Wednesday, 30 November 2011

'Sheriff of Nottingham Tax'

UK will possibly descend into a day of chaos on 30th November as up to 2 million public sector workers go on strike over planned changes to their pension schemes.  The level of that chaos will, no doubt, be the subject of considerable spin from both government and union propaganda.

We are told that the government cannot afford to pay the pensions that it has promised to its employees.   That sounds plausible.

We are told that the pensions are 'gold plated' but they neglect to mention that over the last 10 or 20 years the annual pay settlements have been slightly reduced year on year in recognition of the value of a public sector pension and that it would be typical of this barely elected administration to steal from the poor to pay the rich.  Its a sort of Sheriff of Nottingham Tax, not the usually discussed Robin Hood Tax that many would like to see implemented.

We are also told that public sector workers are paid more highly than their private sector equivalents, but they neglect to mention that these overpaid workers are generally more highly qualified too.  In contrast, MPs are much more 'highly paid', are allowed to have second (third and nth) jobs while they are being paid handsomely to be public servants, and their qualification is often merely rhetorical.

We also note that the freeze in pay is resulting in a steady brain drain.  I know one young, well-qualified engineer who is leaving his public-sector organisation for a 30% pay rise.  (Yes yes, its anecdotal evidence, but I guarantee that it is not surprising to any of his colleagues.)  It has also achieved the aim of reducing headcount and is seen t be seeding private sector companies with highly qualified people, so the government wins anyway.  It is just that the work will not be done, but who will care?

But for now . . .  just in the spirit of fairness, let's assume that the crisis that was CREATED by bankers and regulators really has made it impossible to afford the commitments that the government had made to its loyal (and less loyal) employees.  If we can't afford everything I wonder whether there are any other areas that might offer cuts - perhaps before the pension cuts.

I guarantee that you will not agree with all of the following list of items that we seem to have no trouble affording.  I have heard negative comments from several treasured friends who disapprove of the strike.  However, I would be very surprised if there aren't several that you could happily disapprove of:
  • MPs truly gold plated pensions - a full pension for MPs who have put in service of only 5 years (and who will no-doubt be directors of companies until their dying day in addition to their income from the public purse).  There is no suggestion of savings on this exorbitant spending.
  • Second houses for MPs, (which of course are justified), but the problem is that when these houses are sold for a profit the tax payer sees none of the proceeds.
  • Replacing Trident - which we would never use (or would we?)
  • 'Adventures' in Iraq, Afghanistan (and wherever is next - possibly Iran?), pretending that the UK is somehow the world's policeman, and a bigger target for terrorism.
  • Bombing Libya - a sovereign country, admittedly ruled by a despot but why does the UK taxpayer have to pay for the ordnance to undermine it?  And what right do 'we' have to depose that particular government and risk whatever is coming next?
  • Spurious benefits (including free further-education, free prescriptions etc) to the people of 'remote parts' of UK but not to the people of England.
  • Increasing overseas aid - including nearly £1 billion in aid to two nuclear powers for some incomprehensible reason.
  • Bonuses paid to the bankers who caused the problems in the first place.
  • Allowing tax avoidance by the highest paid people in the country who hide behind the veil of tax havens where their wives are citizens etc.  You and I couldn't get away with that, but for Osborne and his cronies it appears to be mandatory.  This could bring in a tidy £25 billion per year according to the best estimates.
  • Sale of the 'profitable' part of a nationalised bank, Northern Rock, for a price that is unbelievably low.  Meanwhile the tax payer remains burdened by £20 billion of debt from the rest of the same organisation.
  • Tax benefits to the churches, including to the Roman Catholic Church which is one of the wealthiest organisations in the world.  Many argue that it causes some of the greatest harm in the world (e.g. by its teachings about AIDS).
  • The 2012 Olympics - for which private funding has not been forthcoming to the extent that the government expected.  Well isn't that a surprise?

Meanwhile - by the end of 30th November, the government propaganda wing (including the BBC) will be busy spinning tales of the loss to the economy and putting the blame on the public sector workers.

I know that most people who do not work in the public sector are not in favour of the strike and many are in favour of the cuts.  But I just ask you to consider whether this is fair in the light of the outrageous list above? 

Your comments are awaited.  When you do comment perhaps you could just say how many of the 12 points above you could live without.

In my case it is probably 10.


Derby Sceptic said...

I find that whilst I believe the unions are demonising the government unfairly, there is a global crisis of which we are part and most of the proposed savings areas are very valid. I do not think strike action is the way to go about it however.

With regard to replacing Trident, I would prefer to see multilateral arms reductions and whilst potential aggressors are armed to the teeth we need a deterrent.

MP's second homes is an area where I feel stronger - if I took a job away from home I would be expected to sort myself out. MPs are slightly different but I am sure however that there is no need to finance second homes to the extent that we do. Could they not rent accommodation perhaps when they are working in Westminster (remember there are many days when they are not - watch TV coverage for evidence)?

So I would say I agree with 11, and want one of those extending.

I would also like to add one, and not being superstitious I shall call it 13.

We are funding the bailout of the Euro - a currency which appears to be an attempt at one size fits all - this is clearly not working and as the UK is not part of the Euro I feel strongly that we should not bail out it's failure. If I couldn't pay my credit card bill I would not expect someone else to just give me the money, I would have run up a debt I could not afford and it is my responsibility to take the consequences.

Derby Sceptic said...

I think the Northern (c)Rock situation could have been handled much better when it first developed.

At the time I understand that Virgin were keen to buy the bank, which would have meant that we the taxpayer did not need to get involved to the degree we have.

I am sure there were negatives to the plans but it would seem that the previous administration was keen to take it into public ownership.

As a taxpayer I had no choice in the matter - I don't suppose any of this blog's other readers did either. I didn't want to buy it and I certainly think we have been shortchanged in the manner of it's sale.

RosaRubicondior said...

There is, as ever with the Tory Party, the motive of class hatred and class war. The international debt crisis is being used by them to hit the poor and the public servants who, for some unfathomable reason, they seem to despise with equal measure.

No economist in his right mind would suggest that you can increase the wealth of a society by making the people poorer. You DO however, make a small rich elite very much richer by making the majority poorer.

As ever with this party of sleaze and greed there is the sub-text of creating opportunities to transfer public money into private bank accounts with the nod and a wink that a chunk of it will find its way, perfectly legally, into Tory Party funds.

The almost unbounded glee with which the Tory Party have provoked this dispute demonstrates yet again,as it did throughout the Thatcher-Major era, that Tories have really only one single grand unifying principle: "What's in it for me?"

Plasma Engineer said...

Good comments from Rosa who forgot to reveal her level of agreement with the 12 points. I'm guessing it was about 12 though. :)

Hilary said...

Yes I agree and actually they are putting the blame on the last government for this mess but in fact my opinion for what it's worth is that the mess began with Margaret Thatcher's government.

Derby Sceptic said...

I think we owe a lot (none of it positive) to the banks.

In particular those which are owned by the taxpayer. In my experience in the last three companies I have worked for, bonuses have to be earned both by the individual AND the company.

Therefore if a bank has failed, and had to be bailed out by the taxpayer, then continues to fail, NO bonuses should be payable to any employees - no profit to share, no success = no bonus.

That should focus their minds on making the bank viable.

Rewards should only be the result of hard work and success.

Dobbin said...

Can I add another suggestion to your list? The BBC paying £2 million a year from the licence fee to Jeremy Clarkson, a man who advocates that public servants should be shot in front of their families.

Derby Sceptic said...

@Dobbin: I am sure they will ring fence the money for the BBC and say that it is independent of any other monies, but I think that many in the BBC are vastly overpaid for what they do, whether they make inappropriate comments or not.

The same goes for footballers - they do not EARN all that money, they are just paid it. If their wages were more realistic it is likely that more fans could afford to go and watch the matches as ticket prices could be made more realistic. Those fans would also have more money for other things and thus help stimulate the economy.

Hilary said...

Yes I must admit I was a little sickened the other day, over the news reporting of the footballer who seems to have committed suicide. Tragic though it is for such an awful death and such a sad time for his family, what saddened me was the lack of reporting of the soldier who was killed in Afghanistan at the same time. The footballer was being treated by the news as a hero whilst the real hero was being treated like a pieve of routine news that was of little consequence...but this makes news about money is so marketed these days...I prefer the news on the radio as that is exactly what it is, simply news given.

Susan Dan said...

i m agree about 'Sheriff of Nottingham Tax issue it could be a both government and union propaganda. thanks to provide us this tax issue post.

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