back to article What on earth do you think you are doing, Darling?

Well, wasn't that a wonderful little budget? We're broke, borrowing the entire output of many a small nation, and this as a result of the policies from the man who promised to abolish boom and bust. But it's not all bad news. Some of it is worse. Take, as a minor example, the increase in statutory redundancy pay announced. …


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  1. Martin
    IT Angle

    This really ISN'T the place for this discussion.

    I don't come to El Reg to read economic commentary - if I wanted that, there are loads of daily newspaper sites for that.

    I come here to read irreverent IT stuff and articles about Bulgarian air bags.

    So....what is the IT Angle?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Excellent Article

    Worstall for Chancellor!

  3. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: This really ISN'T the place for this discussion.

    The IT angle is another sad victim of the economic downturn, stupid.

    I was going to take pity on you and reject your comment, but I feel like having a Flamey Friday.

  4. Secretgeek


    I normally have an instantaneous adverse reaction to anything that has even the hint of a political party's bias to it. But I actually thought this made for interesting reading.

    And really, (putting the poor aside for one minute(or getting someone else to)) for the worker on an 'average' wage what's not to like about the having the first half of their wage untaxed?

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Its good for me!!

    I worked out I will be about £325 a year BETTER OFF. I bet most of the people moaning about this budget haven't bothered to calculate how it really affects them, just jumped on the moaners' band-waggon...

  6. M

    Interesting article

    And I like your idea of an increased personal allowance roughly matching that of a year's minimum wage salary.

    Also Ms. Bee, aren't all your days Flamey days?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Adam Smith Institute?

    I like the ASI even less every time I heard about them.


    But then someone talks about not taxing the poor heavily.

    And I think "maybe they're not so bad..."

    And then someone mentions UKIP.

    And I like the ASI even less than the last time I heard about them.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle


    Well Martin, the IT angle is that when the economy goes bust the first people to bite the bullet aren't the finance managers, nor the senior management teams - nope its the IT staff...

    Really good article on something that affects everybody really.

  9. Anonymous Coward


    This country is run by people who hae no expertise in their jobs. Just a bunch of chancers who verbally bored whoever would listen into submission.

  10. Francis Fish
    IT Angle

    Re: This really ISN'T the place for this discussion.

    You won't get the economic commentary in the mainstream papers because they think you're too stupid to understand it. El Reg quite often comments on stuff that you never see anywhere else, e.g. the Japanese paper comparing Global Warming ^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h Climate Change to astrology and the stupid obscenity laws NuLabVatives brought in recently.

    Keep it up, guys, you *are* the only credible opposition voice at the moment.

    Which is not good, but at least someone is trying to hold these buffoons to account.

  11. Rupert Stubbs

    Tax the poor...

    If you vote, you should pay tax. Otherwise, non-taxpayers have no incentive to vote for tax-reducing parties (since it's someone else who'll be paying).

    However, that doesn't mean that the mad tax system shouldn't be reformed. A flat rate tax would be a good start, so everyone can understand exactly how much tax they'll be paying, coupled with benefit reform to reward people who work.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    @ the mods....

    ....why not remove the (much-hated) 'where's the IT angle?' symbol?

    That would stop these oh-so-smart-ar$es from foisting their pearls of wisdom(?) upon us with alarming regularity via this symbol & associated (not so) witty comment


  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Canine/human interface shock!

    Hmmm Adam Smith Intitute and UKIP member doesn't like Labour policy... that's news!

  14. Jonathan

    Re: This really ISN'T the place for this discussion

    Times are tough - El Reg needs to broaden its reader base. Expect to see articles discussing the benefits of alternative therapies, complete with benchmarks (what would an IT site be without benchmarks?).

    Seriously though, good read. I mean, I understand that the government needs money. But I dont think that, A) it spends money in the right places, and B) that the tax system is as good as it could be.

    As for A), it might be an unpopular viewpoint but I think there are far too many people living on benefits. I can understand the point of benefits - to help those living in poverty - but I think it causes poverty rather than curing it. To cure poverty, you need to get people involved in the economic system, earning money, buying stuff, saving up. A tax cut for the poor and the abolition or reduction in benefits would, long term, help cure poverty. Help them to help themselves basically. Dont get me wrong - I have no problem with the sick or disabled needing benefits, thats fine. I'm not heartless. I just dont think that "workshy" (god I hate that word) should be given money for nothing. I dont think any other country in the world does, and it isnt working here. So many years on, we still have poverty and gang-related violence, and a lot of people have learned to game the system and stay on it. Its demotivated themselves to improve their lot in life, because now they dont have to.

    The other thing is that, as the article points out, the low threshold for income tax really doesnt make any sense. And the 50p rate is potentially dangerous for the economy.

  15. Tim

    Well, duhh!

    What are you saying? that we pay too much tax? that in order to ensure Fred the Shred gets his 700K a year for a job well done, we all suffer more than we should? And they give you a soap box for this blindingly obvious point of view?

    Here are some facts

    People who earn money will ALWAYS fund those that don't. People who earn very little money have FAR LESS spare money, so any taxes will always hit them hard. People who have "paid their dues" should get some kind of break over "lazy scoungers", and the RICH are usually so at the expense of everyone else. The governement take tax from almost everywhere, so the money i am taxed on earning, then gets taxed by me spending it as well.

    Did the chancellor rectify the system to make it fairer?


  16. ceedee
    Thumb Up

    Thanks for this

    From my quick perusal, most of the mainstream media are far more interested in the effect on the budget on the richest 2%.

    Thanks for bursting the bubble!

  17. Edward Miles

    @AC 10:22

    And how much use is that extra £300 gonna be when the economy which those pounds are based on bellies up?

    Oh and yes, I've checked. As a student I will be worse off straight away, but mostly from non-essentials such as beer and petrol!

  18. Anonymous Coward

    taxes and chancellors

    As a married man currently studying at Uni with a working wife, we were around £100 a week better off than being on the dole. Actually made getting up in the morning worthwhile.

    Until last week when the Government decided to take £65 a week "tax credits" off us.

    This means we are £35 a week better off than if we signed on as a couple.

    What's more - if we "split up on paper" and signed on as two single people - we'd be £5 a week better off than we are now.

    Where is the motivation?

    What is the point?

    The IT angle?

    I used to work in IT but changed to studying law because IT jobs are thin on the ground and laughable in pay. 10 years intense experience with OSX, Linux and Windows is not enough experience - no - they want MS Drone qualifications or 10 years industry experience. All of which is business-speak for "you're the wrong colour and the wrong nationality" - businesses pretend they can't find anyone in the UK to employ so they can bring people in from overseas at lower cost or just outsource completely.

    This country is a fucking toilet.

  19. Secretgeek


    Looking for irreverance and airbags and yet you still managed to read the article and go to the effort of commenting. You want to be careful there, you might end up educating yourself.

  20. Fruitloop
    Black Helicopters

    Re: This really ISN'T the place for this discussion

    Well don't click on the link then, or read it or comment on it !

    back to the article: In the end of the day the budget is all about spin and big headlines, people understand 'Tax Cut for the Poorest' and 'Increase in Tax Credits' better than 'Raising the Tax Allowance' which gives the party a boost in the poll.

    Raising the tax allowance is clearly the best solution rather than recent solutions like tax credits and lower rate of tax which increase government costs through adding complexity.

    IMHO tax credits is just a scam to get votes from the poor people they have thrown into the system who they will tell that the Tories will take it away from them at the next election.

    Also can we have a badger icon for responding to stories about Darling

  21. Tom Cooke


    OK, you run for Parliament then!

  22. Will

    bored of the misery and wallowing

    Our turnover has tripled and profit doubled in the last 6 months. Colleague who writes iPhone apps doesn't have enough hours in the day to take on all the projects being thrown at him, he's looking to take on staff shortly.

    Instead of wallowing in self pity, lets look at the positives, both Apple and Amazon have released good numbers this quarter, showing that you can make money in a recession.

    Don't worry, be happy (I know that goes against our British nature)

    Oh, and my local Michelin starred restaurant is always fully booked and I can't get a table.

  23. Dale Morgan

    The UK is rubbish

    This recession has blown away the smoke screen that the UK can support itself, for the past 10 years the banks have been making us money, they've been lending to businesses that have been employing staff.

    none of these businesses have been making money, they claim to make an annual profit but thats false whilst the company is still in debt.

    Why is the government so concerned about getting the banks lending? its because there isn't a single industry in the UK that makes money, its all a smoke screen, they borrow off the banks to make up their losses.

    The UK is a sinking ship and labour's at the helm.

  24. Magnus Ramage

    ASI and tax

    OK, I take the point that there's a legitimate IT angle via the risk in the recession to IT staff, but I'd have liked the author of the article to make that point rather than it appearing in comments.

    Leaving that aside, the thing that makes me twitchy about this article is that it fails to acknowledge the ASI's general anti-tax bias. The ASI were one of the early advocates in the UK of the very daft (and extremely regressive) flat-tax system, and they continue to promote "Tax Freedom Day" (the day of the year when Britons finish "working for the Chancellor, rather than working for themselves"). So what appears to be quite a good idea in the article of increasing the lower earnings threshold seems in fact to be one part of a package to strip away income tax in general. Now if the article said raise the lower threshold and introduce higher rates above it, going up to much more than Darling's 50% for the very rich, that would be great. But I don't think that's the point.

    If anyone has any doubts about where the ASI is coming from, the Wikipedia page on them (yes I know) lists some of the more charming 1980s policies that began with them and ended up as a great big mess - local government outsourcing, the poll tax, bus deregulation and the marketisation of the NHS.

    Btw, if the Reg is introducing political articles, I take it you'll be looking to have proper balance? Something from the Trots (whatever they're called this week) would do as a counterweight to this one.

  25. Neil
    Thumb Down

    The Adam Smith Institute?

    I'll read this piece in consideration with all their other wonderful Thatcherite success stories - the poll tax, the deregulation of public transport, state schools running their own budgets and the internal market in the National Health Service, because they've all been so beneficial for the country.

    And UKIP - the BNP for the chattering classes...

  26. Gavin McMenemy


    What's Time Worstall's involvement with them?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You had me right up until UKIP.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Go to the Winston Smith blog to see where some of your money goes.

    To know where your money goes, read Winston Smith's blog on local authority child care homes. It costs about £2500 per week per child.

    Warning: Not for those with blood pressure problems.

    My wife and I work to support our children; these just are handed everything as of right.

    Cue "Bring back national service", "Bring back the workhouse" etc...

    Warning: Not for those with blood pressure problems.



  29. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: ASI and tax

    Um, I think you'll find we've been running political articles for quite some time now.

    Maybe we should start clearly marking such frivolities with NO IT ANGLE, like you put NO STEREO notices in your car to discourage thieves.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Election coming

    Raises taxes on high earners.... sure they'll go elsewhere, but it will play well to the poor people. So a tax on a few to get the vote of the many. Where the tax doesn't come in till next year.

    He did a hurried announcement on MPs expenses, pre-empting the committee looking into it.... again same thing. Getting the issue out of the way before an election.

    I still reckon he's going to go for a mid year election, towards end of June or early July, he will only give 1 months notice, but you can see the rhetoric ramping up, and the fake websites and so on, in preparation.

    It's doubtful he can afford to leave it till next year. He needs to have the election after the spending but before the tax bill comes in. Once the spending stops any 'growth' created will most likely fall away. He would not be likely to survive a leadership challenge when that happens. So this year rather than next.

    The only way I can see him holding out till next year is if he's 100% sure of losing. Then everyone in Labour would want to milk the job for as much as they can get.

  31. David Webb

    Oh Dear

    You seem to have published a political response to the budget! As a news outlet, does that mean you now have to allow the other parties to give their point of view? I'm pretty sure that if the BBC were to give political time to a member of one political party, they are bound to have to give other political parties their chance to respond in like?

    I liked the article mind you.

  32. Pheet
    Thumb Up

    Half Good, but...

    I agree whole heartedly that low income earners pay far too much tax, and that the majority of people pay more tax than the rich proportinatly.

    Raising the allowance rate as suggested would help, not just those affected, but possibly the economy as a whole - all those people paying less tax would then have more money to spend on (essential) goods and services.

    However, with out raising taxes elsewhere (e.g. on the rich), there would have to be cuts in public services (NHS, schools, etc.) which adversly effects the lower 50%+ , so much so that we'd be worse off overall. The rich have private healthcare, send their kids to private schools, don't use public transport, etc.

    When tax is raised on the lower or normal income band, it's funny that we don't hear from economists and thinktanks saying that it won't work...

    Other things that might help:

    - Raising the minimum wage - at the moment it's a bloody insult. And it needs to be properly enforced, with stiff fines & prison sentances for employeers that break it. Companies that pay millions to their board can afford to pay more than a fiver an hour to their office cleaners.

    - Reduce the basic cost of living. VAT is a grossly unfair tax, scrap tax on domestic fuel bills, and water bills are obcene in the UK. The big supermarkets need to be strongly dealt with - at the moment they're screwing both customers and producers (£1 in every 8 goes to Tesco FFS).

    - Simplify the whole system. At the moment we have income tax with various bands, national insurance, VAT, council tax and on the other hand CT & housing benefit, working tax credits, child support, state pensions etc. I hate to think how much money is wasted on all the bureaucracy (and there's millions of pounds of support tht isn't being claimed by people that need it because the system is so complicated). Replace with an income guarantee & simplified income tax, for example.

    My £0.02 :-)

  33. blackworx

    @ AC re:UKIP

    Who cares? I don't agree with UKIP's silly populist nonsense, but that doesn't mean the article is worthless. Far from it.

    Short, to the point, and very fair comment IMHO.

    @ Secretgeek - lmao nice one!

  34. Cameron Colley

    RE: Its good for me!!

    It's ignorance like that which gets incompetent people voted in. If you stopped and thought about it for a second you would realise that if companies are being forced to go under and unemployment rises crime is likely to go up -- not a good thing. Also, shafting our economy means that anything bought from abroad will start to cost more as our currency becomes bogroll -- so anything you buy will cost more anyhow.

    I could go on, but I think you get the idea...

  35. Tim
    Thumb Down

    This is just right wing ranting

    Working in IT I know all about redundancy - having faced it on both sides of the pond. This is a volatile industry and people get laid off and companies collapse (I've experienced both).

    What you get is pretty pitiful. Winging about the 'cost to business' is fine, but the reality is that what you get is a very small offset compared with the reality of losing your income, and trivial benefits (if you're single). Last time it happened, after I paid my mortgage I had £10/month to pay my bills and feed myself. It's tough and it's usually not your fault. In the land of the free, thats the cost. I had a one day notice contract. My employer did give me some redundancy (but only because they needed me to do an orderly shutdown of the operations they were closing). I'm sure business friendly policies like that are what the country needs more of.

    The argument about basic rate tax is fine to a degree, although it's laughable to suggest the IFS is unbiased-


    50% tax is not that high (it's less than I paid in California).

    The problem with raising the personal limit is the kneejerk rightwing reaction to the counterpoint which would need to happen (i.e. raise income tax for those that pay). Otherwise you are giving more to those that don't need it (e.g. on £100K) while reducing your overall income. It's sensible and simpler - it might even be approved of by some on the intelligent right, but don't expect the Sun to announce anything less than Lenin's mausoleum is to be moved to Parliament square.

    The truth is we can't have European levels of welfare on US taxes. Darling/Brown and Osborne/Cameron are both as bad as each other in trying to kid us on that front. The deficit is mostly down to not facing that reality, although at the moment cutting much government spending will mostly move people from low paid clerical work onto the dole where many will end up costing almost as much while not giving us any benefit in return.


  36. Mike Crawshaw

    @ AC 11:31 "Election Coming"

    "The only way I can see him holding out till next year is if he's 100% sure of losing. Then everyone in Labour would want to milk the job for as much as they can get."

    Looks like it'll be next year then....!

  37. Richard

    Fiscal drag cuts both ways

    One only has to look at the infinitely postponed council tax revaluation on house prices to realise that.

    I've been thinking linking the personal allowance to the minimum wage is a good idea for a while now, but I'd extend the principle across determining all of those arbitrary tax points by some property of the economy with a requirement that the statistics must be updated at least once per Parliament (and ideally every year seeing as they are collected anyway) eg have the higher rate start at the nth percentile of earnings, inheritance tax at the nth percentile of legacies.

    Flat rate income tax is a daft idea though - it suffers from exactly the same fiscal drag problems as detailed in the article.

  38. Ian Ferguson
    Paris Hilton

    UKIP advert

    Not strictly to do with this article, but maybe you can answer a question about UKIP's advert hoarding up the road from me in Southampton.

    It has a big picture of Winston Churchill, with the implication that he would support your policies.

    Wasn't he a Liberal and Conservative? What right do you think you have to use a dead man's popular image to attempt to bolster your own campaign?

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rich or poor?

    Why do I get the impression that this is written by someone who falls into the more than £150 000 pa bracket rather than the £60 pw one? Because it is the type of whinging about money you'd expect of a rich man rather than a poor one. "Bashing" the rich. My fucking arse!

  40. Sam Liddicott

    @pheet - minimum wage

    It's not (just) whether or not your employer can afford to pay the minimum wage, but whether or not the employee brings minimum_wage of value to the employer.

    If not, then the only reason to not fire them is because the employer can't afford the redundancy-pay hit all at once or because they're willing to risk the wrath of the law and keep someone in wages for what little value they do bring to the company.

  41. Scott van Looy

    RE: Rich or poor?

    Nah, it's written by someone domiciled in Portugal, one would assume for tax reasons if being cynical. Although I'm sure he'd disagree and blame the state of the UK.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    ASI and tax

    I once met a girl from the ASI in Moscow. She was quite taxing.

    Paris because of the hotel room tax.

  43. Mark Wolstenholme
    Thumb Down

    So much stupid, so little time...

    "I worked out I will be about £325 a year BETTER OFF. I bet most of the people moaning about this budget haven't bothered to calculate how it really affects them, just jumped on the moaners' band-waggon."

    This is exactly what's wrong with this country. People like you who are in it just for themselves. "Screw you Jack, I'm OK?" Well f*ck that. Some of us actually care about helping our fellow human beings. Isn't that the point of the Welfare State?

    "If you vote, you should pay tax. Otherwise, non-taxpayers have no incentive to vote for tax-reducing parties (since it's someone else who'll be paying)."

    Everyone in the UK pays tax. Ever hear of VAT? There are no "tax-reducing parties" anyway, all any of them can do is move the tax burden around. Some of us happen to think it's preferable that those who can afford it pay their share.

    "To know where your money goes, read Winston Smith's blog on local authority child care homes. It costs about £2500 per week per child."

    Right. Great. So you would rather children currently in care stayed with their parents and end up like Baby P? Well who gives a f*ck? It's fine as long as your taxes aren't paying for it.

    If I was employing whoever writes that "Winston Smith" blog they'd be out of a job faster than you could say "uncaring psychopath". The way he talks about vulnerable people supposedly in his care is disgusting.

    As far as the article is concerned, sure, in a fair society*, income tax should only kick in when you're earning well above minimum wage. It's about the only sensible suggestion I've ever heard from UKIP.

    * You know what they say, you can't get there from here.

  44. Brian

    It is worse then the government is telling people

    It is much worse then people and the government can imagine IT wages have gone down, the cost of living in the UK is amongst the highest in G8 . 10 years of Labour government has created a overtaxed, overdependent society. The sad reality it will take many years to repair the damage that Labour has done to this great nation.

    Lastly taxing the rich is a grand old socialist dogma sure it does sound fair but what about the ones that own business and factories. What happens if they say screw it is just to expensive to do business here I am going somewhere else.

    This is just a terrible government !

  45. John Savard

    Just one problem

    Since the poor vastly outnumber the rich, if they were to stop taxing the poor, they would have to increase taxes on the rich to such an extent, they would all flee the country and take their capital with them.

    I admit that there's also the middle class to tax. Raise the basic personal exemption to where you're proposing, though, to tax the middle class about the same as they are now, the marginal tax rate would have to go up quite high; and I assume it's not supposed to go down again when it reaches the rich.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Magnus Ramming

    So.... these super-rich being taxed at over 50%. Where's the incentive to keep their money in the UK?

    We need to have a system where people get richer as they get richer. Otherwise there isn't an incentive to get richer- so things stagnate.

    The main thing should be to not give people on unemployment benefits any money; they should just get whatever they need (up to the value of their benefits) supplied for them after loads of paperwork. It's a bit more complex logistically, but means that they can't get themselves into a comfortable long-term position; there'll always be an incentive to move on up. Plus it means they can't just drop into a drunken /drugged up stupour.

    After that, the tax rates should be linked to the Average UK income; this would make it more inflation-proof.

    Then we should get rid of the useless functions currently supported by the government. Vast swarthes of the job of governing the populace would be returned to people actually having to take responsibility for their actions. Parents should block porn on the 'net rather than the Government, Police should catch criminals rather than hugely lengthy inquiries that don't do anything.

    All Governmental spending should be transparent (except Military and other national security concerns; a total should be available, but nothing deeper unless they want to declassify it). Details of non-military Government contracts should be available so that we can see when we're being shafted.

    All ultra-database/ID/other moneysinks should be removed except where they should be shown to do some good.

    And THEN we'd be in a position to sort ourselves out.

  47. Joe Harrison

    Forget the workers

    It's Friday and I haven't had my rant yet this week.

    Too many people in this fread are on about "rewarding those who work" as if working is (in and of itself) a Good Thing. It isn't - if we could 100%computerise and robotise the entire planet's means of production then we could all lounge about and please ourselves all day with no downside. Might not be possible this week but let's not lose sight of this completely reasonable objective. Just sayin.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    This site is getting more like the Daily Mail everyday

    No further comment.

  49. Pheet

    @Sam Liddicott

    "It's not (just) whether or not your employer can afford to pay the minimum wage, but whether or not the employee brings minimum_wage of value to the employer."

    1) It's people at the bottom of the company that produce the most value. The higher up you get, the higher the salary with less value being produced - e.g. middle management (who often decrease value), till you get to the boardroom which get paid millions but contribute very little worth often. Mr Goodwin for example.

    2) Companies that pay shitty wages cost the rest of us money, as people on low income need housing benifit, tax credits, etc. to survive, which is paid out of our taxes (less all the burocratic waste). If people got decent, livable wages in the first place, we'd all be better off.

  50. Anonymous Coward


    There's so much dumb on this page it's untrue.

    (There's a lot of clever, too, but a lot of dumb)

    Gems so far:

    "the majority of people pay more tax than the rich proportinatly"

    I never understand this: If you earn after tax £25k per year and someone else earns £50k, what's the issue? Mr £50k paid more tax than you (If he didn't, he's going to jail). You have plenty of money left. It's not like a loaf of bread is beyond your financial reach. Does it matter that someone else has more than you? Why should Mr £50k have half of his post tax earnings removed? To make you feel better?

    "VAT is a grossly unfair tax"

    Is it? It's a tax that reflects what you consume. The more you consume, the more you pay. It's a bit like the income tax that every left-leaning individual screams to be increased for those on obscene salaries*. Mr £50k contributes more to the economy, is rewarded more, and spends more. The government takes it's cut of the transaction. Of course, if you are saying that VAT adds to the tax burden and is unfair simply for that reason, I may agree, but taxes such as VAT do have a place in an economy, and they are by no means all bad.

    "The big supermarkets need to be strongly dealt with - at the moment they're screwing both customers and producers (£1 in every 8 goes to Tesco FFS)."

    Well, there's been a whole bunch of investigations into the pricing strategies of supermarkets, and I don't think they were found to be screwing everybody. And the fact that £1 in £8 goes to Tesco tells us nothing more than Tesco are very very good at what they do. Good to the tune of £3bn in a recession. Maybe they can run the government? At least they'll get the budget to balance in my lifetime.

    Apols to those I've quoted directly- because some of what both posters said I agree with- the tax code is f*cking rubbish, and it's a nightmare to work out how much of your hard-earned is going to the government, but some of the comments here are FUD. Fair means rewarding those who work as well as making sure people don't starve to death because of an unlucky break.

    Fair doesn't mean rewarding people who chose not to work to the tune of £35k a year in household income (Go google- a family of four who receive their entitlement in state benefits have an equivalent income to a family of four with one working parent on £35k p.a), and then taxing the hell out of people who earn less than that through honest toil.

    *I never know what an obscene salary is- is one that's paid into an account at "Bank of Sh*tting Cocks"?

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "If not, then the only reason to not fire them is because the employer can't afford the redundancy-pay hit all at once or because they're willing to risk the wrath of the law and keep someone in wages for what little value they do bring to the company"

    If the employee has been employed for less than 2 years then no redundancy pay will be due.

    What wrath ?

    Automatic unfair dismissal went the way of the dodo at the start of this year.

    Getting rid of a short term employee is easy. No wrath.

    Government spending is transparent, you just have to look for it.

    We could look at the total cost to the nation of the public servants pensions: those working now, and retired, will cost the taxpayer 1 trillion pounds.

    About 168 billion a year, at the moment.

  52. Juan Inamillion
    Dead Vulture

    We don't stand a chance

    ...when the big news is "Jade - The Musical"

  53. Luke Peters
    Dead Vulture

    geeks + politics = FAIL

    Thought I was on The Register, but seem to have somehow ended up on speak you're branes.

  54. MarkJ


    1) Actually, it's the people who produce value who produce value for the company, their position on the ladder has nothing to do with it. HR, Accounts, PR etc don't produce value in of themselves and yet these are 'growth industries'. If salesman X can bring in several multi-million pound contracts, increasing profits by £10 million, then a salary of £1 million a year seems quite reasonable. More reasonable than paying salesman Y £500k for an increase of £4 million.

    2) Our employment laws make it rather hard to reward the good whilst punishing the bad. Anyone who's ever employed more than one person for the same basic role will tell you that some people are worth at least £5.85/hour and some aren't worth the trouble of unbuttoning your flies if their teeth are on fire.

    Tux because it's friday.

  55. EdwardP

    @Go to the Winston Smith blog to see where some of your money goes.

    Some good stuff on here, thanks for posting. Something of a microcosm for certain aspects of our society today.

    The rest of us need to stop bitching and cheer the fuck up. While there are some money issues that need ironing out (ok, lots), the way some of you were going on you'd think we were on a three day week.

    I have seen NO convincing evidence of there being radically fewer IT jobs going. While the anecdotal evidence I've heard always seems to be prefaced by some semi-rascist rant and from people who I suspect weren't very good at their job.

  56. Anonymous Coward

    More wrong

    "It's people at the bottom of the company that produce the most value. The higher up you get, the higher the salary with less value being produced - e.g. middle management (who often decrease value), till you get to the boardroom which get paid millions but contribute very little "

    No, no, no, and finally, no.

    Leaving aside the complete lack of proof and reasoned argument in your comment, it's not true. People above the front line workers contribute direction, organisation and prioritise the use of resources in order to meet the objectives of the company/government/whatever. That's another form of value.

    Or to put it another way, front line staff keep the company going from one day to the next. The people above them keep it going week to week, and the people above them month to month.

    Any one layer cannot exist without the others, but to state that anyone higher than a front line worker has no value (but mysteriously gets a mega wage for what they do) is bollocks. According to your theory, 100000 slaves doing random shit in the desert would have given us the pyramids*.

    *and of course, we all know they gave us Linux.

  57. Anonymous Coward

    love IT

    I enjoyed this article and IT means a lot to me.

    one argument though that I am not entirely convinced by:

    *** a general and sustained increase in the standard of living ***

    I do not think that this is the case. I understand that numbers might be used to prove it but:

    1. In the seventies middle class families could afford to buy their children birthday and christmas presents which costed them the equivalent of between four and six weeks of salary. They bought things such as Scalextric, Hornby Trains, Lego and Meccano etc. these things really did cost many parents a monthly salary. Still the popularity of these toys would appear to show that many families did indeed find that kind of money to spend. Now you ask yourself - when was the last time that you could spend a monthly salary on a present for you child?

    2. In the late eighties and early nineties a PC cost several months salary and a good monitor also. Now you would be hard pushed to be able to justify - or find money for - a pc which would cost you the equivalent of three months salary. I would think that your spouse might have a thing or two to say about how you prioritize your expences if you tried to spend that kind of money.

    3. In the early seventies many middle class families did not hesitate to change their (new) car every three years. It does certainly not appear to me to be nearly as common anymore in todays world.

    This and other things leads me to wonder if the talk about living standard is an exercise in illusion and wishful thinking. So perhaps we have more things - but are they of as good quality? Is our living space nicer? Is the food of better quality than it used to (oops... perhaps this one is a silly comment as we are talking about the UK). Yes these are ofcourse oversimplifications but personally I am not convinced that the living standard has become better overall. Yes in many things it may be better today - but there are really many things that are worse - and I do not believe that this is only due to my possibly rose tinted glasses. Or maybe I was just a very happy and lucky child when I grew up so my expectations on todays society are just unrealistic...

    ... oh and by the way - both of my parents were industrial factory workers.

  58. Anonymous Coward

    re: Forget the workers


    1. I like my job!

    2. IT is fun and rewarding!

    3. And the salary is possible to live on...

  59. Anonymous Coward


    As a young person working at design level in telecoms, I'm very worried about the future in the UK currently.

    What worries me more though is the way the media has suddenly became pro-tory. I remember growing up, and although not fully able to understand the conservatives, I'm pretty sure their views on politics is down right atrocious, favouring big business, and not so lenient on the poor of our country. However, labour appear to be letting the poor down also.

    I'm *not* a lib dem, and actually just prefer the 'good' guys to get into power - but to me Vince from the Lib Dems is talking like the "common man" currently. I'm not sure what to make of it all, but I can certainly see the tories getting in at the next election, and just taking us backwards (values wise.)

    Ok, I'm mainly concerned about my job at the moment - but the way the media has evolved as I've grown up very much scares me. Then again, no matter what any sane person says, the public are always thick enough to go with the typical laughable democracy approach of "had enough of those left wingers, get those right wingers back in!" or vice versa.

    Unbelievable, what a country we've became :-(

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Mark Wolstenholme 24th April 2009 14:34 GMT

    Dear Mark

    Please read

    especially the comment from "Lilyofthefield" which states:

    "I teach in a high school that er… serves the sort of estate you describe, and from the point of view of someone not in the Police, would like to say that every word is true. The Sunday Times once did a piece on our catchment area, and interviewed a number of “Our Young People”. I suspect Kate [or Mark Wolstenholme? ;-) ] was one of the interviewers. They overwhelmingly felt that these were dear good children if only they’d had the breaks. Well Social Services, the Welfare State,Youth Workers, schools, voluntary organisations and do-gooders alike have given them nothing but restorative breaks to try and make up for their lousy gang-led community, cultural and spiritual impoverishment and disgusting parents since the day they born. They had plenty of breaks and pissed them up against the wall.

    Two of the boys interviewed were in my form. Both are now in prison, but even at 13, they had broken into the house of an elderly lady who lived alone on that estate - that in itself should be a crime - and had killed her cat in front of her and urinated over her, her carpets and furniture. The offence itself was in legal terms, minor, and they roared with contempt at the non-sentence. "

    Happy now?

  61. Anonymous Coward

    @it's good for me

    Most people who worked out that any budget at all is good for them are shit at maths. Not having a job doesn't make you better off, nor does paying more for everything you need. Amazingly still, neither does having more taken out of your pay check if you are lucky enough to still have a job.

    Usually I like taxing rich people as much as the next person, but there comes a point where everyone with any real money will simply leave this country and invest elsewhere, taking the jobs they create with them. When this happens the little crisis we're currently enjoying will look like a storm in a teacup.

    @Martin, 'This really isn't the place for this discussion.'

    You people still exist? How many stories does it take for the fuckwits to understand that satire, humour and political comment are as much a part of this site is about as anything technical or scientific. You want an IT angle? The story is on a website and you're reading it with a fucking computer, there's your IT angle.

    @ASI and tax

    Damn, two of you on the same comments page. See above, unless being this stupid is a talent you want to show off again. There never has been a time when political stories were not part of this website and hopefully never will. They're as much part of the Reg as Rise of the Robots and Google's penguin death march.


    You did after all say you wanted a Flamey Friday.

  62. Dave The Cardboard Box
    Dead Vulture


    If the Weimar Republic taught us anything it's not to vote for a nationalist party when things get tough economically (especially when the nation is actually "Engerland" not the whole of the UK).

  63. wayne

    @Joe Harrison

    " Too many people in this fread are on about "rewarding those who work" as if working is (in and of itself) a Good Thing. It isn't - if we could 100%computerise and robotise the entire planet's means of production then we could all lounge about and please ourselves all day with no downside. "

    Then we would have to go through that nasty Cylon/Terminator business.

    Oh, wow I got a great idea for a sequel-squared - "Cylon v. Terminator." Caprica six (or an 8) takes on John Conner's personal fembot.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    The UK is ok for the unemployed :)

    I recently lost my job, well it was given to a nice Indian gent, cant balme him, my company needed to save money, and the best way to do that was to charge UK companies £2500 per day, invest the money offshore and pay a salary offshore (So all the money leaves).

    Now Herr broon wont get a penny of tax on that, and I quite like that.

    Heres the crunch!

    My mortgage is £267'300 ish, and as I have been 'off' for 13 weeks the guwwermint pays it

    My wife works 20 hours a week on the min wage £5.75 and pays £15 a week in taxes.... BUT

    Your gonna love this.....

    BOTH our kids are in afterschool (I could look after them, but hey, Guwwermint pays for it)

    And we get £300 a week to 'pay for stuff'

    And £135 a month family allowance

    In total its £1200 a month

    No Mortgage

    Free childcare 8am -6pm

    Wife works 3 days a week

    And we now have money, I was always skint on my takehome of £2300 per month

    Mortgage £1220, Council Tax £180, Childcare £300 Thats £1700 which left me with £600 a month

    We are off to Ibiza this summer.

    So for all those in IT wondering of your job is safe, and (You need a big mortgage, having equity means your in a sticky puddle)

    You should hope that you get outsourced soon, then you can at least enjoy life a bit whilst the guvvermint gets itself sorted.

    I think the jobs will have to come back soon, as we dont sell anything apart from Debt and Advice in the uk, and we really do need scientists and engineers.

    Nice article, and yes you pay tax and NI on £5.75 a week if you work 20 hours, I have the wifes wage slips to prove it.

    Hope its sunny next week.......

  65. Tim Worstal

    Following up.....

    "The ASI were one of the early advocates in the UK of the very daft (and extremely regressive) flat-tax system,"

    Just a technical correction here. A flat tax "can" be regressive. It can also be progressive (defining that as tax as a percentage of total income rising as income rises). It depends upon what the basic allowance is. Which is why the ASI advocates a high one, to make the tax system more progressive than the current one. Umm, OK; I haven't seen the figures for whether it's more progressive now, with the 50p band, but certainly as compared to the earlier one it was.

    If you define progressive as ever rising marginal tax rates then of course it isn't progressive but then that's not what progressive actually means.

    Me and UKIP? I'm a candidate in the London Region for the coming euro elections. I'm also a press officer for them. So, no, I'm not resident in Portugal either. And as to tax, Portugal would be a strange place to be a tax exile. Depends on exactly the income level but taxes can be higher there than in the UK.

  66. Homard


    @Sarah : lets make it flamey monday too :-)

    This artice was an interesting and thought provoking read, as were the comments.

    I have to take issue with one assertion the article makes. The assertion that capitalism provides a sustained increase in standard of living. For whom, and an on what basis ? Industrial jobs are now in the far east, while we now have armies of bankers, estate agents, surveyors (of what ?), and solicitors as the UK 'industry'. All this relies on the ability to move produce about worldwide, for example imports from the far east, and for big business entities to leech some of the profits at each stage. And when the oil has gone ? This at the very least shows that the current economic model is not viable in the longer term. The only solution is to bring the industrial jobs back home. At least that way we can manufacture the equipment to support agriculture which in turn will feed and clothe us.

    The rest ? I don't know, but it seems tax and minimum wage won't matter a damn !

  67. Suburban Inmate

    Hold it sunshine!

    "This is the end result of that useful thing which capitalism alone amongst economic systems manages: a general and sustained increase in the standard of living." Whose lives are we talking about...?

    You and your mates at the ASI?

    The British People? (Chavs running riot, civil liberties gone, life savings vapourised, negative equity, job insecurity, lost union rights etc)

    The Chinese factory workers/slaves making our consumer goods?

    The coffee, cacao, banana, mange tout, etc growers in many countries?

    Iranians, Iraqis, Afghans, Vietnamese, Southeast Asians, Nicaraguans?

    The kids eating 20p school dinners and trying to grow healthy bones and brains on that shite?

    People failed by the "NHS" as a result of the forced backdoor privatisation?

    From a global perspective I believe that the "general and sustained increase in the standard of living" of which you speak is neither general nor sustainable. While I'm not against a capitalist or trade-based system, I *am* against the system the world is currently suffering.

    I mean no disrespect mate, its just that sentence that really got my back up. Otherwise, it was a good interesting read :-)

  68. John

    eat the rich!

    take one bite and spit out the rest!


    Sorry, couldn't resist the aerosmith. I believe there is some merit in taxing everyone to a degree. It's the other side of the principle of no taxation without representation. If the people who demand and spend taxes should be accountable to the electorate, then the electorate, as a society should all be contributing. It's along the lines of 'buying' a stake in the country. Poor countries with despotic leaders tend to have large numbers of untaxed people. It's a lever for the despot to increase his power: leave the peasants largely alone so that at worst they are ambivalent to you no matter what crimes you commit against humanity elsewhere. If the government doesn't tax you, why get involved in the government or politics?

    However, since nearly everyone in the UK pays some amount of VAT (even if just enough so that suspicion in the tax office is not aroused) and whatever other hidden taxes, it is unfair to tax people's income at 20% from £6000-odd. Even 10% would be too much in my proposal for broader income taxation. 5% or less might be a starting point.

    Anyway: note that government ministers are paid less than £150000pa and hence should be under the 50% radar. Expect if ministers' pay goes up they will increase the threshold pretty sharpish. don't forget capital gains is still at 18% for the time being. I suspect to keep the rich from flocking away immediately and to artificially inflate the stock market by 'encouraging' high earners to take a reduced salary, but take the rest in options/investments.

    Finally, whilst I have shown I'm not a flat-taxer, politicians and ultra-progressives tend to forget that the rich do pay more tax when they earn more money. 40% of lots is very much more than 20% of a little. Ah, socialism, and making everyone equally poor.

  69. Roy Stilling
    Dead Vulture


    What next, a Reg column by Nick Griffin?

  70. Chris

    BNP is nicking ex labour voters, not UKIP.

    Don't be silly Roy. It's Labour that are competing with the BNP, not UKIP.

  71. mittfh

    My 2p worth...

    If the personal allowance was raised to £11,500 as some people are suggesting, how would the government recoup the lost income?

    A few months ago (before the recession hit), Radio 4 did some analysis of where all the extra money pumped into the NHS has gone. About 1/3 went on increased costs, 1/3 on salary increases, leaving 1/3 extra investment.

    The Tories seem to have got the impression the public sector (or "quangocracies" as they seem to have termed it) is stuffed full of senior managers earning vast quantities of money. In reality in the bulk of the public sector (i.e. schools, hospitals, local government offices), there are many tiers of management, and I suspect it's only a few thousand people that earn vast sums of money in the public sector. Pruning them wouldn't save much money.

    Then there's the notion of protecting "front-line workers" (but presumably only if they agree to a pay freeze in the next settlement) - but what about the armies of support staff, without whom the front-line staff couldn't operate? Public sector pay settlements have been less than inflation for many years now, and the concept of "Best value" has become embedded in the culture.

    However, there are some ways the government could potentially raise extra money:

    * scrap the upper limit on NI.

    * clamp down on the loopholes that allow those earning significant quantities of money to avoid paying tax on a large proportion of it.

    * when the VAT cut expires, don't renew it.

    As for benefits for the unemployed, I read AC's comment above with envy. As a single person living in a rented 2 bed flat, I'd be lucky to get my £525/month rent paid by the state, let alone the £130 utility bills (soon to rise as my gas DD apparently isn't enough)...

  72. Roger Heathcote

    @Rupert you twunt...

    "If you vote, you should pay tax. Otherwise, non-taxpayers have no incentive to vote for tax-reducing parties (since it's someone else who'll be paying)."

    Hey, while we're at it, why don't we make the value of your vote proportional to how much tax you do pay? Oh, that's right, because that would be facism, the natural next step in your line of thinking (if you can even call it thinking). I was born here, I have to live under this countries rules and thereby surrender a part of my natural liberty to the state - THAT IS WHY I GET TO VOTE on who administers the state. Anyway we all pay tax, EVEN TRAMPS pay tax, just not income tax and most of these taxes are regressive and penalise the poor disproportionately.

    "A flat rate tax would be a good start, so everyone can understand exactly how much tax they'll be paying, coupled with benefit reform to reward people who work."

    So you want an even more regressive tax system? People who work are rewarded with wages, I don't think it's even slightly fair to claim we are 'rewarding' the poor and needy for doing nothing, such comments can surely only come from privileged bigoted snobs who have never had to live on the breadline and "copper up" for a bag of rice. I want a massively simplified tax system too but only if it's fair. Flat taxes are not fair and I suspect YOU only want them RUPERT because they will make YOU richer.

    Much as I hate to find myself siding with an ASI / UKIP member I'm afraid he's making a lot more sense than you today!

    Roger Heathcote.

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