All posts by Ian Angell

Inheritance tax is not for party members

The Labour Party is forever banging on about the evils of tax avoidance. Sheer humbug. What have we learned today with revelations about the last will and testament of Anthony Wedgwood Benn MP, prominent socialist intellectual?

When his wife died in 2000 the great socialist transferred part ownership of his house to his four children. He also owned an ancestral home in Essex which he had been placed in a trust. Both classic tax avoidance schemes.So the nominal figure left to his children in his will was around £5 million. Without the avoidance planning it would have been much more, as would the death duties.

And why not! It’s only right that his children benefit from their parents. But why try to stop other people doing what is right for their kids?

“Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax the guy behind the tree.”

Inheritance tax is not for party members, but only for Tories.

The EU: investing in failure

So Brussels has demanded that ‘Britain’ pay an extra £1.7 billion towards the EU budget. By ‘Britain’ they don’t mean the British Government, but the British Taxpayer. You and me.

Why must we pay this money? To support rebates being given to France and Germany. I don’t object to the Germans getting a rebate. They have paid enough over the years. But France! Their economic failure is all down to the socialist insanity of Hollande and his crew.

Recent British economic success … yes we have been successful, which is why we must pay … is all down to our willingness to suffer the recent austerity measures. Meanwhile the wasteful government in France, spending money it doesn’t have on ideological nonsense, simply holds out its hand and slips it into British pockets. Nigel Farage will be counting his extra votes by the sackload.

The EU strategy is known as ‘Investing in Failure’. And when you invest in failure, that is exactly what you get.

Abandoning the ship sinking under taxes

According to Pulse, the magazine for General Practitioners, in 2013 4,741 UK trained doctors applied to the GMC for Certificates of Good Standing (CGSs), so they can register with an overseas regulatory body or employer. In 2012 the figure was 4726, and 2,485 for the first six months of 2014.

The training costs for these wannabe emigres was in the main covered by the UK taxpayer. Many are escaping to Australia with shorter working hours, higher salaries and where the politics of envy doesn’t pervade the parliament. The USA and the UAE are also popular destinations.

No one seems to have commented on the irony that two of the UK’s political parties are intent on raising taxes on the wealthy (and yes this includes GPs) to pay for the National Health Service, just as NHS doctors are intent on fleeing those taxes.

Send granny out into the snow

Today the bill for UK state pensions comes in at £98billion, but according the Department of Work and Pensions this will almost double in twenty years to £179billion. I wasn’t using rocket science when I predicted the coming tsunami for taxpayers in The New Barbarian Manifesto fifteen years ago. The increasing ageing of the population made this a simple exercise in arithmetic. The DWP have simply put numbers on it. Indeed they say the bill will be £420billion by 2064. This, in a word, is unsustainable. The young employed will refuse to be taxed into penury to support the elderly who refuse to die.

I also predicted that euthanasia will be legalised to reduce both the pensions bill, and the exploding cost of health care. Add on the cost of increased ‘death duties’, which will minimize any moneys passed on to beneficiaries after they finally die, then mansion taxes, and most people will die broke.

Families will start to see euthanasia as the only way they will see any inheritance after taxes. Just like the Inuit of old, when times get tough they will convince granny to leave the igloo and walk out into the snow.

Visiting Pete Tate

I had a great time this morning (September 6) visiting Pete Tate (a student from 2006) at his office in Berkeley Square. We caught up on old times, and then he talked me through his exciting new venture: MedTate. He presented me with a bottle of one of his products, Ojamin Herb & Fruit tonic, made from 14 different types of complementary herbs, fruits, flowers, leaves, seeds, roots and bark, all gently ground and milled in purified spring water.

Thankfully, looking at my figure, Ojamin is fat & sugar free.

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 00.10.38

Gdansk talk

I’m jumping the gun in Gdansk on October 15th by one month. I’ll be giving my very first public talk on my new book with co-author David Lesperance, Flight of the Golden Geese. The book will be published on November 15th.

I’m giving four talks (on 4 different topics) over two and a half days, plus some press interviews. If any of my blog readers are in the area and would like to come along, then just let me know so I can arrange it.

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 18.07.24

What is money?

We all know what money is, don’t we? Or do we? According to J.K. Galbraith, the famous economist: “Money is nothing more or less than … what is commonly offered or received for the purchase of goods, services or other things”.

As far as most people are concerned, money is just the notes and coins that governments print and mint to facilitate economic transactions, particularly tax; a statement of faith in government-issued instruments of exchange, and in the promise that, on demand, or soon after, amounts of that money may be exchanged for goods and services to the value specified, or for equivalent promissory instruments. Money circulates as a consensus, a statement of trust in the value that permeates such instruments of exchange. It even addresses the thorny question of what value is: money has become the commodity whereby value is expressed as price.

All it takes to create a currency is a shared sense of trust. Most cohesive local communities have trust in abundance, so they too can issue their own notes of credit that will pay for goods and services in and around the locality. There are already hundreds of these Local Exchange Trading Schemes (LETS) in the UK alone, of varying levels of success: acorns, bobbins, cockles, cranes, groats, naaris, strouds, trugs. “Some 180 businesses are involved in the Brixton Pound, including retail stores, cafes, restaurants and pubs, health and fitness, hairdressing, designers, architects, plumbers, solicitors, artists, actors, singers, yoga teachers, jewellery makers … the list goes on”.

The idea was first introduced in Canada to kick-start the local economy of a depressed mining community in Courtenay, British Columbia, which boasted a high degree of internal community trust. Nowadays examples can be found all around the world: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Ecuador, Hungary, Japan, South Africa, Switzerland, Uruguay, and many more countries.

LETS only need trust; trust only needs a sense of community; social pressures in a community ensure that all debts are repaid, reinforcing a virtuous circle of communal trust. A closed community can play this non-profit zero-sum game for the mutual benefit of all. Everyone starts at zero, and keeps track of debits and credits by double entry book-keeping of IOU tokens. Usually measured in hours of work, these tokens assume that an hour’s labour is the same, no matter what the work; baby-sitting, gardening, window cleaning, hair-dressing, consulting. However, as the market for such tokens got more sophisticated, some schemes have introduced agreed differential rates to pay for more highly skilled work like doctoring, accountancy or advice on computing.

LETS cut right across the vicious circle of untrusting formality that is the banking system. Banks work on credit-worthiness calculated on formal employment status, or ownership of capital goods. When you are not credit-worthy, the cost of borrowing goes up, and you become even less credit-worthy. With LETS the uncredit-worthy get credit.

The communal trust needed for money can pop up in the most unlikely places. In devising their loyalty schemes, supermarkets are basically the issuing ‘plastic money’. Companies can go much further. The real issue is not “dollar bills, but Bill’s dollars”: Bill Gates’ dollars. Each corporation can issue a proportion of its equity as digital cash. Instead of the value of money decreasing as governments profit from the hidden tax of inflation, the value of money can actually increase if the company’s shares go up in value – it can of course also go down.

Chicken Ranch tail

In fact any organization can issue token money, and you’d be surprised by some that do. This one came from the infamous Chicken Ranch, in La Grange, Texas, as seen in The Best little Whorehouse in Texas starring Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton. And what exactly does this coin buy?

Chicken ranch head

Thanks again to eBay, which brought this token to my attention when I was surfing looking for examples to use in my lecture on The Future of Money.

Anglesey Penny

Anglesey PennyI love eBay even more. As well as getting the Princess Charlotte Medallion, I was also successful in buying this Anglesey Penny, that I’ll be using in my talks on Money.

According to George Selgin, in his excellent book Good Money, without such private tokens, if it had all been left to the government, the Industrial Revolution would never have taken off in Britain. These coins minted by the Parys Mountain copper mining company were typical of private enterprise’s response to a national shortage of copper coins, essential for paying workers’ wages.

Princess Charlotte Memorabilia 1

My latest book, Sons of Asterion has just appeared on Amazon.

It revolves around the death of Princess Charlotte Augusta in November, 1817. Consequently I am on the lookout for memorabilia celebrating the Princess.

Meanwhile I was surfing e-Bay, looking to buy private money tokens that I can use in my lectures on the Future (and Past) of Money, when lo and behold my eye fell on a post of a medallion celebrating Charlotte’s wedding in May, 1816. Needless to say I was motivated to be the highest bidder. I love e-Bay.

Charlotte head

Charlotte tail

Google-bashing for beginners

They’re at it again. George Osborne this time, whinging on about the iniquities of large corporations. He is going to unveil his plans in his December mini-budget. How dare corporations take inept tax laws at face value and divert profits offshore to avoid corporation tax. He is going to stop the likes of Google, Microsoft, Adobe, Facebook and Starbucks indulging in the so-called `Double Irish` ploy.

Fine words. But it’s going to need a Hercules to clean out this particular Augean stables of all the horse shit that is the UK’s labyrinthine tax laws … a root and branch clean up is necessary. For like the man says, “if you want to go there, I wouldn’t start from here”.

Fine words Mr Osborne, but they sound hollow.