25 Mar 2011, 10:10pm
economy:
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  • Bad Moon Rising

    It does, indeed seem to be a bad moon rising. The real moon was at its closest to us for a while on the 19th, this was taken at 8:15pm lazily from my front door… it is about 50,000 km closer to us and about 30% brighter than it is at its furthest distance. I’m not blaming it, and it was a remarkable sight, but a lot of bad crap has been happening of late, so the old Creedence Clearwater Revival song kind of fits the mood.

    There’s obviously the tragedy in Japan, though all the papers seem to focus on the issues at the nuclear plant the plight of the survivors of the tidal wave seems really dire. More recently, we seem to have got ourselves into yet another oil war. I mean, yes, Gaddafi was reputed to have sponsored the IRA in the 1980s and Reagan was right when he named him mad dog but there are enough other mad dogs around the world that we are happy to leave be. Still puzzles me how the army of an small island nation can fight on three fronts at once, but so be it. I hope we won’t still be engaged there this time next year, and definitely hope not this time a decade hence…

    Closer to home it’s coming up to the end of the financial year, and that’s when the portcullis is going to come down on a lot of government spending. The Grauniad has been having a bleeding-hearts fest on this, cue the violins in the background, photo of pained looking young mum with a couple of kids who seems to be losing some sort of childcare, though the article failed to tell her story. Then we have the loss of the NI Music Therapy Trust. WTF is music therapy? And why does it need to be fancy instruments, if it’s about the kids ‘expressing themselves’ then can’t we substitute the percussion instruments with dustbin lids and the like? It was good enough for me as a kid, you know, the tin cans or the more advanced version with bottles filled with varying amounts of water. This is one of those things that is undoubtedly nice if you have the spare money, but we don’t now. Let’s face it, kids playing any sort of musical instruments sounds pretty ropey unless you happen to be the doting parents, so this isn’t about sophistication and tone colour, it’s about them having a good time. As the outgoing Labour Liam Byrne said, “I’m afraid to tell you there’s no money left”. But with a bit of enterprise I’m sure we could find something for the kids to play with and make a racket for an awful lot less money, and no expensive musical instruments to break, either!

    Then there was the Budget, and unlike it seems everyone else I see this one as a mean and chiseling sort of job. The tax rises are achieved through underhand methods like fiscal drag and rescaling indexation to the duplicitous Consumer Prices Index that excludes housing costs, for the very good reason that we all know Britons don’t like to spend a lot of money on bricks and mortar so there’s no point in including that. Of course Tories can’t be seen to be raising the headline rate of tax, so they grub about and frig with the tax thresholds, so you get to pay more tax anyway.

    Well, Georgie babe me old mucker, I’m not paying any of your stinkin’ 40% tax, even if you bring the threshold down to 25k, as I’ve pushed my costs down well below needing that part of my salary, so I’ll be saving that in AVCs so I get to retire earlier or have more when I do retire. There’s no bloody incentive to work for tax at 42%, because I am shorter of time on this earth than I am of money. After I saved my ISA last year I’ve been building up a war chest for this year, as I could see taxes were going to go up this year.

    So I could push my salary below my running costs and claw back even more tax from you this year, George. Nasty nickel-and-diming budgets like this one makes it more worth my while to do that, and indeed the increased personal allowance helps a tad. I wasn’t part of creating the credit crunch and I’m not aiming to get soaked for clearing it up, chum. But what I will be having from you, buddy, is some of those nice National Savings certificates that you cancelled last year. About £10k’s worth, actually, because then I can transfer the contents of my Cash ISA into my shares ISA and get my emergency fund inflation-proofed to real inflation, i.e. RPI, and tax-free too. I always thought it’s so rude to tax me for the paltry returns on cash that don’t even match inflation. Tax the amount over RPI, fair enough, but not the return needed to compensate for the Government’s fiscal mismanagement, that’s plain cheeky.

    Monevator and his buddies are greedy tykes wanting RPI plus something in my view 😉 Living in these desperate times financially RPI and tax-free is just fine with me. I don’t ask my cash to make money for me, but what I would like it to do is sit there and stay the same value over the years, and at the moment my 3.2% Cash ISA in gently losing the fight year on year. This is my emergency fund, so it doesn’t have to try and get bigger every year, staying the same is quite okay, and RPI matches my experience of inflation in the UK. For me CPI is away with the fairies, because I don’t buy iFads which are getting cheaper, depressing the CPI.

    The Creedence Clearwater Revival track I pinched the title from ain’t bad, either, I think it was the first record I ever got to play.

    Guv,
    Half way through reading this, I scrolled up to see if you’ve inadvertently tagged this as a “rant”! Mercifully, you haven’t. I’m sitting on a similar cloud of thoughts for a while now. Should put it to post too.

    Nicely articulated piece. Some of the few things I liked:
    0. Insights on Japan and Gaddafi.
    1. As I’ve pushed my costs down well below needing that part of my salary, so I’ll be saving that in AVCs so I get to retire earlier or have more when I do retire — Tell you what, Jacob (and I) are rightly proud. For a (self-confessed) gadget freak, you’ve done very well! 😀
    2. I don’t ask my cash to make money for me, but what I would like it to do is sit there and stay the same value over the years, and at the moment my 3.2% Cash ISA in gently losing the fight year on year. — Lovely! That is right up my road; been reading Dominguez lately? 😉
    3. if it’s about the kids ‘expressing themselves’ then can’t we substitute the percussion instruments with dustbin lids and the like? It was good enough for me as a kid, you know, the tin cans or the more advanced version with bottles filled with varying amounts of water. – Touched a sweet spot. Worked for me too, and this is what Jacob bangs on about Kids are only as expensive as you need them to be! Huxley would probably call it “pre-infantilisation”!

    P.S: Mwaaah, for the song. I happen to like that too 😉

    P.P.S: One of my comments on the previous post is hanging in ether (3 hyperlinks!). Have you missed it?

    P.P.P.S: Just noticed today, so I ask nicely, Why am I not on your blogroll yet? 🙂

    Great post and nice photo (I always like to see the great ray from Tycho bisecting the Sea of Serenity).

    I, too, hope we withdraw from Libya soon. If the rebels can’t win with much of Qaddafi’s airforce disabled and heavy armour smashed up, I can’t see much point in carrying on. At £500,000 per missile, this is not something we can really afford.

    I read the six page Grauniad piece yesterday and wondered where the evidence was that any of these schemes were effective. Funny that there always seems to be a demand for a free service.

    New NS&I certs will need thinking about depending on formula. I just have a nasty feeling that we could see an awkward crossover in a year or two with inflation plummeting because of interest rates soaring and a rising £.

    And yes, great song.

    Hey, I thought *we* were buddies? 😉

    Also, I expected you to be delighted they’ve retained the RPI link, as it’s shelved left right and centre. Got to sing when you’re winning ermine! 🙂

    @Monevator,
    I think name-calling exists only between buddies, no? 😉

    @Surio, it’s a fair cop on both counts, it was a rant and you need to write some more now 😉 It’s easier quitting the gadgets when you’ve been working long enough that you have bought most of the ones you want 🙂 And I loathe mobile phones, which cuts out a whole universe of gadgetry.

    Your post was shot by Akismet, so I’ve hauled it out from the critter. You still need to get growing though, make some of that weather *work* for you. I would expect you have a much longer growing season than we have, however some of the farming practices in India are deeply disturbing, such as the effective mining of the groundwater in the Punjab and Rajasthan which should scare the bejesus out of people. Though industrial agriculture in the UK is unsustainable, it isn’t so fundamentally unsustainable that is destroys the infrastructure like that, though it denatures the soil which is taking us time to restore to an acceptable organic content, so it will depress yields in the interim.

    The American midwest is also mining groundwater in the Ogalalla Aquifer, so you have good (bad?) company. You’d have thought they would have learned from the Dustbowl. The Plow That Broke the Plains is a film of how the lack of water change things there once before, but the aquifer feeds much more area that the Great Plains… Take a look at http://www.the-oak-tree.co.uk/blog/ for more about the permaculture, because you get to see DGF’s angle on it, she is the expert on all that, and you wouldn’t want to learn from me ‘cos I know jack about growing, I stick to building, and the mechanical and electrical side of things.

    @Monevator, but you *are* being a cheeky pup wanting a positive real return on cash 😉 Philosophically, if you want your wad to grow you ought to have to take a risk with it. It’s what the stock market is there for!

    However there should also be some place that widows and orphans should be able to put cash where it doesn’t quietly die with nary a whimper.

    @SG, crikey, the print version of the paper must be very different from the web version, 6 pages of heart-wringing, sheesh. Maybe you’ve put your finger on it – perhaps the service users would prioritise more if they had to part-pay for some of these things. It’s nicer to have a drum kit and a xylophone than dustbin lids and bottles of water, but is it necessary!

    And what the hell happened to make those rays on the Moon, it must have been and absolute hell of a bang to spit out crud halfway round the surface.

    Without checking in any way, I’m guessing that, averaged over 30 years or so, good cash accounts have been broadly neutral in real terms, sometimes losing, sometimes gaining on inflation.

    Like ermine I tend to think that this is a reasonable expectation for absolutely safe investments over the long term and that if you are looking for even small real gains you should be prepared to take some element of risk.

    Yes, the printed version of Friday’s paper was for really hard core Guardianistas (I’m not one, but I dabble occasionally).

    Re the ray (pun intended), dinosaurs would have seen the “bang” around a 100 million years ago, unaware that their descendants were going to be wiped out by another asteroid from the same group (cosmic thought for the day).

    @salis – Real returns from cash over the very long term are about 1% from memory. The past decade or so was unusually higher.

    @ermine,
    If I decide to rant about the collective stupidity that is otherwise known/otherwise passes as “India Inc.” or “Modern India” I’ll need three blogs’ spaces :x! I try to keep the blog a little more world-centric by choice — to keep drumming the fact that butterflies’ wings can cause earthquakes in China in today’s world!

    India does get the odd mention and I don’t hide my Indianness, and I do know for a fact that much is rotten in our state of Denmark. I’ve spent far too much time on the Internet for my own good ;-), and I’ve been reading up and understanding all the ecological disasters that has rolled past us… Thanks for the links, but part of my depressed bearishness and the ongoing tirade on modern trade is because I am aware of those issues already (other than the ethno-centric issues, I mean). Speaking of rants, I’ve posted part-III of that post – you’ve got a new axe to grind. 😉

    We had planted capsicum/peppers and coriander earlier and had a red ant/fire ant infestation that took away both soil and the seeds for their own colony! :-o. Oh well, they’ve got to live too, you know. We’re kind of back to square one. My DW suggested carrots next. Let’s see how that goes!

    P.S: I have the same disposition as you towards cell-phones!

    @Macs,
    Re: previous discussion on the wisdom of the indigenous people, here’s a nice BBC documentary on the Penan people of Sarawak. Your local library might have this. HTH.

    […] and it won’t be done any more, from the local libraries that are going to be closed to the music therapy for the disadvantaged. Let’s not deny it, Britain is going to be a harsher, meaner place than it was under Labour, […]

     

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