Saturday, 30 June 2012

Leanne Wood flounders in...

... the face of indifference and takes a new tack in the separatist pursuit of independence.

Unable to get close to convincing the electorate of Wales that her vision for a Welsh Socialist State is preferable to our inclusive United Kingdom, even with the unsavoury aspects of life currently on peoples lips, she and her tiny separatist cabal have been unable to lift support much above a whisper amongst the electorate.  Her answer to Indifferent Wales is a call for Independence Light, she's obviously taking tips from that Scots blowhard Alex Salmond, a confidence trick, smoke and mirrors, a poor an attempt at political disguise.  Scotsman letter from Wood.

And this is how  ...

... much like the Scots Nat's who realise the majority of people quite like being part of our United Kingdom, the Plaid leadership looked for and found a new card to play in the chase for the hearts and minds of the peoples of Wales ...

... the neighbourhood of nations.

The message says "come with us but stay with them!"

... an illusion of course, there seems to be the misconception that post independence the constituent parts will continue much as before, that there will be a brotherly love.....

Will Scotland keep the industry post independence, will it keep the Royal Navy on the Clyde, will it be able to influence the UK Treasury, of course not ...

... it will not be Britain, great or otherwise.

Wood, and presumably Plaid, believe that statehood is a form of straitjacket, her solution is simply to remove the straitjacket of the United Kingdom ......... and replace it with another straitjacket of her "Socialist State of Wales".

Her logic is as flawed as her rhetoric, Plaid is moving in an ever tighter spiral downwards to political oblivion, it's a shame its politicians were not content help the people of Britain making a better place to raise the next generation ..... but politics is not about people, its about politicians, the new aristocracy.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Nothing tears a society apart faster ...

... than the perception of a tax burden unshared,

... for the aficionados of social revolution remember the American and French revolutions.

... as Ben Macintyre writes today

When tax loopholes were in-wall, not offshore ...

... Georgian window-blockers were the Jimmy Carrs of their day — only more visible

When you use the term “daylight robbery” you are invoking a 17th-century British tax and a tax avoidance scheme still visible in many parts of Britain. In 1697 Parliament introduced a tax on windows to defray the expense of the new mint. Householders would henceforth pay a tax proportional to the number of windows they owned. 

The window tax was intended to be progressive. Individuals with large houses would logically pay most and, as windows were visible from the outside, calculating the return should have been easy. It proved to be very difficult. Middle-class and wealthy homeowners simply boarded up some, and in a few cases all, of their windows, permanently or temporarily, to avoid paying what they owed. 

Today one still sees elegant Georgian houses with bricked-up windows, visible testimony to the temptations of tax avoidance; these buildings belonged to the Jimmy Carrs of their day, employing a ruse that was perfectly legal but contrary to the social contract that underpins all taxation. 

Owners of large properties could easily reduce their tax burden by bricking up a few windows, but those with smaller houses could only do so by forfeiting air and natural light. As a result, houses were built with fewer windows and health experts predicted epidemics caused by lack of fresh air. The most annoying aspect was the brazen and visible way richer avoiders went about skirting the tax: windows became tax loopholes and everyone could see who was dodging tax. The levy was finally repealed, denounced as a “tax on light” and nothing less than “daylight robbery”. 

This week Graham Aaronson, the lawyer brought in by David Cameron to explore ways to combat tax avoidance, warned of “riots on the streets” if tax-dodgers get away with it. That may sound like hyperbole, but from a historical perspective he is entirely correct: an abused tax system, in which the poor dutifully cough up but the rich get away without paying their share, is the fuel of revolution. 

Down the centuries the authorities have come up with elaborate ways to extract money from society, with taxes on individual wealth, numbers of female servants, hearths, watches, dogs and salt. Peter the Great taxed beards, beehives, basements, hats, birth, marriage and death. The Roman emperor Vespasian imposed a tax on urine ( vectigal urinae), which was used to dye togas, in public urinals: this was the first and last Pee As You Earn system, raising the possibility of bladder control as a tax avoidance scheme. 

Tax is a test of character, and always has been. As Plato wrote: “When there is an income tax, the just man will pay more and the unjust less on the same amount of income.” 

Taxes are never popular, but become socially destructive when it is perceived that the broad mass of people have to pay, while a privileged few avoid their dues. Leona Helmsley, the American hotelier and convicted tax evader, was heard to observe: “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes . . .” 

That remark crystallised the deep and dangerous social dislocation in 1980s New York because, in addition to being stupid and unpleasant, it happened to be true. 

George Osborne says he regards “tax evasion and indeed aggressive tax avoidance as morally repugnant”. But beyond the ethical argument lies the social and political cost: nothing tears a society apart faster than the perception of a tax burden unshared. 

It is no coincidence that those European countries facing the most serious economic problems and social unrest also have the highest rates of tax evasion. Silvio Berlusconi once said that because of high tax rates in Italy, evasion was seen as a “natural right”. The Federation of Greek Industries estimates that the Greek Government is losing as much as $30 billion a year through tax evasion. 

The Greek system is shot through with loopholes: singers, athletes and various professionals all receive favourable rates, and shipping tycoons pay no income tax at all. Some Athens doctors report unfeasibly low incomes while enjoying a life of swimming pools and yachts, evidence as blatant as a bricked-up Georgian window. 

If a tax system is corrupt and biased, it inevitably erodes the vital “social compliance” that comes not from fear of getting caught, but from a sense of communal obligation; governments must increase taxes to make up the difference, increasing the burden on those who pay and their righteous fury at those who don’t. The social bonds that hold society together begin to fray. 

Britain has a long history of rebelling against taxes seen as unfair. Boadicea was said to have led the Iceni in revolt partly in opposition to punitive Roman taxes. Lady Godiva’s naked equestrianism, according to legend, was a protest against oppressive taxes levied by her husband on the people of Coventry. When taxes are perceived as unjust, Britons tend to protest violently or vanish from the tax rolls. Three years after introducing the poll tax of 1377, the authorities attempted to levy another and found the population had miraculously dropped by half a million. 

The 1990 poll tax riots demonstrated what the “little people” will do when faced with a deeply regressive tax that suddenly left many poor families with greatly increased bills. With up to 30 per cent of the population refusing to pay in some areas, the civil unrest and street protests played a big part in the fall of Margaret Thatcher. 

We “little people” will not take to the streets today just because a handful of comedians and pop stars have worked out a legal way to cling on to more of their vast fortunes. Yet Mr Aaronson is right that such practices have a toxic effect on society, gradually eroding faith in fairness. 

Whenever a rich man boards up his windows or slips his money offshore, the rumble of anger over “daylight robbery” intensifies and society grows a little darker.  

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Bankers offer to give up their bonus ...

... they should be relieved of their freedom.

The story can be read in full here.

Regulators in Europe, the US and Asia have said that investigations into other banks are "ongoing", those people responsible for manipulating markets should be gaoled for life, this pond life ruin the lives of the little people.

Our  Financial Services Authority are not fit for purpose, if Tracey McDermott, director of enforcement thinks that a corporate fine, that would be extracted from those very same customers the banks screwed, is sufficient she lives in a la-la land, gaol is the only outcome for all those involved.

This is another example of the rottenness that should be cut out from society.

I am looking to the USA for a lead, the UK regulaters are far too close to the problem for me to be comfortable with an ethical outcome, only in the USA do perpetrators receive an adequate punishment.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The single important ...

..quality the non-dom should expect to pay for, and it's not our NHS or social security safety ...

Alice Thomson writes in today's Times ...

The Chancellor must scrap their bizarre hereditary status, then make them pay fair taxes ...

...They are our guests. We should be flattered that they have chosen to live here rather than anywhere else in the world. They tend to use private schools and private GPs. They employ nannies, chauffeurs and endless builders as they convert their basements into swimming pools. They buy £500 Laboutin shoes — think of the VAT on those — and they give employment to our bright graduates as tutors to their children. Britain’s 200,000 non-doms are an asset to our country.

These aren’t people who will flounder if the Government toughens up the rules. The Treasury should look to America, where above the entrance to the US Internal Revenue Service in Washington are Oliver Wendell Holmes’s words: “Taxes are what we pay for civilised society.” The wealthy come to Britain because it is civilised. They need to pay to keep it that way. 

... it's not the swimming pools or preference for Laboutin shoes that interests me, it is those that claim the non-dom status fail to pay the piper in full, the £30,000 a year (rising to £50,000) entrance fee to the UK fails to account for the sacrifices that the peoples of the UK have made, made so that it is possible for this relatively small group of people can enjoy democracy without the Mafia, either Italian or Russian, democracy needs paying for ....

... by all, including the Non-dom.

... in full.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Alwyn and Jack, opened the box ...

... to examine Schrödinger's cat only to find it wasn't alive nor dead, it had disapeared.

And is that "nationality" ?

To understand Alwyn and Jack it's necessary to read through their blogsto determine their very public statement of status relating to nationality, Alwyn here, and Jack here, but be warned those readers from beyond the shores of Britain, both Alwyn and Jack hold views that would be suppressed in many countries such as ............... , in Britain we have become somewhat tolerant, we generally accept the views of others as long as we are able to disagree without fear for our safety.
I left a comment with Alwyn who raised the question ...
Does Britain Mean the Same to You as Britain Means to Me?
... my comment reads:

Born in Wales I use "Welsh" and "British" as interchangeable labels, my English in-laws use "English" and "British" in much the same way, its a sense of equality, it means much the same ...

... except possibly during the 6 nations
(rugby championship).
So what is this nationality that might have a multitude of Schrödinger's possibilities, how is it possible to hold dual nationality, my "Welsh" and "British" .... Jack replied to me ...

John, I suggest - or hope - that for you those terms have distinct meanings. Whereas for your in-laws they are most likely synonymous.
Is Jack right, do my English in-laws use "English" and "British" as labels where the difference is only in the spelling ... should I be different and hold (a) nationality to be a distinct statement (of intent).

What is this nationality, is it a product of birth or could it be a product of adoption.  Emigrate to the USA and you will be encouraged to become a citizen, to make a public statement of allegiance, much the same if Australia is your preferred destination.

So do my in-laws make a statement of allegiance when they describe themselves as "English" and "British", possibly, but it is also a possibility that when they describe themselves in these terms that they apply a label to satisfy a need to temporarily identify with their neighbour(s), very few people in Britain (United Kingdom) carry their nationality on permanent public display, unless there is a personal or political need to do so.

Currently there are two groups that carry nationality as a permanent badge of honour, they are those who would break up the United Kingdom into its political constituent parts and those who would keep the status quo.

So where do I fit in, when I call myself Welsh I am definitely watching Wales play rugby, for the rest I prefer the family we call British, it's inclusive, its not perfect, it has infinite variety, it's welcoming whilst it can be forbidding, it has inequalities whilst at the same time it offers opportunity, in short it can mean anything to anyone, I think this is why I and the majority of people in Britain reject nationalism, whether Scots, Irish, Welsh, English or "British" ...

... sometimes we might even consider ourselves "Asda man and women" (Walmart in the USA), its just not important ...

So for the record ................. with ancestors from Cornwall, Devon, the Forest of Dean, the Vale of Glamorgan, with a preference for the BBC, fond regards of the USA, links to Australia, a love of Microsoft and McDonald's, what else could I be ...

... but human.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Is it secrecy ...

... that makes our tax system unfair, as Margaret Hodge Labour MP wrote in today's Times ...
She believes ... "If the tax-man was made accountable, we could crack down on avoidance with more vigour."

The MP who is Chair of the Public Accounts Committee continued ...
We in Britain pride ourselves on playing by the rules. Yet on paying tax we appear to have a blind spot. Tax demands are seen as an aggravating irritant, not a positive contribution to be valued. We all too easily choose to forget the link between every citizen paying his or her fair share, and the vital infrastructure and services on which we all depend.

Of course there are legitimate concerns about whether the State provides value for our money but these cannot justify individuals or companies seeking out wheezes designed simply to avoid paying their rightful contribution. Some of the practices highlighted by The Times wouldn’t look out of place in a banana republic.

Securing every penny of tax due is especially important when cutting the deficit is the policy imperative. In 2009/2010 Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs calculated the tax gap as £35 billion — ie, nearly 8 per cent of all tax due is not being collected. In the same year HMRC wrote off £10.9 billion in tax as uncollectable.

The problem of avoidance is not confined to the private sector. Earlier this year we learnt that the head of the Student Loans Company was having his £182,000 salary package paid through a personal company, thus avoiding PAYE and national insurance contributions. Thousands of other public sector employees were doing the same. While the Government responded promptly to close these loopholes for civil servants, there are still people funded by the taxpayer, working in local authorities and for the BBC, who avoid paying tax in this way. This is not on. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will report on this issue in the next few weeks. And we will also want to look at the loopholes uncovered by The Times.

This week the vexed issue of how HMRC deals with disputes with major corporations such as Goldman Sachs and Vodafone will return. Large companies owe up to £25 billion and the National Audit Office (NAO) will report on five cases examined by a retired judge with experience of tax litigation. Some of these disputes have been mouldering unresolved for 20 years. While the NAO found the settlements in these cases to be not unreasonable, it remains the case that big companies are let off millions of pounds in interest payments while small businesses are fiercely pursued for every penny.

Everybody has been quick to condemn the tax avoidance scams revealed by The Times as morally repugnant. But actions speak louder than words. We should rip off the shroud of secrecy. There is a strong case for the tax affairs of publicly quoted companies to be opened to public account so that we know about their negotiations with HMRC and don’t just see the final settlement in the company’s accounts. We could then know how Vodafone or Amazon choose to arrange their tax affairs, and that may influence how we spend our money when we buy a phone or book.

We also have to strengthen the accountability of HMRC. Hiding behind taxpayer confidentiality is no excuse for it failing to account for itself to Parliament or the public for the work it does. It was only because of evidence from a whistleblower that the PAC uncovered the Goldman Sachs scandal, in which £10 million was lost to the taxpayer because of an error. The public still doesn’t know why there were only three challenges by tax officials to the K2 arrangements in eight years.

If HMRC was made more accountable, there would be stronger pressure on it to pursue disputes or deal with loopholes robustly and not be swayed by pressure from companies or individuals. Because of the HMRC’s secrecy, a small cohort of tax advisers know much more about its compromises than outsiders do and use their inside knowledge to help other businesses to avoid tax.

We can do more to prevent abuses by companies who benefit from public contracts. For instance, the PAC has identified PFI contractors that are providing hospitals and schools that have taken their companies offshore to avoid tax. A simple rewrite of future contracts or a threat to stop companies that deliberately avoid tax from getting new public contracts could bring this practice quickly to a halt.

Clearly, we should simplify our tax system. Tax avoidance and evasion is less of a problem in Australia and New Zealand, where governments have simplified. And surely we should all be able to understand our tax returns so that we can take proper responsibility for what we do? It’s ridiculous that the present, inaccessible system can only be navigated by tax experts.

HMRC must be properly resourced. The previous Government cut HMRC staff working on avoidance and evasion by more than 3,000, although every pound invested in people secures £10 in tax revenue. It is outrageous that so often rich individuals and corporations are able to outwit the tax authorities because they have well-paid advisers who are better equipped than the HMRC.

When the PAC looked at the Goldman Sachs settlement, we were surprised that the Head of Tax was the only senior person with “deep knowledge” of tax to authorise that deal. The Civil Service tradition of employing generalists means that we have too few specialists who can take on the private sector’s accountants.

A country’s tax system ought to reflect the values and priorities of that society. If the wealthiest pay as little as 1 per cent tax, and corporations even less, that is an offence against the values and sense of fairness of ordinary people. Our tax system encourages morally repugnant behaviour. It must change.
So, according to parliament it is none of their doing, I've met people such as these during my life, this is the "its always someone else's fault" brigade.

Unfortunately for Westminster the taxpayers, the public, the voters, we all know otherwise.  Each and every tax avoidance scheme has the tacit approval of our parliamentary representatives because they have chosen not to fix them.

There is no justice where the poor of Anglesey (these are the poorest in Great Britain) pay a greater percentage of their income as tax than the wealthiest in the land.

Something smells very bad, and it wafts across the Thames ....

Sunday, 24 June 2012

It's a scandal ...

... he said, the fact that housing benefit in the United Kingdom costs the taxpayers £2 Billion every year.
For the many thousands of people from across the world who visit my blog each week, housing benefit in the UK is described here .... and here.
It was David Cameron that believes the £2 Billion annual cost to be a scandal, I agree with him, but for very different reasons ...

To qualify for this benefit you will be either without work, or have a job with such low pay (full or part-time) that you will not survive without the taxpayers transferring part of their earnings through taxation.

No doubt there are those in society that abuse the system, but on reflection, industry has a need to answer the allegation that they abuse their employees by paying wages that require benefits to exist.

Who commits the crime, the individual without the job needing a home for his or frequently her family, or those who created this world that imposes the need for taxpayers subsidy ?

David Cameron and S.B.S. ...

... (Spontaneous Bullshit Syndrome), it's the only explanation when he sends the kids back home ...

For the full story see the BBC report.

The scenario ....
Daughter (or son, delete as appropriate) leaves for college at 18 or so ...
... occasionally returns home for a break.

Graduates and moves to London, 1st job ...
... bedsit living, frequent trips home.

Meets "Kevin", trips home become less frequent ...
... meeting Kevin's parents this Christmas.

They moved into a flat together ...
... wow that was quick, I've a grandson.

Kevin lost his job ...
... I'm sure we'll find room for you both and the children.

After all, you are not 25 years old just yet ...
 The reality ...
When children leave home, they really do leave home.
 Can the electorate expect many more gems from our Prime Minister ...........

Saturday, 23 June 2012

When you see an elephant ...

... on your doorstep, you know it's there .............

............. this elephant is bigger than Magna Carta, my guess is it will not go away until taxation is completely reformed so that all earnings made in the UK are taxed for the benefit of all those stakeholders in the UK ............. Mr. Cameron.

A small point, society is quite tired of a new aristocracy sitting on the shoulders of hard working people.

The 38-year tax backlog reported in today's (£) Times :
Billions of pounds of potential revenue is tied up in more than 20,000 tax tribunal cases because the Government lacks the resources to deal with them promptly, tax experts have told The Times.

An internal estimate by Revenue and Customs claims that the backlog would take 38 years to clear at the present rate. Interviews with current and former Revenue staff, and lawyers and accountants who advise wealthy taxpayers, have portrayed a department that is struggling to cope with mounting pressure to stop big companies and the rich from avoiding their tax bills. The claims come after it was revealed this week that a host of wealthy people, including footballers, financiers and celebrities, continue to use avoidance schemes to reduce their income tax, despite HMRC increasingly challenging such arrangements.

One of Britain’s most successful businessmen is increasing the pressure today on the Government to produce a tax law that is fair for all. In an interview with The Times, the former chief executive of Tesco Sir Terry Leahy says that if there is unhappiness with the law “then the answer is to change the law”.

He also attacks the status of non-domiciles, who avoid paying full tax in this country by being registered abroad.

“There’s an insulated international group of people,” he says. “I’m slightly puzzled by the UK’s generous treatment of foreign residents. I’m for lower tax but I’d start with British citizens. Why should a non-British person have a better tax treatment from the British authorities than a British person?”

Among the concerns highlighted by the tax experts were:
  • Some wealthy taxpayers whose arrangements have been challenged by HMRC are playing “hardball” in negotiations, in the expectation that the taxman will have to start making deals to clear unresolved cases;
  • HMRC has a disproportionate number of senior staff close to retirement and not enough capable junior employees to replace them;
  • Work by HMRC’s elite specialist investigations unit, which handles the toughest avoidance cases, has deteriorated in recent years, according to some sources;
  • Staff cuts and defections have left HMRC with not enough fully-trained tax inspectors. Overall staff numbers are likely to fall to 55,000 by 2015, down from about 100,000 in 2005;
  • Morale at HMRC is at rock-bottom, with staff frustrated about the lack of resources, pay freezes, cuts to their pensions and a lack of promotion opportunities. The Association of Revenue & Customs, which represents senior staff, claims that this is a “ticking timebomb” that could lead to a wave of defections to the private sector.
Industry and HMRC insiders said that the strain on resources was undermining progress in recent years on cutting evasion. Ian Hyde, a partner at the law firm Pinsent Masons, said: “HMRC is beset by poor morale, high staff turnover, budget cuts, and a lack of quality when it comes to training and knowledge.”

However, a senior source at HMRC blamed the tribunal system, rather than cuts, for undermining the fight against tax dodgers. “We can’t control the tribunal,” the official said. “It’s still finding its way. Two years ago they couldn’t find enough cases. Now apparently they’ve got a backlog.”

The Government committed an additional £917 million in funding during the 2010 spending review to tackle avoidance, evasion and criminal attacks on the tax system. But the Association of Revenue and Customs believes that this is not enough when the department overall is facing a 15 per cent budget cut.

The union has called for the Government to put aside another £260 million to create 250 new senior tax positions to tackle avoidance by large businesses; 400 to ensure compliance by employers; and 200 lawyers and legal support staff to help clear the backlog of legal disputes.

Gareth Hills, a spokesman for the union, said: “ARC members continue to deliver against a backdrop of HMRC resource cuts over many years and insufficient re-investment. We have been consistently arguing that without adequate investment HMRC will be forced to make compromises.”

Last month, the Public Accounts Committee said that said that the loss of 3,300 jobs in the compliance and enforcement functions of HMRC had resulted in £1.1 billion in potential tax revenue not being collected.

A spokesman for HMRC said: “We do believe that we are winning the war against avoidance. The £917 million made available to us as part of our 2010 spending settlement for tackling avoidance, evasion and fraud, is being used against the avoidance “industry’.” 

Observation .............
Britain’s tax system is straining under the weight of thousands of unresolved disputes between companies, rich individuals and Revenue & Customs. 

More than 20,000 cases are piled up in the tribunals and will take at least 38 years to clear at the current rate, resulting in billions of pounds in potential revenue sitting uncollected. The backlog is one of the starkest examples of how the Government’s crackdown on tax avoidance is being threatened by a lack of resources. 
Cynical  .............
One tax expert compares it to the chaotic passport queues at Heathrow. “Sooner or later they’re going to give in and just let people through,” he says.
Solution .............
Simplify the tax system so that no-one needs an accountant to pay taxes ............. and don't let anyone off paying their taxes, even if it does take 38 years.
Unexpected benefit ............. if David Cameron pushed such a system through parliament, he could take his place in history alongside the signatories of the Magna Carta.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Have you noticed ...

... the furore concerning the tax avoidance by those who we might call friend, those we might call neighbour, those that do not pay their taxes in full .....

.... ah but we pay too much some write to The Times, "... there is no moral case for a resident of this country to be forced to pay wildly more than his neighbour for identical state services", so says Mr. Wilkins of East Sussex.

Not quite true Mr Wilkins, your assertion assumes that the majority of people when they work become company resources rather than stakeholders, your assertion rests on the foundation that many people can be paid below the minimum needed to survive who are then given a subsidy by other people throgh tax credits.

The reality is closer to The Times leader ...

A Serious Matter

Jimmy Carr has realised that tax is no joke. The comedian’s apology and his decision to abandon the tax avoidance scheme exposed by this newspaper are welcome. In deciding to invest in the K2 scheme, Carr did indeed make what he has called “a terrible error of judgment”. For while this scheme may be legal, it is a blatant example of aggressive tax avoidance that most reasonable people would have felt was neither in the spirit of the law nor fair to the taxpaying fans from whom he earns his living.

The Times champions success and wealth creation. We believe that income tax rates are too high and that they stifle enterprise, especially when combined with national insurance contributions. It is understandable that people take an interest in legal ways to reduce the burden. But there is a world of difference between protecting savings from tax in an ISA, for example, as millions of people do, and investing in tortuous schemes involving offshore trusts in order to reduce tax payments to minuscule levels.

The day before he repented, Carr told a gig: “I pay what I have to, and not a penny more.” This was not something to be proud of, given that this meant reducing his tax rate to considerably below that of his audience.

All the schemes that The Times has exposed so far are legal. Yet some go far beyond the intent of the reliefs or allowances that they seek to exploit. This is the kind of “aggressive” tax avoidance that the Chancellor has called morally repugnant. There is no absolute definition of what constitutes “aggressive”, but Graham Aaronson, QC, a tax expert, has suggested a test of double-reasonableness. An aggressive scheme is one that a reasonable person would not consider reasonable.

Synthetic schemes that involve no real assets, but funnel money on and offshore, such as K2 and some employee benefit trusts, are unacceptable under this definition. But many tax avoidance schemes are asset-based, such as the Icebreaker partnerships investigated by The Times. These are ostensibly designed to funnel money into the creative industries; and the Icebreaker partnerships claim that they do spend about 10 per cent of the total investment on musicians and other artists.

While that seems low — and our investigations expose partnerships that HM Revenue & Customs believe have become tax avoidance vehicles with a commercial veneer, instead of genuine creative investments that can also earn tax relief — they pose a bigger challenge in separating worthwhile investment and egregious abuse.

Today The Times investigates a tax shelter that is based on a statutory scheme set up to give tax relief for pharmaceutical royalties. But it has been ramped up to the point where it is now worth more than double what an investor puts in.

Many tax avoidance schemes stretch credibility. They are also remarkably widespread. Our continuing investigations demonstrate that tax avoidance is not just confined to the very rich, to celebrities or to the South. It involves bakers and dentists as well as singers and comedians.

A culture has grown up that is in part a revolt against high taxes, and in part pure opportunism by greedy people who do not want to miss out. The more people who stand up against this culture, against the attitude that says that it is grown-up and clever to “get away with it”, the better. But government must also radically simplify the system. The most egregious ruses are built on deferrals, relief's and allowances created in good faith by ministers.

The issue is not just about Carr. He has climbed down, and quickly, from K2. That is to his credit. But he was one of more than 1,000 people in that scheme, and there are thousands more in other schemes designed to ensure that people pay less than their fair share.
The answer to the whole issue is quite simple, If you make your money in the UK then you should pay your taxes here, if your assets are located here then they should be taxed here ........... simple.

If you live elsewhere in the world that's entirely up to you, if you wish to hold your bank accounts elsewhere that's up to you, but if you wish to do business here in the UK then pay your taxes in full to our treasury ........... simple, anything less is theft.

.......... unfortunately for the peoples of Britain we have no politician with the requisite strength to put in place the very simple laws needed.

..........  our Government should be afraid that another Kentish John Ball might be about to lead a 21st century Peasants’ Revolt ....

Monday, 18 June 2012

... in 1066 began the ...

... rape of Britain, a millennium later the Norman yoke might still be detected, not a mailed fist behind the walls of a motte-and-bailey castle, but the iron fist in a velvet glove wielded behind the closed doors of governance. William the Bastard is long gone, but cold calculating Britain keeps a virtual yoke that can still be felt around the necks of the peoples of our lands, and probably all the lands that make our world;  this yoke has been adopted by a new aristocracy, an aristocracy that seems to encompass a multitude of disciplines.

At Westminster our political leaders have come out of their particular closet to impose a fiscal discipline as harsh as the discipline of medieval Britain, not a land that executed people for quite minor crimes or mutilate them and then let them go because it was cheaper than prison, but a land that imposes penalties upon the weakest in society, those without a collective voice.  It is the disadvantaged that will pay the price of the failure of those who led our societies into the abyss of ruin predicted to last a generation.

This leadership is not restricted to Westminster and its closeted (un)civil servants, it cascades down through the devolved administrations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the single most important consideration of politics is their succession, peoples who trust politics to ....
... establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, ...  (We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, ... do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.)
... must look to themselves for the future because politics is in perpetual failure, the proof of this failure is with the "pork barrel" politics of a world wide self appointed political elite that has brought the world to its knees.  In Britain today the political elite is part of a 21st century aristocracy that includes bankers, the media, and a very small group of industrialists from all corners of the world.

In 54 years time exactly a thousand years will have passed since the Norman invasion of England, this half a century is sufficient time to drive a stake through the heart of inequality, to create that domestic tranquillity,to organise an equitable welfare for all the peoples, and to establish liberty as a fundamental right for every person.

How to create this land of equality is the most difficult question of all, the first bastion of inequality to attack must surly be "influence", no interest group should be allowed to dominate our lives, to this end I would propose that our elections should be a proportionate system that promotes the wishes of the electorate to government, no longer should a minority of voters promote a minority dictatorship to Westminster.

In tandem with proportionality all correspondence with and by those in government, no matter what media is used, should become the property of the electorate, published in full, a failure to comply would be regarded as a heinous crime against democracy.

Media ownership should be restricted to a single publication by a single organisation or person, no longer would it be considered appropriate for "media moguls" to exist; government ownership of media should be outlawed, not including public interest broadcasting which should be a-political, reportage only, the very existence of the BBC in its multitude of guises should be destroyed in favour of a multitude of independent organisations dependent on the direct patronage of its viewers.

No bank should be too big to fail, and these banks should be wholly owned by shareholdings restricted to the peoples of Britain, no longer should people external to the effects of our banking system be able to influence the governance of these institutions. 

Taxation should have no exceptions, there might be an allowance before taxes were collected but this would be the only exception, every penny of earnings made within our borders should be taxed in full, no exceptions.  The rule that "if you wish to sell it here then make it here and be taxed" should have no exceptions.  Taxation should also be equitable and graduated, those who take most from society should be expected to give most.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

John Davey wrote "What England ...

...means to me.  via gmail

Jerusalem. Warm Beer. Cricket. I’ve seen,drunk and heard them all and – well, they don’t do anything for me really. Except cricket, which I played from the age of five. And I like the rather violent, post West Indies version of the game than the allegedly gentle, more ‘English’ game beforehand. Does that make me unEnglish ? I think not. I consider myself to be a patriotic Englishman. One thing I’ve never felt since I was very, very young is British.

I am from Cumbria, from a windswept town with substantial scots and irish communities. The England of my youth is an England of wind, strong tea, the bookies, of sports and working mens’ clubs. You won’t find it commemorated in any musical works of the heavyweight patriots : Shakespeare, I expect, had little to say on the subject of the anglo-scots dialects and their almost complete incomprehensibility.

I’ve also lived in London, where I’ve spent a lot of time. London is a global city, a city that has an uneasy relationship with it’s host nation in may ways. But England isn’t unique in having a cosmopolitan capital. My experiences in London – including close relationships with people of all races, colours, beliefs – I also consider fully part of “my England” too.

And here lies my problem. Where do I fit in to the ‘green and pleasant land’ ? It’s always been a source of some mystery to me. If I see references to the “essential” England (actually its usually “quintessential”) I see kings, warm beer, cricket on village greens, cucumber sandwiches, all drowned in Elgar (the worst bits). What I don’t see is a place to fit me in, unless it means being some kind of servant to the real English..

There seem to be two types of observations about national identity. One is modestly reliable – given to inaccuracies only by virtue of generalisations – and the other is synthetic, and usually less informative altogether.

Broadly speaking the former is about habits, and day-to-day, bread and butter behaviour. The English drink tea : the Italians are good cooks, and so on. Although hardly universal laws, there is a significant element of truth to them, objectively evident when people are travelling. Inasmuch as they possess what might be termed moral content, these are generally restricted to matters of taste.
There is then also a tradition of trying to go beyond the observation of habit and into the realm of what you might term the spiritual and philosophical components of identity. There is a great tradition of this – in European culture at least. It was evident that, from the moment of the creation of nationalism and nation states in the late 18th/early 19th century, some felt the need to spiritualise ethnicity – to make it nothing short of a metaphysical fact.

I can’t help thinking that such a quest is and always has been a complete waste of time. It is an intellectual endeavour that – at best , is of dubious value, and at worst has created some of the most astonishing nonsense ever written. Take, for example, all the volkische theories that the Germans immersed themselves in after unification in 1870.

These theories were an attempt to embellish, in semi-theological terms, the fact of German nationality. It was all completely pointless. German ethnicity was never really a problem. Germans never really doubted the fact that they were German. Germans were from the area of the Germany, spoke German and followed what might be termed German day to habits. Most importantly, (thanks to Napoleon), most Germans thought of themselves as German, and not something else.

You would think that would be sufficient, but for some it clearly wasn’t. A complete edifice of monstrous nonsense was constructed to show how the Germans were not just people who were good with machines and drank beer, but were born to be masters of men. You’ve heard it. The Germans were endowed with noble characteristics, naturally,that were unique to them…. Germans were not like ‘Western’ europeans, but more ‘Eastern’ (whatever that meant – it seemed to be a reason for not having elections )– and they believed in ‘freedom’ of course, much moreso than anybody else. As usual. And they were even physically different to everybody else, a unique race, the Aryans, a race threatened by Jews (in fact, astoundingly, one of the first proponents of this theory was a lunatic Englishman, Houston Stewart Chamberlain).

This nonsense surely reached it apotheosis when the Germans, according to Himmler, were descended from a race of Himalayan Giants. 70 years previously such nonsense would have been been the kind of belief reserved to small groups of people on the fringes of sanity. After a few decades of volkische nonsense, it all made sense.

And here we come back to our green and pleasant land. Is English nationalism making a similar error ? In recent times there has been an extended search for ‘Englishness’. It’s come about, one assumes, from the rise of so-called “celtic” nationalisms and the transfer of real rights to the celtic nations, with no such privileges for the English. There is also a need to consider the possibility that there could be – in the none too distant future – a ‘Britain’ that consists pretty much only of England. So at least one of the reasons for the pursuit of Englishness, it would appear, seems to be the need to meet a particular political challenge.

But what of this search ? What form is it taking ? Well, so far, it seems to be all literary. And at this stage, it is not extravagant in scope, fortunately. In fact it seems to be a kind of quest for a verbal bottle in which to neatly contain ‘Englishness’. But is this pursuit a sensible one ? Indeed is it of any value at all ?

Well, I think in one sense there is no doubt that the English are like the Germans. The English suffer no doubts as to their English ethnicity. They don’t confuse themselves for anybody else.I think that this is true for all white English, and for most second and third generation immigrants the only doubt is the extent to which they identify with their parents and grandparents. The identity of most 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants – at least in my experience – is nonetheless English first.
To which we should say – I think – that that should be enough for a progressive, English Nationalist response to England’s problems. Like the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish, the English are the victims of ‘Britain’ too. Victims of its backwardness, its inherent dislike of popular democracy, and all the destructive intellectual inheritance of a huge empire obtained and maintained for the most part by the use, or the threat of, prodigious and sustained levels of extreme violence.

But if it isn’t enough – which I doubt – what of the efforts to turn Englishness into a metaphysical fact ? Have these made any headway into finding what to put in the bottle ?

Well, for one I don’t think that they have. The problem is that a lot of the prevalent dogmas of British nationalism have been overlaid onto English nationalism.

Take, for instance, the human geography, the older stereotypes of the English. The “English race” of Mr Kipling (and his exceedingly well written fantasies) and others. Variations of this idealisation abound, to this day. Listen to an old Tory MP and he will bring the “English Race” to life every time the EU is mentioned. It’s a defiant people, a jolly people, a “freedom-loving” people. They hate politicians and humbug, love their monarch and think nothing of dying “for what’s right”. A martial theme dominates the imagery almost continually. In fact it’s a knee-jerk reaction : speak of the ‘Britons’ , or the ‘English race’ and within a matter of seconds you are reaching for the shield, the gun, or – more typically – the dignified death far from home, smashed to pieces by asian metal implements with barely a murmur of discontent. In this myth, identity is – in effect – synonymous with military utility. A useful tool for an empire based upon violence. There are therefore no women involved in this particular group of myths of course, with two exceptions – Boadicea (the ‘warrior’ Queen), and , I would suggest, Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady herself.

It’s a fantasy race. No such people exist, and never did. But the tradition of synthesizing English identities to suit the political objectives of Britain and its increasingly dated structures is an ongoing task. The Victorians invented a useful volkische toolkit or two themselves.

Freedom and death imagery still abounds today – unsurprising given the number of wars that Britain gets involved in. As some poor working class Scot or Northern Englishman gets blown to pieces in some Afghanistan hellhole for no reason whatsoever, a newsreader will always reassure us, via a proxy spokesman, that the reason his young body was turned into a pulped and broken mass was because of ‘freedom’.

Freedom. The ‘F’ word. Its use has become perhaps even more prevalent in recent years, a word unilaterally hijacked by neoliberal economics. Its usage is surely now so widespread and common – common to all nationalities, all political beliefs – that it long ago lost any real meaning. Yet there are still some who think “freedom” represents the “essence” of being English.

Are the English “freedom-loving” ? Well, as I have perhaps just implied, I don’t think “freedom-loving” means that much. Its certainly less objectively true than a statement like ‘the English like getting drunk’, a statement of indeniable veracity. But there are a plethora of nations who would utter the same words. “Freedom” for some of them though, can have a more concrete meaning : the freedom of a nation to determine its own future.

Take, say, the current target of Britain’s grim collection of sunset imperial projects, Afghanistan. Their great national claim is that they chose to be free and poor, rather than rich and occupied. It’s a claim that has some merit : they’ve been occupied by the three biggest empires the world has seen in the last 150 years, and they’ve seem them all off. They could of course have cooperated with their richer invaders but chose not to : they chose independence instead.

Contrast that with England’s actual history. England is physically isolated in a position of no great strategic significance. It has thus found foreign occupation far less of a problem to contend with. It doesn’t actually know what loss of freedom is , in that sense. On the other hand, England (as part of Britain) has had few qualms about depriving other nations – huge quantities of other nations – of their right to determine their own affairs.

In fact one might rightly say that that England (as Britain), as far as issues related to ‘freedom’ (in its simplest meaning) are concerned, is most definitely not only not freedom-loving, but actually freedom-obstructing – even freedom-hating. Whatever one might say about how the English may live their own lives in some kind of freedom, the historical record is clear : the English have not been keen on other people’s freedom at all.

But read any piece about ‘Englishness’ and the F-word will surely make an appearance, like the literary muzak it is.

The ‘English Race’, and its variants, and all the connotations of ‘Freedom-loving’ are two ways I think that English volkische-type theories just don’t help. They sketch a picture of the people of England that not only isn’t true, it has a barely disguised political purpose.

The “village green” of Olde England is no different. Look at the totems of conventional Englishness, as delivered within the British idiom. Warm beer, cricket, cucumber sandwiches. Country houses, roses, and the gently rolling hills. You know the picture. Where are you ? Leeds ? Exeter ? Croxteth, Liverpool ? Probably not. The chances are you are in the Home Counties, just outside London, the home of the traditional merchant classes of the Empire. Come to the real England. It’s here, in the opulence of Hertfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire that the real England exists. It’s the England of literature, of cheery youths in private schools, great weddings between fine houses, where leaders of men are born, and where Prime Ministers meet monarchs in great occasions of state.

Is there a myth identity so ruthlessly hijacked by one, tiny, geographical and social subset as England ? It seems difficult to think of a theft quite so grand. But as a reflection of the actual power structure of England, it’s pretty accurate. England may look nothing like the England of myth, but when it comes to the people who control it, it looks a bit more like their backyards : financiers and merchants, and their offspring and relatives in the civil service and legislature.

The physical England of myth is therefore also a political myth : power lies with the people who own the village green, and don’t forget it. Urban types can arrive ‘on the staff’ only – no Birmingham accents allowed. It’s a fantastically exclusive, fantastically destructive myth, and one that no sensible understanding of England can permit to be accepted.

I believe that England needs rescuing. We need to move away from Britain, to abolish the whole British edifice. We need a modern state with a written constitution. We don’t need a multi-national state either, as they don’t work. Scotland, Wales and Ireland must go their own way. Otherwise, the English regions will suffer – Scotland and Wales can send diplomatic emissaries to London, making Lancastrians and Yorkshiremen instantly less important. It’s grossly unfair.

And that process of rescuing England might start with making England mean something a bit more to the people who live there. In my opinion that doesn’t start with a search for “Englishness” : rather it starts with an abolition of the quest for “Englishness”.

England needs rescuing. It needs rescuing from British self-serving myths. It needs to be reclaimed by the people who actually live there, not the myth-makers who control it. One of the ways of doing that is to resist the temptation to “define”, to seek the “quintessential” England. If you do, you’ll end up trivialising a great and complex people into trite, politically motivated banalities. There isn’t a “quintessential” England. We are a vast and complex people. England has a heady mix of a great tradition of scholarship and highbrow excellence, and at the same time is best known throughout the world for its very lowbrow achievements in music and television. You can’t put that in a bottle. It has a wide mix of physical and human geographies, of which the Birmingham accent is as integral as any other. Sum that complexity up in a quick and chirpy paragraph?

Why ?

A commitment to a democratic England means a commitment to the Birmingham accent : more than anything, it means a commitment to abolishing the word “quintessential”, and all the nonsense that flows from it.

J B Davey

... so does Wales go its own way, or might we become once again "England & Wales" ?

Sunday, 10 June 2012

A better flag for Wales...

... and the Union.

Blue could disappear from the Union Jack if Scotland becomes independent, writes Jason Allardyce in today's Sunday Times ....

An adviser on heraldry to the royal household said he personally found it hard to envisage the flag continuing in its current form, given that the colours represent Britain’s constituent parts. It means the flag, created in 1606 on the orders of King James I of England — James VI of Scotland — to mark the union of the crowns, could lose the diagonal white cross of St Andrew with its blue background.
Clive Cheesman, Richmond Herald at the College of Arms, said: “The story of the make-up of the Union flag is so well known that it would be difficult to plough on with it if Scotland were to sever [ties] completely with the UK.”

The flag combines the crosses of the three countries united under one sovereign — England and Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, although since 1921 only Northern Ireland has been part of the UK.
Neither the Welsh cross of St David nor the Welsh dragon appears because Wales was already legally incorporated into England when the flag was created. Welsh Labour MP Ian Lucas has lobbied for the red dragon to be included.

Lord Forsyth, the Conservative former Scottish secretary of state, said last week’s diamond jubilee celebrations might be “the last time we . . . see red, white and blue on the Mall”.

Alex Salmond, Scotland’s first minister, decreed that the royal standard of Scotland, rather than the Union Jack, should fly over Scottish government buildings during the jubilee weekend.

Monday, 4 June 2012

... (update) every German should read ...

Hank Paulson, the former US Treasury Secretary, got down on bended knee to plead with congressional leaders to prop up America’s banking system in 2008. His Democrat successor Tim Geithner is not the type for such flamboyant gestures, but last week there was mounting desperation in the Obama Administration as it urged Europe to summon up the political will to save its single currency.

Only five months before the American presidential election, economic frost is spreading its fingers across the globe. Weak hiring figures in the United States, poor factory data in China and dismal production numbers in Britain were merely three snapshots from what might be turning into a synchronised global economic downturn.

The bickering and dithering in the eurozone are playing key roles.  Lars H. Thunell, chief of the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, told me last week that the malign influence of the euro crisis was being felt in Africa and Latin America. European banks are curbing the provision of trade finance and cross-border lending as they prepare for further turmoil at home.

Last week’s evidence of accelerating capital flight from Spain raised the stakes dramatically. In Athens a gaggle of feckless politicians are openly toying with Euro exit, in the full knowledge that their tiny country could destabilise not only Europe but also the world economy.

It will not take much, it seems, to persuade increasing numbers of savers in Spain to decide that if Greece is heading for the exit, it would be rational for them to move their euros out of their own country, too.  As we saw with Northern Rock, once bank runs start they have a terrifying momentum. If Spain suffers a full-blown banking collapse, things will move into fast-forward mode. Italy will not be far behind. The Euro could begin to unravel quickly, in an event with far more momentous consequences than the Lehman crash of 2008.

At that point, a new Great Depression could be on the cards, according to one former central banker. A full-blown collapse of the Euro might well be welcomed by Tory backbenchers as vindication of their well-founded suspicions of European federalists, but it is of little use critiquing a skyscraper’s girders when it is collapsing with you in it.

After more than two years of failed summits, the region’s leaders are well aware that they are entering the last chance saloon. Eurocrats are working towards the European Council summit on June 27-28, pitching it as the decisive moment. In Brussels, plans are afoot to put forward what is being called EMU-Two — a radical reboot of the single currency project.

Critically, this will begin to pave the way to a banking union, one of the glaring pieces of unfinished business that has left the Euro so dangerously ill-formed. The elements include a European facility to recapitalise banks, a bank resolution regime, integrated regulation and a Europe-wide deposit guarantee scheme. Notably, this plan is likely to exclude Europe’s financial capital, the City of London, even though it is the home of the region’s bank regulator.

The trouble is, of course, that a month is a long time in a financial crisis. Before the summit we have the twin hurdles of the Greek and French elections on June 17. The latter is no less significant than the former. If President Hollande is confronted by a badly fractured National Assembly, with the extreme Left and Right heavily represented, it will be even more difficult for him to drive through the economic reforms that France needs so badly.

And Germany is deadly earnest when it says it will not hand over its credit card to France, Italy and the rest without strict curbs on how the money is spent. France is going to have to venture a huge surrender of sovereignty as a precondition to fiscal burden-sharing initiatives such as eurobonds. Selling this to the French public will be an historic feat, even for a committed Europhile such as Mr Hollande.

More imminently, Europe faces the threat of accelerating flight from the periphery banking system. Spain urgently needs to be convinced to accept a European bailout of its banks, given that the cost is too much for Madrid alone to bear. It is a measure of the gravity of the situation that policy-makers are talking about capital controls and bank holidays in periphery nations as a way of stemming any full-blown bank runs.

European ministers may have to stand together and make a blanket declaration that they will keep depositors’ money safe, given that a deposit insurance scheme will take a long time to set up. Whether Europe’s citizens would find this convincing is anyone’s guess.

We stand on the brink of a new, 2008-style financial disaster. As Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank president, told the European Parliament last week, it is up to Europe’s politicians to fill the vacuum at the heart of the single currency. With a chill descending on the world economy and the panic in the periphery escalating, the fear is that they have left it too late.
 ... and consider a very bleak future of Germany hog-tied by the ne'er-do-wel of Europe, those who will hang onto the heels of Germany at work.

Update ...
HSBC is testing its cash machines in Greece to ensure that they can cope with a return to the drachma, if the country pulls out of the Euro. Britain’s biggest bank is taking the precaution because of concern that Greece could pull out of the 17-nation currency bloc amid political chaos. HSBC is understood to have conducted tests on the machines to establish whether they could be adapted to disgorge banknotes of a different size and texture.  
... a warning if ever there was !

Germany calling ...

... we can't prop them all up Angela !!!!!!!!!!

Libby Enstrom wrote ... The Psychology and Philosophy of Morality and Happiness

Many think that the pursuit to understand and heal the mind will give humans more insight into how to perpetuate their contentment and happiness. More students are entering the field every year to help in this pursuit and earning a psychology degree on-line - something once unheard of - is now allowing for advancements within the growing community. Every day more types of therapy are developed and discoveries made that are helping people revolutionize their lives. It appears the perpetual pursuit of happiness has, at the very least, piqued the interest of humanity in general.

George Washington said: "Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected." Therefore, if you know how to apply the objective moral law to yourself, you must be very happy: right or wrong? Wrong, according to the 18th-century Prussian philosopher Immanuel Kant. He argued that moral
requirements are based on a standard of rationality called the Categorical Imperative. Morality is thus achieved through reason, whereas happiness is achieved through the instincts. There is not necessarily any virtue in happiness. English philosopher John Stuart Mill’s utilitarianism, on the other hand, links morality with happiness. It is possible to argue that some forms of morality make us happy, while others do not, so each philosopher is both right and wrong.

The difference lies, to some extent, in differing views of what is right and wrong. Murder is universally considered wrong, and generally speaking, only a morally depraved or psychopathic person would achieve happiness by committing it. A person who murders another to get rich -- to collect on a life insurance policy, for example -- might think that the wealth acquired will make him happy. But the blood money wouldn’t give the killer the same satisfaction as wealth acquired legally, and there would be an ever-present chance of getting caught and spending life in prison, which forfeits access to the wealth and can’t possibly make anyone happy. In this case, the overwhelming majority of people would be made happier by moral behaviour, i.e. refraining from murder.

For Mill, moral behaviour increases the overall happiness of the world. For Kant, however, the highest good is not happiness. Inclinations are the opponent of moral disposition in Kant’s synthesis of virtue. Virtue is fortitude, or the ability to withstand the vigorous and unfair enemy that inclination is. A person engages in many types of behaviour because of inclination. If a person calls in sick to work when he is not really sick, he is following an inclination. It may very well make him happy to stay home from work or school like Ferris Bueller; he may engage in all sorts of stimulating, fun activities instead of subjecting himself to the drudgery of work. Will he be contributing to the overall happiness of the world? What if, during his day off, he rescues a child from a burning building? Here, Mill would be conflicted, but it would be a case in point for Kant: the right thing, going to work, would have been the less happy thing.

When it comes to those moral directives about which huge swaths of society disagree, from abortion to gay marriage, Kant probably would have been on the conservative side. Morally, he would say, by a process of reason, only a man and a woman should marry. If two men do, they will be following a base inclination, and they may well be happy. Mill might have found that gay marriage was a moral possibility because it increased the overall happiness in the world.

Clearly, in some areas, Americans, who love happiness, don’t agree about what causes it.

A guest post, most welcome ................