Archive for October, 2010

John Hurst – tax rebel

The following extract was taken from IanPJ on politics and is well worth the read. I am adding it to my blog as the newspapers may well suppress the information on orders from the Government. After you have read it, and if you want more information, click on the above link.

Council tax, rebellion, and a day in court

Friday 8th October 2010 – A Friday October morning at the Magistrates` Court in the small Welsh town of Brecon seems an unlikely setting for a case that promises to have a fundamental effect on the entire British legal and tax-collecting system. Amongst the usual run-of-the-mill cases that turn up in a small rural community was one involving Powys Council`s application over the non-payment of Council Tax, issued against John Hurst and his wife Tina.

Before anyone jumps to the wrong conclusion, John Hurst is no free-loader. He is a highly responsible and patriotic citizen, a former police officer with an impressive record. His decision not to pay is based on thorough research indicating that councils have no legal right whatsoever to levy such a tax on its citizens. Believing this to be true, John would have therefore committed an offence by actually paying the tax, as the majority of us already have. Given that ignorance of the law is no defence, it places the overwhelming majority of hitherto respectable British citizens in an invidious situation and the courts in an even worse one.

John, a committed supporter of Lawful Rebellion, arrived at the court with his wife, along with her Mackenzie Friend. The court official took down the details but then returned some time later stating that Tina Hurst’s case was no longer listed. This was an extremely odd development, given that Tina is registered disabled with visual impairment and would have hence qualified for a Council Tax rebate, which had not been awarded and for legal aid should she decide to take the case further. It would appear that suspicions of skulduggery would not be entirely unfounded. The official was challenged over this and shortly afterwards brought out a more senior figure, a pleasant young man, who invited the little party into a private office. There he declared that on checking his information, Tina Hurst was on the list after all!

Much later, the group was invited into Court. John Hurst, representing himself, immediately questioned as to why there were only two magistrates on the bench instead of the required three. The Council`s solicitor stated that he had to agree but that this was not contentious. John immediately retorted that it was and insisted on exercising his legal right to have three magistrates present. The court officials had to concede and the group was asked to leave the Court whilst a third magistrate be found.

Amongst John Hurst’s contentions, was the fact that this court had no jurisdiction to make a firm decision on his case. Therefore, it was welcome when the council solicitor appeared, telling John that the court had decided that the matter should be passed to the Court in Llandrindod Wells for trial on Friday 5th November at ten a.m.

The group re-entered the Court shortly afterwards for the formal decision to be announced, but John consequently and successfully challenged the by now hapless and bewildered clerk of the court over a number of legal and procedural issues.

You can read the full report on IanPJ on Politics website.

 

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Ethnic Cleansing

Ian Duncan Smith (or ‘the twins’ as Paul Merton used to refer to him as) said yesterday:

‘Today every working person in Britain is paying almost £700 a year for housing benefit. This is unfair to taxpayers, but also unfair to the people on benefits living in accommodation that they could never afford to maintain if they entered work.
My emphasis. Read the whole article which might open your eyes at the newspaper’s website
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More on Open Source

This concerns our own British Government. I have highlighted the passage I want to talk about in red below.

UK: Open source gets a place in long-term strategy city councils

by Gijs Hillenius — published on Sep 28, 2010

City councils in the United Kingdom are turning to using open source software to reach long-term goals to battle vendor lock-in, increase interoperability and save costs. The national government meanwhile is asking for business cases proving that using open source is cheaper.

Reaching such goals in the short term is hard, discovered the council of the city of Bristol. Its plans to use OpenOffice on its desktop are hampered because of the widespread use of proprietary documents formats by other UK public administrations, Mark Wright, the city councillor responsible for IT, explained last week at seminar on open source in government.

To overcome this interoperability, Bristol is forced to spend 7.3 million GBP (about 8.6 million Euro) on proprietary software licences, according to proposal published by the city.

“The Council is a strong advocate of open data, open standards and  open source solutions. Our ‘Open ICT strategy’ mandates future suppliers of ICT products must comply with open standards and offer open source solutions in line with Government and Council policy. Therefore, the recommended solution must support this position but also address the business critical requirements that need to be met, in particular to exchange information with partners and to integrate with other business systems”, the IT department writes.

According to Computing, an UK IT news site, councillor Wright explained that he thought Bristol would be the first of many city councils moving to open source. “However, we remained the only council to do so, with other councils expecting documents to be created in Microsoft. Microsoft tends to run the closed file format docx. It does have an open source file format, odf, but doesn’t offer much support for this.”

Collaboration

At the same seminar, the council of the city of Birmingham also announced its intention to do more with open source in the long term. According to a report by Computer Weekly, Birmingham started a review of its IT strategy. The city aims to be able to use open source to save costs and to increase collaboration with other organisations.

“Like all authorities, what we are facing at the moment are fairly significant cuts. Any potential cost-reduction business case is receiving serious scrutiny,” Gerry McMullan, business policy manager for the council, was quoted by Computer Weekly. “So we will be looking again at some of the cost aspects of open source.”

Speaking at a different conference, Bill McCluggage, deputy chief information officer for the UK government, last week hinted the government will specify the use of open standards, which should open the way for open source applications. He also called for business cases that show that using open source is cheaper than using proprietary software.

IT Pro, a UK IT news site, quoted McCluggage as saying: “I have not seen a business case that has articulated open source being cheaper than proprietary.”

I am not sure how to take the comments of the UK government’s deputy chief information officer above, highlighted in red. Earlier he talks in favour of Open Source, but to the Press he says something that seems very different.

Bearing in mind that Microsoft licenses are hugely expensive and for most of the civil service covers not only licenses for Windows, but for Microsoft Office as well. We are talking huge bucks here.

The Linux operating system is free, as is Open Office. Admittedly there is the cost of retraining the IT people, but that is a once-off cost en masse, and when people leave, it will be much easier to train new staff individually.

Even if you added the Microsoft licence cost to the support costs, supporting Linux would be much lower than the combined cost.

As for Open Source “Open Office” having a different file structure.Yes, that is so, but Open Office can not only read Microsoft’s new docx files easily, but can save back to Microsoft Office format so Bristol Council’s reason for keeping to Microsoft is disengenerous!

It would make sense if McCluggage was illegally taking a bribe from Microsoft but, as McCluggage works as a senior man for the Government, this could just not possibly be. No way would anyone in the Government take kickbacks, would they?

So it will have to remain a mystery and we tax-payers will have to bite the bullet and continue paying Microsoft their very large license fees. Unless he has been misquoted by the press. It would be nice to have this cleared up.

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I may despise the EU but…

… I do appreciate their rules on Open Source and Linux software. Here is an extract from their local monthly newsletter on Open Source.

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Linda Norgrove

No wonder this Highland girl was a caring loving soul, I have just watched her parents talking for the first time and their position is what I would expect from these hardy islanders. Mature and thoughtful.

I cannot say the same for the uncaring thoughtless Police in Lewis in the Western Isles. When word came though of her death they immediately went to inform the parents.

At three o’clock in the fucking morning!

Most readers know I rarely swear on my blog but there are times when one just needs to vent their real anger at the stupidly of some people.

The early hours of the morning is when sleep is deepest, and being woken up leaves the sleeper vulnerable.

For God’s sake, that’s when you go to arrest villains!

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Virgin Mobile don’t get it!

We have moved away from Labour, but not Virgin Mobile. They still think they are part of the nanny state.

They will not allow me to go into certain websites because they think they know better than I do of what is good for me.

I was born in 1939. I am 71 years of age, and they know this as my account on their website reflects my date of birth. However, recently I tried to go into a communication website from their mobile and it wouldn’t let me.

Now if this website was porn they might think they would have a case to stop a seventy-one year old from getting too excited! However, the only thing that truly excites me nowadays is the sexy black shiny bottle of South African Imoya VSOP Brandy!

When I emailed them, they took nearly a week to reply and all that was to say they I should use their secure website as then they would know that the email was from me.

I do understand that in some cases, this could well be a good idea. However, when a seventy-one year old who they know is seventy-one asks them to tweak their website to make sure it now recognises the seventy-one year old is seventy-one, a secure email is not needed. It could be Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler or Tony Blair sending them the email, but it would not matter. After all, it is just an email telling them to get their act together.

I will be writing further about companies acting like the previous government so please, dear reader, if you have had any difficulties with Virgin Mobile or, indeed any other company, please write and let me know.

I have given Virgin the right of reply as I believe this is the proper thing to do. However they have not replied but that could be due to the slowness of a Corporate. So if they reply, I will add it as a comment at a later stage.

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Nothing changes

Will Rogers wrote, in 1924:

“The more you read and observe about this Politics thing, you got to admit that each party is worse than the other.”

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Nigel, UKIP still has my vote.

Nothing more to say!

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Professor who?

According to an economist who has won a Nobel prize recently, we have no debt crises in this country, and Osborne is using it as a false excude to make his spending cuts.

First of all, most of these prizes are dolled out for political reasons (usually with a small p) so it is best not to take too much notice of what they use as the criteria for their awards. I mention just two awards in Britain that are very political as an example: the Turner Prize and the Booker Prize to illustrate my views! Enough said!

And where could this illustrious professor place his article? In a learned journal? No! In one fo the so called broadsheet newspapers? No. It was in the trashy Daily Mirror that leans over to be a Labour newspaper so much even hardy left-wingers get a little embarrassed reading it.

And, it is a well established fact, that if you get three economists together you will have three opposing views and three totally different opinions.

I could Google this professors name for you I suppose, but quite honestly, I don’t think he is that important.

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A solution to the greedy banks

I came across this paragraph on an Adam Smith Institute blog:

However, given the threats by both HSBC and Barclays to relocate to Hong Kong and New York respectively, it is probable that the risk of losing their valuable tax revenues will prevail over any ideological reasons for compulsory separation.

It has always been my nature to want to counteract any threats, heavily, and immediately, and this enabled me to come up with an idea which could immediately counteract the threat.

Could not the government counter with a ruling that no bank, operating in the UK, may have more than ten branches if their head office is not based here? This would not concern Investment Banks but would be a major blow for High Street banks.

If the two major banks blackmailing the Government still carried out their threats, they would have to sell all their branches before relocating and this would probably mean a double loss. First of all the loss of business, and secondly, the loss of sales of real estate at a time when the economy is certainly not booming.

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Chinless Wonders

I am referring, of course, to the Aristocracy. However, I do not share the contempt of the masses for these people.

First of all, the British Empire was built by these people commanding our ”masses”, and there weren’t so many of them in those days. Then, they commanded the the navy and army which, in the past as now, were highly successful. OK, there have been some “interesting” cases but these were few.

I think a lot of the aristocratic war heroes of the past were created because the younger aristocrats did seem to have a death wish, pursuing dangerous acts which would never now be allowed under “Elf ‘n’ safe tea”.

But in reality, I think the Aristocrats care much more for our country and heritage than the majority of the rest of us. They are also more courageous than many which, in government, means they will be more willing to bite the bullet to get things right.

Alan Johnson, the shadow chancellor was disingenuous when he accused the government of being happy to create misery for others and as such, should be rebuked. He seems to be no better than any of the discredited people on the Labour front bench. Yes, the Conservatives cheered all right. But they were cheering because Osborne was “biting the bullet” and putting things right.

You only have to look at my post below to realise that something drastic needs to be done!

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Jon Snow of Channel Four

This has been taken from Jon’s blog at C4:

Israel spends £9 billion annually on procurement and has a staff of 400 people to do it.
Britain spends £10 billion annually on procurement and has a staff of 23,700 people to do it.

The full blog can be read here.

 

 

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SWWLTBO (She who would like to be obeyed)

My better half is an intelligent woman, from a professional middle class family, but after we were married, I noticed that she, like most people, thought the BBC was an honest impartial broadcaster.

No, this doesn’t make her stupid. Unless people question everything they see and hear, one tends to take many things for granted.

It was only when I started pointing out the obvious imbalance of their reporting and their programmes, that she twigged, and can spot bias even faster than I can! (I did say she was intelligent.)

The latest bug-word the BBC and the luvvies of the left have latched onto is “fair”.

We must be fair to the work-shy who have been milking the poor tax-payer for years. We must be fair and pay layabouts to live in nicer areas. The people who produce must pay some of their hard earned money to the work-shy who sit on their backsides all day watching TV and drinking their lager.

My blog below says all there needs to be known about being fair!

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We should all be living in a more fairer society.

Fair means if you put more in, you take more out.
Fair means if you put less in you take less out
Fair means if you work hard you eat well and go out to restaurants
Fair means if you evade work you eat at home only.
Fair means if you earn more you drive a car.
Fair means if you live on state handouts, you walk everywhere or go by bus.
Fair means if you work hard you holiday in the Italian Riviera.
Fair means if you don’t work, you holiday in Skegness.

This is what fair means.

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Education, the abc of it.

The country needs better educated people if it is going to progress in the modern age. I agree they should pay their way but I also think we need to encourage them to take the right degree.

I think we should grade courses with an (a), (b) or (c) with the earnings to start paying back being on a sliding scale between 26k, 21k and 16k. Then we can grade all the degrees really useful to the country advancement in the international industrial market as (a); degrees that will help the country internally as (b); degrees that will only help the student as (c).

David Cameron has read the book called “Nudge” as I have – I know he has as he has invited the American author to Downing Street for a discussion. This is a way of nudging Students to go for courses that will help Britain, whilst at the same time not forcing them to follow a specific subscribed route.

Nudge, a book written by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, is about Libertarian Paternalism. An unfortunate phrase as it consists of two words not well accepted by society. However when put together, it shows how you can encourage the right choices by how you present them. For example, in supermarkets, they nudge you to buy the more expensive choices by putting those items at face level, as mentioned by Tim Harford in his “The Under Cover Economist”. Agreed, this use doesn’t come under paternalism!

I read these sort of books as I find, as a shopper, it is useful to understand the psychology the companies are using against me. Take Starbucks (far away please) for example, do you need the expensive Lattes or Cappuccinos when all you want is a coffee. I buy the cheaper “Americano”  (double espresso topped up to a full cup with hot water, with a small jug of cold milk) and it is tasty, I get my fix, and save up to two pounds a time!

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Pledges and Coalitions

What amuses me is the lack of intelligence everyone is showing about their knowledge of how a coalition works. I don’t need to spell it out to my readers as they are much too intelligent not to realise.

However, if a politician is reading this, then you should understand that the Government in power is not a Conservative Government and it is not a LibDem Government. So the pledges these parties have no more importance than the pledges the Labour Party, UKIP or the Greens made.

It is a Coalition Government and the only pledges that we should be concerned with are the pledges that were made jointly by the Conservatives and the LibDems before the election and, quite naturally, there were none.

Of course, amongst the horse trading afterwards, each party will have to trade a pledge against another between the parties. So realistically, each party will have to give up on half of their pledges.

It is remarkable how unintelligent the MPs and the Lords seem to be on this matter in any party. Perhaps it is because we have not had a coalition since WWII.

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Call them “Tax-Payers Handouts”

The following was someone’s comment to a blog about benefit scroungers. I won’t mention his name unless he comes back to me with permission.

It first came to my attention when my wife left university with her degree and we went to the JobCentre Plus purely for some advice on how she should go about applying for jobs, compiling her CV, that sort of thing.

When we spoke to one of the advisers (hah!) all they asked was “What benefits do you wish to claim for?”. We told them that my wife didn’t want any benefits as I earned enough to keep us both – she just wanted advice. They replied that before she could speak to anyone she had to make a claim for benefits so that she was entered on the system. That was when I dawned on me that it was a benefits centre, not a Job Centre.

The second thing I noticed, was that there were people coming into the centre declaring that there were “no jobs” – and it was the way they said it. They were HAPPY that here were no jobs (in fact there were hundreds on offer) – a great excuse to carry on being unemployed and claiming benefits.

In the end my wife took matters into her own hands and looked on the internet for jobs and how to write a CV.

Then she got dressed-up in her smart clothes and went round many shops and companies in person with a copy of her CV and presented it to the manager. She got lots of invites for interviews and, from that, a number of job offers.

Now she is manager of a large ladies fashion store and doing well – all because she made the effort to go out and seek work.

My point is, you can find work if you want it because there are jobs out there. During a walk around Nottingham earlier this week, I noticed at least ten jobs advertised in windows of shops… there is work there!

People imagine if Ian Duncan Smith manages to get his changes through things will change. However, I do sincerely doubt this. It is going to take a generation before you will be able to persuade all these people who work is an option to the pub.

Personally I think there should be a freeze on all benefits increasing, during the life of this government’s term. And afterwards, only going up through raises in costs of living for the previous twelve months only.

In addition to this, I would like to see the standard benefit payment cut by 1% per month for thirty months. I wouldn’t include specialist payments for the truly needy, just the standard payment.

Perhaps we could rename “benefits” to what they are; we should call them tax-payers handouts and have this printed on all the forms.

This way, people could see their money slowly depreciating. It might take a year for it to dawn on the hardiest of them that they should look for work, but this is faster than if you did nothing.

Admittedly, because of the way of life, due to the way that successive governments have looked after them, burglaries and muggings might increase, but you can’t have everything, and by then, the bureaucracy of the police force may have subsided and the police might actually be on the street.

I am not advocating ceasing benefits altogether but I will leave you with a thought. How many immigrants, illegal and otherwise, flooding into this country would stop over-night if we cancelled all benefits?

I would like to repeat something that someone once said to me decades ago. I can’t remember who it was, but I remember what was said: “I believe everyone should make their own way in life. I believe in a helping hand for those who fall by the wayside, but not a sinecure for life.”

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