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  1. To be clear, just seven percent of children in the UK have a privileged independent school education, and these go on to take over half of the places at Oxbridge (many other places at these, the UK's most prestigious centres of learning, are grabbed by wealthy foreign students - they are not welcoming of ordinary people who might wish to share in the educational and cultural advantages on offer, in spite of any claims to the contrary). To send a child to an independent school for one year will cost more than the average annual salary in the UK. Our children are excluded by our lack of wealth. Because we are not from that high-income privileged sector, we are not permitted to enjoy access to high-status education or the networking opportunities that come as part of the package. Our children can only hope for 'training and skills', not education and wealth. Also, around seven percent of the population have ease of access private healthcare. The rest of us are dependent upon the NHS, that former public service now being vigorously eroded by the tories by privatisation and the associated employment techniques that mean a slow decline of skilled staff because cheaper labour is more profitable for the private contractors taking over our NHS. And these contractors are not interested in providing services, their only aim is profit. Who are these contractors? All those tax- abusing multinationals and the in-crowd with tory connections that enjoy those 'warm' introductions. Anyone who doubts this need only cast their mind back to the PPE and test & trace scandals last year, shocking crony capitalist scams that cost the taxpayer £billions, that's public money that went to fraudulent and incompetent outsourcing companies, or who used their tory contacts to win bogus contracts, a scandal that cost thousands of lives in the UK during the pandemic. The political project of the tories is to support this seven percent, maintain their privilege and work to further enrich the already enormously wealthy class, and to do so at the expense of everybody else. There are a few hangers on of course, who see themselves as members of this privileged minority and gather the crumbs from under the table, but around 90% of the population are exploited, forced to live a life of subservience to the few and watch our living standards erode and our childrens' schooling decline in this 'not what you know but who you know' culture of independent school, Oxford or Cambridge University and the old boy crony network that is revealed by the transcripts in my OP. Unless you are from that privileged section of society, a vote for the tories is a vote against your own interests. Always. There are those who will still seek to distract and confuse. Their bluster and blather is as easy to spot as Boris Johnson's. Ignore them. These themes will never be covered in the mainstream media. Even when some elements are revealed by the BBC or the Guardian, it will be in their documentary programmes or special reports, never on the front page, never on the Six O'clock News. The dots sometimes emerge but they are never connected so that we ordinary people might get an idea of what is going on. My work here on Sheffield forum over the last ten years has been an attempt to reveal what is hidden.
  2. Why does this matter? What are the consequences of tax abuse? Why are the Panama Papers, like the series of previous exposés, so important? Well it is foundational to the neoliberal project to accumulate wealth in the pockets of the already rich and privileged. These few, still not satisfied with their riches, have been equipped with the means to pervert the system and enrich themselves even further. And that wealth, enjoyed by the one per cent and their hangers on, simultaneously drains resources (that's money) from local communities everywhere. It has a real impact on the lives of ordinary people, people like most of us here in Sheffield. Even if we are managing, our children won't, as the low wage economy is increasingly established, and now that tax abuse is firmly embedded. And once people are shunted into a low-wage existence, they cannot afford to buy a house. Enter the landlords, enjoying unearned wealth (in fact that wealth is earned by others, of course, their tenants, who must labour day and night to pay the rent, to enrich the rentiers) and using that wealth to buy yet more property to add to their portfolio and fill their pockets with ever more unearned income. And the tax abusers recycle some of their stolen money into the funding of compliant political parties, as the Pandora Papers reveal, parties wholly hostile to the needs of ordinary people (as I demonstrated earlier in this thread with reference to the Imperial College study on life expectancy). And the tax abusers are also financing the neoliberal think tanks and lobbyists that champion the Mont Pelerin doctrine of neoliberalism. When businesses abuse the tax system, and when they exploit and underpay their employees, these neoliberal scandals drain localities like Sheffield of the funds required to provide vital services and allow communities to flourish. As I explained in my very first posts here on Sheffield forum more than ten years ago, tax abuse is an integral component of the neoliberal project. That project is destroying the world, and these facts are now clear for anyone to see, if they choose to look.
  3. Here are two BBC Radio 4 offerings from the last few weeks which reveal the deceit at the heart of the neoliberal claim that we should all stand on our own two feet and that the state should be reduced to force this bogus doctrine upon us. (Listen on BBC iPlayer) You and Yours, BBC Radio 4, 7 October 2021, presenter, Winifred Robinson Robinson: Why do you think it is that few black owned businesses in the UK have burst through into this unicorn group of people? Kent-Braham: It starts really at the very start of an entrepreneur's journey. One of the biggest barriers to overcome is raising capital. If you're from a certain background and you haven't essentially gone to a very good school and a very good university, you don't have the network to be able to raise capital from friends and family and venture capitalists. And so venture capitalists will often say, 'look, for me to invest in you, you need to have a warm intro to us.' But that warm intro's really easy to get if you literally went to the same school as someone or to the same uni, it's very hard to get when you're from a very different background. And so already there's a big barrier there. Robinson: And how about you, did you have those warm links that helped ease you in? Kent-Braham: We just got very, very lucky. Part of our first investment round, we just, someone we worked with knew someone at Monzo Bank who then we had a coffee with, who then offered to introduce us to one of their investors. And so we got that warm intro. It was just really, really lucky. Robinson: That was Oliver Kent-Braham, one of the founders of Marshmallow Insurance. (31:15 – 32:17) Today Programme, BBC Radio 4, 8 October 2021, presenter Justin Webb Webb: A new play is being staged next week: Grenfell: Value Engineering, Scenes from the Inquiry. It uses transcripts from the inquiry into the 2017 fire which caused the deaths of 72 people, that inquiry of course still going on. It opens at the Tabernacle in nearby Notting Hill, it moves then to Birmingham. And it aims to give an overview and access to some of the most important evidence that's been heard so far at the inquiry. Nicola Stanbridge has been to meet the people involved. (1:21:26 – 1:21:57) Stanbridge: Yvette Williams' campaign group Justice 4 Grenfell is working with the production: Williams: I've lived local for thirty something years, called to the fire on the night because a friend of mine lives underneath, the horror of it. I know two people that lived in the tower who died amongst the seventy two. Now I've been in the inquiry when evidence was given. None of the corporates mention people, you know, you hear about money, you hear about, you know, free lunches, you hear about them getting contracts for their mates... (1:22:25 – 1:22:59) As ever, it's who you know not what you know that eases the path to privilege and opportunity. Independent school and the right university are basic requirements. Without that privilege, and those warm intros and jobs for their mates, standing on our own two feet is a very difficult and precarious thing to achieve and maintain.
  4. All tax abuse is unacceptable, whether it's called evasion or avoidance. However, this is in fact a bogus distinction. Whilst the billionaires and corporates have the bent accountancy firms arranging their tax abuse and working inside HMRC to rig the system, no one is helping the little people to cheat, and the small traders trying to scrape a few extra quid out of their labours in the informal economy are the only ones criminalised. And rightly so, if it were fair, but it clearly isn't. Steal a little and they throw the book at you, steal a lot and you can fly to space. Off shore is now off world, for the big tax cheats. But this sneering distinction is important, because it reveals just how important taxes really are to the neoliberal project - the taxes we ordinary people pay, us 'little people' that is. It's what funds what little there is left of our public services, and I'm sure we none of us need reminding who are increasingly contracted to deliver those services. That's right, those very tax abusing corporates who don't trouble to pay taxes themselves. Indeed, every individual and company making a profit or enjoying an income in the UK should be pay all tax lawfully demanded and properly payable.
  5. Once again: the very suggestion that laws are not broken in the scandal of tax abuse is simply another bogus attempt to muddy the waters, a cynical and entirely empty claim. Tax laws have been deregulated. Laws that levy tax on businesses and wealthy individuals abolished, diminished or riddled with carefully introduced loopholes, that's what deregulation is all about - paving the way for people in positions of privilege to evade their legal responsibilities. The conservative-led coalition hollowed out HMRC, sacking thousands of staff (those who policed the tax laws), using the lie of austerity to justify cuts to essential public services. Then private sector staff were seconded at staggering expense from the very City accountancy firms that facilitate tax abuse for and on behalf of their clients. As one might say, poacher turned gamekeeper turned poacher again since, once their contracted secondments were served, these people went straight back to their posts, cheating HMRC, and therefore the public, via the very loopholes they had devised, of the revenue necessary to fund education, healthcare, social services and the DWP.
  6. To repeat, the claim that no laws are broken in tax abuse is just another sleight of hand. George Osborne hollowed out HMRC (effective deregulation by sacking the regulators), from which there were thousands of redundancies (public sector cuts). Then private sector staff were seconded from the very City accountancy firms that have been and continue to game the tax system (privatisation). These personnel, remunerated by the taxpayer (that's us little people) then wrote tax law, complete with carefully crafted loopholes which, upon returning to their employers, they exploit (tax abuse). And as the Pandora Papers reveal, the offshore world is not only a place to hide the spoils of tax abuse or engage in illicit deals, it's also a source of party funding. The tories have been in receipt of significant sums from this lucrative sewer of sleaze and corruption, and it's there on record thanks to the hard work of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
  7. Of course, what was significant about 2010 within the Imperial College research findings was that this was the year that the Conservative-led Coalition arrived on the scene. And using the financial scandal as cover, they began a direct assault upon the public sector. Cuts to welfare and healthcare were immediately made. VAT, the tax that hits ordinary people hardest, was increased while Corporation Tax, the tax that big business was supposed to pay, was reduced. And tax abuse was allowed to flourish unchecked, as the Panama Papers, the Paradise Papers, and now the Pandora Papers reveal with force.
  8. Life expectancy falling in parts of England before pandemic. Many areas in the north of England have seen life expectancy fall within the last decade, a new study suggests. Differences across England have now become stark, say researchers - such as a 27-year gap in life expectancy for a man living in Kensington and Chelsea, compared to Blackpool. Although Covid caused life expectancy to drop, this research suggests it was already in decline in many areas. Researchers described the trend as "alarming". "There has always been an impression in the UK that everyone's health is improving, even if not at the same pace," said Prof Majid Ezzati from Imperial College London which carried out the study. "These data show that longevity has been getting worse for years in large parts of England." The study, which has been published in The Lancet journal, analysed all deaths in England between 2002 and 2019. It then worked out the life expectancy for different communities, based on the death records in those places. It found that while life expectancy rose in most places during the first decade of the millennium, from 2010 it began to decline in some places. Areas in London and the home counties still continued on the path of living longer - but life expectancy fell in some urban parts of Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool and Blackpool where life expectancy was below 70 for men and 75 for women. By 2019, the researchers say there was a 20-year gap in life expectancy between a woman living in Camden (95.4 years) versus a woman living in one area of Leeds (74.7 years). And for men, there was a 27-year gap in life expectancy between areas in Kensington and Chelsea (95.3 years) and parts of Blackpool (68.3 years) Average life expectancy in the UK is 79 years for men and just below 83 years for women, according to estimates from the Office for National Statistics. "Declines in life expectancy used to be rare in wealthy countries like the UK, and happened when there were major adversities like wars and pandemics," said Prof Ezzati. "For such declines to be seen in 'normal times' before the pandemic is alarming," he said - and he called for action to be taken. The researchers say the differences are down to poverty, insecure employment as well as reductions in welfare support and healthcare. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-58893328
  9. The financial scandal of 2007 - 8 was a complex phenomenon featuring corruption within the major US and UK banks and the so-called ratings agencies, mortgage fraud, the mis-selling of mortgages stimulated by the proliferation of inappropriate loans through payment of high commissions to unscrupulous sales personnel which led to uncontrolled predatory lending, the cynical development of financial instruments such as credit default swaps, mortgage backed securities, collateralised debt obligations and a host of other technical innovations sold on a rising market. It became apparent during the crisis that few professionals, let alone ordinary investors, understood the basic risks obscured in what the implicated institutions like to call 'financial products'. The scandal included illegal activities by many major financial companies operating in the US and here in the UK, and the abolition of regulations - in particularl the Glass–Steagal legislation, and the neoliberal capture of the US Federal Reserve. Certainly there were a number of factors relating to government initiatives which facilitated the deterioration of lending standards (particularly during 2004 - 7, when George Bush's Republican Party were in control), that played a part in the scandal, but do not be fooled by the neoliberal claims that these were the sole, or even the main cause of a disaster brought about by capitalist greed and corruption. As usual, the neoliberal response to the scandal was to seek to distract and generate confusion amid a shocking financial abuse, caused by capitalism, and which left the villains of the piece even richer thanks to $multi-billion bailouts courtesy of the tax-payer (that's us, the 'little people'). Millions of ordinary people across the world suffered while the wealthy and privileged grabbed huge bonuses at public expense before returning to business as usual. For a basic, though unavoidaby complex summary of the scandal, see: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subprime_mortgage_crisis However, as the theme of this thread is another shocking revelation, the astonishing scandal in which the poor are being cheated, as revealed by the Pandora Papers, this excursion seems to me but another distraction.
  10. Neoliberalism intends to bring about the disintegration of reality and it does so at a cultural level via the deployment of ideology, by orchestrating interventions intended to help create the kind of world they say it already is, to pretend that neoliberalism is the natural condition, and that its claims are scientific. It is not, they are not. For example, when a series of scientific experiments demonstrate conclusively that a theory is incorrect a scientist will abandon the theory. However, when a neoliberal claim is demonstrably false there follows an attempt to change the world to fit the theory, through press campaigns, government lobbying, and funding ideologically oriented think tanks to reorient government and public beliefs towards a position favourable to neoliberal doctrine. And as with attempts to discredit the link between tobacco and cancer, and that between pollution and the climate crisis, neoliberals will also pay pliable scientists huge sums to encourage their refutation of established scientific research, not with any hope of victory within the science community, but simply to erode the confidence of ordinary people in relation to the findings of qualified professionals. Neoliberalism is a bogus but effective project, deployed for and on behalf of wealth to consolidate advantage and drain resources (financial, cultural and political) from ordinary people. We must recall that the theme of this thread is the astonishing proportions of tax abuse revealed in the Pandora Papers (as did the Panama Papers (2016) and the Paradise Papers (2017) before them). It is surely a mystery that here on this forum there are voices championing tax abuse, a technique specifically designed and deployed to drain resources (money) from local communities like Sheffield and concentrate wealth offshore, elsewhere, in the sheltered bank accounts of the rich, powerful and privileged few. Baudelaire's proclamation that the Devil's best trick is to persuade us that he does not exist applies equally to the neoliberal project. Those at the heart of the neoliberal project (the Mont Pelerin Society; the Washington and London think-tanks; the right-wing media platforms such as Fox News, The Sun and the Daily Mail; and captured political parties (especially but not only the US Republican Party and the Conservative Party here in the UK), and their self-selecting supporters will always bluster, distract, seek to ridicule critics, and/or simply deny the reality of neoliberalism. What the neoliberal project has structured is a world of astonishing inequality (do we really believe Johnson's levelling up nonsense - are we all to be millionaires?), exploitation (zero-hour contracts; essential workers on or below the minimum wage and requiring top-up from Universal Credit to survive), unaccountable private sector abuse of public revenue (for example the shocking £multi-billion scandals of the PPE and Test & Trace debacle here in the UK) and political paralysis (the effectively dismantled HMRC; the criminalisation of protest). Are these issues a reality or nothing more than conspiracy theories? They have all been covered by the BBC which, incidentally this very minute as I write, is reporting the utter disaster of the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic. We must not allow ourselves to be distracted by spin, ridicule or abuse.
  11. There are lots of other things that neoliberal governments do, for example: limit state education (to training and skills, preventing pupils developing interpretative and analytical skills); limit opportunity; capture media and erode meaningful journalism, suppressing any attempts to inform people in a fair and balanced manner on political matters, promoting instead distraction (celebrity, sensation, scandal, sexualised content, royalty-watching and sport); manage perceptions (P. R.); attack community-oriented and cooperative institutions; outlaw union activity; criminalise protest; promote individualistic behaviours; fund and organise ideologically motivated lobbying; weaponise bureaucracy. Nevertheless, those four crude factors of the neoliberal project - hostility towards taxation, resentment at the very existence of a public sector - which they seek to abolish (with any potentially profitable services being privatised), and deregulation (i.e. the eliminaton of laws and therefore accountability) are the hallmarks of an ideology dedicated to the further enrichment the rich at the expense of the poor everywhere.
  12. ...furthermore, those basic features of neoliberal doctrine: hostility to taxation; hostility towards the public sector; privatisation; and deregulation are mutually dependent. For example, privatisation depends upon deregulation. Contractors that take over public services require deregulatory action from government - they wish only to generate private profit, and providing services threatens that primary intention. As is apparent from consideration of any number of privatisations, standards are immediately driven down once a public service is put in private hands. Competent personnel (expensive) are swiftly replaced with unskilled or semi-skilled (cheaper) workers, and irresponsible savings sought at every level of provision. This leads to service failure, which requires a mechanism for escaping responsibility - hence legislative requirements are revised downwards or abolished by compliant governments - deregulation - so that contractors are provided with an effective way to evade accountability as standards slip and the inevitable failures occur. Add to this factor the neoliberal insistence that free provision of essential public services distort the 'market' by frustrating competition. The privatisation of public services leads to the rapid erosion of standards, provision compromised and service users (now redefined as 'customers') rendered powerless when promised services are not delivered.
  13. ...and that outline of neoliberal doctrine which highlights hostility to taxation, resentment at the very existence of a public sector (the constant target for abolition, with potentially profitable services being handed over to the private sector of course), and deregulation reveals another tory lie. When George Osborne hollowed out HMRC he did so for stated reasons of austerity. Therefore when he subsequently spent huge sums of taxpayers' money to second private sector personnel from his friends, the big City accountancy firms, his action exposed the fact that austerity was a deceit, an ideologically motivated attack on the public sector based a bogus premise - it was tax abuse that drained the treasury of revenue, not police officers, library assistants, local authority staff or tax officials.
  14. It is essential to notice that the facts my point exposes cannot be argued away or dismissed. Therefore the strategy adopted by those who prefer us ordinary people to remain ignorant of the scandal of tax abuse is to mock in the hope of distracting from the issue. It's a routine device. Tax abuse is cheating the system. The claim that no laws are broken by people or businesses avoiding tax is hollow. The facts are that governments acting in the interests of wealth and privilege dismantle progressive tax legislation and seed loopholes that facilitate tax abuse.
  15. Oooh, the facts are inconvenient, best for those within the neoliberal thought collective and their self-selecting cheerleaders to quietly ignore summaries that expose their project. They simply parrot what they want us to believe and hope that we fall for their deceit. They would like us to believe that tax abuse is quite natural (whilst making sure that the little people pay their tax, of course). The reality is that the process used by the wealthy and businesses is to capture government, then revise legislation in favour of wealth, which allows the claim that they are not breaking any laws. A basic outline of neoliberal doctrine would highlight hostility to taxation, resentment at the very existence of a public sector - which they wish abolished (with any potentially profitable services being privatised), and deregulation (i.e. eliminating laws). Well, here are each of these features manifest in ECCOnoob's claim that no laws are broken in tax abuse. George Osborne hollowed out HMRC (effective deregulation by sacking the regulators), from which there were thousands of redundancies (public sector cuts). Then private sector staff were seconded from the very City accountancy firms that have been and continue to game the tax system (privatisation). These personnel, remunerated by the taxpayer (that's us little people) then wrote tax law, complete with carefully crafted loopholes which, upon returning to their employers, they exploit (tax abuse). Tory (i.e. neoliberal) policy was and remains cheating the system in the interests of wealth and privilege. For more on this theme see: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/apr/26/accountancy-firms-knowledge-treasury-avoid-tax
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