Now I know I should be fixing the UK but I'm taking a week out to talk about the local elections
as large parts of this fine country of ours are taking to the polls this Thursday.
Now, before I go any further, I feel I should expose my political colours and leanings first. I'm as a general rule against all of the main parties. The Conservatives aren't in touch with modern society or even Victorian society for that matter, Labour have a leader who seems unelectable and the Lib Dems? They haven't a Clegg to stand on after selling their soul to the Tories.
A lot of people however have their party who they vote for every election without looking at the policies. My neighbours are like that. They ALWAYS vote Tory as they believe a higher class of people vote Tory. A hell of a lot of people vote like this.
With the local elections on the horizons I thought it might be a bit of an idea to address this. Having said that if you're actually taking the time to read this I'm pretty certain I'll be preaching to the choir here.
For starters if you are unhappy with the job the coalition are doing running the country (so everyone who isn't mega rich I'd hope) that is no reason to NOT vote Tory locally. The reverse is also true. If you think Ed Miliband looks like a man without a plan it is still okay to vote Labour at the local level. Or Liberal.
The key word here is local.
I'll give you an example.
In Nottingham City the ruling Labour council have been proven several times to be a bit... Suspect shall we say?
So in Nottingham, I'd urge you to vote Labour for governmental elections BUT for this local election vote Tory or anyone really other than Labour.
If you live in a village and there are arguments over a bypass vote for whichever party best reflects your own opinion on the matter even if that means going against what you perceive your political colours to be.
Get to know each parties stance on local issues and vote local.
I know I'd love to see David Cameron get a bloody nose with a massive Tory defeat at the local level on Thursday. And I'm sure most of you would too. But vote local!
As for who I'm going to be voting for on Thursday? Well I'll be doing what I always do. Finding someone with a daft name from an obscure party like the Abolish Speed-bumps Party. Yes we had that one around here!
And I do urge you to vote. Politics, while of interest to a great many, is something that effects all of us in every aspect of our lives.
We have the right to vote and we should use that right. And to vote in this election on local issues!
And when the next general election comes along? That will be when we give Cameron, Clegg and their Conservative cronies comeuppance.
Okay last week I managed to single handedly sort out the immigration problems here in the UK. Well I say sort out... I rather mean apply a little common sense combined with humour but hey ho!
This week though? I'm going to sort out the economy for once and for all.
Firstly income tax. We almost all pay it if we have a job and currently it works something like this here in the UK. Currently if you earn betwixt £0 and £35,000 you pay 20% tax, that rises to 40% if you earn between £35,001 and £150.000 a year and the new top rate of 45% if you earn £150.001 or higher.
Now those mathematically minded of you may have spotted an issue. If you earn £34,800 a year you'd take home £27,840 after tax (I'm excluding National Insurance contributions to keep the math simply!) but if you earn £40,000 a year before tax you bring home £24,000. That's nearly 8 grand less.
So are we all agreed the system is a mess? Good.
Now my new system will have to be different to that won't it? Let's use a scrolling system. If you earn up to £10,000 there is no tax. £10k to £15k you pay 5%, £15k to £20k you pay 10%, then rising up 5% for every extra 10 grand you earn. £20k to £30k would be 15%, £30k to £40k would be 20%. Then comes the jump. £40k to £50k would be 30%, £50k to £100k would be 40%, £100k plus would be the old rate of 50% and for those lucky enough to earn £500k plus they'd have a hefty rate of 60% added on. Simples.
The next thing I'd do is close down every single tax avoidance scheme on the books. There would be no legal way to avoid tax. And for those avoiding it illegally? Very severe penalties.
There was uproar last year when comedian Jimmy Carr was found to be hiding his 3million income in a tax avoidance scheme. Yet there was silence from the media when Tory party donor Gary Barlow avoided tax on around 30 million. Oh and our beloved leaders dad was a man who made his money running these tax avoidance schemes. So bang! Get rid of them all.
Also all international workers who make money over here will HAVE to pay UK tax on it. This mostly will apply to Justin Beiber and Footballers who make millions over here and rarely pay any tax.
Another step I'd do is to remove VAT from fuel sales. This will DEFINITELY boost the economy by instantly dropping 20% off of the price of fuel. Admittedly this money will have to come from somewhere but I'm of the opinion you have to spend money to make money. Increasing Government debt now will make us have a stronger economy down the line.
But to counter the blow I propose a small tax on all overseas imports. A 0.5% tax across the line won't change much from a consumer level but it will doubtless bring in countless billions to the economy. Perfect.
I was going to tackle tobacco and alcohol tax here but I reckon I'll save that for the health special. But with regards tobacco suffice to say it brings in £12 billion in revenue compared to the £3 billion it costs the NHS... I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions there!
And finally? Well this one is my plan. To buy a euromillions ticket and win the jackpot on those weeks where it goes way about the £100 million mark. There are only 80 million number combinations so you'd be guaranteed to net at least £20 million profit.
I think I just solved the economy!!
Until next time...
Over the next 6 weeks here on the i3t section of bewarethespaceman I'm having a vision of a new, better, UK.
I'm tackling 6 issues that this fine country of ours faces and I'm offering some solutions.
And today? For week 1?
Now immigration, whichever way you want to cut it, is an issue. We are a small island with a finite amount of space and resources. With the economy the shape it is in who would argue against safe guarding British jobs for British people?
Which is exactly what I'm proposing to do. British jobs for British people. There is nothing worse than a foreigner coming in, taking our jobs, and being paid and then on top of that avoiding paying most of their UK tax.
So as such I propose all UK football teams, whose players wages can exceed £250,000 a week, often tax free, will be limited to no more than 2 foreigner players. Firstly this will drastically reduce the amount of money being lost to the tax man by overseas workers and dodgy tax schemes. As a knock on effect this will also reduce the clubs wage bill and, hopefully, that saving will be passed on to the fans via ticket prices.
The same will apply to all major sports leagues based here in the UK but in honesty the only one where the wages are truly insane is football.
As for the Polish builders and nurses? The Indian Doctors? If we got rid of them, as some political parties seem to want, we'd loose a now invaluable part of our work force. We need them here as a lot of our Doctors and nurses are being snapped up by America and Australia. I really think no-one has an issue with that. Do they?
Another issue I have is the current policy where by Asylum seekers are given benefits, often in the form of substandard accommodation and food stamps, to live on in the years it can take their Asylum claims to be heard. They are given barely enough to survive, let alone to survive adequately. This forces a lot of them to work cash-in-hand for some very unscrupulous types. They get exploited and the tax man loses out. In the current model it's lose, lose, lose.
So I've an idea to fix that. Once an Asylum claim gets logged we give them a TEMPORARY National Insurance number. That way if they do find work they're paying into the system. The key word though is temporary. If their claim is declined, the number is taken away, and it'll be deportation much as it is now. But if they're accepted then they're already logged into the system and hopefully paying into it too. To me it seems a simple solution. So simple I'm shocked not one party has put it forward yet. But hey ho. That's what my page is for!
And finally on immigration we'll tackle something that is fast becoming a HUGE issue around where I live and that is the one of Eastern European cars. These cars, not being UK registered, don't need insurance or MOT. Sure they do if the Police stop them but the Police can't do that without just cause. I know of at least a few English families who've bought cheap old Polish cars for precisely that reason.
So how do we fix this? Simple! The cars have to enter the country somewhere, usually by ferry, so we have someone on the docks waiting to log their car into the DVLA system upon entering the country. If it's French holiday makers coming in we sell them 2 weeks of Road Tax, if they're moving into the country they have to sign up for a full years worth. Plus we'll give them a basic MOT on entry too. This might seem drastic at first but think of all the lives it'll save. I'd say a decent three figure number a year. Minimum.
Plus when we drive abroad we don't pay Road Tax as they don't have it the same way we do. But they have toll roads that we DO have to pay. So we already pay their equivalent so why not return the favour?
The one thing all these immigration policy ideas have is common sense.
Perhaps that is what this country needs more of?
And if I can see that, with my common sense, well we really do have a problem don't we?
Reality. For those of us living in this country Reality is an integral part of our existence. And that reality is not a good one for most of us at present. Reality is huge unemployment, massive cuts in funding of our health and education system, a “bedroom tax” that is as flawed as it is audacious, and of course benefits cuts leaving some people to live on just £53 a week.
That's not a lot of money. But Iain Duncan Smith, henceforth to be called IDS (despite him causing a great deal of IBS in those who have to have dealings with him...), says that it's easy. If you don't know who he is he's the Works and Pensions Secretary. It's his job to look after the poor. And most people don't really think he's doing a very good job of doing that.
So much so that a petition was started on change.org. A simple petition as it happens. All it wanted was IDS to do one week, just one week, on £53. A simple challenge you'd think and one that IDS with jump at to prove that his austerity measures work.
This petition was, in fact, so popular that over 350,000 people have signed it. Which I'd argue is a significant number of the electorate so you'd think that good ol' IDS would want to respond.
And respond he has. Now here he had a rare opportunity. He could've chosen to accept the challenge and prove categorically that it can be done, easily as he claimed, and thus prove to the nation that his unpopular measures do work. He could prove that his Tory party mantra “We're all in this together” has a basis in fact.
But... As you've more than likely guessed, the word “could” really is the give away here, he's chosen instead NOT to do that.
In fact of the whole thing good ol' IBS (typo-intended and WILL be used henceforth. So there) had this to say:
“This is a complete stunt which distracts attention from the welfare reforms which are much more important and which I have been working hard to get done. I have been unemployed twice in my life so I have already done this. I know what it is like to live on the breadline."
Do you IBS? Do you really? I somehow doubt it. He once said that being unemployed he was devistated to tell his wife and he had to survive on his savings. Right there he's distanced himself for a great deal of the populace. People just don't have savings any more. They can't afford it. His wife, Betsy, is the daughter of the 5th Baron Cottesloe who served as lord-lieutenant of Buckinghamshire in the 1980s and 1990s. IBS and his wife, who sent their children to Eton, moved into Lord Cottesloe's 17th-century Old House in the village of Swanbourne in Buckinghamshire in 2002. His in-laws moved into smaller accommodation to make way for the Duncan Smiths and their four children. So really is this a man, who even when faced to live off of his savings, knows what it's like on the bread line? Like hell he is!
He really missed a trick here. If he responded and did this he could've won people over to his cause. Instead all he's gone and done is re-enforce just how out of touch Big Dave, Norman Osbourne and IBS are along with the rest of this Conservative-Liberal Demacrat Coalition. They've certainly Con-Dem-ed us haven't they?
And that's before I got started on the so called bedroom tax whereby people in social housing who have a spare room now have to either have their benefits cut or face a larger rent bill unless they move somewhere smaller. There are people in their late 50s who have had nearly 40 years in their homes and now face the daunting prospect of moving because they can't afford the extra cost staying put will incur. It's frankly insane
All this from a Government who reduced income tax on the most wealthy members of our society.
All this from a Government who just do not get it.
When as a Tory Government you find the The Daily Fail is against you on most of your policy decisions you have to worry. When everyone in fact would appear against you you really should have a long hard look in the mirror. No-one voted for this coalition of the damned. Labour in fact got more votes at the last election... But we're stuck being Con-Dem-ed aren't we?
I'd claim to being shocked that we've not forced an election yet. But let's face it the Labour party are currently something of a joke of an opposition party. The alternatives left then are the fringe groups, UKIP, The BNP and The Green Party. Yes I'm lumping them all in together, and no, I really don't care. In terms of political sway they are all similar.
This Government needs a wake up call. If we can't rely on petitions, the oppositon or any other political parties, or anything else for that matter what have we left to do?
I reckon we should all take it back and go old school on ol' IBS ass.
A snail mail campaign. Signing a petition online is, as IBS has proven, easily ignored. If all 350,000 plus people who signed it online all sent him a formal letter asking him to do this? That's a lot less easily ignored. And wasn't it John Major's Government who told us that we'd all be guaranteed a response when sending a letter to a member of Government?
So snail mail him today. In fact do it twice to both his constitency office and at The Palace of Westminister. Let him know what you think of him and his policies. Send him a formal letter requesting him to prove his £53 a week claims. And let's hope and pray to whichever God or Gods you believe, or don't, that this might be the wake up call IBS needs.
For those joining in his snail mail address is:
Iain Duncan Smith MP
- Parliamentary office
House of Commons
Tel: +44 2072192664
Tel: +44 2072191210
Fax: +44 2072194867
His constituency office address is:
Iain Duncan Smith MP
64A Station Road
Tel: +44 2085244344
Fax: +44 2085239697
Oh and as a final note? If you're in his constituency good look trying to find him! His office isn't particularly easy to Google!
Last year I wrote a little article for Saint Patrick's Day. Given that we're at that time of year again, and that the number of you our dear readers has gone up by several thousand, I thought I'd share it again with you today. So without further ado I give you the truth about old Saint Patrick!
March 17th. Saint Patrick's Day. A day where people all around the globe go out, dress in green, wear silly hats and drink Guiness.
But just what exactly do we know of Saint Patrick? Not alot I'm betting. So lets have a little i3t look at the myths and see where the truth lies.
First up is a biggy. Saint Patrick was NOT Irish. He was born in Northern England.
Second up he did NOT chase a single snake from Ireland. There have NEVER been any snakes in Ireland.
There is also no evidence that he originated the shamrock symble for both Ireland and as a Christian symbol (the thee leaves representing the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, the stalk being the Whole, three into one).
There are also myths and legends going around that his hands could turn to torches, he turned an evil ruler into a fox, he was immune to poison, and on his eventual death the sun refused to set for 12 days afterwards. Oh and every March 17th, his Saints day and the anniversary of his death, fish have a habit of flying.
All quite bizarre.
The truth however, for he WAS a documented person so did exist in some form or other, is a far more interesting tale.
Born in Northern England as Patricius around 390 AD as the son of a wealthy noble family he was looking at a good life for the time period. However when he was around 15 he was abducted by Celtic pirates and sold into slavery. He spent 6 years living as a slave in Ireland for his new Pagan owners most likely as a Shepherd.
He escaped by walking around 200 miles and talking his way onto a ship back to England where he managed to find his family.
After arriving back in England Patrick joined the Church (back then it was Catholic or bust) and then went into the clergy working his way up to become a Bishop.
What he did next however is what was surprising. Aged around 45 he went back to Ireland. This time? He wanted to speak to word of God.
Various sources have various accounts of how he did this but this is my blog so you're having the one I think is the most viable.
Saint Patrick on arriving to Ireland needed something big and showy to do to help convert the Pagans to Christianity. So he told the Irish that their country was being invaded by giant invisible snakes that only he, as a man of God, had the power to see.
And if the people joined him in his religion he would fight and banish these snakes freeing the people from them once and for all.
What happened? People bought his story hook, line and sinker. Resulting eventually in Ireland being the deeply Catholic country it is today. All based on an Englishman out for revenge against a country whose residents had abducted and enslaved him and managing to pull off the ultimate conjob. One that now around 1,700 years later millions believe as Gospel truth.
Is this the actual truth about Saint Patrick?
I'll leave you to decide.
We all know of and most of us support various charities.
They all do great work out there helping those in need. We here at BTS support several charities very close to our hearts including Help For Heroes and MacMillan along with local charities and of course our support of Sue Whitham and her story is now legendary.
The key to all charities is fund-raising. Help For Heroes, as a good example, is very very good at doing this in a variety of fun ways. Our friends at House of Pain have in fact put on wrestling shows with all money raised going straight to them. Other charities rely on donations of old clothing and the like.
And then there are the charities that have me writing this article today. Let me set the scene for you...You're walking through your local town centre and some energetic person comes up towards you with a clipboard wanting you to donate to their charity. This is usually done by setting up a direct debit payment with the campaigner.
However what I'm betting most people do not know, for I know I didn't until recently, is that these people are being paid £7.50 an hour, and often far more than this, and that they often get commission on top of that.
Yes we've entered an era where we now have the professional fund-raiser.
|Just run that around your head for a second.
These charities, who all plead the heart strings for your money, can afford to hire armies of volunteers and give them a large chunk of what you donate, in good faith, to the charity for the intended use to help people.
Since finding this out I'm now making it an active point of mine to not give to any charity who employs this technique for fund-raising. I feel that it is downright dishonest. I'll also point out here that I have no issue here with charity shops, such as Oxfam, paying their store managers. Given the paperwork and responsibility needed to have your name on all the forms I think in that instance it's only fair.
However... those charities who use these professional fund-raisers, often dubbed “Chuggers” derived from Charity Muggers, must obviously have a surplus of money.
Friends of the Earth, British Heart Foundation and Save The Children are just three of the many charities paying people to fund raise. I shall be keeping and regularly updating a list naming and hopefully shaming these charities.
The charities we support here on the site don't do this. They rely on the old fashioned method people volunteering their time, going out after change with a bucket. No one gets paid but I'm going to wager a significantly larger percentage of the money raised goes directly to where it's needed.
In these hard times we should definitely all give to charity if we can afford it and we should give as much as we can afford. But what we shouldn't do is support a very misleading system.
So I'm going to say go out in your area and find those small local charities. Those who do good work and get on with it quietly. They don't make a fuss but they provide life changing help for those that need it. Go and support those charities as I'll wager that your donations will be infinitely better received and that an infinitely larger proportion of your donation will go towards where it is needed most.
A good example close to The Spaceman's heart is the story of Sue Whitham. She's released her single and album and all money she makes will be go towards her treatment. Any monies left over is going towards the local cancer charity who has provided Sue and her family, along with I'm sure untold hundreds more, much needed help and support.
Full details can be found here: http://www.suewhitham.co.uk/
In the end I guess all I'm asking is do you want to support huge charities who seem to big and have forgotten what they were all about or do you want to help people in need, which is the whole point of charity, by supporting those small charities who'll gladly take your donations and put it directly towards where it's needed most.
Have a think eh?
Especially when it comes to the following charities who all DO use Professional Fund-Raisers and are shall we say less than upfront about the practice:
Music retailer HMV has been placed into administration along with rental chain Blockbuster. Both are huge employers and both are huge household names. But it seems when faced with the internet neither could keep up.
HMV relied on the traditional approach of selling CDs and DVDs and has been a household name here in the UK for over 90 years. In recent years the CD section has shrank to almost none existence in a great many stores with DVDs and latterly BluRays taking over. This is alongside video games, books, t-shirts and increasingly technology devices such as iPods, tablets and designer headphones.
To go into a HMV today is a very different experience to what it was going into a HMV ten years ago. With an ever increasing majority of us buying our music digitally HMV were left a little behind the times. Why buy a CD for £10 when the same amount of money could get you a months unlimited legal music on services such as Spotify?
And as for DVD and BluRay sales? People just aren't buying as much. That combined with the cheapness of online stores such as Amazon, more on those later, plus the rise and rise of VOD services such as LoveFilm (Amazon again) and NetFlix have left HMV, and here Blockbuster too, unable to compete.
The thing is we will all miss going into HMV and browsing but truthfully, hand on heart time, who actually bought anything from the store? I've a feeling a lot of people looked around at what they wanted and then went home and ordered it online for far cheaper. Or just pirated the material. I know I've done that before I've spotted a DVD I like and through the magic of my phone I've purchased said DVD online before I've even left the store.
It's safe to say HMV was never the cheapest place around especially compared to online retailers. But was it a fair playing field? Well... No.
You see thanks to some wonderful loopholes stores such as Amazon have been able to get around paying most UK taxes thus allowing them to sell things for for cheaper. As consumers we don't tend to complain as we're getting our goods for cheaper. But with the troubles at HMV you do have to wonder just what the cost is with this.
We've lost Comet and Jessops recently. Again here you can blame both changing technology and of course the cheapness of the internet.
It's been an interesting few years for the high street. We looked at Game's woes last year, of which around a half of the stores seem to have survived, so I think sadly now the question is who's next?
Join me here this weekend where I'm going to have a look at the state of the High Street, i3t style!
- World War Free - Golden Eye International & The Speculative Invoicing Scam
- i3t - America, Gun Crime, & Tradgedy Yet Again
- i3t - The Return
- i3t - The Gary McKinnon Extradition Saga Ends
- i3t - Thoughts on Obama vs Romney 2012
- i3t - Gaming In The Cloud
- i3t - Clegg Says 'Sorry' To Sweet Music
- i3t - Silent Black Helicopters over Nottinghamshire
- i3t - An Urgent Message from September 2013
- i3t - Catching up with The Paralympics and Prince Harry