Sunday, 29 September 2013

Marriage and Tax

There is to be a tax concession for some married couples. I think the government may be overreaching itself.

I doubt whether the relationship between two people need concern anyone but themselves. There are many possible relationship between people yet the government has singled out for approval relationships between just two people. Until recently the people had to be of opposite gender. That has been liberalised to any two people regardless of gender, but why just two? Groups of three or more people sometimes live together in happy partnerships.

When two people have children it is a matter of public concern that the parents co-operate to care for their children, though I'm not sure how responsible parenthood could be rewarded through the tax system, without penalising the children of uncaring parents, but where there are no children partnership arrangements should be by civil contract drawn up to suit the people concerned.

That leaves the question of inheritance; bequests to partners are exempt from inheritance tax. Inheritance tax has always seemed to me a particularly spiteful tax, so I should be happy for it to be abolished, but failing that everyone could be allowed to designate just one person whose inheritance from them would be tax free.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Caring, Sharing Incompetents

People repelled by what they have seen as the predatory recklessness of commercial banks have sometimes trusted their affairs to the Co-operative Bank.

That too is now in trouble, unable to pay the interest on its permanent interest bearing shares, so some elderly folk are likely to lose a substantial proportion of their income.

I've long been puzzled by the co-operative movement. Its shops are not supposed to make a profit, yet are markedly more expensive than their profiteering rivals. It appears that unimaginative self righteousness fares no better than reckless greed.

Friday, 27 September 2013

A Rhetorical use of Percentages.

I saw this headline on the BBC web site:

"A landmark report says scientists are 95% certain that humans are the "dominant cause" of global warming since the 1950s">

How accurate is the 95 supposed to be? Was that number the result of a series of calculations. Might it just as well have been 94 or 96?

I believe that people decided they were fairly sure but not quite sure and decided that 95 was a suitable number to represent that degree of qualified confidence. That is sloppy thinking and undermines my confidence in the people concerned. Sir Karl Popper said the probability of any scientific hypothesis is zero. That too was rhetoric, but his zero is a stimulating challenge to the optimistic 95%.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Pricing Energy

It's been proposed that energy prices be frozen for a while.

That strikes me as perverse. We are trying to reduce consumption of energy to slow down global warming, so higher prices should be helpful.

People sometimes worry about the profits energy companies make. I see little to worry about. Retained profits will be invested in improving supply, and distributed profits will mostly go to pension funds, and help maintain aged folk who might otherwise need state support.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Little Used Cycle Lanes

During my bus journey into town today I noticed two people cycling on the pavement on the opposite side of the road, but didn't see anyone using the cycle lane next to that pavement.

I have occasionally seen cyclists using cycle lanes, but it's a rare sight.