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UK Economy: Signs of Hope or Doom?

Like many Western nations, the UK economy remained resilient through the worst of COVID when many workers were ill or otherwise sequestered in their homes, unable to work due to various lockdowns. The lockdowns seemed a wise precaution for the times — even though Britons disliked being forced to stay in their homes for weeks or months.

But just as COVID has relaxed it’s hold on our lives, it suddenly occurs that Western economies begin to underperform…

Some days you just can’t win.


New UK Prime Minister Liz Truss and New Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng Ordered Tax Cuts for Wealthy Britons

Which, if you know British politics, is standard operating procedure for Conservative-led governments. No matter the economic ailment, it seems that the de rigueur prescription is tax cuts for the rich.

On balance, that prescription boasts a decent success rate. Over the past 122-years, various UK governments have imposed tax cuts to stimulate the economy and it’s worked more than not. However, there’ve been times when it hasn’t worked, and this is one of those times.

“Always worth a try?”

I guess. But when tax rates for the wealthy are already low, further tax cuts don’t impress the wealthy, nor increase government tax revenue, nor stimulate the UK economy.

And this is the problem… politicians don’t understand economics well (nor do they understand military matters, but that’s a story for another day) but by taking some sage advice to heart, new Prime Minister Liz Truss could still salvage an economic win out of a (forgivable) misstep early in her premiership.

It’s early days, and no doubt, they’re feeling the pressure to act. The PM and Chancellor tried to improve the economy and their first attempt failed.

No worries, there’s a window of time to get it right. But not too much time, or any remedy they apply will arrive too late to have a meaningful effect. And that could cost the Conservatives at the next election.


Their Second Attempt to Help the Economy: Printing More Money and Government Buy-back of UK Bonds

Better. But not perfect.

Which necessitates a larger government deficit, morphing into more government debt. Just what the UK economy doesn’t need is a larger deficit and even more debt. Neither helps the market, nor the government’s credit rating, nor the UK’s long-term economic picture.

It’s too soon to see if this plan will work. But it works in other countries, and it should work in the UK, with the caveat that the privilege isn’t abused by future Chancellors as a sort of ‘silver bullet’ that will solve every economic problem. It’s not a magic bullet.

Printing money and buying back bonds will have a small, but positive influence on the overall economy. Likely, both the PM and the Chancellor now realize that it should’ve been the first step in a 6-step programme to address problems and provide solutions to the UK’s present economic challenges.


Five More Ways to Lift the UK Economy and Prevent (or limit) a UK Recession


ONE: Working people pay more tax than unemployed people. It’s a fact. Ask any economist.

Therefore, the government should spend serious stimulus money (even though it’s borrowed money) on ‘shovel-ready’ infrastructure projects. But it shouldn’t spend on projects that can’t begin construction within the next 8-months, because that’s too far in the future to fix what’s broken now. ‘Shovel-ready’ means ready to begin digging within weeks. Not years.


TWO: Companies that export goods or services, bring ‘new’ money into the economy, thereby stimulating the overall UK economy.

The domestic economy in the UK is pretty sophisticated so there’s little room for improvement — but there’s plenty of room for improvement in regards to exports. The UK’s track record on facilitating an export-driven economy is dismal when measured against such exporting superstars as Germany and Japan. To correct this, the UK government must provide a tax advantage to companies or individuals that export goods or services. I politely suggest an 8% tax break on exported items. Five per cent won’t incentivize companies enough to make exporting a priority, and ten per cent would make it difficult for the government to recover the lost tax revenue over a number of years, no matter the increase in exports over the short-term. This 8% tax advantage could be raised or lowered annually, thereby providing the government with yet another lever with which to control (adjust) the UK economy as necessary. Priceless!


THREE: Citizens earning less than £25,000. per year contribute little to overall UK government revenue, so there’s little loss for the government to forego taxing them.

However, changing the income tax threshold so that workers who earn under £25,000. per year don’t pay any income tax whatsoever, can make a huge difference in the lives of those workers! It’s the difference between a presently unemployed person being able to afford to take the train to a job every day, or not. It’s the difference between a presently unemployed tradesperson being able to insure his work van, or not. It’s the difference between a presently unemployed worker being able to afford daycare for her children so she can apply for a job, or not. It’s the difference between a presently unemployed person moving to another city for a job, or not. In so many ways, this change represents a small change in government tax policy and revenue — which results in a large change in the employment situation for presently unemployed workers. The UK workforce needs to be firing on all eight cylinders, not the present five-out-of-eight cylinders.


FOUR: The UK should harmonize it’s Corporate Tax Rates and policies with Canada, which has an attractive and simplified corporate tax structure.

And it works. Throughout the entire subprime market crisis and subsequent recession, Canada’s economy was the strongest of all G7 economies and Canadians only knew about the recession playing out in the United States and Europe by watching American news channels. The reason Canada sailed through the recession is precisely because of their low-ish and simplified corporate tax rate structure. Many Western companies moved to Canada in the 2008 to 2011 timeframe in order to take advantage of those low corporate tax rates — and in so doing — saved their companies from insolvency. Some returned to the United States following the economic recovery, while some remained in Canada. You can’t buy advertising like that! Recessions occur approximately every 25-years in the Western world, and the next one is almost upon us. Now is the time to make the UK’s corporate tax rate as favourable as Canada’s, and reap the benefits thereof. Doing it after the looming recession hits, means that the UK must wait for the next recession 25-years hence, in order to reap the benefits and bragging rights of lower and simpler corporate tax rates.


FIVE: The UK government should finance 10 Solar Panels on every UK rooftop (via loan guarantees to banks) to add capacity to the national grid, to provide significant energy cost savings to energy users, and to allow for increased energy exports to the continent.

Almost every UK rooftop could host 10 solar panels and thereby add plenty of electricity to the grid during the daylight hours — which, happily, is when the grid faces it’s peak demand. Because rooftops are everywhere in the country, it won’t matter if some northern panels are covered with snow, or if London happens to be covered with a layer of fog — because the rest of the country will still receive sunlight and contribute huge amounts of electricity to the grid. Ten panels per rooftop means that homeowners can (automatically) sell their surplus electricity to the grid via a net-metering connection. Whether private homes, farms with several outbuildings, schools, retail businesses or industrial buildings, placing 10 solar panels on each rooftop in the country could save energy consumers astonishing amounts of money annually, and add significant capacity and stability to the national grid, and allow MANY GIGAWATT HOURS worth of surplus energy to be exported to the continent.


So there’s the low-hanging fruit. There ARE WAYS to improve the UK economy, not by giving tax breaks to the wealthy — who, it turns out, don’t want them because they’ve all the tax breaks they need — but by strengthening the parts of the UK economy that are presently weak, and could be made robust via simple changes to existing policy.

I’m proud of the new Prime Minister and her Chancellor, because, facing a looming crisis, they decided to actually DO SOMETHING! as opposed to just hiding until the storm passes.

Full marks on that, Liz and Kwasi! It’s easy to see that you both care about the country and about how its citizens and businesses are faring.

If you continue to be responsive to the peoples’ needs, I’m confident they’ll respond favourably to you, and your poll numbers will prove that statement true as time rolls forward.

Wishing you every success as you craft policy appropriate to the times in which we live and seek to pass it in the UK House of Commons in a timely manner for best effect.

Written by John Brian Shannon

Three Ways the UK Can Be Part of the COP26 Solution Instead of Part of the (CO2) Problem

First, we need to decide if we’re actually going to do something about rising CO2 levels, increased air pollution and rising sea-levels, or whether we’re on another junket to a UN Climate Change Conference.

See: UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021, October 31 through November 1, 2021.

Once we’ve decided that, we’re in a better position to decide if this conference is the one that will save humanity (from itself) or whether we must wait for a future COP summit to make concrete progress toward clean air in cities, lower pollution levels generally, and decreased sea-level rise.


At Present, We’re On Track to Lose This Fight

It’s being widely reported by major media outlets that even if every government on Earth kept it’s best CO2 reduction promises, we’d still be far below meeting our CO2 reduction targets… by such a large margin that instead of limiting global warming to +1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels, we’d actually experience a global warming of +3ºC by 2050.

That is not acceptable.

Widespread crop failures due to agricultural drought (in some areas) massive flooding (in other areas) a huge uptick in wildlife die-offs, millions of square miles of low-lying land lost to the sea forever, and catastrophic consequences for human life would be the result of missing our 2015 Paris Agreement targets.

And if we end up in such a situation, we’ll have no one to blame except the politicians of today… for it is their job to create legislation and regulation, have them passed into law, and see that those regulations are enforced.

It isn’t the responsibility of hockey players, nor is it the responsibility of bus drivers, waitresses, fast food workers, airline pilots or English literature professors to do this — it’s the responsibility of politicians to protect us from the poor policies of previous politicians.


Is Climate Change ‘Too Big’ a File to Leave to Politicians?

Well, don’t look now, but yes, it is ‘too big a problem’ to leave to politicians if past experience is to guide us.

Yet, there have been signs of excellence in some jurisdictions.

California, for one, which used to have the worst air pollution in the United States along with astronomical respiratory related healthcare costs, is now among the best in the world in advanced clean air policy.

The beautiful country of Norway is another shining example that sources almost 100% of its electrical power from renewable energy and is a place where 40% of new cars sold are electric vehicles, and by 2025, petrol-engined cars won’t be available for sale. Existing petrol and diesel-engined cars will still be legal to own and drive in Norway, but you won’t be able to buy or import a new diesel or petrol-engined car in Norway. And the sky didn’t fall, Norway’s economy didn’t crumble, and life continues a.

There are other stellar examples in the world of farsighted environmental policy by governments, but not enough.

But California, Norway and others have proven that it is possible to reduce vehicle emissions and switch to renewable energy at the same time — and both enjoy robust economies — so don’t even try that argument.

Switching to a green economy does cost money, but saves more money than it costs over the medium and long term.


Three Concrete Ways the UK Could Take Real Action Against Climate Change:

  1. END ALL ENERGY SUBSIDIES. People who receive subsidized energy use more energy. Obviously. Lowering energy wastage is the best way to lower consumption. Whether petrol or diesel motor fuel subsidies, utility company subsidies, or other energy subsidies — ALL SUBSIDIES = MORE ENERGY USAGE/WASTAGE/CONSUMPTION/DEMAND. Therefore, even renewable energy subsidies, yes, even renewable energy subsidies, must be discontinued in order to lessen total demand. When you lessen demand, you meet your clean air and CO2 targets.
  2. SWITCH ALL MOTOR AND AIRCRAFT FUELS TO BIOFUEL BY 2025. Biofuel burns 80 per cent cleaner than conventional petroleum fuel in cars, light trucks and semi-trailer transport trucks. Even moreso in jet aircraft engines, as Boeing, Etihad Airlines, Virgin Air, Alaska Air and the US Navy have proven beyond any doubt. Those jets burn 94 per cent cleaner compared to conventional kerosene fuel and they have a lighter maintenance schedule because they don’t produce as much soot in the combustion process. When you burn clean biofuel, you meet your clean air and CO2 targets.
  3. LEGISLATE THAT ALL CARS, TRUCKS AND SEMI TRUCKS BE POWERED BY ELECTRICITY BY 2025, AS NORWAY HAS DONE. Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV’s) are wildly popular with those who own them, they require far less maintenance, they’re more reliable, they don’t pollute, and batteries will become about as recyclable as petrol engines are at the moment. And you can charge BEV’s at home from an ordinary wall socket. Plus, they have astounding acceleration from a standing start. And no noise. If you like peace and quiet, you’ll love electric vehicles. When you drive EV’s, you meet your clean air and CO2 targets.

It is important to state that by utilizing any one of those above three choices, the UK
(or any country) would meet its Paris CO2 emission reduction targets.


The Time for ‘Kicking the Can Down the Road’ is Long Past

Now is the time for real and concrete action designed to meet all of our clean air and CO2 targets.

There can be no excuse at this late date for inaction or tepid moves toward clean air/CO2 emission reduction, or people (voters) will become convinced that climate change/clean air targets/CO2 emission targets/sea-level prevention problems are ‘too big’ for mere politicians to solve, and at that point, politicians will increasingly find themselves disrespected and marginalized in every future decision-making process!


Save Our Planet or Leave!

So, by not solving the climate crisis now, today’s political leaders will become even more irrelevant to their citizens than at present.

In contrast, by solving the climate crisis now when it matters, it means that policymakers will help to create a less toxic environment for people and wildlife, help to reduce the incidences of floods, droughts, pestilence, a loss of biodiversity, and will help to lower healthcare costs and taper the mind-blowing financial costs associated with countering sea-level rise… and for politicians, it means saving their profession from contempt and eventual marginalization.

 

Written by John Brian Shannon

 

When Will Illegal Immigration to the UK be Addressed?

Coming up on 5-years from the June 23, 2016 referendum to leave the European Union, and 1-year and 6-months since the UK actually left the EU, it seems reasonable that Britons could expect to see some of the oft-touted ‘benefits of Brexit’…

Unfortunately, other than a smattering of small-ish trade deals, nothing else seems to have been accomplished by this Parliament — other than a colossal mishandling of COVID-19 (at first) — followed by an extraordinary commitment by the UK government to get every Briton vaccinated as quickly as possible. Success at last!

Well done, Parliamentarians. Slow start/good finish. If only every situation in this troubled world proceeded thusly…


But ‘So Much More Was Promised’ said every Briton!

And one of the main reasons the British electorate voted to leave the EU was to give the UK the ability to control how many foreigners are allowed into the country annually.

Another important factor is what kind of people the UK wants to accept. At present, the UK has many unskilled or low-skilled immigrants living in the Kingdom — which might be fine if there were enough jobs for them. Certainly, farmers and others depend on large numbers of low-skilled/low pay workers, but how many is too many?

Things reach a boiling point when so-called ‘grooming gangs’ are owning every street corner in certain towns and cities — making it advisable to forego walking (or even driving!) through some parts of town at any hour of the day or night.

What has this country become that it can’t stand up to local hoodlums?

Is it the government’s fault? Is it the Mayor’s fault, the fault of the Police, or are individual Britons too weak to own the streets that their tax payments financed? Is it complacency? Or is it just too dangerous to make a stand for oneself — now that different levels of government have avoided their responsibility to provide safety and security to citizens for so many years — that even the Police have (largely) given up?

‘This isn’t what we voted for!’ said every voter ever.


If Not Addressed – Heads Will Roll at the Next Election!

Previous generations of Britons stood up to fascism twice in the 20th-century and played a leading role during the Cold War struggle. That’s the legacy of their generation and no one can take it from them.

Yes, sometimes mistakes were made. But decisions often needed to be made ‘on the fly’ and without the huge benefit afforded by today’s instant communications, the internet, and the much larger body of knowledge that exists in today’s world. Even so, the ‘greatest generation’ met their (exponentially larger and orders of magnitude more terrifying) challenges with dauntless stoicism because they knew they were fighting and suffering for the greater good.

Will this Generation Rise to Meet the Challenges of Their Time?

It remains to be seen.

Almost meeting the UK’s renewable energy targets and slowly gravitating towards electric cars — approaches something akin to progress — but if citizens are too afraid to leave their homes, too afraid to take the train, too afraid to attend an Arianna Grande concert, or are too afraid to walk in the park, what is the point?

Why Pay Taxes When You’re Too Afraid to Leave the House?

The first duty of government (any government, anywhere) is to protect the citizens of the country. But it’s also true that ‘the government’ or ‘the police’ can’t be everywhere to solve every problem.

That doesn’t mean they can abdicate their responsibilities and exclaim ‘There’s crime everywhere! What can we do?’

Not good enough!

No matter how unfair it may seem, the government and the police must do a better job of protecting Britons and those who visit the United Kingdom. Yes, it’s become a super-sized problem as successive governments have let the problem fester because they were too busy opining on far less important matters.

But it’s reached a breaking point. Something must be done, and soon.

Hundreds of young men are crossing the English Channel every day, and are (astonishingly!) given a lift the rest of the way to the UK by HM Border Force ships after being fished out of dangerously overloaded boats.

In my opinion, the number of young men attempting to reach the UK via such dangerous means has dramatically increased since they have become convinced (through decades of inaction) that the UK Parliament lacks the resolve to take any actual steps to rectify this ongoing disaster…

Channel crossings: Migrant crossings continue amid good weather (BBC)

“So far this year, according to government figures, more than 3,200 people have made the crossing.”

Illegal channel migrants threaten ‘mob unrest’ on arrival over housing delays (The Telegraph)

“Record numbers of illegal migrants expect to be moved quickly to their accommodation, says Border Force union.”


India (Brilliantly!) Wants to be Part of the Solution, Instead of Part of the Problem

(REUTERS May 4, 2021)
India to take back illegal migrants to UK in return for visas for young workers

Britain and India on Tuesday signed an accord on migration and mobility, an Indian foreign ministry official said, as they look to deepen economic, cultural and other ties following the UK’s departure from the European Union.

The pact will provide enhanced employment opportunities for 3,000 young Indian professionals annually, in return for India agreeing to take back any of its citizens who are living illegally in the UK, Sandeep Chakravorty told a news conference.

The migration pact comes after the two countries announced 1 billion pounds ($1.39 billion) of private-sector investment. Talks on a full trade deal are due to begin in the autumn.

“It is our solemn duty that Indian nationals who are undocumented, or are in distress abroad and not being given nationality or residence permits, have to be taken back,” Chakravorty said.

Britain’s interior ministry said in a statement that the deal aimed to attract “the best and brightest, and supporting people coming to the UK through legal routes, while stopping the abuse of the system and speeding up the removal of those who have no right to be in the UK”… (Continue to Reuters.com to finish reading this article)


Now, that’s an example of a country that wants to be part of the solution to a serious and rising problem, and doesn’t want to play the ‘blame game’ with UK leaders.

And that’s called ‘LEADERSHIP’ people!


Have a wonderful summer wherever you travel!


 

Written by John Brian Shannon

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