It is Obvious

Chris Rick has got altogether too much to say

Archive for July, 2014

Pile ’em high. Sell ’em cheap.

Posted by chrisrick13 on July 28, 2014

It is obvious: I don’t know what I’m doing

Some councils are proposing a ‘Tesco Tax’.  The reasoning behind this tax is: large supermarkets only leave 5% of their income in the local community while small shops leave over 50%.  It is not right that these large corporations suck money out of the local population to line the pockets of…shareholders.

Quite right.  Why should people who invest in businesses, and thereby create them, get any reward for the risks they have taken.

So with the Tesco Tax the local council will get hundreds of millions of pounds that…what?  This is where it falls apart.

Faced with this tax what will Tesco do?  Either it will go somewhere else or it will put its prices up.  Either way in the local stores or in the newly priced Tesco the consumer will pay more to live.

So what does this tax effectively do?  It takes money from every person and gives it to the local council to spend.

Thankyou very much but I’d rather spend my money than let a bunch of incompetents in the council spend it for me.  I can see a lot of the money being spent on soup-kitchens for the borderline people who find they can no longer feed themselves because food prices have gone up.

It is painful for a lot of people to accept that life is not equal and some people will make a lot of money doing things like starting Tesco.  The result is that a lot of people get low-priced food.  Particularly as the big supermarkets do compete on price.

What I do know is that in general things run better when smart people do it and elected officials do not.

It is obvious: I don’t know what I’m doing but I’d still rather make my own mistakes


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While I’m at it

Posted by chrisrick13 on July 27, 2014

It is obvious: two ‘wrongs’ don’t make a ‘right’

Israel and Hamas are being urged to negotiate with each other.  Hamas has as it main aim the destruction of the state of Israel and is unwavering in that demand.  It seems to me that any negotiation will a-priori need Hamas to abandon that aim.  Otherwise any negotiation will be just a discussion of how Israel should dismantle itself and send its people into the abyss.

Were Hamas to abandon that aim then there could be a negotiation on a shared existence.  Not before.  So over to you Hamas.

I listened to a radio programme interviewing some people living in the range or Hamas’ rockets.  One woman described how she had a reinforced room in her house paid for by the government.  She said that while she was out she listened for sirens and went to one of several ‘bunkers’ in her village when she heard them.  As they spoke the sirens went off and the ‘Iron Dome’ defence system destroyed a rocket.

On the other side Hamas puts military targets next to schools and hospitals.  When Israel advertises an imminent attack Hamas prevents civilians from leaving the area.  Hamas has put no resources into building protection for its civilians.

One makes efforts to protect their people and avoid hitting civilians, one does nothing other than to increase the danger to its civilians and fire into civilian areas.

It is not a war crime to kill civilians.  It is a war crime not to make big effort to avoid killing civilians.  On that alone Hamas is guilty of war crimes as the evidence of rocket fire is there for all to see.  Is Israel guilty of crimes?  That will take some investigation but the evidence so far is that Israel puts a lot of effort into getting civilians away from military targets.

It is obvious: two ‘wrongs’ don’t make a ‘right’ – so what does one ‘wrong’ make?

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What do I care?

Posted by chrisrick13 on July 25, 2014

It is obvious: my left hand looks pretty much the same as my right hand (in a mirror)

In 1943 there was a lot of effort to stop the production and launching of V1 bombs by the Nazis.  They were elegant, simple innovative weapons.  It was a crude jet engine with short wings and a large explosive load.  They were launched off a short ramp and ran in a straight line until they ran out of fuel.  Then they curved down to the ground where they exploded destroying whatever was below it.  The only guidance was the angle and direction of the ramp and how much fuel was poured into the tank.

They were weapons of terror.  They were aimed at centres of (English) population as they were the only targets big enough to be sure of hitting.  There was no attempt to hit military targets.

The whole world both at the time and after at the war crimes trials condemned these acts against humanity.

Hamas fires rockets into Israel.  They have no guidance systems and are aimed as best they can at villages, towns and cities.  There is no attempt to fire at military targets.  They are weapons of terror aimed at civilians.

I hope that when there is an accounting that the people doing this are treated in the same way that the Nazis were.

It is obvious: my left hand looks pretty much the same as my right hand (in a mirror) – it’s called even-handedness

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Bank on me

Posted by chrisrick13 on July 18, 2014

It is obvious: I can take my punishment

I spent a lot of time watching the police action programs where bad guys  are on camera, chased and caught.  I have written before about this.  My favourite was Bring on the Dogs.  The bad guy moved – the dog bit him.  No thought of pensions, tribunals, promotion.  His (or her) best mate had trained him/her to bite things and at every opportunity that is exactly what he/she did.  It was noticeable that the words “Halt or I release the dog” had experienced criminals freezing on the spot.  Inexperienced criminals kept running and became experienced a few minutes later.

I stopped watching them because the penalties for the crimes were, to say the least, piffling.  If I had stolen a car run around the country smashing things up with it and endangering life I would be put away for a long time.  The criminals I saw were getting hours of community service or a few weeks locked up.  It is not about vengeance, though why not?  It is about associating in the minds of these criminals that there are things they can do with a lot less downside.

It needs consistency and frequent examples so that we are all aware that there are ways of behaving that don’t carry huge inconveniences.

Lots of people could be punished like:

The LIBOR fixers
The PPI mis-sellers
The gold price fixers
Creators of fictional law firms
People charging 2500% (plus) on loans
and many more

Let me count the number in jail…  Even with a severe dose of frost-bite I could still manage a count greater than those in jail.

It is obvious: I can take my punishment…can you wait until I’m dead?

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You’ve got be ‘avin’ a Laffer

Posted by chrisrick13 on July 17, 2014

It is obvious: I like paying taxes

Yesterday I saw Dr. Laffer on tv.  He was all you might expect: unafraid to tell the truth, not one to look for diplomatic phrasing.  He talked about Laffer curves and some variants on them.

I am amused.  The Labour party put the higher rate of tax up when in power.  Why did they do that?  The effect was to reduce the amount of tax collected.  This meant less to distribute to the people with lower income.  Then when the Coalition drops the rate and has more money for those with lower income (and significant others) the Labour party complains.

What they want to say is that they want the richer people to suffer.  It is spite, dogma, and hate.  I really don’t understand.  Perhaps it is the paradox that the only way that the Labour party can benefit the lower paid is to let the higher earners earn more which is something they can’t do.

High earners either don’t bother to pay or go somewhere else in the face of higher taxation.  Come on down Dr Laffer. Lower earners aren’t taxed anyway.  Actually they are because they pay NIC.

What does that leave?  You and me.  All we can do is take the taxation hit when it is delivered.  Lenin said that you had to grind the middle classes between the twin stones of taxation and inflation.  Do you feel ground?  Lots of  taxes, inflation (well hidden) and the bonus of dropping income.

Still, if we are to compete with 3rd world countries then we have to become 3rd world.  We are getting there.

It is obvious: I like paying taxes on increases in income

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Ya gotta larf

Posted by chrisrick13 on July 10, 2014

It is obvious: you can’t touch me: I’m part of the union

This morning on the picket line of a bunch of teachers at a school I saw the following placards about  pensions:

We can’t wait til 68

I took the time to check it out before going into print myself.  The words ’till’ and ‘until’ are essentially synonyms.  One scans in the line above and the other doesn’t.  I checked ’till and discovered that ’till’ is not a shortened form of ‘until’ so it is incorrect.

What I am sure of is that ’til’ is simply wrong.  I wonder what else these teachers are feeding to our children?

The strike itself is interesting.  The strike has legal legitimacy based on a ballot taken nearly two years ago.  20% of the teachers voted and 58% of those voted for the strike.  That is just 11.5% of teachers got the silent majority of 80% to strike.  That majority deserve any problems that the strike causes them as they left the decision to others.  Unless, of course, they all wanted to strike.

The teachers and others are complaining that their pay increases are not keeping up with inflation.  Very few people get pay that is keeping up with inflation and teachers have very little leverage.  Already if they win another 1% increase in pay they will have to work a year to get back the money they have lost….and they aren’t going to get that.

The place we are in is simple.  We owe a lot of money that we borrowed and then spent.  Those debts have to be paid somehow.  At least, some of them do.  We can do it voluntarily in ordered fashion or we can let someone else do it for us.  Looks like we are going to let others do it for us.  Look at Greece to see what happens.  Teachers there had pay cuts of 30%, increases in working hours and increased taxation.

It reminds me of North Sea fishermen who demanded the right to over-fish the North Sea.  Essentially they won that right and now there are no North Sea fishing fleets.

It is obvious: you can’t touch me: I’m part of the union.  Til the day I die.

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To Eu or not to Eu

Posted by chrisrick13 on July 2, 2014

It is obvious: I know how I will vote

Do your remember the wine lake and the butter mountain?  What happened to them?

Last week I listened to a You and Yours on Radio 4.  It was a phone in about the EU and whether it was good to be in or out.  They had a person who was for union who established his credentials through a display of knowledge who then went on to make a lot of unchallenged statements that should have been.  There were a lot of people who phoned in with their situations and questions for the experts.  So I was not forced to listen to the man-in-the-street too much.

I do not remember everything.  In part this was because I was shouting at the radio so much.  There was a lot of garbage said on both sides of the argument so I am little further forward in deciding in or out, a decision that I will have to make some time soon.

Here are a few highlights:

UK farmers are doing very nicely out of farm subsidies so if we left the EU then they would suffer.  I think the statement condemns the system of itself.  However the UK is a net contributor to the EU.  Farmers get subsidies by ‘playing the game’.  Out of the EU there would be more money to distribute even after paying the same subsidies to the farmers.  Perhaps we could stop the distribution and revert to letting the market held farmers decide what to grow?

The EU creates a lot of regulation that on our own we would have to do ourselves!!!!!  I could barely believe that someone put that up as an argument.  How about no regulation at all?

I might be double counting here but the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that was originally designed to support French farmers adds a large amount to our weekly food bills.  I have heard lots of numbers quoted but the smallest was a suspiciously round £50.  I yearn for a bit of New Zealand lamb.

The EU is our biggest trade partner and we would still have to abide by their rules to export to them but have no say.  You mean like our influence on the choice of the president last week?  We have little influence and my two most likeable MPs (Blair and Brown) gave away nearly all of our veto powers.

The EU is our biggest trading partner but the excess is on imports.  So any exclusion of us by EU would cause much more pain in the EU.  Then those nice Chinese people and nice Mr Putin would immediately step in with juicy trade deals.  So would the Indians and the Malaysians.  Tell the CEO of BMW he is not selling any more cars in the UK and then listen in to his next telephone call which will be to that friendly Mrs Merkel.

In the EU we would be pushed towards currency union.  I have expounded that argument enough.  Visit Greece to see the potential downside.

Of course our defence would be much more secure were we in the EU.  I know that argument is tosh.  Few enough times have I seen others stand on the line when we did.  When there was the (short) coup in Russia there was just enough time for the French President to welcome the new government while John Major stood up and called it an old-fashioned coup and upped the readiness state of the UK forces…such as they were.

One of the people against union said that there would be 4 million new jobs created if we left the EU.  He has not idea.  As the pro-union people say there will be a loss of 3 million jobs I would like to see a detailed analysis of both numbers.

As that last point illustrates there are so many unknown effects and side-effects that deciding if union is good or bad is impossible.  I think it will be good for some and bad for some.  For most there will be not much change.  It is just a matter of deciding if you are in a group that will definitely be advantaged or dis-advantaged.

It is obvious: I know how I will vote: Yes…or No

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