Marchessini Blog & Forum

Immigration

With reference to a column in The Times by Rachel Sylvester, on immigration, (MPs not immigrants are the real problem) she is quite right to say that the majority of people have no objection to immigration, but that they very much feel that the matter has been handled incompetently by our politicians. Indeed, they are quite correct.

One of the characteristics of the English is that they believe the world ends at the Channel, and they never bother to see what Europe is doing. Thus, our government has not noticed the fact that France and Germany have no problem with immigration. Why? Because they have sensible rules. Some years ago, the Home Office shamelessly announced that they had “lost” 500,000 immigrants. More recently they announced that they had “lost” 250,000 immigrants. Clearly, they seem to be improving. The reason this could not happen on the Continent is because they have I.D. cards for all immigrants.

Most immigrants come to England via the Channel, which means they have to travel through France, and usually through Germany too, to arrive at the Channel. Why do they not stop in France or Germany? Both are rich countries, and more sparsely populated than England? Because they all want to take advantage of the UK’s insane benefit laws, whereby an immigrant can receive benefits from the day he arrives. Now, in both France and Germany, you are not allowed to receive benefits unless you have worked for at least twelve months in that country. Now, why has not England done that? One reason under UK laws is that you are required to have the same benefit laws for immigrants as for your own citizens. France and Germany do, but in England that would mean toughening our own benefit laws. One has to conclude our politicians are much less competent than those on the Continent.

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The Naked Truth

That Greeks do not pay taxes turns out to be a myth.  In 2013, the latest year, revenue in Greece was 47% of GDP, the 12th highest in the world.  In Germany, it was only 44% of GDP, yet people still pretend that “Greeks do not pay taxes”.

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Hypocrisy

I noted in the press that Alan Bennett thinks the English are best at hypocrisy. I must say I agree with that, but I think the hypocrisy is slightly different from the examples that he mentions.

Some years ago, a Scottish couple came to England to work for a few years. They wrote to the Times, and said that their first impression on meeting English people was how friendly they were. They invariably said to the Scottish couple, “You must come and have dinner”. Eventually, the Scottish couple understood that when one says “You must come and have dinner” that means you will never go to have dinner. That is English hypocrisy.

Certainly, to close public libraries is insane, but I do not think we can blame English people for that. We can only blame their politicians who, by definition, are hypocritical. Similarly, on the question of education, fifty years ago, England was at the top of the education tree in Europe. It now has been confirmed by EU statistics that we are at the bottom. There was an amusing story in the press about a black family, who, having lived in England for some time, decided to go back to Barbados with their children. When they got back to Barbados, they naturally put their children into school, and were amazed to be told that the children had to be put back, because the Barbadian education system was well ahead of the British one. This occurred because Harold Macmillan, many years ago, “opened” the education system, and both the Communists and the Socialists poured into it, and over the years destroyed it. On the Continent, there are very few private schools, because there is no call for them. The state school system is very good, and everyone goes to it. But in England, 8% of students go to private schools – a percentage that is unheard of. The reason is that the state schools are now so appalling, that anyone who can afford it takes their children out of the state system.

The hypocrisy is in people continuing to pretend that our state schools are satisfactory, instead of drastically reforming the system, and going back to traditional methods. On the contrary, the government forces universities to accept state school students (over 50% now), even though they are completely unqualified. I attended a lunch at Cambridge some years ago, with several distinguished dons. During lunch, one of them said to me, “Half of my students do not know what they are doing. They have no business being here.” I then asked the other dons their opinion, and they said three quarters of their students did not know what they were doing. So I then asked them how many of these students would receive a degree. “Oh”, they said, “We don’t fail anyone at Cambridge anymore.” Can there be anything more hypocritical than that? Giving degrees to unqualified students for political reasons?

Finally, Mr Bennett refers to the police, where again there is hypocrisy, and here, with respect, he is quite wide of the mark. Our policeman are now hobbled by masses of paperwork put on them by the Blair Government, and do not have time to walk the streets any more. One never sees a policeman on the street these days. Nor is it true that they are biased in favour of white middle class people. They are prepared to do their duty, but they are hobbled. What people do not realise, either here or in Europe, is that black people commit a large proportion of crime. Some years ago, there was a rash of muggings, and one day the police revealed in the press that more than 90% of the muggings were committed by black people (as they comprise only 3% of the population, that was pretty good going). Needless to say, this bit of information never appeared in the press again. But there was an amusing letter in the Times, from a black man, who said that “Just as paedophilia was the white man’s crime, mugging was the black man’s crime”. Furthermore, he said that if we want blacks to continue on our international teams, we would just have to swallow the muggings. I laughed, but I do not know how many other people did. In the U.S., the largest single cause of death among young black men is murder, and over 90% of the murders are committed by other young black men.

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Greek Surplus

The controversial economist, Paul Krugman, makes two incorrect statements in his latest column in the International New York Times about Greece. First, he says that it is a “remarkable achievement” for Greece to have run a surplus last year. The truth is, of course, that Greece did not run a surplus. The government pretended to run a surplus by presenting fraudulent accounts. It transferred $5 billion of loans it had received, to another account, and pretended it was income. That was the “surplus” for 2014. It is not in the interest of the Euro Zone creditors to point this out.

The other point which bothers Mr Krugman is, as he says, “Why collecting taxes is supposed to be a defeat for a Leftist government, is a mystery to me”. The reason is, although the rich are always blamed for tax evasion, in Greece tax evasion occurs mainly in the middle and lower income groups. Many small shopping centres (Syriza supporters), are on the verge of bankruptcy, and to have to pay more taxes would tip them over. Syriza cannot afford to be aggressive on taxes.

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Indian Rape

With reference to an article in the Telegraph by Jasper Rees about rape in India, (Over-powering indictment of female repression in India)  he states that an Indian woman is raped every 20 minutes.  This sounds enormous, but in a country the size of India, it is not.  A rape every 20 minutes means 3 rapes an hour, and 72 rapes a day.  This in turn means 26,280 rapes a year.  If we compare this with the figures in England, we find that for the year ended September 2014, there were 24,043 rapes in England.  That is almost as many as in India, yet India has a population 15 times greater than England.  In other words, the rate of rapes in England is about 15 times as high as in India.

Furthermore, there is a category of rape in England which does not exist in India, namely, the rape of men.  That figure is steadily creeping up, and recently had reached 1,300 a year.

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Ferguson, MO

Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal has produced an interesting and sensible column on the events at Ferguson, Missouri (Ferguson, Lies and Statistics).  There is one thing, however, that he gets quite wrong. He notes that blacks comprise 12% of the population of Missouri, but 65% of murder arrests, and 62% of murder victims. Yet, he says that to suggest that this is a function of race would be “erroneous and offensive. Facts cannot be offensive, and this is fact, not only in Missouri, but throughout America. By far the greatest cause of death of young black men is murder, and more than 90% of them are murdered by other black men. It is ridiculous to try to deny that blacks are not more violent than the rest of the country.

The fact is that every race is different in many ways, and the propensity to violence is one of them. In Europe, the highest number of violent crimes per capita occurs in England, and even greater than the U.K. is the U.S. In short, by European standards, Anglo-Saxons are violent. The murder rate in Switzerland, in contrast, is tiny, although they have the most guns per capita in Europe. Similarly, the murder rate in Central America is much greater than the rate in the U.S. (even among the blacks), while the rate in West Africa is even higher.

Some years ago, there was a rash of muggings in London, and one day (no doubt in error) the police released the information that 90% of the muggings were committed by blacks. Of course, this never appeared in the press again, but a black man wrote to The Times, to say that “just as paedophilia was a white crime, so mugging was a black crime, and if we wanted the blacks to continue appearing in our international sports teams, we would just have to swallow their muggings”. I was amused, but others were not.

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Non-Doms

Mr Richard Brooks’s column in the Financial Times on the subject of non-doms (A relic of empire that created a tax colony) shows that, like many other people, he is unaware both of what a non-dom is, and of the purpose of non-doms.

The concept of “domicile” exists only in England, but that does not mean it is a bad thing. It is a very good thing. It was introduced in order to bring to England the foreigners who were active in certain trades or businesses. The basic idea of a non-dom is “someone who chooses to work in England for some years, but intends to go back to his own country to die”. It was precisely because of this concept that London became the centre of the shipping and insurance world, instead of Paris, Amsterdam, Hamburg or Copenhagen. It must be kept in mind that as non-doms are foreigners, they are not obliged to come to the UK and they will only do so if conditions are favourable.

Many years ago, I attended a dinner at the Greek Embassy, held because the government at that time was threatening to change the status of non-doms. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, at the time Nigel Lawson, was present. I spoke to him briefly after dinner, and asked him, was the government not worried about losing foreign exchange, if non-doms were abolished. “Oh, no”, he answered, “We don’t want to lose any foreign exchange”.  “But” I said “Is the government not worried about non-doms leaving the UK?” “Where would they go?” he replied. In other words, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not grasped the nature of non-doms. Neither has Mr Brooks.

It is important to understand that Britons cannot be non-doms. Mr Brooks’ statement that “It is commonly claimed on the grounds of inheritance from one’s father”, is nonsense. It cannot be claimed unless all the necessary conditions are met. Nor can Russian oligarchs be non-doms – they do not come to work – they come here to escape. Nor is it true that non-doms are “the scourge of tax authorities around the world”. They exist only in the UK. Mr Brooks does not grasp that all non-doms pay tax in Britain on all their British income, as well as on any income brought in from abroad. The only thing they do not pay tax on are assets that are kept abroad. Mr Brooks is again inaccurate when he says that “the same income cannot be taxed by two different countries”. The U.S. taxes all its citizens, regardless of where they reside, and regardless of how much tax they pay in their country of residence. Nor do non-doms have any connection with HSBC’s private bank in Switzerland. Non-doms bank all over the world.

Finally, I refer to Mr Brooks quote of Gordon Brown, “Millionaires who are using non-resident or non-domicile status to avoid their ‘proper’ share of tax”. This is obviously nonsense. Anyone who is not resident in the UK does not pay tax in the UK whether they are millionaires or paupers, and anyone who is resident in the UK must pay the same tax as everyone else. The word “proper”, which unscrupulous politicians use, is particularly absurd. Who is to decide what is “proper” and not proper? The Inland Revenue changes its rules every year.

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Free Speech

With reference to David Aaronovitch’s column in The Times about “free speech” (These Muslim delusions are a danger to us all), I would suggest that most people are somewhat confused about what free speech is.

Free speech does not mean being able to say anything you want, it only means the liberty to state facts, and to give one’s opinions. Insults are not part of free speech, and anyone who give insults, whether it is about one’s mother, or about anyone else, has to be prepared for a violent reaction.

Finally, there are insults about religion, which has always been considered blasphemy, and which has been a crime for thousands of years, although no longer. People who strongly believe in their religion are more offended by an insult to it than they would be even to an insult to their mothers. That is why there has always been a ban on blasphemy, which, in my opinion, should be reinstated, as it very often results in violence. The problem is, however, that in the West blasphemy only refers to Christian religion. How one deals with blasphemy of the Moslem religion is another matter.

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Greece

In order to write knowledgeably about Greece, one must first know something about its history. The first thing one must grasp is that Greece has never been a self-sustaining country. It has always existed on “loans” from other countries, particularly Britain, France and the United States. Since modern Greece was established in 1832, the Greek Government has defaulted six times (and is about to default a seventh), and has spent ninety of those one hundred and eighty three years since independence in financial crisis – either in default or in debt restructuring. It was, therefore, insane of the Euro Zone to admit Greece. It is rather like entering a donkey in the Derby.

This situation is due to several reasons. One is that Greece is poor. Another is that there is a history of dishonesty, because of the 400 years of Ottoman rule. But most of all because, since its inception as a sovereign country, Greece has been ruled by the government civil service. Greeks are naturally clever and hard working, and all the Greeks who have emigrated abroad to the US and Australia etc. have been very successful. But in Greece, it is not possible to succeed unless one has very good political connections.

The most important problem in Greece, which is never addressed either by the government or by the Western press, is the Greek civil service. The U.K. has a population of roughly 65 million, and has about 500,000 civil servants. Greece has a population of 11 million, so by analogy, it should have roughly 85,000 civil servants. But it actually has 785,000 civil servants. In other words, there are 700,000 people in Greece not doing any work, but being paid. 50,000 of them do not even have desks. They, therefore, do not bother going to work – but they still get paid. Not long ago, a man was murdered in Salonika. The murderer and his accomplice were caught, and sent to jail. It came to light that while in jail, they were still being paid by the government, because they were civil servants. That is Greece. Now, to be fair, it would be very difficult for any country to sack 700,000 people. Together with their families, that would be 3 million people, which is 30% of Greece. Yet the fact remains that 70% of Greece is supporting 30%, who do no work.

There is a lot of clamouring about Greeks not paying taxes, but if you look at a list of the amount of tax paid by European countries, Greece is not at the bottom. That is because although Greeks pay less income tax, they pay other taxes which other countries do not have. Furthermore, although the rich people are as usual blamed for not paying tax, the non payment of tax is much more pervasive in the lower end of the income spectrum. It is very difficult for the government to force those people to pay more tax, because many of them are already on the brink of bankruptcy, and paying more tax would put them under. Finally, the Income Tax inspectors are just as bad as everyone else. If an Income Tax inspector comes to your office, and asks for a bribe in return for reducing your tax, what would you say? Would you refuse, and thus infuriate him? Or would you give him his bribe?

The Euro Zone has only two choices – support Greece indefinitely, or kick Greece out of the Euro Zone. Obviously, the only sensible solution is to do the latter. The problem is that the Euro Zone members are reluctant to do so, because Greek bonds are held in their balance sheets at face value, and if they had to write them off, that would be a big hit on their already fragile balance sheets. In addition to that, there is the money owed by Greece to the ECB under Target 2. Any losses of the ECB must be split between all the members. So the Euro Zone countries wriggle and postpone the evil day. But surely it cannot be sensible to throw good money after bad?

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Will Good Claret Ever Taste The Same Again?

Miss Victoria Moore is quite right to ask in her column in the Daily TelegraphWill good claret will ever taste the same again?”, but not for the reasons that she suggests. The greatest vintages since the war were 1945, 1947 and 1961. Because of her age, I wonder if Miss Moore will have tasted them. Since then, there have been good years, but no years to compare with the legendary vintages of the past, because wine is being made differently. What made a great year was waiting as long as possible before picking the grapes, and thereby making them as sweet as possible. The trouble is that if one waited too long, an unexpected rain or frost might ruin the vintage. The great wine houses took risks, and, therefore, were able to produce great wines from time to time. But there were also many years there were washouts.

Since then, wine growers are much less inclined to take risks, because the value of their wine has been going higher and higher, and they can no longer risk turning a good wine into a washout. They are satisfied with good wines.

Mr Parker, regardless of his reputation, is a charlatan. The idea of marking the taste of wine by price is absurd, but as he was the only one doing it, people fell for it. Again, the question of money came in, because any wine that he had approved would naturally be more valuable.

 

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