yahoo let the contract expire, and while Denton pretended it was because I kept maligning Yahoo execs on our Silicon Valley site Valleywag, it was really because no one was reading Gawker on Yahoo. Their audience just wasn’t interested.
Imagine you were running this show. Why sell it and either work under some executive who probably hates you for some five-year-old blog post, or struggle to start another business that becomes this influential? It’s easy to say Denton is in this for the money, but only if you’ve never seen the man revel in his own role. He doesn’t want to be rich, he wants to be Rupert Murdoch.
Anorak was on Yahoo! news for years. It never worked well. As for Denton – can you be a poor – non-rich – Rupert Murdoch?
THE new UK Libertarian Party want to abolish income tax. Policy No.1…
NINE Inch Nails give away their new album…
OVER tyhe Goverment newswires: “Yvette Cooper launches £12m pathfinder for new money guidance service”
Up to three quarters of a million people will get free money guidance on matters like managing debt, planning for retirement or saving for a mortgage deposit, under a new £12m pathfinder Yvette Cooper, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has today announced.
Taxpayers can apply for a cashback scheme by…
As the Mail’s front-page headline announces: “Benefit rules mean three in four ordinary families would be better off living apart.”
How much? “£100 FROM THE STATE IF YOU SPLIT UP.”
Old Mr Anorak says that all things considered, Mai Ling should pack her bags and only attend to her matrimonial duties at meal times and when Anorak Towers needs righting after one of his AGMS with the Thai women’s Ping-Pong Consortium he heads…
RECESS Monkey says that Prince Harry would like to be treated just like everyone else save for:
…primogeniture, corporation tax, inheritance tax, capital gains tax and wildlife protection laws.
Primogeniture means that it’s his older brother who will inherit. So, fair enough, he might be against it. The corporation, inheritance and CGT issues: well, they’re all to do with the Duchy of Cornwall. Which, as a result of the primogeniture issue won’t go to Harry, but to, umm, his older brother.
As for assassinating wildlife, that’s what the aristocracy is for, isn’t it
And if it has, has Prince Harry got his skis ready packed?
In “Alistair Darling chases rich in tax-free haven of Monaco – Chancellor tightens screw on wealthy Britons and their Riviera refuge”, the Times talks of “hostilities against Britain’s super-rich” and “sanctions against Monaco, the Mediterranean tax haven”.
“So far the attention has been on Liechtenstein, but Monaco is the goldmine,” says a Whitehall official. “Germany has got the bit between its teeth now and Monaco is where they want to go next – and we’re right with them.”
We learn that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) expects to obtain £100m in unpaid tax from 100 Britons who bank in Liechtenstein. “It paid £100,000 to Heinrich Kieber, a former bank employee, for clients’ names and bank account details. In the past few days it has begun sending them letters referring to their account numbers”.
This is the Heinrich Kieber who “has made millions of euros by selling stolen bank records to the world’s tax authorities. He is now Liechtenstein’s ‘most wanted’ man.” He is undoubtedly Liechtenstein’s most famous man.
On one had, news that the HM Revenue and Customs is buying stolen data must cause the banks to worry. And given the security around HMRC’s data reserves, foreign powers, domestic banks and the curious can expect to be offered the same information on a couple of discs any day now.
But it is the talk of sanctions that shocks? It all sounds so heavy-handed, putting Monaco on a par with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
The wonder is what Liechtenstein will do about it? Will it link up with Monaco and Andorra and form a mini-me Axis of Evil? The Snowy Peril could consult with the Duchy of Grand Fenwick on a military strategy.
The invasion is coming…
“MY name is Mr.Moses Odiaka. I work in the credit and accounts department of Union Bank of NigeriaPlc,Lagos, Nigeria. I write you in respect of a foreign customer with a Virgin Galactica ticket. His name is Engineer Manfred Becker. He was among those who died in a plane crash here in Nigeria during the reign of late General Sani Abacha.
Since the demise of this our customer, Engineer Manfred Becker, who was an oil merchant/contractor, I have kept a close watch of the deposit records and accounts and since then nobody has come to claim the airmiles in this a/c as next of kin to the late Engineer. He had only 18.5mllion air miles in his a/c and the a/c is coded. It is only an insider that could produce the code or password of the deposit particulars. As it stands now,there is nobody in that position to produce the needed information other than my very self considering my position in the bank.”
YOUR tax money: “Departmental Visits Abroad”:
Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many overseas visits by officials in his Department took place in each of the last 10 years; which countries were visited; and how much was spent on such visits in each such year. 
Dizzy tots it up a bill of £1,436,939. And the coutries visited to appraise their teaching methods are:
Algeria, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Korean Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, USA.
No, we can’t see Fiji , either. No small shock, given the weather and Gordon Brown’s support of the country’s tourist industry…
The guy I buy my coffee from in the morning has run the franchise also for ten years. Every day during this time at least two and may be as many as five young people come in asking for a job. Not once has any of those young people been British.
Yesterday, I bought egg and chips from Polaks, coffee from a Spaniard, a bus ride from a Jamaican and a pint for an Australian. I drank with an Israeli, a Malaysian, a true Anglo-Saxon and a second-generation Chinese girl.
And – yes – we all agreed that it beat working…
NIM39140 – National Insurance Numbers (NINOs): Format and Security: