back to article Txt tax would wipe out half UK deficit, claims union baron

Railway union boss Bob Crow reckons putting a one-penny tax on text messaging would wipe out half the UK's deficit, demonstrating a rather optimistic approach to financial planning. The comment comes in an interview with The Guardian, and is followed by the assertion that if in charge, the good Mr Crow would "squeeze the rich …


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  1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Good point... better let's make it £1 per text - and an extra surcharge on voice of £5 per call if the caller speaks loudly or shouts, double if they're on a train or in a similar crowded place, £50 if the phone rings while in a theatre/cinema/library.

  2. Oliver Humpage

    One pence?

    One penny. Two pence.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Two pence.

      Tuppence old hat now is it?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Twopence is for seeds

        Feed the birds... Twopence a bag...

        He is mistaking communications with the railways. Communications across most of the country do not follow the rule of "On First Capital Connect nobody will hear you scream".

        It is the railways where you can charge the customers anything they like and then some and then pack them like a sardine in a can and then ask them if they like it.

        Communications are not exactly the same... Customers will promptly alter their means of communications to avoid costs and/or congestion. If you charge them for SMS they will move to IM, if you find a way to charge them for IM they will move to mail and so on as the mobile operators discovered once they started offering meaningful data tariffs. If you stack messages in a "carriage" for 1h in a siding for later processing they will simply switch to something else.

      2. Michael Strorm


        "Tuppence old hat now is it?"

        I'd have said so, yes.

        "Tuppence", "thruppence" and the like I only ever recall being used by my parents' generation to refer to old pre-decimal money (which even though I was only born five years after decimalisation, was totally alien to me, some weird and confusing relic of the past with esoteric coins, endless shillings, guineas, farthings and the like).

        I can't recall it ever being used to refer to modern money.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Stratman


        All the penny coins in my pocket have "ONE PENNY" stamped thereon.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        You mean

        You mean "one penny piece" I think.

        "One pence piece" doesn't make sense.

        1. Colin Millar


          "one penny" is what it says

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Another great idea brought to you by...

    ... the moron who thinks that striking every six months is a good way to drum up support for your cause.

    "Here's a good one: How about a penny extra tax on travel tickets. Oh crap, they are expensive already.

    Ok. Er lottery tickets. Nope.

    Er how about loafs of bread. Great! Everyone needs bread.... and food. Sod it if we taxed food the deficit could be wiped out before christmas."

    And that is how Bob Crow came to be lynched by a baying mob your honour....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How about a strike tax

      A tenner a day per striker, paid by the union and fifty a day for each picket who is not a union member

  4. Vitani


    I'm use a pre-pay mobile, and I wouldn't mind paying an extra 1p per text, seems like a good idea! I'm not sure how it'd work on contracts though...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      it'd probably work

      by the operator charging you 1p per text and then passing it onto the government?

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: it'd probably work

        You mean taxes go to the government!?

        o crap, well this idea isnt gud at all then!

  5. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    Nothing to see here, move along

    Was it really necessary to demonstrate that unionists (and socialists or communists) do not have the slightest grasp of how economics work?

    "Do we have a problem with excess spending? Just raise taxes, that will do." The problem with these people is, they collect and spend tax revenue as if it is not their own money. Oh, bugger!

    1. Mike Richards Silver badge


      'Was it really necessary to demonstrate that unionists (and socialists or communists) do not have the slightest grasp of how economics work?'

      I think our current situation is largely down to the fact that economists do not have the slightest grasp of how economics work.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Actually

        "I think our current situation is largely down to the fact that economists do not have the slightest grasp of how economics work."

        Nah, it's more a case of the fact that economics, being a discipline not based on any objective measure of reality, doesn't actually work in the first place.

        Right, I'm off to do all my Xmas shopping down the 'ideal market'...

      2. Evil Auditor Silver badge

        @Mike Richards

        Correct me if I'm wrong but as far as I know the current situation was largely forseeable using well known ecomomics models. Mind you, there's not only one possible outcome although even with modest knowledge of economics it was pretty obvious that we were running into troubles.

        Rather than clueless economists the problem was that as long as all profited no one could be bothered to change course.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Would have to agree.

          We all quite happily benefited under new labour (myself included) turning a blind eye on the fact that some point something had to give. That point is now.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            We all quite happily benefited under new labour...

            Some of us were repeatedly pointing out the unsustainable rise in public spending and the government's casual disregard of the credit bubble.

    2. Ted Treen

      The trouble with socialists... that they inevitably run out of other people's money.

      1. Scott 19
        Thumb Up

        @Ted Treen

        I'm gettijng that put on a t-shirt.

        1. Ted Treen

          Send me one

          (pint OR a T-shirt) & I won't ask for royalties.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Up

          @ Scott 19

          Put me down for 10 of those please. While we are at it could you add:

          Gordon & Alistair, the men who bankrupted Britain.

          Gordon Brown, Arbitrary private pension destroyer.

          Gordon Brown, Gold sell off Swindler.

          Jesus, do any labour voters have any marbles.......................?

          Personally, I think all labour politicians should all be put up against a wall and shot for crimes against the state. All except mandy - I want to bludgeon him to death with an extremely blunt spoon. Even that is too good for him.

          Most gubberments (& economists) follow keynesian economics, which is known to be terribly flawed - they have always known it will go bang (or tits up, whatever you prefer) one day. Unfortunately that day is extremely close now.

          Don't think anybody can predict what will happen, other than to say it is not going to be pretty. The yanks are mainly to blame for completely killing off the gold standard when they discovered they could not pay for the Vietnam war. A lot of other countries followed suit - since then its simply spiralled our of control. The Dollar is more than likely dead, as is the pound and the Euro.

          Meantime China and India have been buying up all the physical gold and silver they can as they know the paper markets that represent the metals have at least 10 times more paper than the actuals. They also know that the gov't bonds and gilts of most countries in the west are not worth the paper they are printed on.

          Europe meanwhile (which is perhaps the greatest abomination of all) allows corrupt and idiotic countries/governments like Greece to join where you could retire at 46 as well economically inferior countries from eastern Europe - a recipe for economic disaster given the UK's 'socialist' preoccupation.

          Wow - how did an order for T shirts turn into that........ Guess I'm just really pissed having elected officials who are at best incompetent, secretive and self perpetuating.

        3. amanfromearth
          Thumb Up

          T Shirt..

          It's a quote from the great lady herself. Margaret Thatcher

      2. Anonymous Coward

        The trouble with capitalists

        As the economic crisis has proven is that economists/cpaitalists can't help but line their own pockets at the expense of the system and it's contributors. They demonstrate an a fearsome addiction to money and attempt to create alternate realities and economic models which almost always eventually collapse or are simply reset and allowed to collapse again once the current disaster is a long distant memory.

        1. Maty


          ' They demonstrate an a (sic) fearsome addiction to money and attempt to create alternate realities and economic models which almost always eventually collapse or are simply reset and allowed to collapse again once the current disaster is a long distant memory...'

          Oddly enough, that pretty much sums up the last Labour government.

        2. M Gale

          Re: the trouble with capitalists.

          Problem is, that would be way tl;dr for a T shirt.

        3. Anonymous Coward

          Boom and bust vs No growth

          The fact is that, averaged over time, boom and bust is still better than the no growth situation that extreme socialism ends up giving you. Look at East vs West Germany as a fantastic example. East Germany hardly grew at all (in GDP terms) in the time between WW2 and the reunification; whereas West Germany grew many times over, despite going through a number of recessions.

          Recessions are painful and some people are hurt disproportionately large amounts, but capitalism even with its problems is significantly better than any alternatives people have yet come up with.

          Remember also that the reason this time was so painful was because the bubble was ready to burst way back in 2002, but governments spent their way through the bubble in Keynesian terms, allowing it to grow even bigger before it actually burst. If we had taken our medicine in 2002 rather than idiots like Brown trying to spend our way through a recession in the belief that they had done away with boom and bust, we would have got rid of the debt bubble far earlier and far less painfully.

          1. Colin Millar

            Nothing to do with Keynes

            You must be thinking about using public spending to stimulate growth.

            Keynesian theory is quite clear about how increased public spending is supported - taxation, bonds etc and recognises that there will inevitably be a rebalancing - this is because Keynes knew how to do sums.

            All that was stimulated during the last decade was unsupported credit to all and sundry - not just governments. The failure point when the cost of default is greater than the value of new credit can be worked out with a pencil and a very small peice of paper.

            Just a thought but maybe being able to do sums should be a requirement for bankers (and for Treasury ministers).

      3. Tequila Joe

        @Ted Treen

        That's you, isn't it Maggie? Clever using the name Ted...great double-bluff.

        Ted Treen: "The trouble with that they inevitably run out of other people's money."

        Maggie Thatcher: "The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money. "

        I wonder if Maggie was thinking of a particular politician when she said: "Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't."

        Do tell.

    3. dpg21

      Oh goodie, a labour / tory argument.... I'll just chime in with my tuppeny worth

      Labour may have their faults (and I'd be the first in line to see Tony hanged for war crimes and Gordon locked up for massive economic fraud) but if you think the Tories are here to benefit anyone posting on these forms you're suffering from clinical-grade delusions. If they could figure out a way to reintroduce a serf class for their Eton chums we'd all find ourselves working for gruel and shelter tomorrow.

  6. irish donkey


    Vodaphone won't even pay the tax bill they have now. So how do our tax master plan to get Vodaphone and their like to pay more.

    Shame on Vodaphone, BHS and all those other Tax avoiding scum.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Says the contractor who boasted about 'avoiding' taxes pre-ir35....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        And do you think it is wrong?

        I think it is not.

        UK is one of those countries where it is considered unnatural for a technical manager to be paid less than some of their qualified staff. Prior to ir35, this "unnatural" situation was naturally resolved by the most qualified going on a contract. It is one of those UK specific outright sillies, but nobody found it "unnatural" to pay a _HIGHER_ rate to a contractor than the manager was getting while the same situation for permies was considered untolerable.

        IR35 did very little in terms of getting tax revenue and I am inclined to think that this was the intention of its "sponsors" like Capita in the first place. It gave all highly qualified technical staff earning more than the GMs a choice - either lobotomise themselves into a managerial function or take a pay cut.

        7 years ago UK was a country plenty of places where you could get four people to write you a whole embedded system or a single person to write you a whole networking stack in a couple of months before moving off to their next contract. There were FTSE500 companies whose existence and business model was based on that. UK had a competitive industry on the global scale.

        7 years later there is nothing left from this. The few remaining manage 60 wannabies in a warmer climate who fail to deliver where two British contractors delivered with ease 7 years ago.

        That is the real damage from IR35. It made the entire UK IT and Telecoms industry anticompetitive in the long term. From an overall cost vs benefits to the economy point of view I'd rather have people avoiding taxes till this day but still have an innovative and competitive industry as it creates a whole chain of jobs each and every one of which is taxed.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          @And do you think it is wrong?

          Of course not,

          What is "wrong" is hypocrites who moan about other people managing their taxes efficiently whilst doing the exact same thing themselves, like the Donkey above.

          1. irish donkey

            Managing taxes efficently / Avoiding taxes

            If VodaPhone were managing their taxes efficiently then I can't see why the HRMC had a claim for 12bn. Avoiding Tax and managing tax efficiently..... guess it depends on which side of the fence you are sitting on.

            I take it you work Cadbury. Another great British institution managing their tax efficiently by moving to Switzerland.

            I'm PAYE.

            What's your status anonymous coward?

    2. John G Imrie

      How about

      a tax on every time a company takes the head of HMRC out to dinner.

      I reckon £6b sounds about right.

    3. Mark Serlin

      And shame on HMG

      for letting them get away with it and landing me with the bill!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Why dont we simply NOT pay interest on the deficit!

    1. Evil Auditor Silver badge


      you're a troll, right?

    2. John Burton

      Re: Er...

      > Why dont we simply NOT pay interest on the deficit!

      Because we're relying on people lending the government very many billions of pounds just to keep paying the biils, and if you stop paying interest who exactly would be willing to lend the goverment their money?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why not....

      Same reason you don't default on your credit card bill.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        they send the heavies around and we cant change address fast enuff? Or might they taaaaaaaaake it away from me? (after of course I have maxed out)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Because that would be classed as a default, which would mean we could not borrow more or it would be extremely expensive, at the same time anyone who holds guilts would see their holdings drop hugely in value. (Not just banks who would suffer, but it would devastate our pensions.) It would also massively devalue the pound causing huge inflation causing all sorts of social chaos.

      Wait, is 'ooFie' Bob Crows Reg screen name??

    5. Tony S


      I'm not sure if you meant that as a facetious comment. However, it appears that there are many that don't understand, so in just in case...

      The government raises money through taxation, and then spends money on roads, rail, armed forces, schools, health. If they spend more than they raise, this is called a "deficit". The "national debt" is effectively all of the deficits that have been accrued by various governments over the years. (The amount of that is open to interpretation, but is well over £1 trillion and still climbing)

      Like any other person or organisation, if you spend more than you receive in income, you have to draw on existing assets, or borrow the money. You borrow money from other people and in return, you pay them for their generosity by giving them a bit more money than you borrowed. This is called "interest".

      If you decide that you don't want to pay interest, then you are going to find it difficult to get anyone to lend you money. And, if you decide not to repay the money that you have borrowed, you are classified as a bad risk and no-one will lend you money except at stupidly high rates of interest which reflects the level of risk that they are taking.

      In serious cases, the lender will send the boys around to encourage you to make a payment. Whilst we would not see that at a government level, instead we see other countries refusing to supply us with goods.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Seriously - 2

        That is a very good summary of the facts.

        The two questions that lead on from this is

        1) WTF do we do to pay off national debt - not just cut the annual deficeit.

        2) How do we stop the politicos having short term polivy views (lets speand today and let whoever wins the next election pay of it) from over speanding again.

        1. Ted Treen
          Thumb Up


          Well, Maggie DID pay off the national debt, before the morally bankrupt intellectual pygmies (collectively called the Labour party) dragged us right back into the ordure...

      2. Tequila Joe
        Thumb Up

        @Tony S - Seriously? First class.

        Well Govt should "spends money on roads, rail, armed forces, schools, health " rather than on ideological nonsense and spin-doctors, but other than that First Class.

        Now please take a lead pipe and explain it to the HoC and any other politicians you meet.

  8. Lottie

    It wouldn't work anyway

    If texting came to be too expensive, most folk with PAYG smartphones would use their online minutes or (and I assume not just Orange do this) the £1 for a day of internet deals and use email, twitter and Facebook to chat to their friends instead of txting.

    As for the rest, how does the extra tax work on my unlimited texts bundle?

    1. Annihilator Silver badge

      Already expensive

      Given operators are already managing to charge a base rate of, say, 10p for sending 140 bytes (or 160 7-bit chars) I think folks would probably pay it - they have so far! Bundles may mask it, but you're still paying huuuuuuge amounts compared to the data you're shifting, and that's assuming you fill every text message. SMS was an absolute gift to mobile providers.. And it's utterly mental when you consider it.

      It's about £75 per MB on PAYG for SMS payloads...

      1. PsychicMonkey


        when I first had SMS turned on on my phone (as you had to initially!) they were 2.4 pence each!

        The greatest thing the operators did (for them, I may add) was convince people they get "free" texts or calls. They are not free, you paid for them upfront.

        By the way, Bob crow earns over £100K a year, can we squeeze him till we see his pips?

        actually. eeew. I don't want to see his pips....

        1. Ted Treen


          Bob Crow RECEIVES over £100k a year.

          There is no goddamn way he EARNS it.

  9. Dabooka Silver badge

    In charge of the HMRC he may not be...

    but what's worrying is that this muppet is in a position of influence at all. Maybe he should have been told to focus on trying to get his members to put a shift in, rather than trying to comment on telecoms and tax.


    1. bolccg


      or, in the Battlestar Galactica vernacular, "so say we all".

      Can never understand the assumption that to be rich is somehow inherently illegitimate. Or that all people in authority/seniority must, through some magic, be at worst utterly rubbish or at best completely replaceable.

      I've seen very clever people above me in the hierarchy, just as I have seen people take excellent, farsighted decisions that I do not believe I could've spotted in a million years. I've also watched some managers take tough, tough calls that were right and needed to be made but I'm not sure I'd have had the guts to follow through. These people earn their pay and often much more besides. To drive them away or take their rewards from them is not just stupid but I believe fundamentally unethical - people are far too grasping with other people's money.

      Tax has the power of the law behind it and severe penalties for non-compliance. If you are going to essentially partially revoke someone's right to do what they want with their own possessions then you need to be damn sure its necessary and you're getting good value for money out of it.

      Not to give the impression that I am some right wing anti-tax nut. I support paying for great schools, hospitals, a social safety net and so on. Hell, I even worked in the public sector for 4 years after graduation, partially in thanks for my 17 years of essentially free education. I just think many people lose sight of the fundamentals of how it is paid for.

      Anyway, to close, Mr Churchill has some fine words:

      Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        > Can never understand the assumption that to be rich is somehow inherently illegitimate.

        Alan Sugar should provide all the understanding you seek.

        > you need to be damn sure its necessary and you're getting good value for money out of it.

        Which is where the system falls down.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        "Can never understand the assumption that to be rich is somehow inherently illegitimate."

        Illegitimate? I wouldn't call it illegitimate: More like self-congratulatory back-slapping.

        Consider the following argument.

        The usual method of getting rich is to:

        a) Work hard;

        b) Be intelligent;

        c) Be born to wealth;

        d) Steal money;

        e) Get lucky,

        Or some combination of the above.

        Ignoring (c) and (d) let's concentrate on (a) and (b) (which are the more usual routes to money).

        Whether or not an adult human has the ability to work hard and intelligently will largely depend on the interaction between their genetic inheritence and their environment, particularly during their formative years.

        However, humans don't usually get to choose their own genes, nor their own parents, nor their early - and formative - environment.


        The desire and ability to work both hard and intelligently is something you don't get much of a choice about.

        Given that reward in a capitalist society is generally gauged on how hard and intelligently one works it seems quite a small step to conclude that being rewarded for the desire and ability to work both hard and intelligently constitutes being rewarded for something you don't get a choice about, and conversely that not being rewarded for lacking the desire and ability to work both hard and intelligently constitutes not being rewarded for something you don't get a choice about.

        In effect, then, what you're doing is rewarding those people who have more. Yes, I agree they worked harder for it, but then that's how they were conditioned to respond. They're following their programming, just like someone who's lazy.


  10. Dave Murray

    Taxed already

    There is already tax on texts. Or didn't he notice that his mobile network charge him 12p for the texts they advertise at 10p each?

    How exactly would this be squeezing the rich till they pop? I see plenty of young neds texting on their mobiles so surely it would hit the poor harder since it isn't means tested.

    If only there was an intelligence test to become leader of a trade union this guy would have failed at the first question.

    1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      Re intelligence test

      "If you could reason with unionists, there would be no union."

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Texting tax

    So Mr.Crow does not know much about economics, but at least he evidently knows more than Gordon Brown . Why would any government run a deficit budget anyway?

    1. Real Ale is Best


      You run a deficit budget so you have extra money to buy off the voters.

      Failing that (i.e. losing the election) you can then crow about how you spent much more on the public (as if this is necessarily a good thing) than the new government, who are trying to sort out the mess of finances you've left.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down


        A Budget surplus is not always a good thing. It tends to be quight damageing to the world, slows groth and is an extreamly insular way of working. I guess you have even less of a grasp.

        Befor you point to Germany, they only got away with it because of the large defecit being run by other EU economys, which are effectivly the same economy.

        1. bell

          It's just too easy ...

          To point at the difference in quality of grammar and spelling between the pro-fligacy (yes I know) and pro-restraint commentators on government spending.

          For a nearly as easy exercise let's try to extrapolate from there to the quality of the arguments.

        2. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Also

          You're right. Far better if everybody is in debt to everyone else.

          (Some would argue that's the problem with fractional reserve banking.)

    2. tony

      Deficit budget

      You could argue that a deficit budget or two makes sense over an entire economic cycle. But seeing as Brown managed to abolish economic cycles (something Milliband still believes to be true), it is slightly strange.

      1. Steven Jones

        Economic cycle /= Boom & Bust

        To be fair, Gordon Brown said he had abolished "Boom and Bust", not the economic cycles. What he did say he would do is balance the budget (net or investment expenditure) over the economic cycle. However, he failed to define precisely what the economic cycle was (it kept moving), and we all saw what happened with "boom and bust".

        He also engaged in a lot of off-book accounting with things like PFI and public sector pension liabilites. He also presided over a period of debt expansion in the private sector too, and the growth phase was undoubtedly boosted by this and increasing government expenditure. The clue over whether a crash, rather than an economic downturn is coming, is usually asset and commodity price bubbles. Recently it was property, but it's also happened with stocks & shares and even tulips. We aren't really on a commodity price boom - it loosk rather like the price for oil, food & minerals is a sustained one.

        To be fair, Gordon Brown is hardly the first to egnage in such behaviour, but I think that he set new peace time records.

        For those who want to know how governments reduce their debt - well, a well tried and trusted one is to use inflation to decrease the real value of government debt. A bit tough if you have savings and interest rates (especially after tax) are below inflation, but that happened all through the '70s & early '80s. It is, of course, happening now.

    3. Ted Treen

      Too many words!

      "Mr.Crow does not know much."

      Fewer words and says it all.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Governments run a deficit because it is economically responsible.

      If there is inflation (while death and taxes may be guaranteed, inflation is pretty damn close) borrowing is worth more than saving. Borrowed money now takes proportionally less money to repay later when compared to the standard of living.

      The whole "government" angle makes this complicated though. When you and I deficit spend, we have an ultimate term on our debt. We are going to retire, going to die, and sooner or later we want our debt settled. For the government, tomorrow never comes. The government expects to operate into perpetuity and therefore has little motivation to pay off debt in a pure financial perspective. As long as the debt collectors don't come around with a baseball bat, there isn't much reason to pay debt.

      People argue for a surplus so that we can pay down the debt. But as I showed above, there is really little reason to, barring some kind of action from our creditors. Therefore a surplus would indicate that more money was seized from the people than was necessary. That's not a situation the government wants to be in, unless they enjoy being tryanical and dictatorly.

      The final cog in the gears is that while inflation is something independent and random to you and I, it is not for the government. Our currency is fiat, it has value because the government says so. The government can cause inflation by printing more money. They can pay off debt very easily that way, at potentially great cost to the economy and the citizens.

      All in all, there isn't much reason for the government NOT to spend in the deficit range, assuming they are "good" at it. The argument that I and many others who identify with me ideologically would make is that the government is poor at the whole process, from selecting things to spend on all the way through execution. Therefore we want to reduce government spending and tax intake allowing individuals to make better decisions and execute more efficiently.

      1. FoolD

        Borrow from Peter to pay Paul is the best Policy ?

        >> the government expects to operate into perpetuity and therefore has little motivation to pay off debt in a pure financial perspective. As long as the debt collectors don't come around with a baseball bat, there isn't much reason to pay debt.

        The government has the same incentive as everyone else not to run up too much debt; interest payments. As an individual the amount of debt you can sustain is tied to the amount of interest you can pay without compromising your ability to support yourself in other ways. Less interest = more to spend on yourself / others.

        As a country, how much of our current spending is going to just paying off interest on our debts ? We cannot avoid that spending and no cuts, alone, will ever reduce it by a penny. The only way to reduce interest payments is to pay the debt off (or by generating hyper inflation to reduce the effective debt amount, but that is somewhat akin to chopping off your arm to lose weight...).

        Of course, as an individual, you could get more and more credit cards and run up more credit (and therefore more interest) paying one off against the other but - at an individual level - this will eventually fail as you run of of creditors willing to lend to you. Also, the longer it goes on the worse the aftermath will be. Your offspring or relatives may even be hounded to pay off your debts after your demise.

        At a governmental/country/world level this may work but only if *all* other countries are doing the same. However not all countries are. I wonder what China will do with all its stockpiled gold that we sold off cheap to feed our spending ? Keep lending it back to us ? Maybe, maybe not. I'd rather not risk finding out, personally.

        I'm no economist, but surely a more responsible attitude is to use credit when you need it (or for convenience) but pay it off asap to avoid paying too much interest - balancing defecit and surplus over the long term. We might then, as a country, be able to afford to pay for the basics of a what modern society needs.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          re title thingy

          >I'm no economist, but surely a more responsible attitude is to use credit when you need it (or for convenience) but pay it off asap to avoid paying too much interest - balancing defecit and surplus over the long term. We might then, as a country, be able to afford to pay for the basics of a what modern society needs.

          Yes and no. That kind of financial perspective for a business or government would be considered under leveraged. National debt is a little more like a mortgage on your home than a credit card bill. Sure, you don't want to be underwater on your mortgage, but you aren't going to buy a house with cash usually either.

          It isn't the clearest topic in the world. "Too much" is bad, but no one is really sure where "too much" is and where that line is drawn changes based on a ton of variables.

          Keep in mind too a lot of why China is where it is is because their government is artificially manipulating their current to keep the value low. This way the trade deficit will work in their favor. If other nations began manipulating their currency higher, China would stand lose out on a decent chunk of money in terms of debt.

          Note too: I'm not that familiar with whats going on the in UK, I'm talking general principles here.

  12. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    How about....

    We simply pay people a pound-a-go to come and throw rotten fruit and veg at a "stocked" Bob Crow?!

    1. Fluffykins

      Why not?

      Because we're not that good at crowd control, that's why not.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The problem with squeezing the rich... that they're rich.

    The either rearrange things to take advantage of the inherent holes in tweaking the tax system yet again, or, if it's done properly, the fuck of abroad.

    Even the greatest patriot gets pissed off with his country if the country picks on him enough.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why should we squeeze the rich

      I personally can’t reconcile why the more you earn the more tax in terms of a percentage one must pay. We all have a lifetime in which to make our fortune and why should those who do make their fortune subsidise those who don’t.

      I would suggest one tax band for everyone earning over what would be an independently determined minimum wage to live. So just as a starting point if you earn under £20K you pay no tax if you earn over £20k you pay 30% on the amount over.

      Completely fair and transparent.

      Oh and by the way I am not rich and don’t have any political persuasion I choose sides on an issue by issue basis not an ideology, whilst we are at it I would do away with political parties and have the county run by the civil service. I would have accountants running the economy, I would have generals running the MoD, doctors running the NHS and so on...

  14. Andy Scott


    I've got a big problem with that as it means it would cost me even more money to work. As my company uses text messaging to man up shifts.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dumb ass

    So taxing the balls off a group of people that chose to live here is going to raise any revenue? The so called rich are not here as they have to be, they want to spend stupid money in places like Harrods on tat that costs 20000x more that it's worth. I'm all for that. That's money spent here which is money we can tax. Taxing them directly though is a pointless and doomed effort.

  16. Triggerfish


    I use a pre pay mobile at the moment basically because I am a bit skint and don't want to be tied in a contract, I would mind paying an extra pence on the texts they are expensive enough on pre pay as it is thanks.

    It would more likely end up taxing those worse of rather than those better off if you taxed pre pay.

  17. Dave 142


    I'm pretty sure it was just a flippant remark rather than an actual economic policy, no one round here ever makes those though do they?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    We could probably do better by simply charging Bob Crow's union for the tax on lost earnings thanks to their strikes.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    VAT increase?

    Erm, yeah - that would effectively be what the VAT increase will do. But not just against your PAYG texts but plans, out of contract texts, etc, plus everything else.

    Anonymous - cause "he can get me, he's part of the union".

  20. Mines a pint
    Paris Hilton

    Mr Crow start here

    I think Mr Crow could be on to something here, with his "squeeze the rich 'til the pips squeak"

    May I suggest that Mr Crow starts with the London Tube drivers getting an average of £35,856 ( They would seem to be rich to me and they always go on strike for more money.

    He could then go on to normal train drivers getting an average of £35,036 (, also always going on strike for more money.

    Whats that you say Bob Crow is the railway union boss ahh

    Paris well she's rich and like a squeeze

    1. Jim Morrow

      and your point is?

      If choo-choo drivers can get £35K salaries, good luck to them! If you think this is more than they deserve, perhaps you should become a train driver? It's a shit job with anti-social hours, shite management and even shittier working conditions. Who thinks £35K is anywhere near enough compensation to have Beardie or Boris as their boss?

      If there was a decent trade union for readers of El Reg, maybe Comrade Bob Crow could get the likes of Mine's a pint as much as £35K/year? Or better...

  21. steve007UK

    TxT tax

    So the Railway union boss Bob Crow wants to tax text at 1p hmm i have a better idea, why don't he cut rail travel by 1p per ticket and give that money to the goverment.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This would be the Bob Crow...

    who trousers 130k PA or there abouts.

    Maybe they could squeeze him till his pips squeak on pay per view. That might make a few quid.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    I am sure

    that the RMT union think Mr Crow is worth every penny of the £92K pa + expenses they pay him.

    A true socialist.

  24. Desk Jockey

    An idea for Mr Crow

    How about the train companies are fined for every single train that is late and for every route that has high levels of overcrowding because the train companies are too greedy to invest in new carriages? The money raised can then be used to increase capacity and stop subsidising the god awful rail system!

    There is an idea a bit closer to home and within his purview rather than making stupid suggestions for which he is singularly unqualified to have an intelligent opinion on!

  25. Anonymous Coward

    strike tax

    A strike tax may cover the deficit sooner, the way the unions are objecting to not having their side win the election.

  26. Scott 19


    And this blokes in charge of something? What a scary thought.

  27. Mark Serlin

    1bn a year = 147 years to clear the debt?

    What a knob.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      debt != deficit

      @Mark Serlin

      147 bn is the deficit we add on to our debt every year. The total we owe is around 900 bn. So 1 bn/year would reduce the rate of increase from 147 bn to 146 bn, per year.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Another top example

    of why union 'managers' should be kept far away from policy and the media.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Bill Hicks

    "Well, your leaders misspent your hard-earned tax dollars, so you the people now have to tighten your belts and we gotta start paying this back."

    How about the leaders who got us "in this mess" start taking pay cuts as a positive example they care? Oh wait, silly me I wasn't thinking straight, they don't care about us, just how they can manipulate us to do their bidding and manipulate finances to make themselves rich.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think that's why we had an election

      As I recall we did get a chance to be shot of them, I don't think we can blame anyone else for our leaders.

  30. Architecturally Challenged

    Way To Go Mr Crow

    If you look at the penetration and usage of SMS from a demographic perspective then you will find that the “lower” classes would be hit far far harder than the rich which his intended target.

    Those on lower incomes are “typically” more likely to be on PAYG contracts so may get hit even further percentagewise compared to all you can eat SMS packages.

    So as a strategy it would seem as appropriate as some of his other policies.


  31. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Jonathon Green

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      "The UK has a decent minimum wage, it has a maximum working hours per week limit, it has strict health and safety laws, it has strict equality laws, it has a strong industrial tribunal system for those who feel they've been wrong to have their problems rectified."

      None of which it would have without a strong trade union movement, all of which would rapidly go away in the absence of same, and most of which are regularly ignored by employers (particularly in the case of smaller businesses who think have have an opportunity to try to "fly under the radar") whenever they think they can get away with it.

      Speaking just for myself I find the thought of a society in which employers have untramelled power over employees about as appealing as one in which unions have untramelled power over employers, i.e. not at all...



  32. Alex C

    The 1st 6 words of this article...

    ...are enough to tell you that whatever follows is unworkable.

    At least this time when he's told he's an idiot he won't have an excuse to strike.

    Not that he usually needs much of one. Sacking staff for excessive drinking during working hours while in care of safety critical equipment, didn't deter that utter moron.

  33. copsewood

    Very easily avoided

    Someone proposed an email tax a few years ago. The idea never caught on because to collect it you would have to stop people tunneling an email protocol inside an opaque one from the outside of which you can't detect what is going on inside it. As with almost all tax proposals these are taxes on those with the least ability to disguise their real behaviour.

  34. Tin Pot


    Bob Crow Talks Crap Shocker!

    In other news, World Continues To Turn!

    (Megaphone for the newspaper hawker.)

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this an IT site?

    So so many of you seem to be economists. Or your just talking bolooolx.

    The problem with capitalists is, well, everything! That's why we are in this mess, kn b head bankers rolling bad debts into "packages" with 'good' debts and selling on to each other, with no way of tracing it.

    There are some really scummy responses here, proud eh?

    1. EvilGav 1

      Oh dear

      "knob head bankers" would actually be Actuaries, not bankers.

      And they didn't roll bad debts into packages with good debts, they sliced bad debts up into smaller packages, creating AAA packages from essentially bad debts.

      And the actuary who came up with the original calculation, that a large part of the world-wide bond market was based on, actually warned everyone that his calculation had an inherent flaw back in the late 1990's - but he was largely ignored.

      And if you think that taxing people into the stone age is fine and dandy, thats great for you, but frankly i'm sick and tired of being continuously targetted as an easy mark to strip more money from - single, home owner, drive a sports car and love a drink or 10.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    A better solution to the deficit problem would be to remove the legal protection unionized staff enjoy currently. Without the threat of strike action public sector workers would be forced to accept reasonable pensions (the current unfunded liability of which is actually higher than the current deficit) and would result in huge cost savings elsewhere such as in the tube network where £35k a year a tube drivers could be replaced by automation.

    Also get rid of all the QUANGOs that contain the word “council” in their name such as the Arts, Milk & Cheese etc.

  37. Rick Byers

    @ Obviously!

    I smell a socialist brother (or sister) here.

    If capitalism is so bad, please feel free to migrate to North Korea, where a great future awaits as a farmer!

  38. Andy 73

    It bears repeating

    Bob 'Tax the rich!' Crow earned £133,183 in 2009

    The trouble with socialists is they seem unable to spot when someone is taking the p***

    The trouble with capitalists is they seem unable to know when to stop.

    The trouble with economists is they believe their latest model is complete.

    The trouble with IT guys is they know it all.

  39. Martin Usher

    He's not a real baron, surely?

    Apparently barons are only bad news if they don't inherit the title or something like that.

    Its a silly idea from a union leader -- even if it did raise tons of money the govt would just find plenty of deserving causes to use it on. But whatever he is, whatever he say, he's not a "baron" lording over the rest of us. Those people are found elsewhere (in govt' less).

  40. LUke Ireland


    That's the Bob Crow that took a 10% pay rise to £94K this year. Plus numerous benefits probably including a mobile phone paid for by his union members.

    Presumably he doesn't think that makes him rich?

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



    Why would government need to borrow money from whomever at intrest when it has the right to make law, collect taxes and produce money.. in fact they kind of do the last one now, but they are called government bonds and they are simply a promise to pay but are still perfectly legal, because really that is all money is..

    So why would we continue to pay interest to private banks for money they didnt really put into the system when our governments could simply produce the money interest free?

    Have you ever wondered by your local bank was called a branch?

    Also look up fiat currency and fractional reserve banking.

  42. Anonymous Coward

    not good at what he does

    Bob Crow can just f**k off - hopefully sooner rather than later. he has already demonstrated

    a total lack of knowledge of his chosen industry - along with a lack of awareness of his end affected customer base....and now he thinks he can make some form of comment , glib that it is, about technology and UK national deficits.

    the idiot.

  43. OldBiddie

    This *IS* a title

    Clown Shoes.

    That is all.

  44. Graham 25
    Thumb Up

    Flog a Bob Friday

    How about a public humiliation of Bob Crowe every Friday afternoon - nothing too harmful, just some good old fashioned sponges and rotten eggs. It'll make more money than extra revenue from texts.

    1. Ted Treen

      Already happened once...

      I saw Crow on "Have I Got News for You" - and he attempted a battle of wits with Ian Hislop.

      He was not just hopelessly outgunned, he didn't even realise that he was completely out of ammo to start with.

      He's an utter moron.

  45. Anonymous Coward

    Bob Crow

    Is that the same to$$er that won't accept that having a Public sector larger than the Private sector is even remotely bad?

    7.5 million in the Public sector, 2 million are front line staff giving us 5.5 million managers, admins, clerks, consultants, IT etc.

    1. BorkedAgain


      Just a thought, but this may not be the best forum to lump IT and Consultants in amongst the problems. Many of the people around here work in those sectors...

      Oh hang on, public sector IT spending you mean? In that case you may have a point. Those guys do rather take the whole packet of chocolate hobnobs...

  46. Anonymous Coward

    Does it matter..?

    I don't think it matters how much extra tax is accrued from wherever; it'll only get pissed away somewhere, and not put towards easing the deficit...

  47. Anonymous Coward

    Even better

    Tax every use of a 'txt-speek' acronym. That will either raise billions or get people to write proper English. Either one is better than the current situation.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    That's the problem with working in IT

    It seems to have a disproportionate amount of tory supporting tosspots. Up socialism.

  49. Bod

    Rich Bob

    Problem with "Socialist" Bob is his rants about the rich are a joke when the man has a £95k salary and total annual income of £145k after benefits + massive expenses, and took a 12% pay rise last year.

  50. Anonymous Coward

    This reminds me of...

    ...any time the ArchIdiot of Canterbury opens his mouth on a political issue. Who? What? Why?

    Bob Crow, by all means have an opinion, but you're nothing to do with tax avoidance legislation and you shouldn't be advocating taxing everyone who sends a text message. I'm not avoiding tax; I'm paying my taxes. Why should I be taxed more?

    Don't we already pay VAT on text messages as part of our phone bills? Wouldn't that be like taxing a tax? Is that even legal?

    1. Ted Treen
      Big Brother

      Tax on tax?

      Unfortunately it's already been done.

      Petrol & Diesel have a hefty excise duty charged;- and VAT is charged on that excise duty.

      I'm sure there are bound to be other examples.

      Booze? Baccy?

      Gubmints AND Revenuers seem to forget that it's OUR money - it is NOT a pot into which they can dip whenever the whim takes them and for whatever they want.

      If only there were some effective way we could remind them sharply of this point.

  51. Roger Mew

    Now we know!!

    How typical, increase the price and down would go texts, people would just go to calls which are often free to regular persons, emails, and so on. The thinking is the same as railway philosophy has been after losses on railways, put the price up, they still have not realized that people will then just avoid that thing. See for example the post, up the price, down the letters.

    To really reduce taxes one has to reduce costs.

    The Labour cock ups and philosophy and always spend what you have not got and give that to your mates has left the UK in the merde again, phucked up our military from which it frankly cannot recover.

    How about a levy on unionists and labour backers. This is an easy plan, as people leave the group raise the cost / tax to cover the lost revenue. I do wonder how long before these twits cotton on to the mauvais philosophy.

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