Friday, 30 November 2012

Ugandan Maniacs

This is the first time I've copied someone else's appeal into this blog, but the homophobia of the Ugandans is particularly revolting, so I urge readers to follow the link and read and sign the petition.

Does Britain still give aid to Uganda ? If so it may be time to stop.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

An Amateur Meteorologist

I now have my own weather station. See the pictures on my website

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Taxing Companies

Politicians think some international companies are avoiding tax by arranging their finances so that their British operations make either implausibly small profits, or no profits at all.

Profit is hard to pin down because it is a number produced by complicated calculations by accountants. I remember a pupil whose father was a farmer once said to me 'A farmer can be doing quite well and still have zero income'.

My solution is to stop taxing profits, and tax turnover instead. As turnover is much greater than profit, a considerably lower rate should produce the same tax yield, or even a greater tax yield.

Apart from clarity, another advantage of taxing turnover is that taxes would be paid by all companies roughly in proportion to the the services they receive from the government. Unsuccessful and badly run companies would pay more than they do now, and better run companies would often pay less.

I think I may have said much the same thing in this blog several years ago, if so circumstances justify the repetition.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Pension Restored

A week after I complained that my pension payments had stopped, the arrears have been credited to my account, though I still have no idea why the payments were originally stopped.

One thing that struck me  as odd is that phone calls to the help line are free if sent from BT landlines, but not if sent from any other phone, whether landmine or not.

I am tempted to complain about that, but fear that if I do annoyed bureaucrats will retaliate by stopping my pension again.

It feels a bit like living in one of Kafka's novels - we are in the power of an unsympathetic, inscrutable and remorseless machine.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Our Kafkaesque Bureaucracy

A few days ago I noticed that the usual weekly payments of my Old Age Pension, as it used to be called and as I still call it, were being made no longer.

I telephoned to ask why, to be told that it was because I had failed to answer letters asking for information.

I said I'd received no such letters and asked what they were about, but received no answer. Instead I was told to telephone again, and choose the option about 'change of circumstances'. There was no offer to put me through to the relevant department.

The second call connected me to someone who asked a number of routine questions, none of them involving any information the ministry would not already have, and then promised to restore payments.

When I asked why the payments had been stopped, this chap didn't say anything about unanswered letters, but said that someone must have wanted to check information, and stopping payments is a good way of persuading people to get in touch.

So it may have been a move to save the Government the cost of postage or phone calls. They wanted to check my information, though I can't think why, and wanted to avoid spending money to do so.

I am fortunate in having another pension, and being in good heal;th so that I could deal with the problem. Someone with no income except the state pension could have been in dire straits, especially if payments were stopped  while they were ill in hospital.

Friday, 9 November 2012

A Remarkable Choice of Words

"It's the same; it's just different" said a waitress, offering a substitute after explaining that the wine a friend had ordered was out of stock.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The Tyrany of the Photographer

Last weekend I attended a family wedding, held in a church on the South coast of Devon.

Afterwards we were at the mercy of the photographer.

At first he treated us gently, ushering us to and fro outside the church. Then, having accustomed us to obedience, he led us up the hill beside the church. First there were steps, then just a narrow path that eventually turned into a muddy rut leading through a gap in a hedge. I found it hard to keep my footing, and I'm not sure how the bridesmaids managed it at all - they were wearing little white shoes with stiletto heels.

Finally we emerged on a bleak hillside sloping down to the sea. I guess the temperature was around 8 C, with a stiff breeze to add wind chill.

Then we were moved about, arranged and re-arranged, and the poor bridesmaides in sleeveless dresses huddled in their diaphanous shawls.

The photographer on the other hand was very well wrapped up.

I wonder what difference it would have made to the proceedings had he been dressed in just a pair of shorts and and a singlet. Perhaps the stripping of the photographer should be added to the frolics associated with weddings.