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Makes you laugh, doesn’t it?

Makes you laugh, doesn’t it?

Do you ever get the feeling you don’t really understand what’s going on? Reading the news over the last week, I kept getting this horrible feeling that I was in an episode of Reggie Perrin.

Perhaps I’m working too hard, but if we’re trying to save as much money from the public purse as we can, why are we promising to give everyone the maximum pension possible? Why is the Mayor of London up in arms about ethnic cleansing in Streatham? And why will I have to take money out of my company to provide a pension fund for my staff – of whom there is precisely one – when the money that I deliberately leave in the company is meant to be to help fund my pension…?

The world really has gone slightly mad.

There have been flashes of sanity though. The Institute of Directors has written to the new Office of Tax Simplification pointing out that there is a tax measure they really need to look at. One that causes great confusion, that is counter-productive and actually costs money to implement since almost all attempts to charge it result in failure. You might have heard of it; it’s called IR35

Errm, hullo, IOD? Aren’t you about 10 years late? Some of us – about 20,000 to be precise – have been beating that drum for quite a long time. Now, finally, it’s on the agenda for reassessment and, dare we hope, possible abolition, and the IOD have realised it’s a bad thing. Keep up at the back, chaps.

Actually what I thought was quite amusing was that they used the same arguments and most of the same statistics that PCG have been generating over the years. So perhaps there was a grain of truth in what we’ve been saying all along.

We’ve also been saying things about abuse of the visa system and the importing of non-EU workers to undercut the local variety, many of whom are now out of work. So it was with a degree of amusement that I read a survey has shown that a quarter of Tier 1 visa holders are working in non-skilled jobs.

Say what? Tier 1 are the people who can stand on their own two feet, who will make a positive contribution to the country and who, after two years, are supposed to be earning at least £35k a year to keep the visa. Granted people can work for whoever they want, at whatever they want, but if being a supermarket cashier is the height of your ambition, you really do have to wonder why they came in the first place.

I also read that someone in government has had a bit of an inspiration. When discussing the proposed cap on immigration and its reputedly monstrous impact on some companies’ ability to bring in staff, it was suggested that perhaps using up the ones they had applied for might be a way out of their dilemma.

And I’m sorry, but I still refuse to take St Vincent of Cable seriously.

Still, some things brought a smile to these grumpy old lips. The better than expected growth figures and the retention of our AAA rating prove that some think we’re going about things the right way. The Coalition’s spending review contained a lot of solid common sense, something politics has been lacking for quite a while (about 13 years, to be precise) although I still don’t quite get that thing about non-aircraft carriers. And I loved Osborne’s parting shot when announcing the programme, that the total cuts added up to 19% of government spending, which is precisely one percent less than the 20% that Labour had said was the most we could afford and what they would have done had they been in power.

So a confusing week in some ways, but not a bad one, all things considered.

Alan Watts can found at LinkedIn.
© 2010 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Image: Remember to Smile by ponc?opengu?n

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