Tag Archives: economist

Support for the right to protest spans every sector of society. Unite and fight the #PoliceBill

Police state: this image from the Sarah Everard vigil on Clapham Common on Saturday makes the message perfectly clear – your only freedom under a Tory government is freedom to do what you are told, and nothing else.

Everybody, whether comedian or economist, is standing up in support of UK citizens’ right to protest, after the Tory government voted to effectively ban it.

The arguments are clear, whether they come from economist Richard Murphy…

… or from satirical reporter Jonathan Pie:

The Jonathan Pie video has it right: If you can’t be heard, you can’t change things; if you can’t disrupt things, they stay the same.

Or worse – as the Tories intend – they change in ways that harm you and help them.

Well, if the new law means I can be arrested for offending someone, then I’m likely to be arrested.

So are you because believe me, somebody, somewhere, finds you offensive.

The only people who will be immune will be members of the right-wing press, authority figures like Cressida Dick, and of course members of the Tory government and their supporters like Keir Starmer.

See what I did there? Now somebody will be offended that I said Starmer supports Johnson’s government. I can’t help myself. But I’m not trying to offend; I’m only telling my truth.

Just because it differs from someone else’s, that’s no reason to have me arrested.

Not in a civilised society, anyway.

But if you’re in the United Kingdom, you don’t live in a civilised society. You live in a police state.

And you will feel the sharp edge of it if you don’t stand up to stop it now.

So get organised. Get together with other people in your local communities and stand up for your right to stand up for your rights.

Or would you rather just sit at home and wait for the rozzers to come knocking on your door?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Economists agree: Austerity is bad for you

150401badforeconomy

You may have seen the infographic above on the social media yesterday. Today, this blog received confirmation of its claims from the Centre For Macroeconomics.

The CFM’s survey asked: Do you agree that the austerity policies of the coalition government have had a positive effect on aggregate economic activity (employment and GDP) in the UK?”

The response was clear: Only 15 per cent agreed, 18 per cent neither agreed nor disagreed, and 66 per cent disagreed. According to the CFM: “Ignoring those who sat on the fence, 19 per cent agree and 81 per cent disagree with the proposition. This ratio is unaffected by confidence weighting.”

This evidence is conclusive disproof of the claims in the ‘business leaders’ letter to the Daily Telegraph that was published earlier this week. But then, it seems that letter was written by Conservative Campaign Headquarters and its 100+ signatories were inflated by the addition of Samantha Cameron’s friends.

In its summary of responses, the CFM notes that Professor Simon Wren-Lewis (Oxford) asked: “This is a joke, right? The only interesting question is how much GDP has been lost as a result of austerity.”

On his own blog, Mainly Macro, Prof Wren-Lewis adds: “I myself participated in Radio 4’s World at One (about 11 minutes in) as a direct result of the survey. Robert Peston went as far as to ask: “Who to trust – business leaders or economists?” I liked the way he introduced his post:

“’Neither business leaders nor economists have a monopoly of wisdom on what’s good for Britain or are free from political bias. But it is perhaps therefore all the more important to remember that those paid to think about how best an economy should be run don’t necessarily agree with those paid to run companies.’

“He might have also added that, probably without exception, we are paid a lot less than business leaders, so the danger that our opinions might be influenced by Labour policies like reintroducing the 50p income tax rate or introducing a mansion tax is perhaps also smaller!”

On the second question – whether the election’s outcome would have non-trivial consequences for aggregate economic activity (employment and GDP) – if those who neither agreed nor disagreed are excluded, the majority rises to 93 per cent.

They’re saying a future Conservative-led government will harm the UK economy.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Sort out the tax dodgers, Labour, then the benefit bill won’t be a problem

Off-message: If Rachel Reeves had promised to get as tough on tax avoidance in her previous job as she is promising to be on benefits now, Labour might have had more credibility.

Off-message: If Rachel Reeves had promised to get as tough on tax avoidance in her previous job as she is promising to be on benefits now, Labour might have had more credibility.

A lot of people have been getting their knickers in a knot about Rachel Reeves’ interview in today’s Observer – and rightly so.

In it, she tells us (wrongly), “We are not in an environment where there is more money around,” and says that Labour will be tougher than the Tories when it comes to slashing the benefits bill. She stressed that she wanted to explode the “myth” that Labour is soft on benefit costs.

There are a few myths feeding into these statements. Firstly, the myth that millions upon millions of British citizens are living a life of luxury on benefits, which is, quite frankly, infantile nonsense. Benefits do not pay the ordinary claimant enough to afford huge luxuries and never did. They were always intended to cover the cost of survival while the recipient looked for something better. Anything else is a lie concocted by unscrupulous politicians, that you would be a fool to believe.

Then there’s the myth that the British taxpayer is being defrauded out of a fortune by benefit cheats who are (again) living a life of luxury at our expense. One look at the figures dispels that idea! The fact is that only seven people in every thousand commit benefit fraud – at a consequently small cost to the overall budget – and the amount they receive simply would not support the lifestyle our politicians are suggesting for them.

Let’s move up to a bigger myth – that people prefer to live on benefits than get a job. We’ve now moved from infantile nonsense to dangerous nonsense. The current situation, engineered by the conservatives in both Coalition parties, means there are very few jobs available – around 500,000 at any one time, with 2.5 million people chasing them.

And what kind of jobs are they? How many are zero-hours contracts? How many are part-time? These jobs do not pay more than benefits (“Making Work Pay” – another Tory lie) so anyone taking them will be out-of-pocket.

Meanwhile, the Tories in power have rigged the system so that anyone who does not spend the entire working week pestering local businesses for jobs that they aren’t offering will be sanctioned and will lose their benefit for a period of up to three years! It is entirely disproportionate, considering the state of the economy, and may cost jobseekers a lot more than a few quid a week in the long run.

But this is how the benefits bill will be slashed – by the Conservatives and by Labour, if Rachel Reeves is to be believed. Ministers of any party, living in the la-la land of made-up statistics, will sanction people for failing to work hard enough at securing jobs that don’t exist!

Ms Reeves says Labour’s jobs guarantee will ensure that those jobs do exist but we don’t know that for sure. We do know that she intends to continue Tory policy on sanctions – blindly.

Finally, we have the biggest myth of all – that there isn’t enough money. HM Revenue and Customs just released estimates for the last-but-one tax year (2011-12), suggesting that it failed to collect £35 billion in evaded or avoided tax during that year.

That’s seven times more than the national bill for JSA, and more than 29 times the estimated cost of all benefit fraud. But wait – it gets better! This is only an estimate and it has long been believed that the true cost of the so-called “tax gap” is £120 billion – equal to each year’s national deficit, 24 times the cost of JSA or 100 times the cost of benefit fraud.

Why isn’t our government going after these criminals? Why hasn’t Labour promised to go after them if the Tories won’t?

Simple: Both main parties have been re-writing tax law to make it easier for rich individuals and large corporations to avoid paying tax, and ignoring flaws in tax laws that make avoidance possible.

So for example: In the late 1990s, the then-Labour government removed the tax on dividends that meant companies had to pay tax on profits if they wanted to pay them out to the owners. So for example Arcadia boss Philip Green’s wife Tina, who is technically the owner of the company and lives in Monaco, received a tax-free £1.2 billion dividend in 2005; if this tax had been in place, £300 million of that would have gone to the UK Treasury.

Gordon Brown slashed Capital Gains Tax from 40 per cent to 10 per cent in 2000, meaning income that his friends in private equity managed to engineer into capital gains would be taxed at a lower rate than was paid by their cleaners. Not the finest hour for the Party of the Worker!

And towards the end of its term, New Labour started dismantling the rules that guarded against industrial-scale tax avoidance by British multinationals, meaning profits returned to the UK from overseas subsidiaries would be exempt from tax. This created a substantial incentive for firms to send their income offshore.

Before the 2010 election, our old friend David Gauke made a lot of noise about stopping the limitless tax deductibility of interest payments, that had been used by Boots (the chemist) to slash its tax bill. Six months after the election, when he was in a position to do something about it, he was telling everybody the rules would not be altered because business considered them a competitive advantage.

The Coalition brought in tax exemptions for companies’ tax haven branches and for profits parked in tax haven subsidiary companies. Meanwhile, tax breaks for the cost of funding these offshore set-ups, from the UK, are also provided.

Corporation Tax will drop to 21 per cent by 2014, even though there is no evidence that cutting the rate will make the UK any more competitive in world business.

The Treasury’s mission is now to adjust the framework of tax laws to suit big business. The ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms are now well-entrenched in writing our tax laws for us – and they run the most popular tax avoidance schemes. Consultations have descended into a process of agreeing laws demanded by big businesses.

There are clear and irrefutable arguments that reversing these legislative idiocies and closing every other tax avoidance loophole will do far more for the economy than flogging the unemployed to death, looking for jobs that don’t exist.

But I don’t think former Bank of England economist Rachel Reeves will be interested in that. In 1975, an appalled taxpayer wrote to then-Chancellor Denis Healey, complaining that an employee of the Bank (which is supposed to work on preventing tax avoidance) had been giving advice on how to avoid tax. “I wonder if this is really part of the Bank of England’s duties,” the correspondent wrote.

The behaviour of Ms Reeves, the former Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, suggests that she believes it is.