1882 posts • joined 12 Jul 2007
"The laws being exploited are global ones"
There is no such thing as a global law. There are laws of individual countries that are dependent on treaties between countries, and/or that countries apply to international dealings. However each and any of these laws can be changed unilaterally by the country concerned*. The UK can simply declare, for example, that for the purpose of tax payable to the UK, payments made for IP transfers are not to be included as costs for the calculation of taxable profits.
Pretty much all countries SHOULD decide between themselves that for the purpose of tax payable, fines paid are not to be included as costs for the calculation of taxable profits.
*In the case of laws connected with international treaties, this probably would lead to repercussions/retaliations of other countries changing their own laws in response.
"What you are suggesting is VAT."
No, VAT is a tax on spending.
As a private individual I am taxed income tax on my income and VAT on my spending.
Businesses already get to pay VAT on their spending (though some of it is recoverable).
"...for large corporations it could be only 2% if they rely on bulk sales at tiny margins."
Correct, with a tax on income, companies could only survive if their margin was higher than the tax rate, but of course a tax on income would be more like 3-5% rather than the current 25-30% tax on profit.
Also, because corporations are taxed on profit they have incentives to increase *accounted* expenses to reduce their tax bill. I'm pretty sure that a big multinational that nominally has a 2% margin has some *accounted* expenses such as depreciation, cost of IP etc that are overstated for accounting purposes.
Businesses are taxed on profit rather than income because governments want to promote businesses and startups, and frequently businesses can run for some years at a loss even when making money. Taxing profits rather than income helps small businesses to grow, the thing is that big multinationals abuse of these rules in ways that smaller businesses cannot.
A possible solution: Instead of a high corporate tax (25% or 30%) on profit, have a low (5%?) corporate tax based on income. Then allow startups a 3 to 5 year window of breathing space, starting with 0% tax their first year and gradually ramping up to the full rate at the end of the 'breathing space' window. This has the advantage of being very clear (companies will always know their current tax liability and be able to accurately estimate future ones - business likes predictability). It is also much easier to calculate, because you don't need to mess around with complex accounting rules of what expenses are allowed to be deductible, and it's also easy to see what income is really being generated in which country.
I expect that companies might try to dodge this by re-incorporating a new company every few years so safeguards need to be built in against this.
Re: As one of my friends used to joke
If I remember correctly, Spielbergy's sparse use of the monster shark in Jaws was also related to technical difficulties / lack of believability with the fake shark. In both cases it's probably a combination of filming accident and editing design that the minimum screentime of the monster worked so effectvely.
I just wish that some more modern directors would actually learn these lessons from the past!!
Re: As one of my friends used to joke
One of the best (scariest) thing about the original Alien was that for most of the film you only ever got very quick glances at small bits of it, so you never really know exactly what you're dealing with. You just know that there is something horrible and dangerous lurking somewhere and that it's going to kill you... actually not just kill you but bite you and feed on you, which triggers some very very deep-rooted, instinctive, primal fear. You just don't know when or where, but you sure know it's coming and it's coming for YOU.
It's a LOT scarier to give the viewer some glimpses and allow their imagination to fill in the blanks, because when the mood is set right, each viewer's imagination will 'fill in the blanks' with something that's particularly scary for THEM, and in any case much more scary than anything you can depict on film. That's the same trick Spielberg pulled in the original Jaws, most of the film you just see nothing at all, or just a fin, but that relentless, menacing 'duh dum' in the background is enough.
Once you're actually putting your movie monsters front and centre, more often than not t^hey are a lot less scary, and sometimes even funny as in 'how bad is that man-in-a-rubber-costume' funny, and that just ruins the spooky build-up.
@John H Woods
"I mean coming in from a 2.5km run and eating 3 slices of toast and honey - vastly more calories than I have theoretically burned. If my metabolism worked like yours apparently does, I'd be gaining several kg per month."
My guess is that regular 2.5km runs increase your overall metabolic rate, so even if after the run you eat more calories than you burn on the run itself, you burn more calories even when not running and that keeps everything in equilibrium.
Of course individual metabolic rates are very specific, but in general higher muscle mass requires more calories,so if you're building muscle even slightly by going running, that will help burn more calories long-term not just during the run itself.
Re: Always more questions
"True, so BMI is not a good indicator of 'obesity' if you're a boxer, rugby player or a lumberjack, or very tall or very short. However, for the majority of the 'ordinary' population it is a reasonable and easy measure to take."
which means it's OK as a 'rough and ready' calculation for large populations, but not OK if, for example, health insurance is using BMI as a parameter in calculating premiums.
Re: Moving the goals?
"Yes, that's why it is height^2."
As mentioned by other posters, humans are 3-dimensional, so using square is not correct. As also mentioned above by other posters, humans are more 'cylindrical' than 'spherical' so maybe using the cube of the height isn't very correct either.
"BMI is a decent measure of a population's tubbiness, which is what it was intended as."
Except that actually, it isn't, because it takes into account only mass, without distinction of whether that mass is fat or muscle. This is made worse because muscle is denser than fat.
Given the 2 issues above and given that fat tends to accumulate round the waist while muscle gain is more evenly distributed, a better measure of 'fatness' would be
BMI is an abomination. Any analysis based on it is automatically null and void. Any policy based on it is automatically rubbish.
Re: never forget though @Asylum Sam
"Sure, you can steal the market by selling a one-off...but then you starve yourself out of the market because once you sell it, you never hear from the customer again."
There's a couple things going on here... firstly, if you make something that lasts 20 years instead of 2 years, it's 10 times as good, but if you sell it at 10 times the price, consumers will always go for buying the cheaper one that lasts 2 years. One reason is inflation - buying at the 'same price' in 2 years is cheaper in real money than paying it all upfront. The second reason is that humans are wired for short-termism, it takes a conscious choice going against the 'wiring' to go for the more expensive option even if you know for sure it will be cheaper in the long-term. Thirdly, and probably most importantly, is an issue of trust. A consumer does not know NOW that your goods will last 10 times as long as the competition's, and will be unlikely to take your word for it. Even if some consumers DO start taking your word for it and buy your stuff, no doubt your competitors making inferior stuff will flood the airwaves/intertubes with FUD ads and showing how their stuff is as good as yours.
And then there is also the "Sam Vimes theory of economic injustice" to cope with, which is that many consumers will not have the immediate cash in hand to pay 10X or even 5X more for a product that lasts 10 times longer or more, so they are 'forced' to buy the cheaper inferior version, because they need one now and the inferior version is the only one they can afford
Re: never forget though
"...or won't go with a new light fixture..."
The 2 standard sizes of screw-in bulbs have been the same as long as I've ever been aware, and I doubt will change any time soon.
Re: RE: AC alternative to petrol
"Do you mean the use of corn or vegetable oil in older diesels in the UK? All perfectly legal as long as you declared your usage and paid the relevant tax. People did get charged with tax evasion for not paying tax on their oil..."
The point is that if vegetable oil is not taxed when used to fry chips in, why should the exact same product be taxed if you choose to run your car on it? I'm sure that there's a 'legally correct' answer somewhere, but again, the point is that there is no sensible rationale for such a law.
"And the reason that your Ducati which weighs about 1/5 of the Fiat can only get half the MPG."
Completely correct... however I have never met a biker who cared about MPG :)
"Anyone Fancy a Twin Air lump in a bike frame ??"
Short Answer - No
Long answer: well, it's a 0.9l unit that outputs 105HP. Comparing same cc, for example Ducati 899 Panigale (898cc) is 148HP. Also, with bikes it's nice to have a smooth-ish power curve, while with a turbo you get a bit of a laggy low-end. I'm not sure what size the Fiat engine is either, could be bulky with turbo added, or maybe not?
In any case, bikes achieve high power from small(ish) engines by revving a lot higher, that in turn places more stress on components that need to be more carefully engineered / have better quality materials than car engines that redline at 6 or 7k.... which is probably why the Ducati costs almost £13k, more than quite a few small cars
"Fragile large sheets could be a huge problem if it doesn't bend with the rest of the iPhone 6 Plus properly."
Didn't you hear? The iPhone 6 doesn't bend!
Re: On the other hand ...
One more... top business execs, lawyers etc might need an encrypted phone to protect trade secrets, client confidentiality etc. There's many more legal reasons than illegal reasons to have an encrypted phone
Re: It's clear to all
@tom dial - yes you are right, the US AG and others are, in their public statements, referring to legal intercepts backed by judicial oversight.
However over the last few years it has become clear that some law enforcement agencies are intercepting / analysing data even without judicial oversight, and that judicial oversight is not as transparent or effective as it should be.
Hence the public (a) not believing the AG etc and (b) turning to encryption even for 'mundan' personal communication
Re: It's not the character
Some of the storylines have been weak, (clockwork robots again? And is THAT the best you could up with having as magnificent a character as Robin Hood to work with?), but the 'thing under the bed' and 'mind-sucking aliens' episodes were great.
Peter Capaldi is so far proving to be an excellent Doctor. I far prefer the doctor to be an old irascible git, rather than a 20-something hipster. He's spent a thousand years fighting other aliens, travelled teh length and breadth and (time) height and depth of the Universe, he's seen it all and done it all. He's bound to be a bit impatient with everyone else. And yet he retains that love of adventure and a certain twinkle in the eye.
Of course there is still plenty of time before a final judgement. Both Tennant and Smith took a while to grow on me, and they were both definitely "The Doctor" in the end
Re: James Micallef A joke, or some form of Israeli PR right? @h4rm0ny
"The present state is that Israel is willing to talk peace and discuss the two state solution"
Actions speak louder than words. If Israel was ever serious about peace it would never have built settlements in land that it knew it would have to give back as part of any peace agreement. Israel SAYS it's willing to have a 2-state solution, but only if it's allowed to annex parts of West Bank that it wants, and 'is willing' to give Palestine unwanted parts of it's territory in return. Wow, what generosity.
If Israel is serious about peace it would have frozen settlements a long time ago. Instead, in the last 10 years it has accelerated them.
Re Hamas greenhouses etc, yes you are right, Hamas are scum who do not want peace, I wasn't arguing anything different. My point is that Hamas have power only in Gaza, very limited influence elsewhere. Israel has all the power in the region, nothing can change unless they take the lead.
Re: Jamal Micaleff A joke, or some form of Israeli PR right?
a) I didn't say that there was no Hamas in the West Bank. I said that any threats to Israel from the West Bank can be dealt with without installing settlements there, and in any case, such threats are threats to some of Israel's population, NOT existential threats to the state of Israel.
b) Calling people 'funny' names by twisting their real names is teh behaviour of an immature 8-year old boy. Just sayin'
Re: Nor did the IRA.
@Tom13 - By no stretch of the imagination is Hamas an existential threat to Israel. Just like IRA with Britain, they can kill some civilians and cause some havoc. But Hamas has negligible military force compared to IDF, close to zero international political clout compared to Israel who has the US bent around her little finger.
Just because Hamas want Israel to be completely destroyed does not mean that it is in any way possible for them to do it.
Re: A joke, or some form of Israeli PR right? @h4rm0ny
"You should read a little history of the area in question... "
Thing is, no knowledge of history is any help at all to resolve the situation without acknowledging the present. And the present situation is this - Israel has de facto complete control over all Palestinian territories. It chose to exit Gaza because it was more trouble than it was worth, has a pretty successful blockade going there, and every few years flattens everything and anything that got through the blockade anyway. In the West Bank, it builds settlements with complete impunity, it controls water supply, it controls roads and transport, imports are also severely restricted, and there is a giant wall separating Israel + their settlements from "Palestinian" lands. The threat level that Israel faces is, for all practical purposes, zero. There might be a slight threat to some of it's citizens, but that is something that can never be eradicated, as people of New York, London, Madrid etc etc know very well. But there is NO existential threat to Israel, there hasn't been for many many many years, and there will not be for the foreseeable future.
So, whatever the end solution to the question is, Israel is the ONLY actor in the region that can do anything towards that solution.
And Israel has, by it's actions over the past few years, repeatedly shown that it's preferred solution is NOT a 2-state solution with Israelis and Palestinians living in peace*, nor is it a 1-state solution with Palestinians as full and equal citizens. It is a 'Greater Israel' where Palestinians are second-class Apartheided citizens, or else 'exported' to neighbouring Arab countries. This spying on innocent Palestinians is just a tiny part of an ongoing process.
*Otherwise why the continued expansion of settlements in the West Bank? Why even start building settlements in the first place, when a simple military presence + wall on the original border would have sufficed for security?
Re: A joke, or some form of Israeli PR right?
My downvote isn't because of "student politicians of the sixth-form common room", it's because the article clearly states the protested sigint is in "occupied Palestinian territories" AKA West Bank (who never voted Hamas into power), not the Gaza strip (who did).
Gaza has not been "occupied" for many years now
Re: Apple pay...
Depends what you're comparing to - Credit cards charge around 3%*, but as others have mentioned, there are advantages to the user such as fraud insurance. Banks currently charge a lot less for debit card transactions, but I don't know if that's comparable to 0.15% (anyone know??).
Cash transactions also have a cost - business expense to handle cash with banks, and added security requirements. Again, I'm not sure about the extent of that, but if I recall correctly I read somewhere that cash handling costs for businesses heavily exceed debit card transaction costs.
The real question here is, are banks also charging something over and above the 0.15% that Apple takes? Or is Apple paying them for access to their systems from it's 0.15% cut?
* Technically the charge is to the vendor, but when all vendors are accepting credit cards for such a long period of time it's clear that this is factored into the rice of all goods and services that CAN be paid for by credit card even when they are not. And others such as 'cheap' airlines explicitly pass that charge on to consumers, so I'm only looking at the amount charged.
Re: environmental cost
"a long way from matching the exponential increase in demand."
I think you're making up the "exponential increase in demand". Firstly, world population is not increasing exponentially, growth is actually slowing down as countries get richer. Rich countries already have stable or even declining populations, and as the developing world develops, they will also slow their growth. UN estimates over 50-odd years is that world population will eventually cap at around the 12 billion mark, and if eventually some time in the future the whole world is stable and at least as comfortable quality of life as current 'west'*, population might even start to decline.
Second, individual consumption is also not increasing exponentially. Instead of using more stuff, we do more but use stuff more efficiently so individual use does not increase. There have been past cases where consumption increases exponentially but only for short periods of time, you can't extrapolate continued exponential increase from just a small period of it.
* We can all dream, can't we?
Re: environmental cost
Thanks for the follow-up. I tend to agree that 'peak oil' doesn't really matter so much in energy terms, the only thing is that it starts getting wasteful when you need the equivalent energy of 7-8 barrels of oil to extract the equivalent of 10 barrels. Of course, it's still a net gain but still seems wasteful. Not to mention the CO2 release.
In the end if/when oil/hydrocarbons become more expensive, we'll shift to photovoltaics / nuclear / some future technology.
"So we'll use more expensive energy then, won't we?"
Exactly! The last 50-odd years, energy has been dirt cheap anyway, that's why we waste so much of it even while we use loads of it to improve quality of life worldwide. More expensive energy will just mean a bit of a slowdown in global economy (not a bad thing, maybe we can invest more in 'real' stuff and less in financial gimmicks,leading to less boom-bust cycles) but allow developing countries to increase quality of life without continuing to trash the environment.
Re: environmental cost
Very interesting article as usual Mr Worstall. Just one question, you alluded to peak oil being a fallacy, explained by other minerals (tin and iron) having new deposits that are easier to access. However as far as I know in the case of hydrocarbons, the newly discovered deposits are deep offshore, shale / tar sands etc which are more expensive than drilling in Texas, Middle East etc. So is it the case that newly discovered deposits are not always cheaper / easier / higher quality than existing ones?
Also, in the case of minerals, we know that pretty much once they are used they can be recycled and reused all over again even if we ever (unlikely as it is) run out of ore. In the case of hydrocarbons, when we get energy from them by burning, we can't reuse them again. Effectively they are hundreds of millions of years' worth of stored sunlight. Now, I agree completely that we have plenty of energy in the form of uranium, solar etc,however using the argument that minerals are effectively 'infinte' as a way to argue that no peak oil exists does not make sense to me.
Are there any more convincing arguments that you have against peak oil?
Re: Flexible spine
I guess the 'cheetah' reference is more apt because it can "sprint" for only a short length of time before running out of battery. Still quite impressive. And do you REALLY want them to add a flexi-spine and tail and up teh speed so they could actually hunt people down??
Re: Sounds like a good decision.
What does battery warranty have to do with dealerships?
It was a good decision, and really the same reasoning should apply nationwide
Re: Ded game?
"To succeed it needs to maintain the volume of players currently battling upon its servers"
In a way this looks to me like the Facebook model... not spend lots of effort on good 'machine AI' baddies since you can have players match off against each other. Just as users putting their data online for free is what attracts other users to FB, it's having intelligent experienced gamers on board that make the platform sellable to other gamers
Re: It will be business as usual.
@Spartacus - Re the Euro, membership definitely was not part of any new accession negotiations. None of the new entrants in 2005(?) were forced to adopt the Euro, neither were Bulgaria and Romania later. Malta chose to join the Euro later, not sure about the other 2005 entrants.
Even if they WERE forced to join the Euro, it might be a better option than going it on their own if they are frozen out of the pound.
Regarding Schengen, I'm not aware that new members are asked/forced to join either. It would be political suicide for the EU considering that one of the prospective members is Turkey. Common Schengen border with Iraq, Iran and Syria? No thanks!
Re: It will be business as usual.
"Scotland would have to apply to become part of the EU, which would mean accepting to join the currency on membership and also the Schengen Agreement"
Yes, Scotland would have to reapply for EU membership, however there are plenty EU members who are not in the Euro nor Schengen. I don't see why Scotland would not be allowed into the EU without signing up for Euro or Schengen.
Re: What’s in a name?
"retain Liz as Queen of Scotland (which, historically, is correct because she's descended from James IV)"
I though they were German??
Re: What's in a name?
" Former United Kindom (FUK)"
We have a winner :)
Re: Geneva Convention
@Spartacus - excellent post, cutting to the chase a lot of the BS that's been floated around this issue. One point to clarify re "Scottish financial services though, are 12x the size of their economy. In Cyprus it was only 7x, and the Eurozone decided to punish them for it"
The problem with Cyprus wasn't so much that the financial services were 7X the economy, but how those financial services were structured. Both Luxembourg and Malta have financial services sectors many times their economy (Malta close to 8 times ), but neither of them had any problems.
I don't know how the Scottish financial services are structured but I'd bet they are far less riskily structured than Cyprus.
"All the things that will need to be duplicated that are currently shared"
I don't think there will be that many duplication. It's not like for every organisation there is a "British office" that is 100% in England or Wales, there will be branch offices in Scotland. Post-split you would just have the duplication at the highest level, with pre-existing offices reporting to their new chain of command.
For example, Scotland does not need to build from scratch a new health system, new social services, new this new that, it already ha them, and just needs to have somewhere central to give leadership. Given they have had their own parliament for years I am sure they already have a 'scottish-only' civil service to deal with it that might need to be expanded.
Same with companies, they just set a 'scottish' head office but their branches around Scotland won't just disappear and nee to be rebuilt. A lot of this 'command-and-control' is fairly flexible anyway (in business, not in Government)
Independant Scotland would have 1 major problem - currently it gets a lot of incoming revenue from wealth redistribution from the rest of UK, so taxes need to go up or spending down or both. Frankly given that situation, I wonder why the rest of UK isn't happy to show them teh door.
Re: Geneva Convention + EU considerations
The only reason EU would not want Scotland is political BS. As mentioned in the article, Spain would want to block Scotland so as not to encourage Basques/Catalans etc. MB* might want to block out of sheer vindictiveness (though in the end I doubt it would).
But if one were to think abut this practically, there would be no substantial reason for EU to refuse entry to Scotland. Culturally and economically much more integrated in Europe, Economically and politically already within EU norms. The EU can't really with a straight face allow Croatia entry and flirt with the idea of allowing Turkey, Ukraine etc in, while refusing Scotland.
So bottom line there would still be free movement of people, and free movement of goods and services across the border. In fact I doubt there actually would be a 'proper' border, it will be like driving between say France and Germany where there are some old unmanned border posts but for practical purposes free movement. Scots would still have a UK passport allowing free movement in the EU and pretty much worldwide, and eventually a Scottish passport would be accepted by other countries round the world just like a British one is.
*Currently GB = Great Britain, in future MB = Most of Britain?
no exact number?
I love this phrase: "between zero and 249 national-security-related requests"
I guess that maybe legally they are not allowed to state an exact number of requests received, so ""between zero and 249" is another way of saying "249"
Well, the non-smart meters last 20, 30 years or more. No reason they shouldn't function properly for that amount of time. The real question isn't whether they will still work but whether they will become obsolete as networks change around them.
If* the whole infrastructure was properly designed in the first place it would have taken into account that any upgrades/updates in the utilities' infrastructure for the next 20 years would need to be backward compatible with the current smart meters.
*That's a big 'if', I know
Re: OnePlus One
I always prefer (where available) products that 'advertise' by word of mouth and allowing the quality of the product to speak for itself. Breakdowns of smartphones repeatedly show that the component cost is tiny compared to the retail cost, and when you're selling many millions, R&D and advertising costs per phone are also tiny, hence the fat margins.
Also, for a different phone but this is the cost breakdown for fairphone:
That's for the initial run of 20 or 25k units, so it's easy to see that for a larger scale operation selling millions of units (and purchasing components in millions), the unit cost to them isn't going to be a lot more than €250, however much they spend in R&D and ads
Good for Microsoft!
Re: Couple of words about the Swiss
"The Swiss are as corrupt as any other 1st world nation so I don't see why they should be anymore trustworthy"
The point isn't how holy or not the Swiss are, the point is that if Snowden arriving safely in Switzerland to testify is important enough TO THEM, they will make it happen even if it pisses off the US. In fact if they want him to testify it is EXACTLY because his testimony can give them bigger leverage vs the US
Re: Would the US risk a diplomatic incident?
" a few multi-billion dollar fines for Swiss banks for tax evasion..."
The thing is, Switzerland and the rest of Europe are getting fed up with the US's extraterritoriality provisions. Nothing of what Swiss banks did was illegal under Swiss law so US is treading a very fine line with the concessions extracted from Swiss banks in the last few years, the mega-fines it has already inflicted on French banks etc. If they push the line too far, the rest of the world might decide that operating in the US is more trouble than it's worth and just say <Cartman> "screw you guys, I'm going home" </Cartman>
Re: direct flight
" the Chicago Convention allows any state to require any aircraft overflying its airspace to land, whether or not it's scheduled to. And once it's landed, they can search it."
Yes, but do Poland, Germany etc have access to passenger manifests? If it's a direct Russia-Switzerland flight, why should they? And given that for example Germany are mightily ticked off with the US about the Merkel phonetapping, why would they pluck Snowden out of eh sky for the yanks, even if they knew he was overflying?
Re: How about a watch that has the correct time?
"The killer app for a smartwatch is that it will have the correct time, automatically"
How often is it that having correct to-the-second time on your watch is of vital importance? The only reason I can think is train timetables, and even then (a) you can sync your watch with the station clock, it will stay synced for a few months at least unless your watch is REALLY crappy and (b) how often are the trains on time anyway??
Re: siri et al
That's been my experience. Disclaimer - never tried Siri, but both Google/Android and Blackberry voice recognition seem to understand me around 50% of the time in normal speech and maybe closer to 75-80% with very careful choice of word pattern and enunciation. Either way, it's not yet good enough to significantly improve the useability
Re: As a motorbike rider...
@G R Goslin - I was referring specifically to the impact detection and emergency call-out, not to the additional gadgetry. However, to be more specific, I think HUD is helpful as instead of shifting gaze down to instruments and shortening focus, then head up again and change focus again towards road, a rider can see instrument readouts without changing gaze or focus. Of course HUD should show readout for instruments - speed, revs, fuel, gear + temperature/oil warning lights. NOT sms messages.
Music can be distracting or not... but certainly audio isn't in itself covering any other noises such as approaching cars. Typically engine + wind noise is anyway drowning out these other noises anyway
Re: The final conclusion
Have to agree with veti here. One of the fallacies of modern democracy is that the sum of everyone's votes leads to some ideal, or even fit-for-purpose solution in government. This sort of solution works well in local affairs where people are intimately familiar with both the issues at hand and the people/solutions being voted for. It doesn't scale up well at all to millions of voters and highly complex issues
"what we need to do is to start with education"
Yes, that is true. Unfortunately the education departments, teachers' unions etc are, in the majority, conservatively clinging on to early-20-th-century educational methods, teach the status quo because that is all they know, and have structures as rigid as a rusted robot with a poker up it's bottom.
There are many great educators in the world. Most of them are outside of established school systems and need to be actively searched for. Many of the great educators stuck in the existing school systems are 'misfits' who are hated/feared by their colleagues because they are different / try to change things
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