Re: Weasels vs. transparancy / traffic cameras

From: Charlie Stross (
Date: Mon May 22 2000 - 09:26:48 MDT

On Mon, May 22, 2000 at 10:04:36AM -0400, Michael S. Lorrey wrote:
> > Basically, Michael is wrong on _every_ count he cites. But he's right in
> > his overall assertion that the UK (or at least England/Wales, a distinct
> > legal entity from Scotland or Northern Ireland) is not free.
> I'm so right I'm wrong, I guess?
> property crime high.... check
> did SAS kill dissidents? ... check (that they aren't killing them ANYMORE is
> irrelevant, only because everyone is now playing nice nice. When the next
> dissident group shows up will prove if its a true change)

Ahem: if we play this game, I'll have to cite the CIA's fun activities
in the 1960's and 1970's. Or Oliver North's little escapades. Clue: the
"next dissident group" is _already_ planting bombs -- it's nothing to
do with the Irish issue and everything to do with militant animal rights
protestors blowing up meat packing warehouses.

> You say the income tax is lower? What are the brackets, the percentages? What are
> the deductions? What is the cost of living?

Well, speaking as a non-accountant, I'm in the top income tax bracket --
paying 40% on taxable income about 28K (pounds, not dollars). I don't have
any recent figures to hand, but the last ones I saw suggested that the
gross proportion of income we pay in tax here is about 39%, compared with
38% in the USA and >40% anywhere else in the EU. (Sweden, with the highest
rate, was around 55%.)

One problem in the UK is the cosy marketing cartels. For example, automobiles
cost a LOT more here than elsewhere -- not because they're rare or because
they're heavily taxed, but because the UK is a captive market. Right hand
drive vehicles, right? Makes it a bit hard to hop over the channel and buy
one. So the manufacturers all sell via a nice cosy dealership arrangement
that sees the same model selling for 30-40% more in the UK. (This particular
example is now collapsing under the weight of anti-trust investigations and
e-commerce entrepreneurs handling imports, and the dealerships are screaming
blue murder, but it indicates a pattern underlying the cost of living in the
UK -- which is high, but not necessarily because of taxation.)

>you saying you don't have the right to refuse to participate in
> the health care system and the social security system?

Do _you_ have the right to health care or social security if you refuse to
pay for them?

I have the right to refuse to use them. But they're there. And they
represent a _lot_ of personal insurance premiums I'd be paying if they
weren't, and a lot of surplus value going into a fat, parasitic insurance

> > ..... And the UK has been becoming increasingly, radically,
> > diverse since the end of the 1950's.)
> Its still lily white compared to the US.
Still into the one-upmanship?

These days, the UK is approximately 7% non-white. Yeah, that's lilly
white compared to the US. It is, however, a major departure from the
historical record.

-- Charlie

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