West Midlanders who live in fear of ill health, not because of hesitations about local treatment, but due to worrying if their sheer weight will thwart their transit to hospital, needn’t fear any longer. The West Midlands Ambulance Service is now fully equipped for those who weigh in at 19 stone or more with three vehicles especially adapted for obese patients, costing taxpayers £100,000 (Birmingham Mail, 19th July). These larger folk shan’t be without expert assistance either, as 60 ambulance staff have been trained to use the new equipment and employ the new techniques required.
The initiative can be found across the West Midlands with Worcestershire hospitals forking out £80,000 for reinforced beds, wheelchairs and walking frames, all capable of bearing up to 50 stone.
The news of these measures was released alongside the latest obesity figures that rank the region as the most obese in the UK and forecast that by 2010 the numbers will have risen by 14%. This expense seems to have been written off as an investment for a future where presumably overweight or ‘bariatric’ patients as they are to be known, will make up a substantial amount of inpatients.
Obviously these patients need medical care and to be treated with a degree of sympathy, but there is a defeatist attitude toward projected figures of obesity in the West Midlands at the heart of this move, as health chiefs clearly have little faith in the impact of Government health-drives and the numerous initiatives emphasising the need to eat healthily that have received substantial funding in recent years. Predictably, the heavy costs resulting from a lack of official hands-on action to combat spiralling obesity falls to the taxpayer.
In 787 AD, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Britain experienced its first ever Viking raid when a group of warriors sailed from Norway to Devon. On arriving in Devon, they were mistaken for merchants by a royal official, and so asked to pay a tax on their goods.
The Vikings killed the official.
Given a history like that with the taxman, it is perhaps less surprising that there is growing discontent in Norway over their tax system. Norway is well known for having very high levels of direct taxation to fund its large and generous welfare state and expansive social benefits. However, it is the high indirect taxes (known as avgifter) that may soon break the camel’s back.
To give you a flavour of the extent of these avgifter consider this: the duty placed on new cars can more than double the car’s price whilst the tax on property transactions costs homebuyers 2.5% of the purchase price. Thus the shock should not be that 75% of people think these taxes are too high, but that it took this long for the tide to turn.
This ought to be a warning to our politicians, for whom indirect taxes are becoming all the rage as they allow them to cut the headline rate of income tax whilst still spending wildly and also claiming to do "something" (whether it be over the environment or the nation’s health) at the same time.
People do not like stealth taxes. They do not like health-fascists taxing the foods that are deemed inappropriate. They do not like environmental do-gooders using the coercive instruments of the State to appease their consciences over the environment.
People do not like seeing more and more of their hard-earned income taken by bloated government, for it then to be wasted on lining the pockets of politicians and channelled off to fund the pet projects of bureaucrats. None of this discontent is unique to Britain it seems, even if the public in high-tax socialist havens like Norway have just taken a little longer to lose patience and voice their opposition.
…if we don’t sign up to big new taxes on hard-up manufacturing industry and good old family holidays.
I saw this flyer at the Prince Charles cinema off London’s Leicester Square; at first I thought it was a macabre joke:
Looking at the reverse it appears it is a protest against Heathrow expansion:
All these moralistic attacks on flying can’t be justified even under the analysis of a ‘green’ like Stern. As Fraser Nelson noted on the Spectator’s CoffeeHouse blog yesterday:
"If anyone is thinking of cancelling a trip to a developing country where livelihoods depend on tourism, can I put into perspective the impact of air travel with some other polluters identified on page 199 of the Stern Review.
World Greenhouse Gas Emissions (from World Resources Institute)
Road transport 9.9%.
Agriculture soils 6.0%
Livestock (ie, bovine flatulence or farting and burping cows) & manure 5.1%
Rail and ship and “other” transport 2.3%
Air transport 1.6%
Rice cultivation 1.5%
Food & tobacco 1.0%"
The Wall Street Journal reports today yet another example of how continental politicians hope to use the EU as a means of enforcing their economically disastrous policies across the whole continent.
Each individual EU country knows that their statist schemes will retard economic growth, and send investors, entrepreneurs and capital to freer countries where markets are allowed to flourish and productive elements are welcome. So to avoid "damaging" competition between EU countries, politicians from countries with uncompetitive regulative and tax system want to force all EU countries down to their standard.
This is why certain EU politicians wanted to enforce harmonised taxes across whole EU, so that more competitive countries like Britain would be lumbered with outrageously high tax rates, and thus reducing our relative attractiveness to investors. This time it is Germany wishing to enforce their strict controls over foreign ownership of German capital. Merkel knows that intervening in the free flow of capital will send investors away from Germany, so she says it is only "fair" and "responsible" to enforce these policies across the EU.
If such intervention made any sort of economic sense then why only restrict ownership of non-EU groups, why not stop French companies from buying German stocks? Indeed, if restricting ownership made any sense at all why not stop companies from one German region buying companies based in another German region.
Economic laws do not follow artificial man-made borders. It is thus unsurprising that countries most open to foreign investment are those countries that are reaping the biggest gains from globalisation; seeing higher growth, lower unemployment and better allocation of resources. If this undeniable economic logic does not convince Germany, then they are free to continue to shoot themselves in the foot by introducing populist protectionist measures, however, Germany should certainly not be enforcing its stupidity across the whole EU. Germany should not be able to undermine the foundations on which British prosperity is built.
Ultimately, this is just further evidence of how far apart Britain’s economic outlook is from continental Europe’s, and so further evidence of our need to reconsider elements of our relationship with Europe.
It’s been a very bad week for our state broadcasting station. As an ‘impartial’, government run, taxpayer funded outfit, it’s been accused of bias (again) and today’s papers expose another phone-in competition scam at the BBC. This comes barely days after Blue Peter admitted fixing one of their competitions. Today BBC Director General Mark Thompson held his hands up and confessed there were deceptions and that six shows deliberately rigged their competitions.
The issue now is not whether heads will roll, but how many. Thompson has warned staff they face the sack if they trick the public in future. As noble a gesture that is, perhaps there needs to be a complete clear-out at the BBC. Why even stop there? Let’s jump on the bandwagon and call for a complete transformation of the BBC – taking it out of the state’s hands and putting it out to compete.
People should be free to pay the license fee if they wish to subscribe to the BBC. But at present it’s illegal to have a TV without paying the license fee, making it a defacto TV-tax.
How much more evidence do we need to wake people up to the incomprehensible nature of the BBC? You pay for it and it scams you. You can’t watch anything else without paying into BBC the pot.
The BBC is an unwieldy throwback to an age where the state knew best and could control everything. We have better, more competitive and popular TV channels out there in touch with our viewing needs. The BBC should prove its worth in competing without state handouts. Perhaps then it will earn its place on our screens.