The Way We Live Now    
    Some observations on contemporary society by Junius    

Can pay - won't pay

Last month we looked at tax avoidance by ‘non-doms’, who wriggle out of their liability to our Revenue Men. Now we turn the spotlight onto transfer pricing, which cheats our Exchequer out of billions every year. Imagine that you own a garment-manufacturing business in Taiwan and a wholesaling outfit in London. All you need to do is invoice the goods, at somewhere close to production cost, to your wholly-owned ‘nameplate’ company in, say, the Cayman Islands, which is a tax haven. From there you bill the British outlet at just a little less than your selling price, with the result that almost all of your profit is protected from Taiwanese and UK taxation. Ask your MP how many hospitals could be built or how much could be knocked off the price of petrol if Chancellor Gordon Brown tackled this racket. You're not likely to get a sensible answer.

With friends like these...

"When she refused [to confess] she was stripped naked... blindfolded, with her arms tied behind her back, hung from the ceiling and left alone. After a while, a number of men came back into the room, threw her onto the floor, kicked her and then raped her."

Now where could all this have happened? North Korea? Zimbabwe? Iran? Iraq? No, but we're getting close. Actually it was in Turkey. and it seems that Miss Zeybek's offence was working for a magazine that supported the wrong political party! So George W. - if you're listening - please, no more bull about that moral crusade against Saddam. As for Tony Blair, he should listen to the German Opposition leader Herr Stoiber, who reckons that Turkey's admission to the EU would herald the end of that institution.

Pooh Blair?

A black child is murdered; Mrs. Currie opens her unusually extensive mouth to give us the gruesome details of her sordid little affair with John Major; the butler is cleared of nicking the silver; the very foolish Cherie (c/o 10 Downing Street) tells lies about her dubious acquaintances, and the media goes berserk. Anybody and everybody who can scribble or gabble is recruited to make sure we are informed about every useless piece of news. Tens of thousands of very largely silly words are spoken or printed. On the other hand, matters of vital national concern may get only a paragraph or two. Our Government is, for example, fully aware that the incidence of tuberculosis infection is higher in parts of London than in third-world countries, and that it has all been imported! In a sane world, journalists would be hounding ministers day and night demanding to know how the crisis was being handled. Eminent medical men would be giving interviews on television and writing erudite articles on the looming danger of an epidemic. But then, our British folk are never well informed on matters that are really important, and the Government is not called upon to explain its shameful neglect. Though of course they do try.

Recently we came across a newspaper headline announcing that "Labour targets dog mess and graffiti as new battleground"!

Forgive them their trespasses

"It is not easy being a Gentile in Israel," reports Nicky Blackburn writing in The Times. And she concludes her informative article with an anecdote.

"A few years ago a colleague came to work fuming because some hotels in Jerusalem had put up Christmas trees. I told her that I also put up a Christmas tree every year. "Well, I hope you shut your curtains," she said. "It's not right that people in your neighbourhood should have to see it. When you live here you should respect our beliefs."

One could, we suppose, counter this by observing that neither turkeys, Christmas trees nor Santa Claus are remotely connected with the birth of Christ. But why bother? In the face of such bigotry it's probably easier just to laugh and walk away. Funny though, that those of the tribe of Israel who choose to reside in the UK - David Triesman, General Secretary to the Labour Party for example, or ‘Lord’ Levy, Tony Blair's chief fund-raiser, expect our native British to accommodate with good grace and without a murmur the whims and requirements of whoever has been permitted to settle in our land. And, if we sometimes declare that "enough is enough", we are accused of racism and intolerance!

British and Great!

Every night, or more probably in the small hours of the morning, Alistair and Doreen invade our territory in search of food. They are, we believe, of the semi-urban variety and thus equally adept at giving a canard sans l'orange a nasty shock, such as tearing a bin liner to shreds when the need arises. They are survivors in a harsh world, and this we find commendable. Readers may thus gather that we are less than enthusiastic as regards the antics of those who profess to take pleasure in hunting our wild and wily canine friends. Even so, we would not be so presumptuous as to deny them their right to do it. Fundamental rights are, after all, of the greatest importance. We believe passionately in the right of our folk to live in peace amongst their own kind, and to see their children being educated in the company of others from their own tribe. And, while we are not allowed to boast of the superiority of our own race, we will, however much threatened by ignoramuses who have never done a decent day's work, proudly acclaim the unequalled achievements of our Western European peoples in music, literature, architecture and invention. But will we be survivors if we sit back and do nothing?

Making ends meet...

For some Tories it was a sad day when William Hague relinquished his post as leader(?) of the Opposition in favour of the forceful, dynamic, sprightly and energetic lain Duncan Smith. The good news is that, although relegated to the back benches, our William is doing pretty well for himself. In addition to his £55,118 parliamentary salary, plus £100,000 in allowances, he gets £120,000 a year for giving parliamentary advice to a couple of companies and, of this, £70,000 is for just 10 days ‘work’, while another £35,000 rolls in from speechifying. And all this because the mugs in Richmond, North Yorkshire, chose him to represent(?) them.

... and money for old rope

Even so, we think there may be times when Mr. Hague looks across the Channel with a touch of envy. Because in the European Parliament the train is so loaded with gravy it can barely move. For, if all the unmonitored opportunities for cheating are exploited to the hilt, an MEP can saddle the taxpayer with an expense account of £250,000 per annum free of tax! As an example, staff expenses are allowed at a colossal £7,640 a month. So, find yourself a media studies graduate desperately anxious to find something less stressful than working at a check-out for Tesco; pay her £25,000 a year, and pocket the odd £66,000. Nice work if you can get it. Meantime, Duncan-Smith waffles on about tax-cuts!

Sharing out the Big Apple

New York has been described as the most racially mixed of cities. But is it really mixed? Manhattan is for the most part white and Jewish, except for the black enclave of Harlem. Washington Heights is Hispanic, while the Lower East Side is Chinese. The South Bronx is black; Queens is sub-continental; Brighton Beach is Russian, etc., etc. So this is, in effect, a melting pot in which none of the ingredients have actually melted. Those of us who have long paid tribute to the concept of separate development have been subjected to bitter attacks in the past. But is this really different?

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