You could argue for years about Margaret Thatcher.
But it wasn’t what she did or didn’t do, that she leaves behind. In the course of history, there are only a few politicians, philosophers and sad to say despots and dictators, who have changed the world.
Margaret Thatcher showed that no rule or thought in traditional thinking is sacrosanct, when it comes to shaping the world. Since then we’ve seen lots of radical ideas work, that would have never even been thought of, had not Margaret Thatcher and a few others shown that you could do something different.
Would Tony Blair have been able to reform a Labour Party, stuck in the 1920s, without Margaret Thatcher showing what radical thinking could do? Or Ken Livingstone, reinvent himself, to make a comeback as the London Mayor. I suspect, if Margaret Thatcher hadn’t been a radical Prime Minister, we’d have had a succession of useless worthies in the last few years.
I’ll only give one example of where Margaret Thatcher ditched conventional thinking.
In 1982, conventional thinking, said that to attempt to retake the Falkland Islands after the Argentine invasion was utter madness, and many on all sides of the political spectrum said that to give the islands away was the best solution. How many people today, think that the decision to retake the islands was wrong? Not many I suspect! I’ve even met an Argentinian, who felt that we did his country a favour, by effectively getting rid of the evil dictatorship of General Galtieri.
Without Margaret Thatcher my life today would be very different.
After I had sold my first successful software; Pert7 to ADP, I received an offer to go to the United States to write a PERT system for a large US computer corporation.
How they got my number or the fact I’d sold out, I don’t know?
Soon after, I was approached to write a PERT system, which later became Artemis, so I turned the Americans down.
I suspect that if that hadn’t happened, I’d have eventually moved across the Atlantic, as it was just impossible to provide for a growing family with the tax rates, then in force.
i didn’t move, as neither C or myself could have ever lived abroad permanently.
But Margaret Thatcher’s Tax and other reforms enabled me to stay in the country of my birth. If tax rates were still as the eighty percent plus they were in the nineteen seventies, I doubt many of the brightest in the UK, would not have gone to where pastures were greener.
One aside here is a story from my accountant of the 1980s. A confirmed Socialist, he was not a supporter of Margaret Thatcher, but felt the tax reforms of the time were very good for the country. Although tax rates were lowered, her Chancellors were good at closing the myriad loopholes that had been developed by clever members of his profession. There may be a lesson here for today’s politicians, who need to both maximise the tax take and keep voters happy.
I’ve got rather fed-up with the one-sided reporting on the tax changes, that come into force today. typical is this report on the BBC. The fact that the personal allowance threshold has been raised, is very much buried in the story.
So when it was announced that Ed Balls was going to be on BBC Radio 5 Live at 8:05, I decided that this was an ideal time to walk down the road and get my paper.
The proof of the value of these tax changes will not be in headlines designed to attract readers and votes, but in the amount of tax collected. Having heard Danny Alexander this morning, I think everybody is in for a surprise.
It is reported that former Poet Laureate; Andrew Motion has said that second homes must be made very expensive to stop sucking the life out of villages. The full story is here in the Guardian.
I have owned and lived in two houses a couple of times in my life. At one time we were living in Cromwell Tower during the week and also had the house at Debach in Suffolk for the weekend. And then we had Les Ondes in Antibes.
I think in truth,neither arrangements worked out for C and myself, as we were incessant travellers. And fixed bases are not compatible if you want to go long distances abroad for a couple of months a year.
Before we moved to Newmarket, we were not using the house in France, but were flying everywhere in my Cessna 340A. If we hadn’t bought Les Ondes, we might have visited some of the places, I now regret we didn’t.
So my argument against second homes, is that they may look good on paper, but spending the money you save by having only one home, on say travel or something you enjoy is probably better.
Since C died, I’ve been to a few places, where she never went, that to have flown to in a light aircraft would have been fun. For a start on my cruise, there was Corunna.
There is also two other arguments against second homes.
By having a second home, you are effectively denying someone else or another family, a home. That is morally indefensible in times like these, where we don’t have enough homes.
There is also the climate change argument, in that loading a 4×4 up with half your worldly goods each weekend, isn’t a way of cutting CO2 emissions. All it does is create profits for oil companies.
I could throw in a few other arguments too, like the fact that I believe spontaneity and impulse are good for you and do you want to be involved in the various NIMBY arguments that plague the countryside.
Perhaps though, most people don’t think logically about life as I do, and they have so much money, they can’t spend it creatively.
So is Motion’s idea to make second homes more expensive is the only thing, that might curb second home ownership and put more houses on the market for those, who don’t have a nice place to live? But no government would bring in the legislation, as it would be a catastrophic vote loser. Just look at the protest, when Ryanair chopped all those routes to France a few years ago, as it cut the cheap route to second homes.
Similar arguments can also be applied to those individuals from abroad, who buy up desirable properties in the UK and leave it empty.
We need more housing and as we haven’t got the space to built much more, we must maximise our use of what we already have.
It’s the cash ISA time of the year and I’ve just been looking at the rates. As to what an ISA is, it’s probably best summed up by this page in Money Saving Expert. Here’s the first paragraph.
A cash ISA is just a tax-free savings account. You don’t need to lock the cash away, many are easy-access. Each tax year EVERY person over 16 in the UK can put a new £5,640 in these accounts that pay up to 2.8%. And once in there, the money stays tax-free, year after year.
The rates are derisory and are very poor compared to what I get from Zopa.
Admittedly, there are tax advantages, but why can’t I get those with a peer-to-peer lender if I agree to lock my money away for several years?
This article about Ed Miliband and his tax policies, shows everything that is wrong with politicians. Obviously, the 10p tax rate brought in by Gordon Brown didn’t work, as why would he later have abolished it. Politicians of all parties just can’t get it into their head, that when old ideas fail, it is time to give up conservative thinking and try new ideas.
You could argue, that a Mansion Tax is a good idea, but it is just another variation of the politics of envy.
I feel it would make housing problems worse, as from what I’ve read, it would be better for tax purposes to own six £700,000 houses, rather than one worth £4,000,000 or so.
Thus, those with pots of money would take houses out of the available pool, which let’s face it is too small at all levels.
I wouldn’t be hit by a Mansion Tax, as my house is probably worth just over a million, although I paid a lot less for it, just two years ago. But it is in an area, where prices are rising quite fast, due to the improvements in public transport. In a few years, it’ll probably be within the Mansion Tax rate. So why should I pay more, just because I made a good decision?
I would raise money from housing in other ways. The Mansion Tax would be paid on any property, where the owner doesn’t live in it. And the starting point would be a £1,000,000.
This would mean second houses would pay the Mansion Tax, as you couldn’t be registered in two places. I’ve lived in two houses at the same time in the past and it’s a pain and very inefficient.
So let’s ditch all of the consevative ideas and get really radical with ideas, that create more houses and generate more jobs and wealth.
It has been proposed by a thinktank, that those on benefit should get a cash card, that they can only spend on approved purchases, that would not include alcohol, cigarettes, Sky television, gambling and other things that the great and good felt were not necessary.
It’s one of these issues like capital punishment, that if went to a referendum, the general public would vote for.
I wouldn’t, as it is just against my beliefs.
We need to cut down the drinking of alcohol and the smoking of tobacco, but this doesn’t just apply to those on benefit.
But the biggest fault in the proposal is the practicalities.
I am a coeliac and if someone like me was on a benefits cash card, would they be restricted from buying good quality food. After all the gluten-free food you get on prescription is generally crap.
And let’s say you are careful and always shop in the local market, where good food is often cheaper. Is every market stall going to have the expense of accepting the cards, when cash is the best method of payment. So will the cards be able to withdraw cash.
I’ve had times in my life, when I wasn’t very well off and I always resort to cash, as I then know how much I’ve got left.
There has been a call this morning, for a tax to be put on fizzy sugary drinks. It’s reported here on the BBC.
I would not be affected by such a tax, as I suppose the only high sugar drink, I take is the odd smoothie, when I need to take my pills out.
I did however chat to someone yesterday, who has retired from a job, where they looked after obesity and diabetes in the community. Judging by that pair of jobs, there is a serious connection between being overweight and getting diabetes.
So perhaps, it would be a good idea to try to cut down on all that sugar! On the other hand, we perhaps shouldn’t go for artificial sweeteners, as many like the outspoken, DogtorJ, believe them to be a problem. He incidentally is a vet, who is a coeliac, and has come to some interesting research-based conclusions.
I doubt we’ll ever see a tax on fizzy drinks, as the industry wouldn’t allow it and I suspect, it would be a vote loser.
This article from the BBC’s web site, describes how the Italian tax man is getting to grips with the country’s tax avoidance.
The Italians are finding it all a bit intrusive and with an election coming up, the tactics of the taxmen are an election issue.
According to the article, the United States uses a similar system, which links the amount of expenditure you have, with the income you need to sustain that lifestyle.
I’ve met many people over the years, who seemed to live very well, with no visible means of support.
So perhaps we need that sort of system here!
Camelot is being reported as doubling the cost of playing the National lottery to £2, but with bigger prizes. It’s all here in the Guardian.
I suppose it will tend to absorb all of those dreaded £2 coins that I don’t like!
I wonder how long the National Lottery will last.
I hadn’t realised that the EU puts a limit and an import tax on garlic, ostensibly to protect farmers in the Community.
But then I read this story on the BBC web site.
I suppose that smuggling garlic is not as morally offensive as smuggling drugs or tobacco!
I don’t think too, that even eating garlic to excess will kill you!