Ian Blyth – It's Just a Thought

My thoughts and opinions

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Tax the Rich – Again

Posted by Ian Blyth on 24 November 2008

The Chancellor, Alistair Darling, did his mini budget. No doubt with a lot of “help” behind the scenes from Gordon Brown.

VAT (Sales Tax if you are from the US) is down from 17.5% to 15% for 13 months. Hardly going to inspire people to shop, shop, shop given that some high street stores were having 25% and 50% sales this weekend. But there are plenty of other measures to make sure the government don’t lose too much such as putting up tax on alcohol and tobacco. Also there is no VAT on food and only 5% on fuel. SO the two mainstays of any household (eat and keep warm) will not be affected.

The sad thing is that it is back to taxing the rich but only if they win the next election as the previous election promise was not to put up those taxes. It is the old Robin Hood ploy again. Take from the rich to give to the poor. As there are more voters in the poor side it appeals to them but as many countries have found increasing taxes on the rich doesn’t bring in extra money as it makes it more worthwhile to find tax loopholes. Countries were they have low single rate tax found that their tax income went up. When will these politicians ever learn?

I watched a documentary about the US debt and they were making a big point about how US has the biggest trade deficit in the world but what was shocking was that the UK were 2nd last. And we are only a fraction of the US.

Importing more is great as long as you can afford it. But we are funding it through credit and not real money. The bubble just had to burst.

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Good Gordon!

Posted by Ian Blyth on 9 October 2008

I not a big fan of our ex chancellor and now Prime Minister Gordon Brown or “Grabber” Brown as I call him as that is what he has seemed to do for the last 10 years. Grab as much money from people in taxes as possible. Still I have to admire him for standing up to his party and the trade unions when they were saying that he should do a windfall tax on the energy companies. Now it is one thing if they were colluding to fix prices and make profits but ordinary profits should not be grabbed just because the trade unions have a bias against them. That signals to all commercial companies that there is no point in trying to make a profit as the government will just take it on a whim. It is one thing having taxes in place that tax profits. That is reasonable and the companies can plan for that. They can not plan on the whims of a government to remove their profits which may have been planned to use to invest in building up the company (and generate more employment trade union leaders take note) over the next few years.

So good for you Gordon. And shame on all the politicians and trade union leaders who clamoured for this.

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Justice

Posted by Ian Blyth on 11 September 2008

The people accused of planning to blow up planes (that created the stupid ban on liquids and the extra security on planes that has brought misery to millions of travellers every day so in one respect the terrorists have won) did not get the sentences that the prosecutors were hoping for.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7605583.stm

So much so that they are thinking about asking for a retrial. What are these people playing at? They put these people on trial and the jury came up with the verdict. As they don’t like the verdict they want to do it again. That is not British justice regardless how bad the crime is. They had their shot. If they can show the jury was biased or swayed unduelly then that is one thing but to go for a retrail because they did not get the right result is a monstrous assualt on our civil liberities. If they get a second trial and it does not go their way again how many more trials will they be allowed to have ?

And then the stupid politicians have to chime in as well.

“Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said the police and security services had saved “countless” lives by disrupting the group. ”

No they potentially saved some lives and even that is moot as the jury did not find them guilty of some of the charges.

Terrorism is serious. We don’t need the police, justice service and politicians removing our liberties and changing the rules in order to “save us”. If I need saving I will ask. You can not protect Freedom by removing freedoms.

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War Criminals

Posted by Ian Blyth on 23 July 2008

It seems that former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic will be sent to the Hague to be tried as a war criminal. But when you look at the news coverage it seems that everyone has made up their mind that he is guilty so that would mean the trial would be a farce. On one hand from what I have seen it looks like pretty damning evidence. But on the other hand even thinking that offends my morals as I am now saying he is guilty. Yet our society is suppose to treat people as innocent until proven guilty. Hard to do with all the media coverage.

As for war criminals I am still amazed that no-one has demanded that Tony Blair and George Bush be tried as war criminals. After all when the weapons inspectors were in Iraq all the other countries said to give them more time and those countries plus the UN did not sanction an attack of a sovereign nation. But on the flimsiest of evidence and using the “strike first to defend ourselves” argument which has since proven to be groundless Bush and Blair ordered their armies into Iraq with the subsequent loss of live of Iraqis, Americans and British citizens.

Attacking a sovereign nation with no just cause and in so doing creating a large loss of life – what better describes the action of a war criminal. It is about time that the other nations and the UN took a stand and demand that Blair and Bush be tried as war criminals. If fact UK and US citizens should demand it as well. Our troops have been killed for no good reason.

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Another Reason the Death Penalty is Wrong

Posted by Ian Blyth on 27 May 2008

Australian man pardoned 86 years after execution

http://uk.reuters.com/article/oddlyEnoughNews/idUKSYD2024920080527?feedType=RSS&feedName=oddlyEnoughNews

People make mistakes but the worst type is the killing of an innocent person based on flawed evidence. It has been shown time and time again that people are convicted of crimes they did not commit. At least if you are sent to jail you just lose some years of your life. If you are executed it is not much use to be pardoned later. The pardon is for the people still alive like the family.

I do not believe in the “eye for an eye and life for a life” philosophy. For a start it makes us all party to murder. If we live in a country with the death penalty and it is used when we are guilty of murder as well. If we were truly civilised we would not lower ourselves to murdering people to punish them. After all we do not throw our excrement out in the street like they did in the olden days so why should we still believe these old punishments.

The second reason is that it does not seem to deter people. In times past people were hung for stealing a loaf of bread. It did not stop them as they needed to eat. The best deterrent is getting caught – not what punishment. It has been shown that police successes are limited (except for catching people who speed in their car). If there is a low chance of getting caught then it does not matter about the punishment as the criminal will never have to face it. And if someone is amoral rather than immoral then the whole right and wrong concepts bypass them.

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Plagiarism

Posted by Ian Blyth on 18 January 2008

The BBC is reporting on plagiarism in schools.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7194772.stm

Plagiarism is deemed to be a bad thing bad the only way society can improve is by building on the knowledge of others. In the days before computers reading books was the only way to get the information and there was a limited number of books one could access compared to the information now available on the Internet. Doing a hand written piece of work or exam was a way to test that pupils could get the information and regurgitate it. Whether that is learning or even useful is another debate. I remember a teacher once saying that it is not important to remember everything – only that you know where to look to find the answer. And in these days of search engines and vast amounts of information that was prophetic.

At university when we handed in papers the professors expected a list of references and if if it was too short there was trouble. There was a need to research the subject before we could sensibly write about it. They were not looking for an original piece of work but that we could find the information, digest it and produce a report based on the subject using these references.

With the Internet it is easy to find information. Whether that information is correct and definitive is another matter. As society has changed with the rise of the Internet so should teachers and their teaching methods. They should now assume that their pupils have access to the vast resources of the Internet and the learning is that they can find the right info and sensibly interpret it. The trouble is if you find a really good article that summarizes the issue it is hard then to put that into your own words. Teachers need to look at how they are examining their pupils and methods that were fine in the 20th century may no longer be valid in the 21st. Can the teachers and the government rise to the challenge or will they fall back onto easy measurable metrics, which may or may not be relevant, to assess pupils and schools rather than look at how best to educate them.

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Honour

Posted by Ian Blyth on 16 January 2008

We have a government cabinet minister seeming to have “mistakenly overlooked” donations of £103,000 ($200,000). He must be very rich to be able to ignore that. In which case why does he need the donations? His friends say that he was busy doing his job but if he is trying to go for a high position then surely that is impinging on his day job as he is campaigning? And why do MPs have to mount campaigns to win a post like they are a bar of soap?

Then we have an ex Labour Prime Minister (and supposedly a socialist) taking a role with a large bank for £500,000 per year to help pay for his £3.4 million house. So much for principles.

There seems to be a lot more sleaze and corruption in politics these days. Or maybe it is better reported. It seems that MPs feel they can do these things, get a slap on the wrist (if caught) and carry on. In the past there may have just as much sleaze and corruption but at least if they got caught they would resign. You felt that at least there was some honour with these politicians who had put themselves forward to rule the country and the tried to keep the dignity of the role in the eyes of the public.

I think that is “Teflon” Tony Blair’s legacy. Not invading a country illegally, or squandering the nations wealth on ideologic follies but that politicians can get away with all sorts of behaviors and keep their highly paid (and even more with expenses) jobs. These politicians lament some of the behaviors seen in the country at large but then they are hardly setting a great example. What ever happened to honour?

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3 Year Budget

Posted by Ian Blyth on 10 January 2008

I was intrigued to hear that the government wants 3 year pay deals as it will help the departments to budget better.

Perhaps they should just hire people who can actually do budgets!

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Mobile Phone Car Use = Jail

Posted by Ian Blyth on 20 December 2007

The UK government has announced that they want to jail people for using mobile phones while driving. They already brought on a law banning use of mobile phones while driving with the punishment of a fine and points on your licence. Even although the police could have used the existing laws. This new vendetta against motorists concerns dangerous driving which is already covered by a law that the police can use.

What has this government got against motorists and especially ones that use mobile phones. I think it is more dangerous to drive with a passenger as they will talk and the natural reaction is to look at them as you would in any conversation to pick up the body language. So will the government ban passengers, listening to the radio and so forth? Fit a detector that would show you were not concentrating on the road which would send an alert to a big government database which they would then lose?

Stupid politicians!

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Democracy

Posted by Ian Blyth on 17 December 2007

Democracy is the illusion of thinking that you have some control by allowing you to pit your one vote against the millions in order to give you the chance to chose a new set of potential duffers to replace the old set of confirmed duffers.

Politicians are like beauty queens. People often say the best looking woman do not go in for these contests and they are right. You have to want to go in for them whether you are the best or not. The same for politicians plus the ones that get in are the ones that are good at getting votes and not necessarily good at doing the job.

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