Blog Archive

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Crumbling State, Our Week in Mallorca, Highest Taxes Ever

British schools are literally crumbling 

174 schools across the UK had to face an emergency closure at the start of the school year due to RAAC concrete which crumbles after about 30 years. The problem has been known about for years but government has failed to act. It is due to under-investment in public services.

"Between 1949 and 1978, according to an important paper by Jagjit Chadha and Issam Samiri for the Productivity Institute, net public sector investment averaged 4.5% of GDP. It then fell precipitately in the Thatcher years to zero, before climbing under New Labour from those depths to nearly 3% of GDP in 2010. Austerity prompted another steep fall, since when it has bumped along at about 2% of GDP."
The Guardian 4th September 2023

We need more investment to fix our crumbling state and make our people richer. The data speaks for itself:

"In France, arch-representative of the economic EU corpse to which Brexiters claim we were shackled, public investment has run at levels half as high as ours again for the past 20 years. As a result, the country works – from its high-speed train network to mandatory enrolment of three-year-olds in nursery schools. A generous welfare system and sector-wide collective bargaining arrangements mean it has much less poverty than Britain – and the investment in research and development is paying off too, with France registering twice as many patents as we manage. It has more companies in the global top 100 than any other European country. True, the tax to GDP ratio is 45% and social conditions in some run-down suburbs are execrable, but in terms of levelling up, its four new battery gigafactories in the depressed north-east stand in stark contrast to our paltry efforts. But, as France’s six out of Europe’s 10 richest billionaires (more than any other country) would concede, the overall approach leads to economic success. In the 21st century, the route to prosperity is not lower but higher taxes, which buy infrastructure, fairness, R&D and high skills."
The Guardian 4th September 2023

A week in Mallorca

A have just spent a week relaxing in warm Mallorca. Here are a few of my thoughts and comments:

Went to Port de Pollença beach. It was a hot day (27C) but for 5 minutes there were a few drops of rain. The Spanish people on the beach rushed for cover under the pine tree where we were staying for shade. When the rain stopped, they went swimming in the sea !!!!

Port de Alcúdia 

We went for walks around the Finca where we were staying. Lots of beautiful ancient olive trees and fig trees everywhere, heavy with fruit. There were a few ripe figs we could reach and they were quite delicious! Green or black varieties,  so sweet you can eat the whole fruit and imagine you are eating jam!! It became our evening dessert: searching for a few ultra ripe figs. Better than anything on the menu! Unfortunately they don't seem to interest the locals and the majority of them were rotting on the trees. We ate at a beachfront restaurant in Port de Pollença - the waiter was French and gave us some excellent local tips on the best beaches - and the whole terrace was covered in a 200 year old fig tree that produced plenty of figs.

Lunch at Port de Pollença under 200 year old fig tree

A Fiat 500e was our rental car. It proved very stressful finding an available charger that worked. And considerably more expensive than petrol. Won't do that again! Instead of driving peacefully to the plcaes we had highlighted to visit, we ended up planning our day trips around public chargers, many of which didn't work, were being used or were too slow to serve any real purpose. I have learned my lesson! Now I know why it was the cheapest car available at Avis.

We stayed at Monnaber Nou, a beautiful Mallorcan Finca

As always in Spain, we very much enjoyed the fabulous quality jamon that you find everywhere. This is a picture of the ham counter at the local Mercadona (they have over 1600 stores in Spain and 44 in Portugal). The least expensive ham is on the left and gets more expensive as you move right (from about €3 per pack to €10 per pack). We bought a pack at €7 at it was amazing!

The Jamon counter at Mercadona in Sa Pobla

Highest Taxes Ever

Tax levels in the UK are at their highest since records began 70 years ago - and are unlikely to come down, a leading think tank says. Here is the quote from The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS):

"At the time of the last general election, UK tax revenues amounted to around 33% of national income. By the time of the next election in 2024, on current forecasts, taxes will amount to around 37% of national income – a level not sustained in the post-war period. Compared with a world in which taxes had stayed at 33% of national income, the UK government will be raising upwards of £100 billion more in tax revenues next year. This is equivalent to around £3,500 more per household, though of course the tax rise will not be shared equally."
IFS, 29th September 2023

IFS Data. Not bad for the low tax Tory party.

Given our crumbling state, either the money is poorly spent (i.e. wasted) or it's not nearly enough!! Or maybe it's both of those.

Quote for the Month

"Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe."

My thoughts above on tax and the state of our state remind me of this old quote:

LOUIS XIV’S FINANCE minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, famously declared that “the art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing.” 

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