Money money money
I saw this headline and had a brief moment of confusion. How on earth could the black economy make Victoria lose $620 million a year? Was all the money going abroad or interstate? I read on to find out and it wasn’t long before the answer was apparent. Victoria isn’t losing $620 million a year at all.
A report by the Australia Institute think tank says cash-in-hand payments are stripping at least $2.7 billion from state governments each year by reducing the pool of goods and services tax with a cost to the Victorian government of at least $620 million this financial year. The federal government is also being deprived of billions in income tax revenue.
So what’s happening here? Is this equating of the state of Victoria with the government of Victoria as if they were one and the same just a bit of journalistic licence to save space? I’d grant the possibility but for the fact that there seems to be enough room there to add an ‘n’ to the end of ‘Victoria’ and follow it up with ‘govt’. Who knows, perhaps it was necessary to accommodate the article in the print version. But is there also some tinfoil-hatted theory that we’re being subtly programmed to accept that they are one and the same thing after all? Or worse (because it seems so much simpler and thus more likely) do so many people really not see the difference that there’s actually not much point in adding ‘n government’ to any part of that headline?
I worry that even if there are sound journalistic reasons for not distinguishing between Victoria and the government which rules sorry, I mean serves it, there might actually be something in that last one. And that’s a depressing thought because it means that few people will challenge what’s being said and point out that there’s an alternative way to view this situation:
Victoria is retaining $620 million a year that would otherwise be lost to the state government.
That is, of course, a huge oversimplification. Firstly, it ignores the possibility of value coming back in exchange for that money. We might criticise the efficiency of a system where a sales tax to create income for the states involves the rate being set for all states by the federal government in Canberra and the money being sent there by taxpayers before being sent back to their respective state governments – less various deductions for the feds, no doubt. We might argue about how much value comes back from government and how much it spunks away on needless crap and vanity projects (I’d say way too much of the latter – the $50+ million p.a. Grand Prix springs to mind – but I wouldn’t claim nothing at all for the former) but if you want a government that does stuff then it needs income. Even the very smallest government providing the most minimalist services would require a certain amount of income, and it’s naive to think that taxing something wouldn’t be the way to provide it. Even the Break Glass In Case Of Emergency minarchist state of my fantasies would need a tax, and GST might be it.
Secondly, it ignores the fact that governments are all too happy simply to run up debts to be repaid by future taxpayers when the tax revenue isn’t as much as they hoped. Government running on deficit spending is practically a hallmark of the evolution of western democracy as electorates have learned to vote for whoever most convincingly promises to give them expensive stuff to be paid for by someone else. State and local governments are different from national ones only in scale, and Victoria is no exception.*
But allowing for that, and assuming (incredibly generously) that every dollar of tax returns somewhere near a dollar of value, it’s still nonetheless a fact that individuals in Victoria are better off in the short term by an average of about $125 each. More realistically, many aren’t GST registered and more of us probably pay our taxes than don’t anyway, so some are thousands better off while others gained a big fat $0.00.** And, of course, that too is an oversimplification since it ignores the fact that those individuals will have more to spend. Even if it’s at second or third or Nth hand some of will end up with those of us who didn’t pay cash in hand to cheat the taxman. The builder who gets paid $1,000 cash in hand this week will have $91 more to spend on whatever he likes in November after he’s sent the Australian Tax Office a cheque for the GST he collected for them.*** Or he does the job for, say, $950 and both parties benefit.
Am I saying we should all not pay our taxes or that I approve of or condone tax evasion? No, not at all. Never mind the rights and wrongs, the morality of abusing a monopoly on force to take money at gunpoint from millions of people, many of whom are on below average incomes, to do what the government has decided in the hubris and arrogance it often mistakes for all knowing wisdom is in the best interests of everybody, tax evasion is a crime and you will never hear me say that anyone should do it no matter how much it might leave in the economy. If you believe there should be more money out there instead of wasted by vainglorious but clueless politicians then look at legal tax avoidance or vote for politicians who’ll actually shrink the state instead of the usual left/right dickheads. Dodging what current laws say you absolutely must pay is Not A Good Idea.
But what I am saying is that money hasn’t just vanished from the economy, and that even if a government or supporters of big state government in general want to think that lost tax revenue is the same thing actually it isn’t. It really isn’t.
The average official salary in 2011 was equivalent to $2 per month while the actual monthly income seems to be around $15 because most North Koreans earn money in illegal small businesses: trade, subsistence farming, and handicrafts. The illegal economy is dominated by women because men have to attend their places of official work even though most of the factories are non-functioning. It is estimated that in the early 2000s, the average North Korean family drew some 80% of its income from small businesses that are legal in market economies but illegal in North Korea.
And I’m also saying that maybe, just maybe, we might be a bit better off if that $620m a year could remain out there legally.
* The article does mention that the Victorian government is on track to return to a surplus of about $144 million this financial year, but since its debt is currently $15.2 billion the remaining debt will still be well over 100 times greater than the predicted surplus.
** I am scrupulously honest for several reasons, not the least of which is that I feel it gives me more right to bitch about taxes if I pay all I owe.
*** Yes, this does mean I have a quarter of records to go through, an ATO form to fill in and a cheque for GST to send by the end of the month, hence my current inclination to punch cute kittens until my own fists are bloody stumps when the subject comes up in the news.
If it’s broke fix it with the thing that broke it*
Both my readers (hi Mum) will recall that since the UK election nearly two years ago I’ve often said that the Cobbleition government really doesn’t seem all that different from the Labour government that preceded it. I can’t be bothered to look back and see when it was that I began saying that it was like Labour had never lost the election but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t long. However, I can recall exactly when I said that the country may as well bring back Gordon Brown, which was late last November, my reasoning being that if all politicians who can attract enough votes to win power are hell bent on wrecking the place then real change can’t happen until things have got so bad that the people who voted for them can no longer ignore it, so you might as well have the worst of the bunch in charge so as to get the painful wrecking part of the process over and done with quickly. Not a new argument – Obonoxio the Clown was saying something similar even before the election, and I don’t think he was the only one. But what persuaded me that the current incarnation of the Tories, which at its best has only ever been a party that likes to boss people around about different things from those which Labour likes to boss people around, really are doing nothing more than prolonging the agony was Camermong’s announcement that he was going to fix the economy with the very thing that, in America, fucked the economy right in the eyes.
The Prime Minister and his deputy, Nick Clegg, will unveil proposals to help first-time buyers of new homes by carrying part of the risk of their mortgages.
Dave, Nick, say it ain’t so. Tell us that even you aren’t so monumentally stupid that you can’t see that it’s precisely this kind of policy – using taxpayers’ money to underwrite loans for overpriced housing to people who are at higher risk of being unable to repay them – that led with grim inevitability to the fucking subprime mortgage crisis in the fucking first place. And what did that lead to in its turn? Oh, yes, that’d be adding to an unsustainable bubble with a bonus prize of a banking crisis, wouldn’t it? And you two freak shows are now standing here telling us that you want to fucking do it all over again in the deluded belief it’ll get the economy moving. Folks, I think this year’s Jeff Buckley Award for being the Public Figure Most Hopelessly Out of Their Depth may end up being shared.
But no, they did mean it. And today it turns out to be even worse.
Up to 100,000 people will get Government support to buy homes worth up to £500,000 in a Coalition move to revive the middle-class dream of home ownership, ministers will announce.
I just want to draw attention to the maths here. £500,000 times a hundred thousand people is fifty fucking billion pounds. Fifty billion! Has the country that’s recently fallen behind Brazil in the ranking of world economies actually got fifty billion to spare? Without adding to the already mind-fuckingly huge debt that’ll need to be repaid by future taxpayers?
The guarantee will allow people buying new-build properties to borrow up to 95 per cent of the value of their new home.
Since the credit crisis that began in 2007, most people seeking to buy a newly-built property have been able to borrow no more than 80 per cent of the sale price.
Can someone explain to me why this is necessarily a bad thing? Surely if you’re borrowing less then your ability to repay is easier, giving you either a cushion or the option of early repayment or more disposable income. And if being able to borrow less means you can’t afford it at all, couldn’t that possible indicate that despite adjustments property in Britain is still too fucking pricey by far?
Some estimates suggest that the average deposit required for a mortgage is close to £38,000.
This is telling. When I bought my first house, which was back when the housing market was only silly and not outright batshit insane, I think the rule of thumb was being able to borrow triple your salary. The thing is that a little googling finds that the median UK salary is in the mid £20K area, meaning that a median salary earner needs either to scrimp and save or borrow about 50% of their salary just to get the fucking deposit together. Not the mortgage, the bloody deposit. Surely that screams ‘over priced housing’, and surely this move of Cameramong’s is only going to exacerbate it. I’m no economist but I seem to recall hearing that encouraging too much money to chase too few goods is inflationary.
Though of course it might not be in the longer term if it means loans being made to people who can’t afford to repay them.
… it could also raise fears that the State could end up guaranteeing more risky borrowers.
Quite. Because that’s exactly what happened in the US to spark the whole bloody GFC off in the first place. Put a big government made and taxpayer funded safety net under businesses and eventually some of them will forget to take as much care as they should, and so inevitably banks made bad lending decisions while feeling safe and secure in the knowledge that Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac would take care of things if they went tits up. Can someone tell me how what Cameramong and Cleggie are doing is fundamentally different?
Formally launching the mortgage guarantee today, the Prime Minister will today pledge that the NewBuy scheme will help repair a “broken” housing ladder.
“It’s no good hoping people will climb the property ladder if the bottom rung is missing. Affordable properties and available mortgages are vital,” he will say.
You’re not repairing it, you tool. You’re fucking extending it and weakening the remaining lower rungs still further. Oh, and that name? Sounds a little familiar. Not thinking of yourself as an English Roosevelt, are you? I ask only because among other things FDR’s New Deal created Fannie Mae. If you mention the hand of history I swear I’ll get on a plane, come over there, and twat you heavily about the head and neck with Tony Blair’s autobiography.
And your drones are just as moronic, by the way.
Grant Shapps, the Housing Minister, said the guarantee scheme will help unlock a housing market where for many people, owning a home is “no longer a dream, but a distant fantasy.”
Turning it into a fucking nightmare should fix that.
“We want to help everyone achieve their aspirations, and feel the pride of home ownership. The NewBuy Guarantee will give thousands of prospective buyers the chance to buy a home with a fraction of the deposit normally required.”
Yeah, because you wouldn’t want to let a market of an overpriced good fall to a natural level. Oh, no. Far better to keep those prices unnaturally high by pulling magic money out of your arse with one hand while writing out “IOU – We’ll pay for everything no matter what it eventually costs. Love, the Taxpayers” with the other. Have none of these self described conservatives thought that maybe if they didn’t keep interfering with markets and pushing up prices as well as adding to the taxpayers’ bills then maybe those same taxpayers would have a better chance of being able to afford these things without help?
And this kind of shit is why this blog is beginning to swing towards overt support of Labour. Not because I have any respect or faith for that party, and certainly not in the expectation that they’ll be a significant improvement on with the Cobbleition or either of the parties in it. In fact I expect Labour to be even worse and possibly to have the capability virtually to destroy Britain even more quickly than the other two. And I’m coming to believe that virtual destruction is not only inevitable but is necessary to wake up the majority of the 26,146,419 people who voted for the Big Three for no better reason than their family has always voted that way, or because they didn’t want the other lot to win, or because they’d vote for fortnight dead roadkill if someone dropped the right colour rosette on it. It’d be far better if they’d realise the damage they’re doing by prolonging the paradigm of incompetent and destructive politicians and just start voting for someone else (though I still have concerns about them UKIP is currently my least worst option, but Christ’s sakes, anyone but the Big Three really) but I’m afraid that the majority of those 26,146,419 will carry on as they have been doing until one day dawn breaks on a Britain that is completely bankrupt, probably in more than one sense.
Only then will those destructive political parties be destroyed themselves, or at least made electorally irrelevant, because all will finally be clear and in the wreckage there will be very very few who will ever forgive the Big Three. What will happen then is anyone’s guess, but I’d very much hope it’ll be the beginning of several generations with an inherent distrust of government and big stater solutions. I can’t help but feel that if destruction is indeed a necessary condition for recovery then why put it off by voting for someone marginally less catastrophically incompetent?
That said, if destruction can be avoided altogether it goes without saying that we should, so although I’m pessimistic I really hope an alternative presents itself. Besides, voting Labour would make me want to go home and wash for about a month.
* Title from The Daily Mash.
Australia’s economic health
Could this be the reason why?
Admittedly I’m not all that sure if it would work with, say, retsina but with the Euro in the shitter and having been downgraded again the other day Greece may as well give anything a shot at this stage. More seriously any medium of exchange that’s hard for the state to control, and of course take its slice from, can’t be a bad thing. Joking aside I wouldn’t be surprised if this is already going on anyway.
David Cameron, not so much a gift that keeps on giving as a hypocrite who keeps on talking.
David Cameron has attacked the “madness” of European regulations and taxes in a speech to global business leaders in Davos, Switzerland. The Prime Minister said Europe is still at a “perilous time” because of its debts and must stop throttling growth with excessive bureaucracy.
He said European leaders must stop destroying jobs and growth by “tinkering” with regulations and “hoping we’ll drift to a solution”.
He said: “In the name of social protection, the EU has promoted unnecessary measures that impose burdens on businesses and governments, and can destroy jobs.”
Come on, Davey boy, this is pots and kettles meeting motes and beams and settling down to raise a nice little family of über-hypocrisy. You’ve got a national debt that has grown so mindfuckingly huge even by conservative estimates that wrapping your head round it is only possible by means of weird thought experiments, you’ve got huge numbers on the rock and roll because they don’t have skills and their labour is worth less than the six quid an hour – as someone at Davos has kindly pointed out – you’ve got heaps of rules, laws and regulations, more than a few originating in the EU and gold plated by Whitehall to a standard of stupidity not actually demanded by Europe in the first place, all making life for small businesses just that bit more difficult when compared to their large competitors who can more easily hire an extra body or two to deal with red tape… and all that’s before we get to taxation and the 50% income tax rate that probably isn’t putting anything extra into the kitty and looks like it’s being kept for political reasons, import duties that are keeping manufacturing jobs abroad, and a shitty rate of 20% for VAT. Oh, and contrary to popular belief the Cobbleition hasn’t cut a single penny of expenditure and is in fact going through money even faster than Gordon Brown’s government.
Now, we all know that much of this is how it is because that’s what the Cobbleition inherited from Labour, so I’m not having a go at them for causing it. I’m not even having a go at them for failing to fix it, or not as such. I’m having a go because, as I’ve said numerous times, they’re doing much the same bloody things as Labour did and that there really doesn’t seem to be a fucking Rizla paper between them. Yes, they’ve planned to spend a little less than Labour had planned to spend, but when you’re two to four trillion in the hole and the economy’s in the shitter then something has to give, so I think it’s pretty likely that Labour would have scaled back those spending plans in the unlikely event they’d won. Other than that the government is basically pro-EU while talking tough on Europe, pro-tax and redistribution, pro-regulation and state control (though against regulation and control of the state, of course), pro-nannying and paternalism, and against letting people get on with their lives. Oh, and by their inaction I assume they’re anti-undoing even the most egregious legislation of the previous governments (Great Repeal Bill? Where’d it go?). Different on some specifics but broadly much the same breed of authoritarian cock sockets, and here we have the authoritarian cock socket-in-chief ripping into his counterparts for doing more or less what he’s either doing off his own back or carrying on from the Brown days through not having any better ideas.
I couldn’t stand Gordon Brown and still hold him in great contempt, but I really am coming to loath David Cameron with a passion.
Who is this man…
… and what has he done with the real Nick Clegg?
I mean, this sounds like a good idea. Leaving money in the pockets of the people who’ve earned it. But it’s just, I don’t know, a bit weird hearing it coming from…
The proposed tax cuts – which would give back more than £700 to anyone earning under £100,000 a year – would be funded by new levies on the wealthy.
Ah. Forget I asked.
Is this the same Nick Clegg?
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On Friday night, François Fillon, the French prime minister, interrupted an official visit to Brazil to call Mr Clegg to “clarify” his recent comments that Britain’s credit rating should be reviewed.
The Deputy PM told Mr Fillon that his recent remarks and those by other senior French figures had been “simply unacceptable and that steps should be taken to calm down the rhetoric”.
Yeah, I know. Being told off by Nick Clegg. It sounds like being savaged by a kitten that’s been quite heavily sedated, doesn’t it? But you know, I reckon he meant it. He might even have meant it more than Cameron meant to say ‘no’ to the Merkozy being last week, and I wouldn’t rule out Clegg going for the full diplospeak version of je t’encule in the future.
Because I think Cleggy boy has noticed something. His reluctant BFF next door has suddenly become more popular with the electorate. Undeserved, perhaps, but even if Cameron stood up to the EU for Britain by complete accident he’d have got some political capital out of it, and Cleggy probably fancies a little of it for himself. Hang on, he may be thinking to himself, there’s votes in this Euroscepticism thingy. And let’s face it, for a man who’s only a liberal or a democrat as and when it suits him it’s not impossible that he might decide to be a Europhile only when it’s worth his while as well.
To paraphrase Marx – Groucho, that is – these are Nick’s principles and if you don’t like them he has others.
The Treasury’s policy of “Continuity Brown” means we look set to borrow more money in this Parliament than Gordon Brown managed in 13 years.
I’ve long since stopped trying even to estimate the number of times I’ve said this, but this ConLib Cobbleition government really is as bad as Labour, arguably with the additional down side that if the whole house of cards has to come crashing down before it can be unfucked and rebuilt Labour’s incompetence in general and Gordon Brown’s lunacy in particular might have brought that day a little sooner. The Cobbleition seem to be there with the purpose of prolonging the agony in the hope of winning power and prolonging it for another five years, and for that I despise them.*
* Actually I despise them for quite a lot of other things, all of which they share in common with Labour. But tonight it’s just the insane profligacy.
Do you have to be a European to believe the Euro is not all but dead?
And does the head in the sand approach mean greater problems when it finally keels over? Some certainly think so.
TOP US military officer General Martin Dempsey has admitted he is ”extraordinarily concerned” about the euro’s survival, pointing to potential civil unrest and the break-up of the European Union.
”The euro zone is at great risk,” the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, giving the strongest indication yet about the depth of Washington’s concerns over Europe’s financial tumult.
”We are extraordinarily concerned by the health and viability of the euro because in some ways we’re exposed literally to contracts but also because of the potential of civil unrest and break-up of the union that has been forged over there,” General Dempsey said.
I can’t help feeling that if the US are getting the Joint Chiefs of Staff involved they’re very, very worried over there. We all know that Americans aren’t allowed to die for any reason at all any more, and there are many tens of thousands of them in Europe at any one time. Warnings from economists may carry the weight of expertise but when a major power’s military starts talking about it it sounds like someone somewhere now expects the worst.
Cuts, Spanish style vs British style
Click images for links.
The northeastern region has been ordered to rein in its deficit and has embarked on a series of stringent austerity cuts.
The latest edict issued by the region’s ministry of education instructs state schools to cut “excessive consumption” of toilet roll among pupils and limit the quota to a maximum of 25 metres per child per month.
This most recent penny saving measure comes amid widespread cuts to education budgets across Spain that has led to regular protests in the streets by teachers.
Okay, not nice, and even though you can always give your kids some bog roll to take into school with them toward the end of the month I can’t help feeling there’s probably a better place to make savings than on bog paper. On the other hand they are at least trying, whereas…
Officials in the Department for Transport have found the extra cash from other spending along the 100 mile £32 billion proposed route.
The change to the plans will mean that a final decision on whether to give the green light to the HS2 project will now be delayed from this month to mid-January.
The High Speed Rail 2 connection, which would be built between 2016 and 2026, will cut the journey time between the two cities by 35 minutes to less than 50 minutes.
To save half an hour? Why not bin the fucking thing and save £32 billion? Is Gordon Brown still running the country? Because the amount of government profligacy makes it fucking look that way.
Questions to which the answer is "No"
|Cick for linky|
… the question arises, should the rest of the world take over management of Europe to prevent or mitigate disaster? Specifically, should the US Federal Reserve assume leadership as a monetary superpower and impose policy on a paralyzed ECB, acting as a global lender of last resort?
And for the answer I think we should turn to one of those well worn graphical illustrations of how deep America’s debt rabbit hole goes. This one is an excellent example from usdebt.kleptocracy.us. The first image shows the approximate US public debt by the end of the year if it was a piles of actual size $100 bills compared to quite a famous landmark, and the second shows that plus its unfunded liabilities.
If you’ve read the captions on those images (you can embiggerfy, or better yet go look at the original where you can see a similar representation of the US budget for 2011) you’ll have noticed that the first of those, the $15 trillion pile, is roughly the size of the Gross Domestic Product for the entire United States. In fact the captions are a little out of date – US debt will not now reach 100% of GDP by Christmas 2011 because that happened four weeks ago.
So actually the answer to the question of whether the US Federal Reserve should act as Europe’s lender of last resort is not just “No” – it’s “With what?”
They just can’t stop, can they?
In his long-awaited Autumn Statement, the Chancellor will outline a £650 million scheme to provide free “early education” for about 40 per cent of two year-olds.
Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, will today announce a £1 billion scheme to pay firms more than £2,000 for each young unemployed person they hire.
And all this at a time when some think the UK is already back in recession and may need a decade of austerity to really recover. So what’s the Cobbleition’s response? Copy the policies of the deranged madmen who fucked the country into this hole in the first place, that’s what.
I can’t carry on with this, I really can’t. I’ve said umpteen times that they’re as bad as the last lot and that there’s no appreciable difference between the the main parties anymore with the possible exception of how quickly they’re going to fuck the country into a hole. The issue of how deeply they’re going to fuck it into a hole has long had cross party support. If I blog this again anytime soon something is going to get fucking broken. Instead I’ll just point out that Douglas Carswell, the Tory party’s favourite for MP Least Likely To Be Given A Front Bench Job, has been wondering what the government would be doing right now if it was still a Labour government with Gordon Brown leading it. His list looks depressingly like the actual policies of the Cobbleition.
Pots and kettles
|Half inched from Zerohedge.|
From the Mail:
Countries will be forced to submit their budgets for EU approval before they go to national parliaments, will have to sign up to strict new rules on the size of debts and deficits and will be sued for any breach in the European Court of Justice.
Mrs Exile comments, wondering if this would be the same EU that hasn’t had its books signed off by the auditors for 17 years in a row. Damn good question. But in the absence of any sane answer I’d say that countries all over Europe can look forward to seeing headlines like the Irish did a couple of weeks ago.
Unless the whole bloody Euro train wreck finally comes off the rails first, of course. Who knows, that might even have happened by the time this post goes up.
Appropriate music track
British embassies in the eurozone have been told to draw up plans to help British expats through the collapse of the single currency, amid new fears for Italy and Spain.As the Italian government struggled to borrow and Spain considered seeking an international bail-out, British ministers privately warned that the break-up of the euro, once almost unthinkable, is now increasingly plausible.
Diplomats are preparing to help Britons abroad through a banking collapse and even riots arising from the debt crisis.
The Treasury confirmed earlier this month that contingency planning for a collapse is now under way.
Recent Foreign and Commonwealth Office instructions to embassies and consulates request contingency planning for extreme scenarios including rioting and social unrest.
Happy sights, happy thoughts
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Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not gloating. Well, to be honest actually I am gloating a bit, but not all that much. That partly because it’s not happened yet and we should keep the champagne on ice until it does, and partly because I’m not philosophically opposed to the idea of single currencies or federalisation as such. I think living in a federation of competing states (with a small ‘s’) has got a lot to be said for it providing they really are competing to attract citizens, and as far as I’m concerned people can do business in Altairian Dollars, Flanian Pobble Beads or the Triganic Pu, or even a single currency with a stupid name if they want, as long as both parties agree to it. What I find so objectionable about both the Euro and about EU federalism is the attempts to impose both on half a billion people whether they want them or not, and the lack of any real efforts to make either really worth wanting much.
The only note of caution I’d sound, and this is aside the view of the experts that the whole process is likely to be painful and bloody even for nations not directly connected, is that I suspect the death of the Euro will lay the grounds for the next battle. “We know what went wrong,” they’ll say. “We should have done it like the Americans did when the USA was born: political union first and monetary union second.” Prepare yourselves, Europeans, because this might not be the beginning of the end, but just the end of the beginning.