Archive for November, 2009
From The Independent
By Andrew Grice
With 20 per cent of the population still stuck in poverty, the report calls for sweeping reform of the tax and welfare systems under which higher earners would finance more generous, universal benefits. The £43,888-a-year ceiling on national insurance contributions (NICs) would be abolished, so people earning more would pay NICs at 11 per cent on all their income above that level, instead of the current 1 per cent.
The study, by the Labour-affiliated Fabian Society and Webb Memorial Trust, argues that Gordon Brown’s “quiet redistribution” of wealth now lacks public support – and declares that one of the reasons is Labour’s tough language about benefit fraud and claimants.
Its criticism that Labour’s approach has “failed” is coupled with a stark warning to the Conservative leader, David Cameron. The authors say that, in the long run, Tory plans to reduce payments to the middle classes such as tax credits and target resources on the most vulnerable would undermine the attack on poverty. They warn that moving away from universal benefits would create a “them and us” society, leading to less public money being spent on the poor because people on middle incomes would not support it.
The Solidarity Society, due to be published next week, proposes that middle-income groups retain benefits such as tax credits so they keep a stake in the welfare system, allowing governments to spend more on lifting the poor out of poverty. It says this would end the divide between taxpayers and claimants, pointing to the way the tax-funded NHS still enjoys widespread public support.
From NRO by Mark Steyn
In order to save the planet from global roasting, it seems entirely reasonable to ask Mr. and Mrs. Joe Peasant to subordinate their freedom of movement to an annual “carbon allowance” preventing them flying hither and yon and devastating the environment. As Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, explains:
Hotel guests should have their electricity monitored; hefty aviation taxes should be introduced to deter people from flying; and iced water in restaurants should be curtailed, the world’s leading climate scientist has told the Observer.
Rajendra Pachauri? Hey, if you’re manning the VIP lounge at Heathrow, that name may ring a bell:
Dr Rajendra Pachauri flew at least 443,243 miles on IPCC business in this 19 month period. This business included honorary degree ceremonies, a book launch and a Brookings Institute dinner, the latter involving a flight of 3500 miles.
Wow. 443,243 miles. How many flying polar bears does Dr. Pachauri kill in an average quarter? Well, not to worry, he probably offsets his record-breaking ursocide with carbon credits from carbon billionaire Al Gore.
And in any case it’s okay to devastate the planet on IPCC business — plus the occasionalcricket match:
So strong is his love for cricket that his colleagues recall the time the Nobelwinner took a break during a seminar in New York and flew in to Delhi over the weekend to attend a practice session for a match before flying back. Again, he flew in for a day, just to play that match.
And why not? Aside from a slight increase in the risk of polar bears dropping from the skies onto stray Indian bowlers and wicket-keepers, where’s the harm?
P.S. I like the headline on Dr. Pachauri’s climate’n’cricket story: “Heat On Cricket Pitch Warms This Climate Change Laureate.” If you’re waiting for some journalist to ask him about the contradictions between his lifestyle and the one he wants the rest of us to submit to, that sound you hear is cricketers chirping.
From Times Online
by Jonathan Foreman
Any celebrity flying the green flag needs glittering eco-credentials. But how do they justify the fleet of customised planes, the luxury homes and the posse of servants?
Hypocrisy is the vice we find hardest to forgive, but it’s also the one we most enjoy discovering in others. And nothing piques our interest more than eco-hypocrisy as practised by the “green” celebrities who have been spouting green virtue but spewing out hundreds of tons of carbon from their private jets or multiple holiday homes around the globe.
There was Sheryl Crow, who had called upon the public to refrain from using more than one square of toilet paper per visit (“except on those pesky occasions when two or three are required”) and who was leading a Stop Global Warming concert tour across America. It was revealed that while Crow travelled in a biodiesel tour bus, her 30-person entourage followed in a fleet of 13 gas-guzzling vehicles.
John Travolta notoriously encouraged the British public to do its bit to fight global warming — after flying into London on one of his five, yes, five private jets (one of which is a Boeing 707). In 2006 his piloting hobby produced an estimated 800 tons of carbon emissions, more than a hundred times the output of the average Briton, according to the Carbon Trust.
It is less well known that Tom Cruise — who has campaigned for the LA-based environmental group Earth Communications Office — also has an air fleet and a licence to pilot his five planes, including a top-of-the-line customised Gulfstream jet he bought for his wife, Katie Holmes.
Harrison Ford, who is vice-chairman on the board of Conservation International, voices public-service messages for an environmental federation called EarthShare, and once shaved his chest hair to illustrate the effects of deforestation, is another hobby pilot. He once owned a Gulfstream but now makes do with a smaller Cessna Citation Sovereign eight-seater jet, four propeller planes and a helicopter.
Oprah Winfrey, who preaches eco-virtue from her TV pulpit, travelled in a 13-seat Gulfstream IV private jet for years — the preferred model for celebrities and the super-rich. (She has replaced it with a faster Bombardier Global Express.) The public first became aware of her private-jet habit when her plane had to make a forced landing in California in 2005; it was reminded of it this year after one of her stewardesses was fired for allegedly having sex with the pilot while Oprah and other passengers were asleep.
Jennifer Aniston told reporters that to save the Earth’s precious water resources she brushes her teeth while in the shower. But she also flew a hairdresser to Europe to accompany her on a recent publicity tour for the film Marley & Me.
The Jobless Gender Gap – Unemployment for men is growing at a much faster pace than for women.
Could you get by after losing 40% of your pay? – That’s likely what many Americans are doing as they return to work but suffer huge reductions in pay
The ‘Greek Problem’ – As Athens pushes for economic and budgetary change, skeptics should suspend their disbelief.
Business Activity in U.S. Unexpectedly Accelerated – Rising sales, spurred in part by government incentives, and growing demand from abroad have led to a drawdown in inventories that will boost production and sustain the recovery. Wait and see what happens when the government stops spending
European Consumer Prices Rise First Time in 7 Months – European consumer prices increased for the first time in seven months in November led by energy costs as the economy recovered from the worst slump since World War II.
The 5 biggest Wall Street conspiracies – Once there was a simpler time, when pretty much everything that happened in the financial world had a straightforward explanation.