U-Turns On NI

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A little over a week ago the Chancellor of The Exchequer Phillip Hammond announced in his spring budget that he would increase Class 4 National Insurance Contributions from the self employed from 9% to 10% in April 2018, and to 11% in 2019, to bring it closer to the 12% currently paid by employees. This is a move that pissed off, not just the main opposition parties in Westminster, but the core demographic of Conservative voters.

In the United Kingdom, National Insurance (NI) is a system of taxes paid by workers and employers, used primarily to fund state benefits. So you can see why the low tax pro business party might have one or two problems with self starting business owners paying higher taxes, especially when we’ve had to endure seven long years of austerity measures whilst being told that its impossible to tax oneself into prosperity.

However its a moot point because a week later the poor Chancellor was dragged back out to say that on reflection (ie mounting pressure from his own parties supporters) that he would be scrapping the policy and looking to make capital increases elsewhere.

It just seems odd to me that the government would even dare float such a policy, because it would seriously piss off their core base of voters. And then it hit me, that they can actually get away with putting in place policies that a really unpopular,  and that’s because the opposition is in such disarray. Jeremy Corbyn has no control over his MP’s, most of whom are in open rebellion against him, and those who are loyal to him are about as effective as trying to cure a  migraine with an ice pick.

So thinking they could get away with it may be why they announced it, but whats the reasoning behind the idea? It’s pretty sound logic to be fair and is doing the one thing that the Tories have been criticised for not doing for as long as I can remember. And that’s addressing a tax dodge. It isn’t closing the gap on non-doms or foreign registered businesses, and again will only hit the low income self employed, but nevertheless it is a tax dodge and its a little convoluted so stay with me.

Step One

When setting up your own business you register it as a limited liability company with companies house, thus making your company a thing independent of you.

Step Two

You register as the businesses sole shareholder

Step Three 

You sign an employment contract with your company agreeing to pay yourself minimum wage (or some suitably low wage) for which you will only pay national insurance (and a minute amount of employment tax)

Step Four 

You work your arse off and the business starts doing well making profit, say £100,000 a year, if you had taken this as a wage you would take home £65,467, but by taking it as a shareholder profit you would take home £78, 842 (after paying tax and national insurance on your “wage” and after paying your corporation tax).

The national insurance you would pay in this scenario would only £1,128 for the year, so you see why the government would be anxious to maybe claw a little bit extra back. But alas no, because Conservative voters tend to get a little pissy when taxes go up and the government starts messing with the way they do business.

 

Lifting The Veil On Politics: The USA

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This is the second of a series of posts trying to de-mystify politics for everyday people.

No matter where you are in the world you undoubtedly hear a lot about American politics. You cant turn on a screen without seeing President Trumps tangerine visage plastered in front of the press, with quotes snapped right from his twitter feed running around the blogosphere for years to come.

But what do you actually know about the system that put Trump in the top office?

The federal government of the United States is split into 3 branches, The Judicial Branch (The Supreme Court and the Lower Courts), The Legislative Branch (which is split into the United States Senate, which has two senators from each state, and The United States House Of Representatives which has 435 members from congressional districts, these two institutions are collectively known as the United State’s Congress). And thirdly the Executive Branch (the offices of the President and The Vice President of The United States).

The reason for the separation of powers between the three branches of government, was to create a series of checks and balances, so that no one branch of government could become more powerful than the other. For example the President can veto a bill from congress, the congress can vote down legislation introduced by the president, or the courts, when petitioned, can decided that legislation is unlawful or not in the spirit of the law.

The federal government is based upon the written constitution of the United States, which sets out the way the government should be run, the power of state legislatures, as well as the rights bestowed upon citizens of the country.  There are currently 27 amendments to the constitution, the first 10 of which make up the bill of rights, and the others deal with issues such as suffrage, presidential term limits and successions, congressional salaries, and the prohibition/ reinstating of alcohol.

State Legislatures

American law can get a little confusing to outsiders, because there are different laws for different states so you actually have 51 different sets of laws for one country. But its actually no different from the way the UK is set, federal government in Washington devolves law making responsibility to local state legislatures, the same way that the UK government devolves law making powers to the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales. These state legislatures will make laws on many things such as education policy, traffic laws and even controversial things such as gun regulation, gay marriage and drug decriminalisation.

The state governments are governed in much the same way as the federal government, The governor of the state will be held accountable by the state senate and both can be held accountable by district courts and the supreme court.

Hopefully that helps shed some light on the way that laws are made across the pond.

The Lazy Ramblings Of A Lazy Guy (On Being In Love)

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I was recently introduced to the Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Fellow by Jerome K Jerome. The book consists of 14 essays on 14 topics

  1. ON BEING IDLE.
  2. ON BEING IN LOVE.
  3. ON BEING IN THE BLUES.
  4. ON BEING HARD UP.
  5. ON VANITY AND VANITIES.
  6. ON GETTING ON IN THE WORLD.
  7. ON THE WEATHER.
  8. ON CATS AND DOGS.
  9. ON BEING SHY.
  10. ON BABIES.
  11. ON EATING AND DRINKING.
  12. ON FURNISHED APARTMENTS.
  13. ON DRESS AND DEPORTMENT.
  14. ON MEMORY.

Jerome K Jerome is pretty much me down to a tee. He’s lazy and just writes whatever comes to mind. He doesn’t care who he offends, and I often felt that he may have been somewhat high when he picked up the pen. But Mr Jerome has inspired me, so I am going to be writing a series of posts on the topics that Mr Jerome turned his hand at. (I know I’m ripping the guy off, but quite frankly I don’t care)

On Being In Love 

Have you ever seen someone and known that they would be a terrible distraction to your life. That was how I would describe it, that feeling of knowing that this person is going to really change your life. That knowledge that this is going to be massively inconvenient.

That’s how it all begins then you slip into it, the early days are all wine and dinner and flowers and dancing, but then comes the big pants and netflix, the cups of tea, the farting and the lack of make up, if you can get through that, that is true love. The enduring real world version of the thing.

Foreigner wanted to know what love is, well its two people who have decided to just give up and settle with each other because they find the other person somewhat less detestable than the rest of humanity, that my friends is love.

This is the second in series of posts ripping off the work of Mr Jerome K Jerome and his seminal piece The Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Man.

 

The Lazy Ramblings of A Lazy Guy (On Being Idle)

 

The Man Down My Local (1).pngI was recently introduced to the Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Fellow by Jerome K Jerome. The book consists of 14 essays on 14 topics

  1. ON BEING IDLE.
  2. ON BEING IN LOVE.
  3. ON BEING IN THE BLUES.
  4. ON BEING HARD UP.
  5. ON VANITY AND VANITIES.
  6. ON GETTING ON IN THE WORLD.
  7. ON THE WEATHER.
  8. ON CATS AND DOGS.
  9. ON BEING SHY.
  10. ON BABIES.
  11. ON EATING AND DRINKING.
  12. ON FURNISHED APARTMENTS.
  13. ON DRESS AND DEPORTMENT.
  14. ON MEMORY.

Jerome K Jerome is pretty much me down to a tee. He’s lazy and just writes whatever comes to mind. He doesn’t care who he offends, and I often felt that he may have been somewhat high when he picked up the pen. But Mr Jerome has inspired me, so I am going to be writing a series of posts on the topics that Mr Jerome turned his hand at. (I know I’m ripping the guy off, but quite frankly I don’t care)

On Being Idle

Laziness is both a blessing and a curse, there is nothing more satisfying than spending a day lazing about on the sofa, especially when you know that there are plenty of more important things that you could be doing, and therein lies the curse. Having to put aside that bliss, can prove difficult and indeed a real hardship and can even lead to outright resentment. Or at least this is how I feel. I’ve now reached the point where I actually hate to have to do things. When people interrupt my doing nothing I really do get a little bit angry about the whole thing.

Since the advent of the internet the whole staying in thing really has taken off, with the world of online streaming services and takeaway foods that you don’t even have to speak to people to get, the world of insular laziness has actually become more and more of a easy thing to achieve.

Laziness and indeed idleness itself is a state of mind, its where you sacrifice any sort of social life just to achieve the pleasure that comes from doing nothing. It’s hard to get into the head space required to want to do nothing but watch Game of Thrones in your pants while eating cereal straight from the box.

There are some people who couldn’t be lazy if their lives depended on it. They just lack that lack of drive. They have too much motivation, too much determination to just get things done. The world would stop without those people, without them we wouldn’t have anything. But thanks to those people the rest of us, those lazy fellows can enjoy the things those great enablers have given us. Thanks to them we can vegetate until we fuse to with our sofas, until bed sores set in and until we have to wash ourselves with rags on sticks.

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The world takes a dim view of laziness, but to those who say this is say to you…meh I’ll tell you later.

 

This is the first in series of posts ripping off the work of Mr Jerome K Jerome and his seminal piece The Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Man. 

An Iron Constitution.

One of my main interests is constitutional law. To most people its a pretty dry and boring subject and I could see why they would think that.

I like looking at the hypothetical questions that are posed and trying to figure out what would happen, this is why when the Scottish independence referendum was taking place my mind was racing with questions like: if Scotland were to vote independence, would the field MP’s in the 2015 elections.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been rereading some Christopher Buckley books, namely No Way To Treat A First Lady and Supreme Courtship, these books are fictional satire but raise some interesting questions about the way the American political and legal systems work (or don’t). Such as is if the President’s wife clocks him for sleeping about is it treason? or whether or not a Judge Judyesque TV judge has the relevant legal credentials to sit on the Supreme Court.

I like the absurdity of all, but the fact that it’s not beyond the realms of possibility is what makes it so enjoyable and also so scary. I often feel that the current presidential elections could in fact be a plot in one of Mr Buckley’s novel’s, a massively racist, misogynistic right wing, real estate selling, borderline sex offender running against a former first lady to a philandering former president…. what part of that doesn’t sound like satire .

One of the legal questions I have to ask though is can a presidential candidate take office if he’s currently under investigation for tax evasion, rape and various other felonies? Or can impeachment proceedings begin before an inauguration? It almost makes the British political system look tame by comparison and this is the system that has 22 anti EU UK Independence Party Members of the European Parliament.

Dr Brexit (Or How I Learnt To Stop Worrying & Love The Abomination)

So that happened. The people of the United Kingdom (but not Northern Ireland) voted to leave the EU. After months of muck slinging and misinformation Britain narrowly voted to leave the European Union. This left Prime Minister David Cameron to be the first politician to keep a promise as he resigned his premiership , thus triggering a short leadership contest best described as mother doesn’t know best.

As well as this the Labour Party seems to be determined to simultaneously implode and rip itself apart, with the majority of  party MP’s wanting to remove “leader” Jeremy Corbyn from power and Mr Corbyn refusing to leave office triggering a party wide leadership election based on the Vladimir Putin electoral system.

Add into this 6000 extra reported hate crimes that have been logged since the Brexit vote was cast, the fluctuation of the markets that look like a cutaway diagram of Wales, and several declarations of  war on the baby boom generation,  this whole thing is beginning to sound like some sort of satirical farce, one can almost hear Malcolm Tucker exclaiming CHRIST ON A BENDY BUS whilst R.E.M plays in the background.

This is why after a month of anger, bitterness and depression I’ve decided to see the funny side of Brexit. So here are some of the funniest/ stupidest things I’ve seen regarding Brexit after polling day:

  • Google reports the most popular (non porn) search the day of the Brexit results was “What is the EU?
  • After being urged to vote leave by J.D Wetherspoon’s founder Tim Martin the firm lost £18,Million in value thanks to the post brexit slump.
  • An odious man of my acquaintance (whom I will not name for legal reasons) who campaigned strongly for brexit has now found himself fired from a leading academic establishment (which I will not name for said same legal reasons) because his position was paid for by a European Grant.
  • Proposals are now being drawn up by various special interest groups to cease the subsidising of public transport for the over 60’s in Wales in order to make up the shortfall of European Money coming into Wales (almost 80% of over 60’s in Wales voted to leave the EU)

Do you have any examples of poetic justice stemming from the post brexit fallout currently engulfing the UK?

Foreign Secretary, A Eunuch Experience

Unless you’ve been living under a rock ( and under the circumstance this seems a rather sensible option) you’ll know that after voting to leave the European Union (I’m not bitter) the Labour Party has been in turmoil with members of Her Majesties Loyal Opposition finally uniting behind Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn (albeit in the same way Brutus et al united behind Julius Caesar) and that in the same time the Conservative Party has managed to stage a leadership contest and swear in a new Prime Minister following David Cameron’s resignation.

After a very brief leadership race the Conservative Party has selected The Right Honourable Theresa May MP as the new Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. After being asked to form a government by Her Majesty the Queen, Mrs May got straight to work picking her new cabinet most of the choices were fairly sound but the one that drew most controversy was the appointment of former London Mayor Boris Johnson MP as Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Boris Johnson
Secretary of State For The Foreign and Commonwealth Office: The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP

Boris Johnson was one of the leading figures of the Brexit movement (the campaign to leave the European Union) and as such was tipped to replace David Cameron as the next Prime Minister. He enjoyed much media notoriety as Mayor of London, his blonde haired buffonish charm and unapologetic upper class demeanour make him somewhat of a marmite figure across the country, but lying behind the Etonian oaf exterior is a political acumen sharp enough to cut glass.

When David Cameron stood down as Prime Minister, thus making the fallout from Brexit his successors problem, Boris, knowing this, decided to bide his time as most from the Brexit camp saw the premiership as a poisoned chalice. So when Theresa May became Prime Minister Boris had to be given a top job purely because his campaigning and media profile demanded it. Mrs May knows that she had to give Boris a cabinet position because as dangerous as having Boris in the cabinet is, he would be more dangerous as a back bencher.

Now that brings us to the position Mr Johnson was actually given, Foreign Secretary. You may ask what does Foreign Secretary do? The answer is not much. He may have a whole department to run but Mr Johnson has become the most powerful eunuch in Whitehall. Most major foreign policy decisions are made by the Prime Minister, most diplomatic actions are taken by ambassadors and other civil servants and now international trade has a new secretary of state and whole new department, and even Brexit, the most important foreign policy of a generation is being handled by its own department.

So what does that leave for Mr Johnson? Not much. He is now essentially The Secretary of State for Taking Blame, whenever British troops are killed in the middle east, he’ll be trotted out to sweat on question time, or when British Tourists are killed abroad he’ll be the one saying how sorry the government is. From the Prime Ministers point of view she can also send him abroad when and if he starts making a nuisance of himself in the press, or if it looks like he’s getting a little to popular among the back benches any number of foreign crises can be arranged.

I think that its clear to see that Mrs May subscribes to the theory that anyone who says keep your friends close but your enemies closer clearly doesn’t have many enemies.