* Posts by Nikki Radir

25 posts • joined 21 Jul 2015

Eco-activists arrested by Brit cops after threatening to close Heathrow with drones

Nikki Radir

So ... any constructive suggestions, then?

One comment on here seems to sum up the attitudes of most contributors:

"If these are the people trying to save the planet I'm afraid it's doomed."

While I agree that this is an own goal for the people concerned, I can't help but think forward a few years to those of current adult generations ('us') being asked: "What did you do in the great struggle to reverse climate heating, (Great-)Grandad/Grandma?" I can't see anyone here coming up with suggestions.

The author of this piece, Kieren McCarthy, understandably slags off the protestors, but at least says:

"Of course, climate change ... is a serious issue; one that can and should be tackled in a multitude of different ways". He doesn't name any, however.

My spouse and I are currently conducting a review of what we can do ... thinking that it's all very well signing up for a 'green' electricity tariff, but that was 10 years ago and I'm still commuting in an ICE car! We'll probably buy a BEV in 2020 to replace it, but what can we do to help put pressure on the big energy companies, to make them stop their egregious campaigns of misinformation and just 'leave it in the ground'? Is it worth getting out at weekends to plant trees? What can we say to friends and family that would help? What political campaigns are constructive and might be effective?

So then, I shan't be on the streets or trespassing anywhere on September 20th, but I am taking the day off to review what we know and decide on some next steps. If you understand my motivation, then wish me luck. If you don't, have another look at the evidence and use your imagination. Then think again.

Electric cars can't cut UK carbon emissions while only the wealthy can afford to own one

Nikki Radir

Well, I never...

You can always learn something new from a 'Register' comments thread, can't you?

Apparently nascent technologies don't work perfectly as soon as they're introduced! Gathering energy from widely dispersed, natural sources to produce a resilient electricity supply will require more complex system designs than just burning stuff! Electric cars now being produced after a whole decade of intensive R&D don't outperform ICEVs in every way! [Question: what's keeping them? Haven't they had long enough, already?]

And that's not all... Some people with 'Green' sympathies aren't technically savvy enough to evaluate complex technological systems! Good investment, design and production choices matter for renewable technologies as well as those powered by combustion! Some unavoidable disadvantages remain even when you adopt a better technology! The adoption of electric vehicles and renewable energy is not enough on its own to save human civilisation from ecosystem collapse! Zero carbon doesn't mean zero pollution! People choosing a green electricity tariff doesn't mean the electricity they use is physically generated by a wind turbine!

Etcetera. But one thing I won't be schooled on, is the necessity to do our very best to turn this situation around. It's not optional.

The article iself reflects my recent situation, as when I scrapped our diesel Toyota Avensis with 215K miles on the clock, three years ago, I would have loved to get an electric car. What I could actually afford was an 11-year old Corolla. I really enjoy it; what an expression of advanced production engineering; what reliability and capability. But it's not an EV. [I have to commute ~240 miles a week, if I'm not to quit my job, and using public transport would more than double my journey time.]

I have seen (simply by scratching a little below the surface of the headlines) material that would indicate (waves wet finger in the wind, vaguely) that there are thousands of R&D projects out there in every part of academia, industry, commerce and so on, trying to bring the various new components of a better world into being (and yes, I use that phrase sincerely and deliberately). For those of you tempted to despair, or to dismiss the need for change, just try a little harder. While there may be shortcomings and idiocies for you to find your way around, the clear picture is that we have the technology we need to make progress, and that amongst the many possibilities now in development, we'll find what we need to complete the task. And it will continually get better and cheaper. Oh, and for the avoidance of doubt, change is not optional. Don't argue with me about that, there are many credible, authoritative sources out there for you to consult. That website you stumbled across, with the bar-stool philosopher of a retired American engineer, who cherry-picks the data to 'show' that CO2 is just plant food after all and nothing to worry about, is not a credible or authoritative source.

I think that we currently have some absolutely great engineering departments, all over the world. If you're a car nut and you haven't seen the Porsche Taycan videos (repeated acceleration, Nordschleife lap, 24 hours at the Nardo circuit), then do it. Too quiet for you? I'm looking forward to being able to hear the sound system properly ... maybe in a VW ID; I'm now saving up for a new car. Target 2021. What I also want is a government that will legislate for constructive change tout suite. But for that I fear we need more democracy, not <censored>, and that's another story.

But it is time for everyone who ‘gets it’ to shape up for the question “What did you do in the great struggle against climate heating, Granddad/Grandma?”. Of course, this is my opinion and you may disagree … but you’re wrong if you do.

BOOM! Cambridge Analytica explodes following extraordinary TV expose

Nikki Radir

Re: FB vs CA


I thought I'd drop in on this discussion for some further insight, and some people are offering good arguments / ideas / counter-arguments, while others are at least being funny. Thanks, people.

Then I read posts like this and I despair. People taking their fears about the world and channeling projected blame through absurd, simplistic filters concocted from half-baked assumptions.

Now go on, say what you like about me. I can _guarantee_ that you'll be wrong. Because you won't take your blinkers off, will you?

Trump, Brexit, and Cambridge Analytica – not quite the dystopia you're looking for

Nikki Radir

Re: Everything counts, in large amounts


We obviously disagree on many things. I think that the current situation, while dire, is one that we can learn from and recover from. 'Tearing it all down' is unnecessary. To consider such implies both a lack of recognition of how far we've come and what is worth preserving, and ingratitude towards all those who fought so hard for the democratic institutions and the separation of powers between them, that still serve us well - compared with the alternatives.

I am no apologist for the Democrats, although I am a democrat to the core. I fully acknowledge the 'lack of trust ... felt and believed by real people'. I feel it too. There has been a 'telling message', delivered by people's votes, but people have been betrayed by the beneficiaries of those votes. We will see that.

You seem to attach your criticisms to a number of conspiracy theories, which I will not entertain with any seriousness. The real world has enough problems, without inventing powerful, phantom enemies to rail against.

However, I recognise some of, parts of, the problems you list. Our economies need rebalancing towards small firms and individuals, towards genuine value creation, and away from rent-seeking. We need to fully acknowledge the truth of the right's assertion that commerce and industry are the prime drivers of our wealth, and the left's rejoinder that the market does not serve every need (for example, where are the new antibiotics?).

You are right to suggest that "the thin consumer identities [we] are being sold" are corrosive to "culture and nationhood", but at this point I think we would disagree on what those (should) look like. Personally, I feel wholly comfortable and secure in being white, English, male, European and a citizen of the world. For the avoidance of doubt, I have no desire for (or fear of - it's not going to happen) world government. I do not feel bullied, cowed or marginalised by anyone pontificating about how people of different groups should be treated. My baseline is that everyone deserves respect as a human being, and to determine their own identity. I debate strongly with my friends (and others!) about what this means in terms of behaviour, and do not think that every perceived hurt or wounded sensitivity is worthy of placation, apology or accommodation. We do owe refugees special treatment, in the same way that the rescue of people in distress at sea is an obligation under international maritime law.

As for trust in experts, politicians, journalists, whoever - I try to be eclectic, selective and critical - what more can I do? There are people who know much more than I do on any number of topics, and they can help me. There are no such things as an infallible gut reaction, as the authentic voice of the people, as a leader uniquely qualified to speak for others. It is always useful to acknowledge and take such things into account, but they have no innate primacy.

“The time for change has come”, you say. Of course it has. But change will only be lasting and real to the extent we debate the choices with mutual respect and founded on the truth as best we can discover and express it.

The current administration in the States is founded substantially on lies and employs them as daily currency to distract, to confuse and to justify cruel, greedy and short-sighted legislation. This behaviour must be defeated.

That's what I think.

Nikki Radir

Re: Everything counts, in large amounts


While I would have wanted (especially if I had been American) a better candidate than Hillary Clinton, my point here is that Trump's campaign / administration team employed and now employ lying, misinformation and distraction, along with crude but effective sales tactics, as a constant and fundamental part of their methodology and potentiated by their canny, skilled use of both the established news media and their own communication channels.

Commentators have, quite rightly, pointed out that many Americans were/are extremely disillusioned with the status quo and responded favourably to TrumpCo's trenchant criticisms. But there never was any commitment to policies (addressing those concerns) that would truly benefit these 'forgotten' voters, but only to gaining power to further the interests of Trump and a small group of very wealthy people. The tag-end of the crowd-pleasing policies being put into practice, are mostly scapegoating distractions. This is why I despaired when comparisons were made with Bernie Sander's campaign. Whatever you think of his politics, he conducted himself with dignity, integrity and honesty. By and large he presented properly-developed policies with some basis in evidence.

When you disparage Clinton with accusations of being more of a liar than Trump (and in each case we must also consider the team working with them), I concede that she is a battle-hardened politician that has survived and succeeded for decades, working in the higher echelons of an inherently corrupt political / electoral system. You can't do that without compromising your integrity. But the issues you flag up are ones that the Republicans and TrumpCo have exaggerated, lied about and misrepresented (some, for decades). I would respectfully ask you to dig in and read some more background on each of these, if you really want to get a proper sense of context. What you find will not exonerate her in all respects, but I hope you will then come to the conclusion that there was no reasonable comparison between TrumpCo and Clinton, Inc. when it came to using credible evidence, proposing substantial policies or simply telling the truth.

I would guess that Clinton knew more about foreign policy issues when she started at high school, than Trump does even now. In almost every respect the man is unsuited to high office, and in terms of knowledge, skills, capability, decency, compassion, toughness of mind and decision-making – Clinton betters him. I say this in full knowledge of the mistakes she has made in office, associations with powerful lobby groups and yes, undoubted dishonesty on some occasions. Let me repeat that I think the U.S. electorate deserved a better candidate than Hillary – not to mention a better electoral system. But of the two, there was no meaningful comparison whatever. Balance, Phil? There is no balance here, the way these scales are weighted.

But the bottom line of this botched, chaotic and disastrous election, and the toxic administration that it brought into being, is lies. Is TrumpCo’s intent to bewilder people, so that they simply don’t trust anyone, anymore? Or is it to keep stoking a self-fulfilling set of myths, for a core base of supporters? Or is Trump just the deluded fantasist at the centre of people who feed his endless need for (hollow) praise, to gain their own place at the high table? In the end, no matter; we just need to stop paying attention to this bullshit.

If I can influence you to reconsider your viewpoint, it is to this end. Proper governance, the democratic process and effective decision-making can only thrive when enough of the electorate, and of both central and local government, value the truth and its foundation for sincere debate. As Mephistro said in this thread: “Critical thinking is the main foundation for a working democracy.”

Somehow, welding together idealism and realism, we need to rediscover our engagement with politics, as if we believed it can make a difference. Telling the truth, and owning up to it when our political opponents tell it, is essential to our recovery from this toxic state of mistrust, disbelief, polarisation and confusion. We can’t expect behaviours to change without sanctions; holding people and organisations to account, somehow, is essential. Nevertheless, rewarding the good guys for doing the right thing is also needed, to rebuild trust in political discourse. There is no simple fix, but fix this we must, or be damned.

Nikki Radir

Everything counts, in large amounts

While the technology used (and the psychological underpinnings) might not be the decisive factor that some - looking for easy answers - might latch onto, we shouldn't lose sight of its importance as one of the techniques used.

The Trump team (still waiting for more detail on the whole leave.eu thing) engaged in a staggering campaign of lies, lies and more lies. Being able to get the right lie, in front of the right target audience, at the right time, can't have been insignificant.

Where Cambridge Analytica come in, is in wielding one of the tools that they used to dupe the electorate and - yes - steal the election. (How can you put it any other way?) Outrageous bragging, threats, smears and deliberate lies gained Donald J Lincoln Kennedy Trump huge media coverage (a multiple of his rivals at each stage). Being able to repeat this rubbish to people predisposed to hear it had (and has) huge value to the 'new regime'.

However much importance pundits may attach to his populism, the elephant in the bathtub is the sheer scale, persistence and shamelessness of the lying, and how well it worked _and_continues_to_work_. Do you feel comfortable with this?

View from a Reg reader: My take on the Basic Income

Nikki Radir

Re: BI would enable more people to be citizens, not just dependants


We obviously see the state differently. For me, it exists to fulfil those aims we can't manage by ourselves, and does so with our permission and agreement. Of course it doesn't yet live up to that ideal, and never will perfectly do so, but the answer is more democracy - more engagement by us in decision-making. If I've got your POV right, paying taxes already makes us serfs - and I can't agree with that. We need taxation to have a functioning society, given all the complex interdependencies that need to work smoothly, and to accept that the benefits of government activity (under democratic oversight, administered competently and effectively, etc. etc.) work for all of us together, even if some of those don't accrue to us individually. For example, I don't have kids, but am happy to pay my share towards state-funded education.

I admire people like your grandfather, but I don't think we need to make things tough(er) for people trying to make their way. On the contrary, I'd like more to make an effort to succeed, for there to be freer competition and more ideas in the mix. The point is that while anyone can succeed, not everyone can. The winners need the rest of us to work for them, that's how capitalism works, isn't it? Removing the poverty trap and making sure that people know there's always a blame-free, fall-back to a basic income means that more can take those risks with confidence.

Nikki Radir

Re: This is only one example of BI's benefits


What I actually said, was that we need people to work, whether that be in paid employment or not. You could put in some time down your local charity shop, help out with kids who need to learn to read, volunteer to get the elderly and disabled to their hospital appointments ... whatever you wanted to do, and so meeting the requirement. If the requirement in terms of hours worked was reasonable, you might then have enough time, attention, energy and cash to rehearse in a band, campaign for your favourite political reform, tend a community garden, write a business plan...

Nikki Radir

This is only one example of BI's benefits

Thanks to your contributor for this article. My take on this is that there are many ways that BI would benefit both individuals and society at large. If we get off people's backs by abandoning all the many and various bureaucratic obstacles, petty prejudices and financial hurdles that work against those on the economic margins, then they would be free to contribute in a paid or unpaid job, to engage in training or education, or to mix work that pays with pro bono work.

Where I part from the ‘universal’ form of BI is in wanting a requirement to put in a minimum number of working hours (when fully able to do so, unlike this article's author). We need everyone's contribution. I'm not in favour of workfare, there should be an entirely free choice of occupation - but for the sake of everyone's self-esteem, a general perception of fairness and helping to cover all those things that commerce and the state can't, people should work.

I think that capitalism is great, as long as democracy is in control; this requires confident participation from a large majority. BI would enable more people to be citizens, not just dependants. It's a help to those starting out on careers or creating small businesses, it's a landing pad for those who crash and burn. In either direction, it helps give confidence to people that they won't be ruined by taking the risks of trying new ventures.

BI has a big problem of perception to overcome, in that it requires a large amount of money to be shovelled through taxation and back out to the citizenry; a lot of thought needs to be given to this. Rationally, it cannot be “too expensive” as it is a redistribution scheme, where gains and losses across the population balance out.

Maybe one facet of the system should be the ring-fencing of this and other, residual benefits outside the Treasury's grasp. It means an end to the grudging concessions of welfare benefits and an acceptance of the permanent redistribution of income. In this age of huge concentration of wealth and unstoppable automation, is this a bad thing? BI of itself is no magic bullet; but whatever questions need to be answered in terms of conditionality, the long-term need of those unable to contribute fully or the thorny issues around housing, it seems to promise much. And I like the idea of one, big, fair, reasonable ‘yes’ to people’s requests for help; replacing hundreds of ways to say ‘no’.

Amazon guarantees bitterly contested Ohio wind farm project

Nikki Radir

@Clunking Fist

"Drink Koolade? Check."

What on Earth does that mean? I presume however that you disagree with the statement, or maybe don't care if civilisation ends. For myself, there are places I'd like to visit in my old age, that I'd much prefer to see without using diving gear.

Nikki Radir

Re: Green PR BS

@Marketing Hack

In the short to mid-term, having gas plants spin up to take up the slack is a sound approach; when wind ramps up again, we get less CO2 output. In the long term, we need better energy storage, a more diverse set of renewable inputs and tight control of the power mix feeding the grid (and in the States, a _connected_ grid!). People are working on that, thank goodness. What are you doing? Yes, that's a "What did you in The Great Energy Transition, Grandad?" question.

Looks to me like wind is a worthwhile part of the energy mix. If you don't like it, invent, sell, and/or invest in, something better! For example, having the occasional wind turbine catch fire, or fall over, seems a better set of risks than the certainties of dealing with waste, long term, from existing fission reactor designs. I would be interested, however, in the prospect of 'fail-safe-ish' thorium reactors with much wider availability of fuel, reducing geopolitical distortions. And maybe, just maybe, someone surprises us with a economical, working, long-life fusion reactor - one of these years.

What is not an option is continuing to burn fossil fuels at an increasing rate. Every time we can expand renewable generation, and have sufficient control over its contribution to the grid, we chip away at the CO2 burden. [And if anyone here has any problem with the need to do that, go away and do some proper, disinterested reading outside your confirmation bias comfort zone. A year or so should do it.]

Kotkin: Why Trump won

Nikki Radir

Elephant in the room

Good points from Mr Kotkin, but there's more to it than this. The elephant in the room is not the GOP, but the spectacular and chilling use of lies, misdirection and insinuation by Mr Drumpf. He has taken the dark arts of both political campaigning and salesmanship further than ever before in the 2016 presidential race, with devastating effect. Scott Adams (Dilbert author) correctly identified Drumpf as a 'Master Persuader' and, more than a year ago, said "I’m going to predict he will be our next president".

The thing is, that admiration for someone's skills is not at all the same as approval of what they say. The President-Elect has used those skills to advance an incoherent set of policies that sound like the scattergun exclamations of the drunk at the end of the bar: "... an' 'nother thing! We sh'd build a wall to keep them Mexicans out ... 'n' make 'm PAY f'r it too!"

Sometimes, those drunks say stuff that make sense, but you wouldn't trust any of them to sit on the local parking zone committee, let alone run a country. In this case, we will see Drumpf row back on the less practicable policies, but his own hateful views, and the momentum of his success and the Republican majority it helped create, will assist those on the far right in Congress to drive their agenda. As for the positive stuff, I am not holding my breath for the end of all-pervasive lobbying, super PACs or any other facet of 'draining the swamp', nor do I foresee supposed, shiny, new trade deals reviving the USA's industrial heartland.

Contrary to the accusations of election rigging, the mechanics of vote counting in the USA are pretty sound. There is another story to be written about the cumulative effect of gerrymandering, the 'data cleansing' of voter registration rolls and the reduction in the number of polling stations: however, this one will not flatter Republicans, I'm afraid. Nevertheless, the count itself worked (I think we will find) and the people have made their choice.

People are not stupid, and millions have voted for Drumpf for a variety of reasons, many of which make perfect sense. The problem is that so many have formed these reasons from a picture provided by the media that is so distorted, so misrepresentative and so laden with irrelevance, unsubstantiated rumour and insults that it cannot allow a person to make a reasonable choice. There has been an unholy alliance of yer Donald, the mainstream media (look at those ratings!), pro-Drumpf bloggers and websites, scruple-free Drumpf surrogates, social media storms and Macedonian teenagers making Google Adword money from fake Drumpf stories. All this has created the biggest fog of lies we have ever seen in politics. And why should people have to dig behind every campaign assertion to track down the truth, to do their own investigations over and over again?

I wouldn't let the pro-Clinton commentators off the hook either - for example, taking the piss out of Drumpf supporters was an own goal, as was HRC's own 'deplorables' remark (more than a gaffe, I think). However, the real point here is what won - a willingness to say whatever it took, to appeal to people's fear, to lie, to threaten, to ride the impetus of old prejudices, all done with consummate skill and using whatever was the most promising material to hand - an unreliable source here, an exaggeration there, a rumour, an invention, a mistake and just occasionally the truth. Occasionally.

So while the election 'worked', in that there were in all probability sound counts across the country and negligible voter fraud, this year in America democracy was totally broken. There can be no valid elections based on lies. We have never seen anything quite like this before. All those cynical comments that we've ever made about politics, politicians and their relationship about the truth have been realised in a campaign that has gone further into the darkness than any in a post-WWII, major democracy.

Time for us to grow up.

Got a great IoT story to tell? You have until Friday to let us know

Nikki Radir

IoT - the never-beginning story

I've read hundreds of articles, posts, adverts, spec sheets, etc. about IoT 'stuff'. Not one of these would justify a fraction of their cost and effort in setting up, with the miniscule 'advantages' they offer to me. Any of them would add to the list of things to go wrong. We have many genuine problems to be solved in this world; please go away and think again. Lend your efforts to creating something worthwhile, rather than tiny increments to first-world, so-called convenience and me-too, bragging-rights trends.

Tim Cook: EU lied about Apple taxes. Watch out Ireland, this is a coup!

Nikki Radir

Re: yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah ...


"our tax rate is nowhere near 0.005% "

ST, you've inspired me! I'll set up a company in a jurisdiction that taxes only profits made in that country. Create a local subsidiary that employs me for a less-than-taxable salary. Then persuade the company that I work for to pay that company for my services. Nullify profits by having the immediate parent charge it for management services, and use of the "Nikki Radir" brand. Charge most of my personal expenses to the parent company, route any remaining profit to a virtual parent-of-the-parent, stacking it up to wait for an opportunity to pay off my mortgage through a convenient, non-taxable route.

Then errm... ummm... any tax lawyers help me out here?

Making us pay tax will DESTROY EUROPE, roars Apple's Tim Cook

Nikki Radir

Re: Hang on

@IT Poser

" ...if there are no loopholes then they can't be exploited."

I also think that KISS should be applied to all matters of government, law-making and regulation - as far as is possible.

It seems to me that the huge complexity of UK tax law is not accidental; that, under governments of different stripe for many decades now, it has been written, in part, to allow or even facilitate tax avoidance for various powerful, special-interest groups with effective lobbying or even direct, personal access to lawmakers. Further, in recent years (see 'Private Eye' articles in their hundreds) there has been such an incestuous relationship between the large accounting firms and first the IR, then HMRC, that we have effectively seen the regulation shaped, if not directly written, by the same group of people that advise rich individuals and large companies on how to minimise their tax burden.

Tax efficiency in itself is not blameworthy; it makes perfect sense to pay only what is properly due, and no more. It also makes sense to profit from incentives specifically put in place to encourage particular types of investment and economic development. However, what we see is that a whole realm of nebulous artificiality has sprung up, in which people are making their entire, very lucrative careers. Here activities take place, contracts are drawn up and companies are brought into being, operated and wound up for the sole purpose of tax avoidance.

I think that something can be done about that, and would love to hear commentary from economists, lawyers and accountancy experts - those who have no personal interest in maintaining the 'nebulous realm'. Is it beyond the wit of humankind to devise company and tax law that supports and rewards genuine business activity, and disallows the rest?

Granted, sensible changes to international agreements will suffer tremendous inertia and resistance from vested interests. There must though be many changes (and especially simplifications!) that can be effected domestically. Even to my inexpert eye, the methods of avoidance I see reported seem absurd in the extreme; but to plug the loopholes again and again would simply be to ratchet up the arms race of deceit and complexity in avoidance. There needs to be radical change, starting with the expulsion of anyone and everyone with a conflict of interest from HMRC and adequate funding for proper inspection and enforcement. Then a non-denominational public inquiry.

Nikki Radir

Re: Corporation tax is the problem


"So you're saying it's effectively a tax levied in response to shelter from failure?"

Yes, but I should have made it clearer that this is a reason why I personally think corporation tax is a reasonable and purposeful one - I didn't mean to imply that this is why such taxes have been enacted. You've just made me aware of another area I'm ignorant of - what was in the minds of legislators, around the world, when they decided to tax corporations?

Nikki Radir

Re: Hang on

I expect your main point hangs on that paper's identification of a link between increasing corporation tax and lower wage settlements, from which you deduce that the tax is in effect paid by a company's employees?

[Setting aside my skepticism about economic modelling...] The passing on of costs from one person (or legal entity with quasi-personhood, as in the case of a corporation) to another is just an inevitable part of our economic activities. For example, over the years, my modest increases in salary and the UK government's rather lower increases in tax band thresholds have come to mean that - come bonus time in the New Year - I'll be taxed at the higher rate (40 not 20%). For 2017 this means (say) that we won't be replacing the garden fence as well as my clapped-out old car. A local fencing company won't be getting an order. But the UK Treasury will be getting about £1.5K more.

From my POV, there is purpose and good sense in levying tax on corporations. They enjoy many legal privileges and huge benefits from publicly-funded goods, which enable firms to operate effectively, attract investment and to take risks in innovation and new products. I agree that such taxation should not be punitive or counter-productive (noting in passing that the USA has one of the highest rates...). Perhaps the paper you quote could also be used to make a case for allowances to be set against corporation tax, based on the number of employees it has in that jurisdiction?

Returning to the main issue under discussion, we have for the time being at least to acknowledge the existence of corporation tax and its part in funding national budgets, managed by democratically-elected governments. I would contend that, to allow firms _like_ Apple - those with the economic clout and the mobility afforded by the type of business that they're in - to escape most of their tax liabilities, is not just to allow unfair competitive advantage, or to further impoverish countries still recovering from the shocks of 2008/2009*, but also to relinquish an essential part of democracy.

* Can we agree that the price of bailouts and austerity measures is mostly being shouldered by ordinary citizens?

Nikki Radir

Re: Time to punish Volkswagen - then Ireland can break from the EU

1. What has Volkswagen got to do with this? And in any case, why is it in anyone's interest to bankrupt them?

2. Is there any prospect that the ROI will leave the EU? I don't think so. Ireland can and has set its own tax laws. The EU ruling is not about what tax laws Ireland has created, but that it has acted anti-competitively by giving special treatment to Apple. Do you think that when the UK leaves the EU it should set up shop as (even more of) a tax haven? Do you think that such a tactic will benefit the UK in the long run?

Are you a tax lawyer? An Apple executive? What interest do you have in Apple paying a tiny fraction of the tax that other companies pay?

Nikki Radir

Re: Hang on

That's not the point. Other businesses still contribute just as much, proportionally, as their activities also generate the taxes you mention. However, many of them cannot (or, incredibly, "do the right thing" and do not) avoid corporation tax. Hence Apple and the other stateless tax-dodgers gain an unfair competitive advantage.

Huge corporations do not need special deals; they can afford to look after themselves, whatever the jurisdiction. We collectively, however, need there to be a level playing field for genuine competition. Taking part in a race to the bottom on tax deals with big corporations is a mug's game. A few countries can get away with it for a while, but if pursued by many countries it simply results in the impoverishment of all the underpinnings of civilised and prosperous societies. Firms like Apple want to have their cake and eat it - to benefit by drawing employees from an educated population, having use of publicly-funded infrastructure, a reliable legal system, etc. - but not to contribute to the same.

However, it is up to us (via our governments) to set the proper conditions for a healthy business environment. We could wait years, decades even, for international tax regulations to be overhauled - or we could insist that the price of doing business in our own country (ROI, UK, USA, Germany, Japan, wherever) is to adhere to basic, sensible principles. Profits made from activity in a country should be taxed there; domestic subsidiaries owned by a multi-national should not be paying to the parent as if they were a franchisee; the incorporation of companies with no trading or administrative purpose should not be allowed; prices charged to different, local subsidiaries for goods and services from their parent company should be the same everywhere; artificial loans with the purpose of generating unreal 'costs' should be outlawed - and so on.

In the UK (and I suspect elsewhere), we seem to have forgotten the value of democracy and have largely become disengaged from the process (and I don't mean just turning up to vote once in a while). Just think - they've got the tax lawyers but we've got the numbers.

Nikki Radir

Re: Corporation tax is the problem

"Why tax corporations at all?"

- because of the privileged legal status they have, particularly with limited liability. This is what makes share-owning capitalism work, and has enabled much of the economic growth seen in developed countries. Shareholders can invest in a company with good confidence, knowing that they won't be bankrupted if it fails.

The downside is that the collapse of a company often creates large external costs. Look at corporation tax partly as companies' contribution to collective insurance for this, and partly as their fee for all the public goods (education, infrastructure, legal system, etc.) that enable them to operate.

Tesco Mobile does what? Hahahahahahaha. Sorry customers

Nikki Radir

Tesco Mobile have been good to me...

I bought a Motorola Moto G 4G from them on tick, zero-interest on £108, plus a very decent monthly deal. Just finished paying for the 'phone (at £4.50 a month...), and it's still good for everything I want to do. An early tech support call was dealt with courteously and well.

Was that too good to be true?

Anyway, I shall now be looking for a SIM from someone else. If only more people read El Reg and Private Eye, and boycotted all firms like Capita, that seemingly regard their employees and customers with contempt.

UK.gov makes total pig's ear of attempt to legalise home CD ripping

Nikki Radir

Re: I'm not stopping now

Thanks for responding, Andrew. I didn't expect to come back and find anything further, this late on.

Your comment does clarify things for me - e.g. "there hasn't been one call from any UK trade group requesting a media levy". I had thought (automatically discounting any assurance from Govt that a levy would not be imposed) that it was entirely possible that the UK would go down this route, as others have done. Not any hallucination, then, just a cynical (and now, obviously under-informed) assumption about possible future developments. Most EU countries do impose a levy of some sort.

I have absolutely no desire either to "stop British musicians being compensated", but a token fund, established to cover the InfoSoc Directive provision, won't do much to help. I stand by my assertion that the majority of recording musicians have much more cause to complain about their treatment by the big media companies, than they do about the behaviour of people buying music.

There are many issues surrounding recorded music (and other art forms) created or highlighted by progress in computing and communications technology, that are far from being resolved. Nothing I've read about this case seems to move us towards a healthier situation, but at least it's helping keep discussion going.

Nikki Radir

Re: Re: I'm not stopping now

Andrew, I don't understand your reply (but thanks for the article, it certainly helped me better understand the issues).

"[citation needed]"

Doesn't your article and other current material about this court case, and the underlying issues, make this plain? Music industry bodies brought this action to prevent 'uncompensated copying' - in other words, and unfortunately as per the EU directive, they want payment for the copies that people make of material that they have already paid for. Besides, this is an online comment, not a dissertation!

"If you want the EU to repeal that part of the InfoSoc Directive that the principle of uncompensated copying is fine, please go ahead."

I thought the directive only allowed member states to legislate that copying was permitted, but only if there _was_ compensation to the rights holder(s) for that copying? Perhaps "so that the principle..."?

Do you mean though, that if I object to the particular item under Article 5(2), then by all means exercise what pitifully small influence I might be able to exert, to get it repealed? Well, like the majority of people commenting here and elsewhere (from what I can see - please don't ask me for a detailed analysis), I object to the very idea of charges for format-shifting and backups. Perhaps there are enough people paying attention to this, to start pushing for a sane outcome.

Nikki Radir

I'm not stopping now

Thanks for the points made here.

Because of my love for music I've spent 10s of thousands on concert tickets and recordings over the past 40+ years: not unusual, I’d guess. Have any of the parties to this case (whatever the legal arguments might be) considered what response there might be from devoted music fans?

Once again, sections of the music industry attempt to punish those who contribute most to their profits, their incomes, by extracting more revenue from them for recordings for which they have already paid. Meanwhile, it will make no difference at all to those who rely on pirated copies, of whatever kind.

I understand how difficult it is for all but the most famous artists to make a decent amount. However, I draw the line right here. I bought this stuff and I will do with it what I want, short of selling it on or giving away copies. Right now I'm part way through ripping my collection to hard disk. I'm not stopping now, regardless of the change in the law.

To the organisations representing artists, I say: focus on getting a fair deal from the media companies and establishing a better distribution model for the digital age, one that rewards both performers and loyal fans. To the larger, more aggressive media companies (you know who you are), I say: your greed and lack of scruples disgust me. I love music despite your best efforts to turn it into a debased commodity. You need bringing in line, not for courts and governments to pander to your demands.


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