Saturday 18 July 2015

Feel free to tax me a little more, I think I can take it

I found a blog hiding on my hard drive that I felt was the most important thing in the world when I wrote it. I came in drunk one Saturday night, and decided that the reason everything is wrong is that we have been conned by the ruling classes into believing it is crass to talk about money. I decided that I had to write a blog detailing the financial ins and outs of myself and my family (to the best of my knowledge) thus setting the snowball rolling so that we can all understand each other better.

I wrote it, it was very sweary (and written a few nights before the recent budget, out of annoyance about inheritance tax cuts) and then decided I should at least hold off and edit it a bit before publishing. When I read it in the cold light of day I decided it is crass to talk about money, my family would be very unhappy with me for broadcasting their finances to anyone who wants to read it, and left it on the hard drive.

I have changed my mind about it again now.

There follows a heavily edited version, in which I wimp out, and miss my own point entirely.

Dear Messrs Cameron and Osborne, please take back your tax break, I don't need it, or even qualify for it, and if I don't need it I suspect nobody really does.For clarification, I have been very lucky, along with the rest of my family. My grandmother died a year ago, and left us a fuck ton of money, hoorah! I miss my grandmother every day, like all grandsons do, but the xxxxxx quid she left me makes it a bit easier. Not all of us can say that right? (I really do miss her by the way, she never meant to get all that money, and while she was alive she gave everything she could to anyone she felt needed it, and was the kindest human being I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, but a house in walking distance of Guildford Station, is a house in walking distance of Guildford Station, and this is a different world to the 1950s).I know it isn't very British to talk about money, but that might be what got us into all this shit in the first place. To me, xxxxxx quid is genuinely, a fuck ton of money. I put it into a deposit on a house I really liked. I live in it now, it is brilliant. I am still the same sad, miserable son of a bitch I was when I lived in a council house on the other side of town. But I have a nice house now. I also feel horribly guilty for all the people still living on the estate we used to who can't afford their rent, let alone the price of getting out of there.The point is, I would have been more than happy to pay tax on that money, and have a smaller deposit. It would not bother me at all, and that is on a mere xxxxxx pounds. Take 40 percent of that, I am poor(ish) and don't understand numbers that big anyway.My Dad is an accountant, he dealt with my grandmothers estate, he might well think differently, since I only got a certain percentage (which I am still doing little happy dances about). He might not, because he can do maths, and knows that under Mr Cameron's new inheritance tax laws, we might not be paying tax on it. I think that we did at the time, but we were fine with that, because it is, as I said, a fuck ton of money that we didn't have before. And unexpected, unearned fuck tons of money are exactly the sort of things that should be taxed.I bought a house, my sister did some things, my brother did some things, my mum and dad did some things. None of the things we did were life-saving, and we would all be fine without it. (Apologies, a lot of the important stuff is being edited out for the sake of family harmony, this is ensuring none of this makes sense anymore, I could have spoken to everyone individually and asked if they minded me spewing their intimate details over the internet to make some useless socialist point, but I thought it might create the very problem I was trying to avoid, so I didn't).

Seriously, this is what happens to fuck tons of money.And they want to move the inheritance tax threshold up.Really.I would not benefit from it,I would happily pay tax on what I have already inherited.Inherited wealth is not earned wealth.Fuck you, pay some tax on your mum's house, you are not entitled to anything.Yes I am a socialist, and possibly worse (no, I don't know what I meant by that either) and I know that owning my own home from inherited wealth is probably against everything I believe in , but I live in a capitalist society and can't change that, so I decided not to suffer on principles (Dad taught me that too).Apologies to my entire family, I hope you don't think too badly of me for actually using numbers for once (I haven't, I edited it out, I am a total wimp, sorry to everyone else).Power to the people (not a joke, apparently)

And there you have it, a genuine drunken rant, edited for Britishness. Maybe one day we won't find it crass to talk about money, and people will openly discuss their salaries by the water cooler, and realise that that is why the 'crass to talk about money' thing came about. So that employers can pay some people much less than others, safe in the knowledge that they will never find out. I once worked somewhere where it was written into my contract that I could not discuss my salary with any other employee. Nice trick, didn't work, most of us were on less than the original minimum wage (this was before it came in) a lot were proper Essex council estate boys, and they just can't help themselves but tell everyone what they earn (can I still stereotype Essex council estate boys? Well I'm going to anyway). So we all knew, and we all used it in wage reviews to make sure we didn't get skinned any worse than anybody else.

I talk to plenty of people who say 'oh I'm not really that well off' when I know that their household income is at least four times larger than ours. I claim to not be that well off myself, when compared to my former neighbours, I am pretty damn good thanks. Relativity is everything, and the more we have, the more expensive our lives become, bringing the illusion of poverty. It is just an illusion, trust me, I did the real thing for long enough.

I may be sober now, but I still say you can stick your inheritance tax break. Take the lot, I don't need my parents stuff, and the illusion of a meritocracy is a little shakier than it was before the breaks.

Saturday 11 July 2015

Close the Libraries then, we don't need them anyway

I get the feeling that libraries are obsolete, like public baths and most other great victorian philanthropic institutions. Don't get me wrong, I love books, and I loved libraries 30 years ago when I needed them. But now even the poorest in our society has a device in their pocket capable of downloading and reading more books than you could ever hope to finish in a lifetime. And the best of them are free now.

There may be an element of playing devils advocate here, since I have friends who are librarians, and I love the concept. However, we keep being told that cuts must be made, and I would rather we found other ways of borrowing books than trying to find other ways to stop depressed people being left all alone to finish themselves off. And in the same way as live TV broadcasts will probably go the way of the dodo, so will the printed word, and if not the printed word, then certainly the big, beautiful cathedrals to it that we have built for the purposes of never having the thing you wanted to read in at the moment (but I can order it for you dear, 2 weeks tops).

I have not had access to a library since I moved out to the sticks 11 years ago. We have a library bus that comes by on a Friday, but I'm at work then and can't use it. This doesn't bother me as I have been using the charity shop/car boot sale merry-go-round book reading method instead, which does a bit of good at the same time, and generates money for good causes, while also ensuring I always read the latest must-read book club type books a year or so after everyone else, and for only 50p.

When I was a kid though, I went to the local library every week, grabbed a huge pile of Doctor Who novelisations, rapaciously read them, and eventually got a gold book track badge for my troubles. And while I was doing my A levels I borrowed many piles of weighty textbooks that I couldn't possibly have afforded to buy in order to plagiarise them for my extended essays (which I got As for by the way, no internet to check if I had cheated back then, it works both ways). So I do appreciate their uses.

But now it is different, we have e-readers and the internet, I can read anything that is out of copyright for absolutely nothing (thank you Project Gutenberg) and while I could not plagiarise it as blatantly anymore, I could find all the source material I could ever need at the click of a button. And it wouldn't just be those books on the subject that my favourite head librarian in Bideford had chosen to put in there (Hi Rose, your books got me those As, thanks, good choices) I now have access to everything ever written, which is a little daunting, but equally brilliant.

So in the same way as public bathhouses were made obsolete by all of us having plumbing and soap in our own homes, the availability of information and books to all and sundry that the internet has set free has probably made libraries as we know them obsolete. I shall mourn them, as an integral part of my late twentieth century youth, but like those stove-pipe hatted philanthropists who set them up, I think their work is done. Maybe we can re-purpose the buildings as community centres instead?

Please tell me I'm wrong.