Money | Anorak - Part 40

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

Why The NHS Is So Cheap

I KNOW, we don’t think of it as cheap when we look at the £100 billion a year and rising in taxes that we have to pay to fund it. But by international standards the NHS really is quite cheap: 9 or 10% of GDP (GDP is all the money we have each year) as opposed to 11 or 12% in France and 18 % in the US.

Some will argue, some do argue, that this is all down to the fact that we’ve got this planned by lovely politicians and thus there are no greedy hucksters making profits from it. Could even be true but that’s not the only possible reason. One that we know very well is true is that those politicians doing the planning simply deny certain medical treatments to certain people:

Thousands of elderly people are dying unnecessarily early because ‘despicable’ age discrimination in the NHS is denying them treatment for cancer, a charity has warned.

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Posted: 26th, March 2012 | In: Money | Comments (3)

George Osborne doesn’t pay tippy toppy rate tax

GEORGE Osborne doesn’t pay the top rate of tax. Sounds about right.

His salary puts him close to it, yes. And then on top he’s got rental income plus possible dividends from shares in the family company (which, amusingly, I was offered a job in years ago).

The rental income will be pretty much offset by the mortgage interest relief he gets. No, you don’t get this on buying your own house any more, not if you live in it. But it’s obviously a business if you’re renting it out so you do indeed get to count the interest paid as a cost of doing business. There’s also the maintenance allowance. If I remember my own tax returns that’s 2% of capital value or something like that.

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Posted: 23rd, March 2012 | In: Money | Comments (2)

Smoking does not cost the NHS money: nor does obesity

SMOKING does not cost the NHS money: nor does obesity. Nor even does booze. So we can tell the health wowsers to bugger off the next time they use that argument upon us.

Read:  The Killer Shisha tobacco scaremongering blows up in smoke.

Now it is true that all three impose costs upon the people that do it. Shorter lives for a start. But it’s also true that something that people do voluntarily must also provide benefits to them: and it’s up to each individual to decide which risks they want to take for which benefit.

And it’s that thing about shorter lives which is why the booze, tabs and rolls of sweaty fat don’t increase costs to the NHS. It’s the healthy people who live long enough to spend 5 years drooling into their bibs as they fade away from Alzheimers:

“Until age 56  annual health expenditure was highest for obese people. At older ages, smokers incurred higher costs. Because of differences in life expectancy, however, lifetime health expenditure was highest among healthy-living people and lowest for smokers. Obese individuals held an intermediate position. Alternative values of epidemiologic parameters and cost definitions did not alter these conclusions.”

The lifetime costs were in Euros:

Healthy: 281,000

Obese: 250,000

Smokers: 220,000

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Posted: 22nd, March 2012 | In: Money | Comment

This Budget Day, let us remember, we must kill all the bureaucrats

OUR tale for the day comes from New York City, but the same basic principle applies. Budget Day is when the political class tell us how much of our money they’re going to take and how: the Autumn Statement is the description of how they’re going to piss it away.

And here is how the bureaucracy, the part that gargles in that golden shower of our money, actually operates:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s food police have struck again!

Outlawed are food donations to homeless shelters because the city can’t assess their salt, fat and fiber content, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.

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Posted: 21st, March 2012 | In: Money | Comment

Allen Samuels raps his plan to save America

ALLEN Samuels has a plan to restore the USA to greatness. Samuels, of Newark, N.J., is a casino host in Atlantic City. Samuela is 55 years young. He;s want to rap the solution. Allen Samuels wold be the world’s greatest rapper – if RAED would only let him

Livin De Life:

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Posted: 19th, March 2012 | In: Money | Comment

Why you can’t have free trade and price fixing – its kills NHS patients

THERE’S a good piece here about the life and business of a parallel drug importer. Nice Austrian lad getting rich by buying drugs in cheap places (yes, we’re talking about prescription drugs, not the fun ones) and selling them on in expensive places.

This all happens because we have free trade across the European Union. Good thing to have too, people, products, capital and companies can all move as they wish.

However, we’ve also got a system of national, taxpayer funded in the main, health care services. And as always when governments are uying things there’s a temptation for them to fix the prices at which they buy them….and buyers tend not to fix those prices too high now, do they?

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Posted: 15th, March 2012 | In: Money | Comments (2)

The Banker resigning from Goldman Sachs because they’re sharp bastards

THE New York Times today has a piece from a Goldman Sachs senior banking types who is resigning because all the people he works with are complete bastards. (More here.)

This might even be true and no doubt there are going to be all sorts of people coming out of the woodwork shouting “Told You So!”.

It’s what happens next that is going to be interesting. For there will undoubtedly be some who say this shows why more regulation of bastard bankers is required and really, wouldn’t it all be better of they were just nationalised or shot?

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Posted: 14th, March 2012 | In: Money | Comments (2)

Australian advertises jobs for ‘No Irish’ – video

THE advert on Gumtree states that no Irish need apply for the job:

“Bricklayer needed ASAP. $250 a day, no part-time workers and NO IRISH”

Hats off to the employer, we thought, for doing his bit to change stereotypes. Other ads might go on to call for only Jewish tarmac engineers, Polish bankers, Native American action heroes, Buddhist riot police and German clowns. But , sadly, the ad was just steeped in alleged prejudice.

Simon, the man who placed the ad, said:

 “I have no trouble with Irish people. But I’ve had to fire a number of people. I’ve had lots of Irish people say they have experience bricklaying but come over and have no clue how to lay bricks. I’m very busy and don’t have time to be watching over them.”

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Posted: 14th, March 2012 | In: Money | Comment

Why the basket case iPad is now mainstream

IPADS… Me, personally, I think they’re a waste of space and money but obviously that’s just me. I mean, OK,  something without a keyboard is useless, isn’t it, but apparently there are some hundreds of millions out there who disagree with me.

And how we know it’s here to stay is the following:

Tablet computers such as Apple’s iPad and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab have been added to the basket of goods and services used to calculate inflation rates

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Posted: 13th, March 2012 | In: Money | Comments (17)

American lawyers threaten Southhapton’s Hobbit pub over copyright infringement

AMERICAN lawyers are threatening The Hobbit, a pub in Portswood, Southampton pub. The suits say the pub has committed copyright infringement by way of its name and Hobbit-themed signs.

The  Saul Zaentz Company (SZC) of California owns the rights to lots of  Hobbitt writer JRR Tolkien’s stuff. The pub has been called The Hobbit for the past 20 years. And that will no do.

We can only boggle at how much damage the boozer has done to the brand, but our expert says, “Depends how much money the American lawyers think you’ve got.”

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Posted: 13th, March 2012 | In: Money | Comments (4)

Is anything more appallingly stupid than this new buy guarantee housing plan?

APOLOGIES, but it really does seem that we’re being ruled by entire cretins. The current government has decided to repeat all of the damn fool mistakes that the Americans made before their housing crash with a new buy housing plan:

£500,000 mortgages backed by the taxpayer as NewBuy Guarantee scheme launched

Up to 100,000 people will get Government support to buy new homes worth up to £500,000 in a Coalition move to revive the middle-class dream of home ownership, ministers will announce.

You what? Has someone been serving magic ‘shrooms in Cabinet or something?

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Posted: 12th, March 2012 | In: Money | Comments (6)

Now Ryanair sues the Commission

IT’S usually the other way around, that it’s the Coimission suing Ryanair.

Mr O’Leary has made an official complaint to the independent watchdog that oversees the EC’s spending.

The complaint comes after the colourful entrepreneur was told at the end of last year that the commission’s travel agency could not book him on to a Ryanair flight to speak at a conference on innovation in Brussels.

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Posted: 9th, March 2012 | In: Money | Comment

Cutting Benefits Works!

YES, yes, we know, they’re really only Tory Bastards intent on grinding the faces of the poor into the dirt. However, this process of grindingthefacesofthepoorintothedirtbycuttingbenefits does in fact work.

It reduces unemployment, you see?

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention that the registered unemployment rate is pretty meaningless these days. So many people have been offered the slightly better terms of early retirement, incapacity benefit and the like that the number sitting around doing fuck all and waiting for the cheque from the taxpayers is a multiple of those we call “unemployed”.

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Posted: 8th, March 2012 | In: Money | Comments (3)

George Monbiot gets Ayn Rand and Alan Greenspan wrong

GEORGE Monbiot goes all over Ayn Rand and Alan Greenspan this morning:

It has a fair claim to be the ugliest philosophy the postwar world has produced. Selfishness, it contends, is good, altruism evil, empathy and compassion are irrational and destructive. The poor deserve to die; the rich deserve unmediated power. It has already been tested, and has failed spectacularly and catastrophically. Yet the belief system constructed by Ayn Rand, who died 30 years ago today, has never been more popular or influential.

I dunno really: Maoism killed 60 million people after 1949, Pol Potism a third of Cambodia’s population.Compared with that inspiring the Tea Party seems pretty minor. And on Alan Greenspan:

Once in government, Greenspan applied his guru’s philosophy to the letter, cutting taxes for the rich, repealing the laws constraining banks, refusing to regulate the predatory lending and the derivatives trading which eventually brought the system down.

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Posted: 6th, March 2012 | In: Money | Comment

Woman defrauded taxpayers with 10 fictional children

SARAH Jane Smith, 41, made up ten children to claim benefits. The Sun leads with the woman who “invented” ten children. Smith has two real children, and pretended they were disabled to earn child tax credits.

You can imagine the two children getting into character, each given five new personas and a limp. Mrs Smith also pretended she was disabled. In total, her acting and fiction writing skills earned her £42,000.

You might be outraged. The Sun wants you to be. Smith is the lead story in its Beat The Cheat campaign “to tackle benefit fraud — which costs taxpayers £1.2billion a year”.

Smith, of Salford, was given a six-month jail term suspended for 18 months, plus 120 hours of community service.

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Posted: 6th, March 2012 | In: Money | Comments (11)

Will people please stop blaming Greece on the Neoliberals?!?

AS a fully paid up neoliberal myself it does irritate immensely when we get blamed for things that are absolutely none of our fault. It’s just fine to blame us for things we did fuck up (the design of British Rail’s privatisation for example) But getting shouted at because people are doing absolutely the opposite of what we Green Lizards controlling humanit recommend is going a bit too far.

Take this for example:

The slow death of Greece was a political project from the start, with politicians accepting the prescriptions of neoliberal economics.

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Posted: 5th, March 2012 | In: Money | Comment

There’s Ignorance about economics and then there’s Zoe Williams in The Guardian

TO be fair to Zoe Williams in The Guardian this morning she does say that she doesn’t know very much about economics. But then she comes out with this statement:

Real wages in this country have been falling since 1968.

That’s insane. The idea that real wages (that is, wages after inflation) are lower today than they were 44 years ago isn’t just not knowing very much about economics it’s going entirely fucking doolally.

It’s true that the labour share of income is lower than it was: the peak was in 1975. But that’s a measure of how much of the pie goes in wages to labour, not a measure of the absolute amount of money that is going in wages.

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Posted: 1st, March 2012 | In: Money | Comment

Apple is Not worth more than Poland!

APPLE is worth more than Poland?! Gaaah. This is the sort of thing that annoys. Nonsense, rubbish, ignorance…

Following an email announcing the iPad 3 launch, Apple’s share value hit an unprecedented $500bn in pre-marketing trading this morning, making the company worth more than Poland and many other things.

OK, so this is all terribly geeky but it just isn’t true to say that because Apple is worth $500 billion and the GDP of Poland is $500 billion then Apple is worth the same as Poland.

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Posted: 29th, February 2012 | In: Money | Comments (16)

The Socialist Workers’ Party and workfare slavery beats the mighty beasts

THE Socialist Workers’ Party has a view on workfare slavery. It’s all been rather amusing this revolt against the government’s workfare plans.

The idea was, as you will recall, that those who had been unemployed for a long time should turn up and do a few shifts of simple work in return for their dole. This has been argued about for decades and was in fact started off under the Labour Government (called “Welfare to Work” and some variation of New Deal at different times). The idea is that people who have been unemployed for a long time lose some of the skills that make them employable. This bribe or threaten them back into some form of, any form of, work to allow them to regain those skills. We’re talking about things like getting there, washed and brushed, on time. Sober. Simple stuff.

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Posted: 28th, February 2012 | In: Money | Comments (2)

Rich people are not like the rest of us

ARE the rich like the rest of us? Britt Peterson compiles the evidence:

[A] number of new studies suggest that, in certain key ways, people with that much money are not like the rest of us at all. As a mounting body of research is showing, wealth can actually change how we think and behave—and not for the better. Rich people have a harder time connecting with others, showing less empathy to the extent of dehumanizing those who are different from them. They are less charitable and generous. They are less likely to help someone in trouble. And they are more likely to defend an unfair status quo. If you think you’d behave differently in their place, meanwhile, you’re probably wrong: These aren’t just inherited traits, but developed ones. Money, in other words, changes who you are.

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Posted: 23rd, February 2012 | In: Money | Comments (2)

Don’t Sweat the Greek CDS

NOW that we can see what the Greek bond deal looks like we can now see that the Greek CDS contracts will almost certainly be triggered. These are those toxic waste derivatives which are going totally destroy western capitalism. Man.

Sadly for the conspiracists they’ll do absolutely no such thing for two reasons.

The first is that as the FT reports, there’s piss all of these contracts around.

The use of collective action clauses in Greek bonds, as part of the country’s sovereign restructuring, seems set to trigger credit default swaps. For the $3.2bn of net notional still outstanding on the contracts, it’s been a long road to a credit event.

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Posted: 23rd, February 2012 | In: Money | Comment

Barnardo’s doesn’t get the point at all

THIS is a terribly amusing piece of nonsense from Barnardo’s: you know, the charity that gave up actually caring for downtrodden children to campaign for, umm, whatever it is this week. Or you could look at it as being terribly depressing, the realisation that supposedly intelligent people have entirely lost the plot.

Families need to spend £1,165 a year to adequately heat their homes, but people in the lowest 10 per cent of incomes are spending only £723, leaving homes cold and potentially damaging children’s health.

This “fuel gap” of £450 has more than doubled from £200 in 2004, Barnardo’s said.

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Posted: 21st, February 2012 | In: Money | Comment (1)

So what’s going to happen to Chinese manufacturing? There’s been a run on peasants

I KNOW, I know, all those jobs we packed up in boxes and shipped off to China. The Ruin of the North, as bad as anything Willie the Conq did a millennia ago and all due to this neo-liberal globalisation shite.

However, at some point this is all going to run out of steam, right? Something’s going to change? And yes, this is true, something is going to change, as this New York Times piece shows:

But while China’s industrial subsidies, trade policies, undervalued currency and lack of enforcement for intellectual property rights all remain sticking points for the United States, there is at least one area in which the playing field seems to be slowly leveling: the cheap labor that has made China’s factories nearly unbeatable is not so cheap anymore.

China has experienced sporadic labor shortages, which in turn have driven up its once rock-bottom labor costs.

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Posted: 20th, February 2012 | In: Money | Comment (1)

Why Government costs so damn much

WHY does the Government cost so damn much? There’s no doubt about it, we’ve got to actually have government of some kind. 65 million people on one island in the North Sea really aren’t going to survive very long in anarchy. And if we’ve got to have government then we’ve got to have taxes to pay for it too.

But why does government have to cost so much and why do the taxes have to be so damn high?

But civil servants at one government department viewed the dilemma of opening the post as so serious, they ordered a taxpayer-funded inquiry to establish the best way to open envelopes.

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Posted: 17th, February 2012 | In: Money | Comment

Government hires cheap labour for Tesco #tescogate

THE Tesco job advert (click on the image to enlarge) that’s been causing an outrage on Twitter and Facebook. The advert on the Government’s JobCentrePlus invites people to work for 37 hours for £67.

Every little person helps…Tesco’s.

Of course it might be Charles Dickens tribute or a chance for the poor to rent out their beds.

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Posted: 16th, February 2012 | In: Money | Comment