Protests in Athens

Went to see what was going on with the protests
at Syntagma Square in front of the Greek Parliament...

To be brief, it was upsetting. There was an understandable
anger towards the politicians, but absolutely no clear ideas
on what they would prefer. Yes, a referendum might get rid
of these particular people... but without changing attitudes
and the system, there is nothing to say that the next people
put in power will be any better!

Worst of all, there weren't any plans to actually solve their
problems. As one sign said: "You've got the disease, we've
got the solution: Revolution!" Other protesters were demanding
to keep their inflated wages, without any consideration to
where that money is to come from. It was far worse than even
UK Uncut, because at least in England crisis may seem intangible,
where as here you cannot even pretend it's not there.

In any case, watch some of the footage from the
demonstrations that I put together:


This is a stick up!

In these days of spending cuts, there are many cries from
the public sector that 'the banks and tax avoiders in the
private sector are responsible for this, so it isn't fair
that the public sector should be paying for it.'

However, where were these people during the times of expansion?
Why didn't we hear them protesting then saying 'Well, the
private sector is responsible for this growth, so it isn't
fair that it's being spent on the public sector!'

UK Uncut believes that levying higher taxes on banks and
reigning in tax avoiders would be sufficient to forgo having
cuts, not even thinking about how silly it is to attack
those who create wealth. Nonetheless, this was the cause
of the 'few' violent protesters the other day, who attacked
businesses in London.

To me, being upset with tax avoiding firms is as if a group
of muggers were to scold their victims for trying to run away.
As a warning, the scarier the muggers and the UK tax system get,
the more precautions victims will take to stay in safer parts
of the world.

If you also believe that debt is a serious issue, and that it
shouldn't be tackled by strangling firms, be sure to make it
to the Rally Against Debt on May 14th.

Also, make sure to read UK Uncut Unravelled by Tim Worstall
published by the IEA, which talks about the cause to attack tax avoiders.


Will stupidity enslave the children?

Prior to the protests against spending cuts in London last weekend,
this advertisement was released to help drum up support. It starts
off with a reasonably accurate analogy, but ends with an entirely
nonsensical conclusion that: a reduction in spending in order to
reduce the debt will somehow be what leaves the next generation with
a mountain of debt.

Watch the video here:

News sources reporting on the protests focus primarily on the fact
that it was mostly peaceful, with just a few exceptional cases of
vandalism and violence. While this may be the case, I find this much
less important to discuss than what their message was.

Contrary to arguments made by UK Uncut, there is no doubt that the
government is in debt. Yes, they got us in to this mess through lavish
unnecessary spending; but No, the answer is not to keep doing it!
By looking at the budget, one can see that the UK spends £50bn on debt
interest annually, which is more than it does on defense (£36bn)! This
is an incredible amount, and I really shouldn't have to stress further
why it is important to reduce the debt, for the sake of future generations.

It is important to note that the cuts are not just necessary, but desirable!
The aim is to reform and make permanent change, not just a temporarily
tightened budget.

I spoke on this topic last year at a conference, where I outlined the
idea that crises can be beneficial by being an opportunity to achieve
reform; as well as why in such times reform and an assessment of the role
of government is essential, not just small cuts here and there.

You can watch my speech here:


Now I know my (budget) ABC's...

Here is a more unique budget briefing that
took place at UHY Peacheys, an accountancy firm:

Osborne the Magician

On Wednesday, George Osborne revealed his budget for the year.
This was the first political press conference I've taken the time to
watch in its entirety. The whole affair was pretty amusing, as with
every statement the crowd of MPs reacted very audibly: cheering
or booing, and regularly requiring Osborne to quiet them down.
... I suppose at least they were listening and not falling asleep.

The following day the TaxPayers' Alliance and Institute of
Economic Affairs
hosted a budget briefing event to discuss
what it really means for people.

Some of the most notable points to me were:

- Many of the announced changes were in fact just reversing
previous budget decisions made in the past couple of years.
So even though these measures are being taken to promote
investment and business, it doesn't, as uncertainty is one of
the greatest discouragements to investment. Companies will
not leap to investing in the UK because of the reduced tax
levels and other incentives, for they cannot be sure that things
won't just change back when the next budget comes around.

- Enterprise zones, though seemingly good for businesses, are
likely to not be beneficial. If they are effective, with great enough
incentives to influence firms, it will cause distortions in the
market and regions. If the incentives are not sufficiently large,
then they will not be effective, and there is thus no point to have
them. As Philip Booth wittily concluded,
there should just be one enterprise zone: the UK.

- Booth also asserted that regulations imposed since 1998
alone have cost business £90 billion; thus at just 0.4% of this
amount, the £350 million that businesses stand to gain after the
budget is really nothing compared to the total cost of regulation.

There were many tricks up the government's sleeves that were
exposed at the talk. It's amazing how without knowing the whole
picture, one can be taken by the declarations of support for
business and growth.


Coeliacs in London

The topic of this post is quite different from my general theme,
but hey, I thought I'd share anyway:

_There are some people unfortunate enough to have a particular condition
as a result of which they are unable to eat products with wheat and gluten.

I wasn't aware of this until recently when I began living with some people
who have this issue. As a result I compiled a brief list of restaurants
in London that cater to such needs, so that I could find places where they
could eat out. In any case, if you live in London and are a Coeliac then
perhaps this can be of use to you!

There are definitely more out there, but a bunch of them were vegetarian
restaurants... and my friends really like meat.

Be sure to comment if you have any opinions about the restaurants I've listed,
or if you have more to suggest to me!


Giving Obamacare proponents the finger.

The healthcare debate is sure getting heated these days
as a 65-year-old man who was against socialised healthcare,
had his pinky finger bitten off in an argument at a healthcare rally.
To be fair, he did punch the other guy first, but was biting
off a finger in return really called for?

Internet responses to this incident have shown many proponents
of socialised healthcare laughing at the irony that the bitten man
went to the hospital afterwards and Medicare was used to cover him.
Some have even suggested that if he were really so against socialised
medicine that he should have refused treatment.

Well, after 65 years of the government taking money from him
to pay for social security and medicare, it's rather understandable
that he would be willing to accept something back for it all.
If he hadn't had so much taken from him by the government for such
things he might have been able to afford private coverage of his own.

This is a clear example of why the public option means no option.
Though competition may be allowed, it is nowhere near fair competition.
We are forced to pay for the public option, making it more difficult
to afford a private alternative. In addition, it is impossible to compete
with a firm that has a continuous supply of income from taxes regardless
of what it does and can offer "free" service.

Even those who are opposed to the government provision of healthcare
may not be wealthy enough to afford private healthcare on top of
the healthcare taxes they’re required to pay in the first place.