Tuesday, 8 May 2012

10 Ways to Get the Economy Moving Part 2

Part 2

In the second and final part today I will be looking at a further 5 ways to get the U.K. Back to to working order. Again these are my opinions and suggestions. Feel free to comment or disagree.

    1. Introduce a lasting progressive tax system.

When I studied politics, the text which left the lasting impact on me wasJohn Rawls; Theories of Justice.  The argued for veil of ignorance in which those who earn the most should contribute more resonates with most sane people, unless of course you ARE one of the top 5% of earners.

I believe that we should have a 50% tax rate for the highest earners which declines the further you go down the tax bracket. This policy needs to be instituted permanently. However this is only half the issue. By raising the tax to 40% there is a danger; as is proving true at the moment, that you receive less tax returns as the highest earners find ways to avoid paying the levy.

In order for this tax scheme to work, there should be strict penalties for all tax avoidance, and all tax loopholes closed. Businesses should also be rewarded for paying their tax contributions by being giving a 6 month N.I. tax break. This should prompt tax payers to pay on time and hopefully encourage small businesses to take on more employees.

    1. Pay freezes/cuts to start at the top, not the bottom.

At the time of this our public services are being gutted by savage and careless cuts, this not only affects the services available to the general public but also those employed in the sector.

Widespread redundancies have lead to, not exclusively; closures of leisure centres and libraries, shortening of office hours and now as we've seen recently in the news, mass delays in border controls at major airports.
But these cuts are not coming at the top where council fat cats enjoy their lunches and 'twinning' trips at the taxpayers expense, whilst it must be said some take home in a yearly salary than the Prime Minster. These cuts are affecting the lower paid workers, the coal face of the public services you and your family need and use.

What happens to these workers, who join the ever expanding unemployment line? Where are the private sector jobs which would appear to cover this loss in employment? Instead of receiving a working wage for the service they provide, they claim benefits paid for by the government. Instead of using their wages to buy fuel, groceries, amenities and other purchases in our high streets, they cut back as there is little money coming into the household. This further stagnates the economy with less people spending and more being subsidized by the government.

Yes the deficit needs to be reduced, yes there is wasted spending within each public service these are all areas which can be trimmed and money saved. But IF there needs to be cuts it should start at the top. Instead their wages are incredibly set to rise. Trimming the fat at the top of the table is a far more effective and moral way than to swipe the scraps from the servants quarters.

  1. Reduction in alcohol, fuel and cigarette tax.

This is the one I'm sure that most people will take issue with, the fuel pricing withstanding. So let me make my point and feel free to disagree...

In this, a proud democratic country, we have for centuries extolled the virtues of democracy and freedom of speech which we enjoy here, if not for it, I would not be able to type this and place it on this site. The one freedom we seem to have forgotten is a freedom of choice.

Lets look at a rough pricing of cigarettes. (for a packet of 20)

U.K £6-£8
Germany £3.50
Spain £3
Eastern Europe £1-£2
South Korea 90p
South East Asia 20p

Are we being unfairly charged by manufacturers in this country? No the rest of the cost is sent direct to the treasury, along with your national insurance, and income tax.

Why is it so expensive? The political argument is that smoking severely damages your health (it does.) It also uses up a large amount of the NHS budget in treating smoking related diseases.(It does.)

However the amount made in tax is far greater than the cost of treatment.

The revenue generated from tobacco products is a matter for HM Treasury.
However, it should be noted that the Government, as a whole, has made the
decision to reduce smoking rates in England. In 2004, the Government
agreed an overarching target to reduce smoking substantially from 25 per
cent in 2004 to 21 per cent or less by 2010 and to reduce smoking among
routine and manual groups to 26 per cent or less. The Government expects
that reducing smoking rates will lead to a loss of revenue to the
Exchequer. However, any loss to the Exchequer is balanced by the fact
that thousands of lives are saved through the Government's tobacco control

Now I will admit this is an admirable attempt to save lives, and as a smoker myself who is trying to stop I do appreciate the efforts made to educate smokers of the health risks involved. However the ludicrous tax placed on cigarettes are a blatant breach of an individuals freedom of choice. If you want to smoke then you should be allowed to do so, without, being treated worse than a drug addict and being priced out of something you wish to do.

Minimum pricing of alcohol is another issue, this is based on the minority abusing alcohol at the detriment of their health. This minimum pricing will not stop alcoholics from drinking, in fact the likely affect will be that crime rates will rise as they raise their drinking money in any fashion they can. The real people this will affect, are genuine hard working people who at the end of a long working week like a drink in moderation and find another tax hike.

The more this government interferes in your life the higher your prices go up. This government, in particular, this government want the majority to keep working long into their old age, earn just enough to get by and forgo any minor pleasures you find comfort in along the way. That is of course unless you have a bit of cash behind you, then you might just receive a bit of a break.

  1. Scrap the royal family. (Or at least tax their earnings)

The 32nd richest woman in the U.K, has a personal fortune estimated at around £310 million. To achieve this wealth, she was born into a famous family, and her job includes visiting most countries around the world, staying at the finest of establishments, all of which earn her a £1 million salary a year. Oh that's tax free by the way.

Imagine the uproar if she was a banker, or WAG, but no this woman, is our head of state, the Queen, One in a long line of money draining idlers who have vacated Buckingham Palace and other fine establishments.

What is the purpose of the Queen? Some would argue that she brings a large amount of money into the country through tourism, she is the ideal face for Britain. While the first point may be true, does this do enough to warrant her salary and mass personal fortune given to her, by her subjects? Would a presidential head of state not do the same but for far less?

Okay, here's the argument, who has attracted more worldwide appeal for their country, The Queen, or Barack Obama?

This mass fortune is not including our continual funding for the largest group of gentry which have been given land, title and wealth for nothing more than being born into a household, no matter how distant from the main character.

Still not convinced? Well just remember that we are not only subsidising the Queen, with her, the baggage is far greater, we, the tax payers are also keeping the crooked son Andrew, the show jumper with the dwarf throwing husband, and of course lovable Prince Philip in the luxury that they are accustomed. All while we face continued hardship, and money worries.

So yes scrap them all or if you must keep them can we have a maximum of 5 in there. If it came to a choice between investment in schools and jobs or Corgi's and caviare for H.M. I know what I would rather have.

  1. An introduction of compulsory second language education from the age of 8 onwards.

For the last twenty years countries around the world and in particular Asia, have opened English language school, which teach ESL(English as a second language) some from a kindergarten age. The aim of this is to give their youth the best possible start so that they can compete globally in business and other walks of life.

I was very fortunate to have been an ESL teacher for over 2 years in South Korea, and see the great benefits of this in our smaller, more connected global community.

How many people in this country have the ability to speak another language fluently? It is remarkably few, I know I can't. We in the west have gotten by for too long expecting others to learn our language, our customs and methods, while showing little regard for theirs.

However, the world is changing, the Wests' power is diminishing, economically, politically and financially. As a result, our youth will be left behind.

There are in most schools now, after school clubs, which act as a child minding service after school until the adult working day has ended. This time is a great opportunity for investment in secondary language education.

I believe that this period should be used as a mandatory language hour, in which from the ages of 8 and upwards, students learn a language which will prove useful in their future, Such as Mandarin, Arabic or German.

I wish that as a child this had been available to me, as at that young age new languages can be absorbed like a sponge. Investing in this small step, would not have an immediate impact on our economy but rather a wise investment in our children that will reap rewards for years to come, helping them to compete globally in their future careers.

I realise that part 2 of this article, has been perhaps an angry manifesto of what is wrong with this country. I make no apologies for that. Recent events which have further damaged our economic plight should make us all angry.

We are in the midst of a double dip recession, an economy which is growing slower than the great depression, working families are struggling to make ends meet, jobs are being cut, wages are stagnant while living costs sky rocket. Yet this government does not seem to care.

If your reading this and you are not eligible for the 5% tax cut in income tax, ask yourself this. Does this government care about me? Does it understand the difficulties I, my family, my friends and colleagues face?

It's remarkable to me that at a time when the wealthiest in this country have so much, compared to the many; who face their bleakest time. Yet there has not been more done. In Russia, Germany, France, when this has occurred in the past there have been revolutionary uprisings. Yet never here in the U.K.

Well now is the time for our revolution, but it should not be one of violence but of protest, not on the battle field but in the ballot box.

I realise that not all my suggestions will be agreed with, and in this democratic society we are allowed to disagree with one another, but I hope that for anyone who reads this it will be a starting point. What can be done? What should be done? That power whether the wealthiest like to admit it; is in everyone s hands.

I will, after this rant return to commenting on topical issues. As always thoughtful comments regardless of opinion are welcome.

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