Balls attacks Universal Benefits 73


New Labour’s “Big idea” is to cut winter fuel allowance for wealthy pensioners, thus saving £100 million a year, or 0.08% of the annual deficit. This is plainly irrelevant, but is given such prominence because the media have to maintain the fiction of significant policy differences between the three neo-con parties, and because at the same time we are supposed to get used to, in the words of Johann Lamont, New Labour’s opposition to the “Something for nothing society”, otherwise known as benefits for the needy.

In my own family, pensioners who would already be entitled to pension credit do not get it because they will not apply; they see the basic state pension as an entitlement to which they paid in their working lives, but anything means tested as charity to relieve poverty, the idea of which they find demeaning after a lifetime of work. I understand their attitude and find it, at root, noble.

I cannot understand why this country is unable to produce a single unified tax system, under which those with far too much money are relieved of a significant portion of it, ordinary folk pay reasonable taxes and those without enough money, including the unemployed, underemployed and pensioners, receive enough money for their needs, including looking after their children or personal care. A single, unified form every resident fills that removes stigma and removes overpayment, underpayment and the obscenity of the super-rich tax dodgers.

Meanwhile the odious Balls plans to find £100 million from pensioners while planning to blow that 1,000 times over and blow $100 Billion on the entirely worthless Trident missile system. Anybody who believes New Labour is the answer to any of our problems is certifiable.


73 thoughts on “Balls attacks Universal Benefits

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  • Kempe

    I’ve not studied this proposal in great detail but has Ed allowed for the cost of administrating the means test? He could find this is actually greater than the money saved.

  • John Goss

    Arbed, I’ve put this on the Anna Ardin thread. But thought in case you don’t see it it is important enough to post here.

    I’ve spotted something which I consider to be serious. Look at the list for Bilderberg at The Grove, Watford, starting on Thursday through to Sunday.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10095943/Osborne-Clarke-and-Balls-to-attend-Bilderberg-Group-meeting.html

    Carl Bildt is on it, as is Stefan Löfven, Party Leader, Social Democratic Party (SAP), as is Henry Kissinger (endorser of the Don’t be Evil, and Julian’s article for the NYT) and also there is one of the ‘witch-doctor’ authors, Eric Schmidt. These people together with Osborne and Balls are going to have Julian’s fate as a main item for the rulers of the world (as they see themselves). Is there time to get more of Wikileaks supporters to the Fringe Festival? I’m sure there will be some there anyway.

  • KingofWelshNoir

    @Habbabkuk

    You disappoint me! I enjoy your posts when you are not trying to wind people up, and you usually make some pretty cogent and well-thought-out points, but that defence of the Bilderbergers was a bit lame. Here we have the most powerful people in the world, who are also some of the busiest in the world, clearing their diaries once a year and heading off to a secret location for four days. In previous years they have also availed themselves of the services of the local air force and navy to protect their privacy. And for years the press colluded in keeping the whole thing secret. But not to worry, you say with all the bland reassurance of a cop telling us to ‘Move along’, it’s just because they are afflicted with an excess of ‘meeting-itis’. With respect I suggest it amounts to a lot more than that. No conspiracy? Maybe not, it depends on how you define it, but it certainly feels like a conspiracy against the common man.

  • KingofWelshNoir

    John Goss

    ‘Thanks for spelling out the purpose of these power-mongers.’

    A pleasure, my friend. I’ve been to Cambodia. I’ve seen what Henry Kissinger gets up to when he thinks no one is looking.

  • N_

    “I cannot understand why this country why this country is unable to produce […]”

    Maybe the construction is rhetorical, but the answer is because the people who own this country don’t want it.

    All my life I have despised politicians, but nonetheless I think the following is a very fair question: who do you vote for if you want a proper health service, a proper welfare state, the renationalisation of the rail system, no Olympic-type scams, etc. – all of these big things which are obviously socially right. Please, no-one tell me that the answer is this or that tiny party, or a new party, or militating within one of the mainstream parties. Parliamentary democracy is mind-rotting propaganda bullshit, and is part of the problem. It is not the route to a wake-up of the vast majority which is an absolutely necessary feature of any progress whatsoever. Not that I am pushing an ‘enlightenment’ or ‘ding the bill’ line; I say “feature”, not “prerequisite”.

  • N_

    I probably won’t be able to make it to the Bilderberg fringe, but it would be great if people paid special attention to the security guys protecting the event.

    At previous Bilderbergs, they have apparently not belonged to the host state.

    Maybe engage some of them in conversation?

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Guano :

    “So you think the idea of a welfare state arose out of a particular external threat, rather than out of a millenium of feudal and industrial oppression.”
    _____________-

    I certainly didn’t say that and I don’t think you can reasonably infer that from my comments.

    But I may be wrong, so please refer me to the words in my post which give you that impression.

    Thank you.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ KingofWelshNoir :

    Well, I’m sorry I disappoint you. Let me try and make amends by responding to a few of your points:

    1/. I don’t think I was trying to ‘defend’ the Bilderberg group, lamely or otherwise. I’m simply not very fussed by the occasion and, for the reasons given, certainly don’t think that their annual meeting amounts to a ‘conspiracy’. I note that you also don’t follow the ‘conspiracy’ interpretation – or, at least, you seem to be saying that that description is a matter of feeling, ie of perception.

    2/. The ‘most powerful people in the world’? Hmmm. To take no more than John Goss’s post at 17h17 – Stefan Loefven? Ed Balls? Eric Schmidt? I think the presence (he probably turns up every year) of Henry Kissinger is more indicative – certainly influential, perhaps even powerful a few decades ago, but a burnt-out case without either influence or power nowadays, he’s there because he was a big name. I suspect that if you saw the entire list of invitees you would find that many are there because they are/were famous, or ‘in’, or have convinced others that they have something ‘relevant’ to contribute. Think David Frost, think those who are famous because they are famous. But this might also be a matter where perceptions rule.

    3/.’Clearing their diaries’ : there are any number of (international)get-togethers nowadays which take up a lot of time but are neither conspiracies nor – worse – productive. In the same way as some people set great store on attending the Queen’s annual garden party, some set like store on attending Bilderberg.

    4/. Protection and privacy: I think that the presence of local security has more to do with personal protection than with privacy and is something which is incumbent on any civilised host country. But even if protection of privacy were the prime reason, I would say “so what – is that proof of a conspiracy?”. And add that the secrecy of the meetings (as well as the names of the participants) is rather short-lived.

    ——

    All for now! Could say more, but I must visit other threads (payment by results, you know) 🙂

  • John Goss

    Having had a little time to study the Bilderbergers in more depth these are likely to be involved in how Wikileaks can be stopped from revealing the truth about their activities and those of their friends.

    Stefan Löfven, Party Leader, Social Democratic Party (SAP)
    Carl Bildt, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs
    Eric E. Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google Inc.
    Anders Borg, Swedish Minister for Finance
    David H. Petraeus, General, U.S. Army (Retired)
    Richard N. Perle, Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
    George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer
    Peter Mandelson, Chairman, Global Counsel; Chairman, Lazard International
    Henry A. Kissinger, Chairman, Kissinger Associates, Inc.

    Kenneth Clarke, Cabinet Minister
    Robert D. Kaplan, Chief Geopolitical Analyst, Stratfor

    Kaplan and his company have had a recent success with the capture of Jeremy Hammond who has pleaded guilty to hacking Stratfor files and could face up to ten years in prison.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-22703579

  • Samenleving

    “I cannot understand why this country is unable to produce a single unified tax system, under which those with far too much money are relieved of a significant portion of it, ordinary folk pay reasonable taxes and those without enough money, including the unemployed, underemployed and pensioners, receive enough money for their needs, including looking after their children or personal care.”

    Oh, you mean like Zakat – as enjoined on Muslims over 1300 years ago, and largely forgotten since the overthrow – significantly, by usury finance capital – of the Ottoman Caliphate?

  • fedup

    O/T

    It started with US Navy teaching dolphins to attach explosives onto the hulls of the enemy ships. Now Russian prisoners are using cats as their mules, and Brazilian prisoners have started using their cats as proper mules.

    Cat Nabbed Smuggling Cell Phones to Russian Prison

    Feline tries to smuggle mobile phones and chargers into Russian jail just months after similar attempt in Brazil.

    The evil genius of the incarcerated bastards is amazing. The convicts in 21st century are no longer content with building sailing ship models to the scale, from old match sticks, and used toothpicks. Instead they are training their cats, pet mice, and birds to get up to all manner of crimes and misdemeanour’s.

  • Someone

    “- Public announcement GEAB N°60 (December 16, 2011) -”

    “With £1.8 trillion of public money invested in banks to prevent their collapse in 2008, the British taxpayers are in fact those who have paid the most for the rescue of financial institutions. And the British government may well continue to exclude this amount from its public debt calculations by claiming it’s an “investment”, de facto, fewer and fewer people consider that the banks in the City will recover from the crisis, especially since its worsening in the second half of 2011: the shares purchased by the Government in fact are already worthless. The “UK hedge fund” is on the brink of collapse (25) … and thanks to David Cameron and the City, it’s isolated with no one to come to its aid, neither in Europe nor the United States.

    With the Chinese bubble (26) about to join the European recession and the US depression, the 2012 storm will determine whether David Cameron and his finance minister George Osborne are worthy descendants of the great British sailors.”

    http://www.leap2020.eu/Global-systemic-crisis-USA-2012-2016-An-insolvent-and-ungovernable-country_a8481.html

  • Someone

    Taken from another forum…

    Bilderbergers

    “Attendees:

    Chairman
    FRA Castries, Henri de Chairman and CEO, AXA Group

    DEU Achleitner, Paul M. Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Deutsche Bank AG
    DEU Ackermann, Josef Chairman of the Board, Zurich Insurance Group Ltd
    GBR Agius, Marcus

    Former Chairman, Barclays plc
    GBR Alexander, Helen Chairman, UBM plc
    USA Altman, Roger C. Executive Chairman, Evercore Partners
    FIN Apunen, Matti Director, Finnish Business and Policy Forum EVA
    USA Athey, Susan Professor of Economics, Stanford Graduate School of Business
    TUR Aydıntaşbaş, Aslı Columnist, Milliyet Newspaper
    TUR Babacan, Ali Deputy Prime Minister for Economic and Financial Affairs
    GBR Balls, Edward M. Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
    PRT Balsemão, Francisco Pinto Chairman and CEO, IMPRESA
    FRA Barré, Nicolas Managing Editor, Les Echos
    INT Barroso, José M. Durão President, European Commission
    FRA Baverez, Nicolas Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
    FRA Bavinchove, Olivier de Commander, Eurocorps
    GBR Bell, John Regius Professor of Medicine, University of Oxford
    ITA Bernabè, Franco Chairman and CEO, Telecom Italia S.p.A.
    USA Bezos, Jeff Founder and CEO, Amazon.com
    SWE Bildt, Carl Minister for Foreign Affairs
    SWE Borg, Anders Minister for Finance
    NLD Boxmeer, Jean François van Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO, Heineken N.V.
    NOR Brandtzæg, Svein Richard President and CEO, Norsk Hydro ASA
    AUT Bronner, Oscar Publisher, Der Standard Medienwelt
    GBR Carrington, Peter Former Honorary Chairman, Bilderberg Meetings
    ESP Cebrián, Juan Luis Executive Chairman, Grupo PRISA
    CAN Clark, W. Edmund President and CEO, TD Bank Group
    GBR Clarke, Kenneth Member of Parliament
    DNK Corydon, Bjarne Minister of Finance
    GBR Cowper-Coles, Sherard Business Development Director, International, BAE Systems plc
    ITA Cucchiani, Enrico Tommaso CEO, Intesa Sanpaolo SpA
    BEL Davignon, Etienne Minister of State; Former Chairman, Bilderberg Meetings
    GBR Davis, Ian Senior Partner Emeritus, McKinsey & Company
    NLD Dijkgraaf, Robbert H. Director and Leon Levy Professor, Institute for Advanced Study
    TUR Dinçer, Haluk President, Retail and Insurance Group, Sabancı Holding A.S.
    GBR Dudley, Robert Group Chief Executive, BP plc
    USA Eberstadt, Nicholas N. Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy, American Enterprise Institute
    NOR Eide, Espen Barth Minister of Foreign Affairs
    SWE Ekholm, Börje President and CEO, Investor AB
    DEU Enders, Thomas CEO, EADS
    USA Evans, J. Michael Vice Chairman, Goldman Sachs & Co.
    DNK Federspiel, Ulrik Executive Vice President, Haldor Topsøe A/S
    USA Feldstein, Martin S. Professor of Economics, Harvard University; President Emeritus, NBER
    FRA Fillon, François Former Prime Minister
    USA Fishman, Mark C. President, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research
    GBR Flint, Douglas J. Group Chairman, HSBC Holdings plc
    IRL Gallagher, Paul Senior Counsel
    USA Geithner, Timothy F. Former Secretary of the Treasury
    USA Gfoeller, Michael Political Consultant
    USA Graham, Donald E. Chairman and CEO, The Washington Post Company
    DEU Grillo, Ulrich CEO, Grillo-Werke AG
    ITA Gruber, Lilli Journalist – Anchorwoman, La 7 TV
    ESP Guindos, Luis de Minister of Economy and Competitiveness
    GBR Gulliver, Stuart Group Chief Executive, HSBC Holdings plc
    CHE Gutzwiller, Felix Member of the Swiss Council of States
    NLD Halberstadt, Victor Professor of Economics, Leiden University; Former Honorary Secretary General of Bilderberg Meetings
    FIN Heinonen, Olli Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School of Government
    GBR Henry, Simon CFO, Royal Dutch Shell plc
    FRA Hermelin, Paul Chairman and CEO, Capgemini Group
    ESP Isla, Pablo Chairman and CEO, Inditex Group
    USA Jacobs, Kenneth M. Chairman and CEO, Lazard
    USA Johnson, James A. Chairman, Johnson Capital Partners
    CHE Jordan, Thomas J. Chairman of the Governing Board, Swiss National Bank
    USA Jordan, Jr., Vernon E. Managing Director, Lazard Freres & Co. LLC
    USA Kaplan, Robert D. Chief Geopolitical Analyst, Stratfor
    USA Karp, Alex Founder and CEO, Palantir Technologies
    GBR Kerr, John Independent Member, House of Lords
    USA Kissinger, Henry A. Chairman, Kissinger Associates, Inc.
    USA Kleinfeld, Klaus Chairman and CEO, Alcoa
    NLD Knot, Klaas H.W. President, De Nederlandsche Bank
    TUR Koç, Mustafa V. Chairman, Koç Holding A.S.
    DEU Koch, Roland CEO, Bilfinger SE
    USA Kravis, Henry R. Co-Chairman and Co-CEO, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
    USA Kravis, Marie-Josée Senior Fellow and Vice Chair, Hudson Institute
    CHE Kudelski, André Chairman and CEO, Kudelski Group
    GRC Kyriacopoulos, Ulysses Chairman, S&B Industrial Minerals S.A.
    INT Lagarde, Christine Managing Director, International Monetary Fund
    DEU Lauk, Kurt J. Chairman of the Economic Council to the CDU, Berlin
    USA Lessig, Lawrence Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership, Harvard Law School; Director, Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University
    BEL Leysen, Thomas Chairman of the Board of Directors, KBC Group
    DEU Lindner, Christian Party Leader, Free Democratic Party (FDP NRW)
    SWE Löfven, Stefan Party Leader, Social Democratic Party (SAP)
    DEU Löscher, Peter President and CEO, Siemens AG
    GBR Mandelson, Peter Chairman, Global Counsel; Chairman, Lazard International
    USA Mathews, Jessica T. President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
    CAN McKenna, Frank Chair, Brookfield Asset Management
    GBR Micklethwait, John Editor-in-Chief, The Economist
    FRA Montbrial, Thierry de President, French Institute for International Relations
    ITA Monti, Mario Former Prime Minister
    USA Mundie, Craig J. Senior Advisor to the CEO, Microsoft Corporation
    ITA Nagel, Alberto CEO, Mediobanca
    NLD Netherlands, H.R.H. Princess Beatrix of The
    USA Ng, Andrew Y. Co-Founder, Coursera
    FIN Ollila, Jorma Chairman, Royal Dutch Shell, plc
    GBR Omand, David Visiting Professor, King’s College London
    GBR Osborne, George Chancellor of the Exchequer
    USA Ottolenghi, Emanuele Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
    TUR Özel, Soli Senior Lecturer, Kadir Has University; Columnist, Habertürk Newspaper
    GRC Papahelas, Alexis Executive Editor, Kathimerini Newspaper
    TUR Pavey, Şafak Member of Parliament (CHP)
    FRA Pécresse, Valérie Member of Parliament (UMP)
    USA Perle, Richard N. Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
    USA Petraeus, David H. General, U.S. Army (Retired)
    PRT Portas, Paulo Minister of State and Foreign Affairs
    CAN Prichard, J. Robert S. Chair, Torys LLP
    INT Reding, Viviane Vice President and Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, European Commission
    CAN Reisman, Heather M. CEO, Indigo Books & Music Inc.
    FRA Rey, Hélène Professor of Economics, London Business School
    GBR Robertson, Simon Partner, Robertson Robey Associates LLP; Deputy Chairman, HSBC Holdings
    ITA Rocca, Gianfelice Chairman,Techint Group
    POL Rostowski, Jacek Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister
    USA Rubin, Robert E. Co-Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations; Former Secretary of the Treasury
    NLD Rutte, Mark Prime Minister
    AUT Schieder, Andreas State Secretary of Finance
    USA Schmidt, Eric E. Executive Chairman, Google Inc.
    AUT Scholten, Rudolf Member of the Board of Executive Directors, Oesterreichische Kontrollbank AG
    PRT Seguro, António José Secretary General, Socialist Party
    FRA Senard, Jean-Dominique CEO, Michelin Group
    NOR Skogen Lund, Kristin Director General, Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise
    USA Slaughter, Anne-Marie Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University
    IRL Sutherland, Peter D. Chairman, Goldman Sachs International
    GBR Taylor, Martin Former Chairman, Syngenta AG
    INT Thiam, Tidjane Group CEO, Prudential plc
    USA Thiel, Peter A. President, Thiel Capital
    USA Thompson, Craig B. President and CEO, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
    DNK Topsøe, Jakob Haldor Partner, AMBROX Capital A/S
    FIN Urpilainen, Jutta Minister of Finance
    CHE Vasella, Daniel L. Honorary Chairman, Novartis AG
    GBR Voser, Peter R. CEO, Royal Dutch Shell plc
    CAN Wall, Brad Premier of Saskatchewan
    SWE Wallenberg, Jacob Chairman, Investor AB
    USA Warsh, Kevin Distinguished Visiting Fellow, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University
    CAN Weston, Galen G. Executive Chairman, Loblaw Companies Limited
    GBR Williams of Crosby, Shirley Member, House of Lords
    GBR Wolf, Martin H. Chief Economics Commentator, The Financial Times
    USA Wolfensohn, James D. Chairman and CEO, Wolfensohn and Company
    GBR Wright, David Vice Chairman, Barclays plc
    INT Zoellick, Robert B. Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics

    AUT Austria
    INT International
    BEL Belgium
    IRL Ireland
    CAN Canada
    ITA Italy
    CHE Switzerland
    NLD Netherlands
    DEU Germany
    NOR Norway
    DNK Denmark
    POL Poland
    ESP Spain
    PRT Portugal
    FIN Finland
    SWE Sweden
    FRA France
    TUR Turkey
    GBR Great Britain
    USA United States of America
    GRC Greece”

  • Richard

    My own contention is that as a general rule, things that work are simple. Complexity is the enemy of efficiency. That goes for the Benefits System and that goes for the Taxation System and, of course, the two are related and often conflated in discussion: “The tax and benefit system …”, or as Craig puts it in this piece: “ … a single unified tax system, …”.

    Please allow me to offer this as a possible explanation of the unnecessary complexity.

    Are there any readers who imagine that Blair, whose current annual income is assessed in £millions, intends to pay the same amount of tax as the rest of us? Perhaps he will, but who would bet on it? Inheritance tax is designed for people who have worked and have a semi within commuting distance of London. Can you imagine Cherie handing over 40% of everything over £300,000 that the good man leaves. After all, neither they (nor their ilk) send their children to the same schools that they’ve designed for the rest of us. Nor, as far as I have noticed, do any of them retire to Brixton. Rather, having filled out their last expense account, they head off to some leafy Shire with a low local population density where exists a residue of traditional values which they have spent their professional lives affecting to despise. So, by analogy then, I suggest that a plausible working hypothesis is that they have no intention of paying the taxes that they’ve designed for the rest of us either. Therefore there is complexity. Loopholes and contradictions – and thus evasion and avoidance – would be far fewer if the system were simple and straightforward. But an absence of loopholes would benefit the rest of us. The people who design the system want to keep their own ill-gotten stash safe and who better to benefit from a complex system than the people who created it.

    Just a thought.

  • John Goss

    Someone, look at these events of 2013 from Bilderberg’s own website.

    “The key topics for discussion this year include:
    • Can the US and Europe grow faster and create jobs?
    • Jobs, entitlement and debt
    • How big data is changing almost everything
    • Nationalism and populism
    • US foreign policy
    • Africa’s challenges
    • Cyber warfare and the proliferation of asymmetric threats
    • Major trends in medical research
    • Online education: promise and impacts
    • Politics of the European Union
    • Developments in the Middle East
    • Current affairs”

    Compare it with your list of countries represented. Even though it is clear to my mind that “Cyber warfare and the proliferation of assymetric threats” will be concentrating on Wikileaks, Anonymous and such freedom-fighting groups. But the item that is most revealing is “Africa’s challenges” since there is no representation from Africa at all. You will notice, however, that GRC Kyriacopoulos, Ulysses Chairman, S&B Industrial Minerals S.A. will be there. This is a global mineral company. I suspect the plans for Africa might be military as well as commercial. But, of course, the last time the so-called ‘Great Powers’ carved up Africa they did not consult the Africans.

  • Flaming June

    Thanks Someone for that list. The names and connections there illustrate the networks of power which will be reinforced at The Grove. I see HSBC is well represented. Enough said. Cowper Coles too and Mandelslime of course.

    Thanks for your info and comments John and also Richard.

    Here is confirmation of just some of the control that is exerted on the media by the financial sector.

    ‘Today’s blog looks at research from Dr Mike Berry, lecturer at the University of Cardiff. It focuses on one small but influential part of the BBC – its flagship Today Programme on BBC Radio 4. I think it’s fair to say that my colleagues and I have always been under the impression – hard to prove but still a strong impression — that the Today Programme is substantially ‘captured’ by the City of London, the UK’s Financial Services industry. (And for what ‘capture’ means here, see this.)

    The article is called The Today programme and the banking crisis, and it meticulously researches six weeks’ of coverage by the Today Programme, during the crucial period of the British bank rescues in October 2008. The article’s abstract should surprise nobody who knows the programme:

    “Results indicated that City sources dominated coverage, particularly during the two-week period around the British bank rescue plan. The consequence of this was that listeners were offered a prescribed range of debate on the UK government’s bank rescue plan and possible reforms to the financial sector. The research raises key questions regarding impartiality and balance in public service broadcasting.”‘
    /..

    Is the BBC afraid of the City of London?http://treasureislands.org/is-the-bbc-afraid-of-the-city-of-london/

    One of those ‘who knows who’ charts for names of the Bilderbergers would have all the links.

    PS The only one missing is B.Liar and his Africa Governance Initiative but his proxies will be there.
    http://www.tonyblairoffice.org/africa

  • KingofWelshNoir

    Habbabkuk

    No, I don’t believe it is a conspiracy in the sense that they sit down with an agenda that says, Item 1. Take over the world. Item 2. Enslave the masses, etc. But despite your attempts to present them as a bunch of harmless old duffers and has-beens there is little doubt that the most powerful people will be turning up and it won’t be to discuss golf. When such people meet, it’s reasonable to suspect they will be discussing policy that will further their own narrow elite interests rather than ours. I object to that as anti-democratic, especially as some of our own elected representatives will be attending, possibly to take instructions. If they want to avoid these disparaging suspicions they should be transparent about what goes on. I still remember one delegate last year (forget who) on being asked outside the hotel what was going inside, saying ‘I dont have to tell you and you don’t need to know.’ Says it all.

  • geoffrey

    Richard,if you had a simple flat rate tax of say 15% and no offsets. Think of the unemployment you would cause thousands of accountants,financial advisors,stockbrokers,lawyers,bankers,tax collectors…..all on the streets!.Tragic!

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @KingofWelshNoir :

    Just a couple of (probably final) observations, bearing in mind that all of this is largely a matter of perception, I think we agree on that?

    1/. I didn’t say that all the participants are old duffers and has-beens (the Kissingers are a minority).

    2/. Discussing policy rather than golf : well, obviously. But I don’t see what’s wrong with that. If you look at the list of themes that has been given by another poster, I find little surprising there : they are all current issues of interest and relevance(and sometimes of preoccupation). I would prefer not to give detail, but I can assure you that these sorts of themes come up at most international meets whether of a bilateral or multinational nature – and those meets are largely talking-shops, they contain a large element of ritual (see also next point).

    3/. Anti-democratic/opaque nature : the first is a rather large claim – why and how? As for the transparency aspect, if there were transcripts available for the individual discussions I rather doubt that you would be greatly surprised by what was said – although you might be rather bored (and get a rather disillusioning insight into the depth and (lack of) originality of these great minds.

    4/. Your example of the participant proves what? The meeting works under those rules (rules which are in part designed to reinforce the mystique) and I don’t think too much should be read into it.

    ———–

    I guess you won’t find any of this terribly convincing but the exchange has been interesting. Off to beach volley again! Enjoy the day!

  • guano

    Hiddenclue

    You want me to read your work again? I see many debris of flies on the cobweb first time I read your stuff. You think I’m going to try your flimsy threads a second time? Why do you think I haven’t got the software to edit you out completely? Your drivel keeps my logic active. But you seem to have got the software installed in your own brain. To edit out logic that is.

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