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Pay As You Throw 29 August 2006

Posted by David in Uncategorized.
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Spy bugs in wheelie bins, wheeled-bin-360.jpgwhatever next? The Daily Mail reported it in disgust, dedicating pages to it, while the BBC News Online played it up as a clever way of boosting recycling. Those creating more waste than their quota would have been billed extra for the excess, a kind of pay as you throw (I’m surprised the Sun didn’t use that one). Pay as you throw would encourage recycling, but would encourage fly tipping even more – like the taxes on waste disposal created a while back by the EU. Needless to say, we already pay for our wheelie bin rubbish collection through our council tax. A tax, I add, based on assets instead of income and regardless of use.

Again they use the ‘stick’ of fines, surcharges and extra bills instead of any ‘carrot’ option, carrot options being plentiful but generate zero stealth revenue. Perhaps enter residents into a monthly prize draw for every week they do their recycling – the prize cost, perhaps a holiday or small car, could be sponsored by a local company as publicity (making it free for the council). Others could give a rebate to recycling households. Both would only take the binmen to tick or cross a household list as they went.

I am in largely in favour of paying for things based on use (such as food, gas and electricity) – and most of us would happily pay as we throw – if perhaps they refunded us for the services we don’t use! Like the kazillions of bureaucrats, pen pushers, community outreach support officers and other Guardian job column positions that make life misery. The odds of this happening are rather low. Perhaps we should – like Margo Leadbetter in the Good Life – pay our council tax in person and only the amounts we deem appropriate for services we approve of, use or value. I wonder what their expression would be.

All this said, recycling isn’t always as green as it claims. Much has been sent as landfill, often abroad to Africa or China. I wonder however, why don’t we send more ordinary landfill abroad if we are running out of room here? I see vast wastelands in China on any map. Would this not be sensible?

Scrap This Tax On Death 24 August 2006

Posted by David in Uncategorized.
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First of all, sorry for the long absence of posts. I havenot Universitybeen well lately, so haven’t been able to blog as I had wanted. But now, back to business as normal. The papers and ConservativeHome have both been going crazy about inheritance tax, which has got to be the most unfair and sick form of taxation ever invented.

Any value of estate valued upon its owners death as more than £285,000 is taxed at a grossly unfair 40%, raising around £3.6bln per year for Gordon Brown’s coffers. In comparison Britain’s yearly EU membership fees are around £4.8bln, the European Central Bank estimates the government wastes £80bln per year, and total tax revenues are around £520bln per year.

A Populus/BBC poll this March put public support for IHT very low. Just 25% found it “fair” compared to 73% who found it “unfair”. It currently affects 1.5 million households and will affect 4.2 million by 2020. It is not a tax on the rich, but on anyone who has saved, invested and worked hard all their lives. They have already been taxed, so it is therefore a double tax. Furthermore it is extremely disgusting and morally wrong to force relatives to pay this huge sum, often needing to sell the property to do so, at such a sad time.

But it is also fundamentally wrong, as well as morally wrong. The tax implies that after death, the individuals assets can be taken by the state, and thus that they belong to the state in the long term overall, thereby degrading the past owner’s property rights to a mere life long lease. Property belongs to the individual, not the state, and the individual should be free to do whatever he/she wishes with their assets in their will.

Supporters of inheritance taxes, including Bill Gates and Warren Buffet in America (both to be highly respected as businessmen and the greatest philanthropists of our age if not all time), state that IHT stops long term dynastic wealth. But it is not the state’s right to stop this. The original creator of that wealth owned that wealth, and should be free to spent it or hand it down to whomever he/she likes, who should then be free to do likewise. It is, in short, not the state’s property nor anyone elses.