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Craig Cockburn

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Jan 3, 1993, 4:08:49 PM1/3/93
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In article <C01Iw...@exnet.co.uk>, d...@exnet.co.uk (Damon) writes...
>In article <1992Dec23.1...@spider.co.uk> mich...@spider.co.uk (Michael S. A. Robb) writes:
>>In article <1992Dec23....@memex.co.uk> sc...@memex.co.uk (Scott Williamson) writes:
>>>Headline news today (Wednesday) is Trading Standards Office
>>>investigating how Sega and Nintendo can get away with charging more
>>>than 40 pounds for a game which costs less than 10 pounds to
>>>manufacture. Sounds like a bargain compared to CDs...
>>>
>>>In any case is this an unusually large mark-up for toys etc.?
>>>

Not really, it seems to be standard practice to use a 1 for 1 dollar for
pound exchange rate for any goods sold in the US. A $30 US book will sell
for #30 in the UK. The Sega products are also priced on this imaginary
1 for 1 exchange rate. This info is pretty current - I have compared
prices of both the US and UK Sega products in the last week.

The British, and many other European consumers, are being totally ripped
off by ridiculous pricing. Many consumers are becoming aware of bargains
to be had by overseas shopping:

1) 10% of the Beer consumed in the UK is imported from French hypermarkets.
2) If you want info on buying goods in the US and importing them, I would
recommend the following book:
Buying Direct from the USA by Richard McBrien available from:
Running Heads International, Grove House, 82 East Dulwich Grove, London
SE22 8TW

>>Not really. The 10 pounds is the component price of the memory chips and plastic
>>casing to store the game. It does not take into account the amount of time and
>>money spent on developing the source code to go into the memory chips.
>
why are the goods 33% cheaper in the US then?

For anyone wanting more info on the Sega/Nintendo story, there is an article
on it on P3 of The Scotsman on 24th Dec 92.

The comment in that article from the Office of Fair Trading says "We are
not a price commission". Well if they're not, then it's about time we either
had one or we had someone doing something about it. As of this week I'm
officially redundant and will be moving to Edinburgh on Wednesday without
a job lined up. I've got a good mind to set up an import shop, selling
things like Levi's and CDs as near to US prices as can be acheived and
see what happens.

According to an article in the Scotsman on 19th December (P13), a Mintel
report shows that Britain is the 5th most expensive country in the
world for a "typical selection of 22 consumer items". In Germany and
the US, however, wages are higher and prices are lower. The UK has
the cheapest Mars bars and Baked Beans. The UK is a major oil producing
nation and has the cheapest petrol in Europe, but it's still 3 times
the price of petrol in the US. Why? I wonder what the duty is for
someone importing petrol?

Maybe a decent set of prices in the UK is just what we need to get the
economy moving again.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Craig Cockburn (leaving Digital on 4th Jan)
New internet address: cr...@smo.ac.uk (working now)
Voice after 7th Jan: +[44] 31 554 2926
Moving to Edinburgh, yahoo!

Martin Baines - Sun UK - SE Manager Cambridge

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Jan 5, 1993, 8:46:11 AM1/5/93
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In article 22...@rdg.dec.com, cock...@edieng.enet.dec.com (Craig Cockburn) writes:

>According to an article in the Scotsman on 19th December (P13), a Mintel
>report shows that Britain is the 5th most expensive country in the
>world for a "typical selection of 22 consumer items". In Germany and
>the US, however, wages are higher and prices are lower. The UK has
>the cheapest Mars bars and Baked Beans. The UK is a major oil producing
>nation and has the cheapest petrol in Europe, but it's still 3 times
>the price of petrol in the US. Why? I wonder what the duty is for
>someone importing petrol?

Exactly the same as the duty you pay at the petrol pumps. I.e. it
is illegal to sell petrol without charging duty. If you brought
petrol in yourself from (say) the USA (assuming the airline didn't
have a heart attack) you would be charged the duty on entry at customs.
If you don't declare it it's illegal. Taking out the costs of duty
and VAT petrol in the UK is about the same price as the US. The
government pockets the difference.

Actually duty and VAT account for most of the difference between
US and UK prices on many things. Consider electronic goods the
duty on import from the US is 17%, VAT is 17.5%, so for
a hypothetical item priced at $1000 in the USA, the duty
would be $170 so the Ex-VAT price is: $1170, now add VAT
(remember it's cumulative) to give a UK price of $1374.75.
Now consider the currancy conversion: today it is approx $1.55
to the pound. Any sensible company selling dollar priced goods
would hedge against a downward movement of the pound (*very*
sensible if you remember recent events), so lets use a conversion
of $1.50 = £1, this gives a UK price of the item of: £916.50,
not exactly dollar = pound, but not far off, and remember we
haven't allowed for the cost of shipping: if it cost more than
£83.50 we would be at dollar = pound without any profiteering
at all.

Now I am *not* arguing that many UK prices are not a lot more
than elsewhere in the work, merely that a lot more of the
price difference is due to government policy than people
realise. Of course, this still doesn't explain why UK
manufactured CDs cost so much more than US ones, except
the fact that they sell most they can make at those prices.

>Maybe a decent set of prices in the UK is just what we need to get the
>economy moving again.

Great idea! Now what government services shall we cut to
make up for the loss in duty and VAT revenue?....

Martin

---
"You might say that, but I couldn't possibly comment"

Martin Baines, Sales Support Manager,
Sun Microsystems Ltd, 306 Science Park, Cambridge, CB4 4WG, UK
Phone: +44 223 420421 Fax: +44 223 420257
JANET: Martin...@uk.co.sun Other UK: Martin...@sun.co.uk
Internet: Martin...@UK.sun.com
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Eric A Cottrell

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Jan 7, 1993, 3:40:42 PM1/7/93
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In <1ic3f3...@grapevine.EBay.Sun.COM> martin...@uk.sun.com (Martin Baines - Sun UK - SE Manager Cambridge) writes:

>In article 22...@rdg.dec.com, cock...@edieng.enet.dec.com (Craig Cockburn) writes:


>Exactly the same as the duty you pay at the petrol pumps. I.e. it
>is illegal to sell petrol without charging duty. If you brought
>petrol in yourself from (say) the USA (assuming the airline didn't
>have a heart attack) you would be charged the duty on entry at customs.
>If you don't declare it it's illegal. Taking out the costs of duty
>and VAT petrol in the UK is about the same price as the US. The
>government pockets the difference.

Hello All,
Well Gasoline here in Massachusetts is running about 1.15 US dollars per US
Gallon, but we also pay Federal and State tax of about 0.31 US dollars on it.
Remember that there is also a difference between the U.S and U.K. gallon.

I seem to remember a commission reporting that cars are higher priced in
the UK due to driving on the left. I can understand this in cars, but not
in other goods.

There were also comments on R. Scotland last summer that tourist to Scotland
were complaining of the high prices. I find that prices are high all over,
but the highest are in London. I never stay in London and use the rail service
instead. Prices tend to be better the further from tourist areas you are. This
fits into my plans since I visit the UK to experience local culture, not
other tourists.

I have the feeling that CD are high in the US as well. In the early days of
CD there was a backlog to get material in the format due to only a few
companies being able to make CDs. I even considered starting a CD company.
Now there are alot of makers. Folk artists are recording in cassette and
CD format mainly because CD are cheaper than LP records.

There may be a factor of perceived quality. A distributor of independent
CD labels claimed that he tried to sell CDs at 8 US dollars or so apiece and
they did not sell very well. He attributted it to customers thinking they
were inferior to other CDs. They sold better at the higher price. It might
also be that CD buyers are used to paying a certain price range for a
CD.

I not a marketing expert, but companies are in the business of making money.
They will sell items at the highest price the customer is willing to pay.
It will be interesting to see if the changes to the tariffs in the EC will
lower prices.

73 Eric e...@world.std.com

Antony Mossop

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Jan 7, 1993, 6:58:24 PM1/7/93
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>....................................

>
>Now I am *not* arguing that many UK prices are not a lot more
>than elsewhere in the work, merely that a lot more of the
>price difference is due to government policy than people
>realise. Of course, this still doesn't explain why UK
>manufactured CDs cost so much more than US ones, except
>the fact that they sell most they can make at those prices.
>
>>Maybe a decent set of prices in the UK is just what we need to get the
>>economy moving again.
>
>Great idea! Now what government services shall we cut to
>make up for the loss in duty and VAT revenue?....
>
>Martin

How about the service to people with high incomes that let them pay
less tax so that revenue had to be made from the pushed up VAT?


Tony Mossop, geophysics, Stanford

Martin Baines - Sun UK - SE Manager Cambridge

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Jan 8, 1993, 8:53:55 AM1/8/93
to
In article 1iig30...@morrow.stanford.edu, mos...@pangea.Stanford.EDU (Antony Mossop) writes:
[deleted earlier thread]

>>>Maybe a decent set of prices in the UK is just what we need to get the
>>>economy moving again.
>>
>>Great idea! Now what government services shall we cut to
>>make up for the loss in duty and VAT revenue?....
>>
>>Martin
>
>How about the service to people with high incomes that let them pay
>less tax so that revenue had to be made from the pushed up VAT?

Well we could start by removing the subsidy from central taxes
to local government. At the last budget that put 2.5% on VAT
to reduce poll tax for those individuals who didn't like
having to pay for local services. The other subsidies from Central
to local government account for between 2% and 5% on VAT (depends
on whether you consider paying for Education and the Police
to be central government's job, or local governemnt's), that
gets us to about 10% VAT. Next abolish the NHS, there goes the
rest of VAT and a bit of direct tax. Voilá we have US tax levels.

Did I hear you say politically unacceptable? Surely not.

Or we could put up Direct Taxes to replace VAT: takes us
to average Direct Tax rates (including Income Tax, personal
National Insurance and Employers NI contribution) of over
50%. Next we remove all duties on imports (sod the E.C
and GATT), that takes us out Direct Taxes well over 50%:
but we have got US level indirect taxes.

Did I hear you say politically unacceptable? Surely not.

Martin

Antony Mossop

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Jan 8, 1993, 6:23:32 PM1/8/93
to
In article <1ik11k...@grapevine.EBay.Sun.COM> martin...@uk.sun.com writes:
>In article 1iig30...@morrow.stanford.edu, mos...@pangea.Stanford.EDU (Antony Mossop) writes:
>[deleted earlier thread]
>>>>Maybe a decent set of prices in the UK is just what we need to get the
>>>>economy moving again.
>>>
>>>Great idea! Now what government services shall we cut to
>>>make up for the loss in duty and VAT revenue?....
>>>
>>>Martin
>>
>>How about the service to people with high incomes that let them pay
>>less tax so that revenue had to be made from the pushed up VAT?
>
>Well we could start by removing the subsidy from central taxes
>to local government. At the last budget that put 2.5% on VAT
>to reduce poll tax for those individuals who didn't like
>having to pay for local services.
Ahh you mean the community charge (close kin of the deceased Papua
New Guinean hut tax, killed off after the local powers deemed it
regressive [urban legend?]). You might not have noticed this but
a flat rate tax where everyone pays the same regardless of income
is regarded by most people as grossly unfair and exists in no other
civilised country. The British public had next to no say in this
matter it was just dumped on them. The sole beneficiaries were people
with large expensive properties who strongly equate with those of higher
incomes, many of whom also disagreed with this tax. Later, after massive
non-payment the govt. admits that maybe they were wrong.
Forgive my cynicism but do you really believe they'd have bothered
to do this if everyone had paid up? If a policy is forced on people
that is unpopular and unfair their only recourse (and a very justifiable
one at that) is disobedience.

> The other subsidies from Central
>to local government account for between 2% and 5% on VAT (depends
>on whether you consider paying for Education and the Police
>to be central government's job, or local governemnt's), that
>gets us to about 10% VAT. Next abolish the NHS, there goes the
>rest of VAT and a bit of direct tax. Voilá we have US tax levels.
>
>Did I hear you say politically unacceptable? Surely not.
>
>Or we could put up Direct Taxes to replace VAT: takes us
>to average Direct Tax rates (including Income Tax, personal
>National Insurance and Employers NI contribution) of over
>50%. Next we remove all duties on imports (sod the E.C
>and GATT), that takes us out Direct Taxes well over 50%:
>but we have got US level indirect taxes.
>
>Did I hear you say politically unacceptable? Surely not.

Strange that a few years ago that most of the tax revenue came from
income tax and very little from VAT. Then there came the tax cuts where
the small earners got an extra fiver a week and granny's new hip
went from a 12 to an 18 month wait. If you were a high earner you made
thousands. Sadly the Con govt. needed more revenue so they slapped it on
VAT. Let's try and figure who gets penalised by this? Why those citizens
who spend a larger proportion of their income of VATable items. Who would
that be? Why it's the low to middle incomes. The tax burden on the average
person increased from about the mid 30% mark (36%?) to 39% during the 1980's
the tax burden on higher income brackets reduced. Shifting taxation from
income to goods taxes is regarded by many economists as regressive.
So I stand by my statement shift the tax burden back on the higher
earners (surely if market economics are true it won't matter how much
surplus income the wealthy have the market merely adjusts to it? The
wealthy still stay wealthy; then again maybe market economics don't
really work that well). Politically unacceptable you say, well so
is artificially induced inflation in the form of VAT, the only reason
that higher income tax is less politically acceptable than high
VAT is it hurts the rich and powerful more and sadly they're the ones
who control/are the politicians. (Or did you mean yet another embarassing
U turn in the form of raised taxes would be politically unacceptable?)


Tony Mossop, geophysics, Stanford

Jonathan Lloyd

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Jan 9, 1993, 7:27:18 PM1/9/93
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e...@world.std.com (Eric A Cottrell) writes:

>I seem to remember a commission reporting that cars are higher priced in
>the UK due to driving on the left. I can understand this in cars, but not
>in other goods.

This actaully a load of bullshit. Jap cars sell for much lower prices
here in Australia, even though the import tariffs and taxes are higher
and we drive on the left as well. In fact a lot of Euro cars are cheaper here
too (e.g. Peugeot 205 GTi, Golf GTi, Audi 80). This is despite extra features
required to meet Aussie design rules and the low volume of sales!!!!!

New cars are a rip off in the UK period. They use transfer pricing and other
nasty tricks to fool us. The extra cost of RHD is not enough to account for
the difference. Excluding taxes and tarrifs etc even low volume luxury
models are cheaper in Australia.

Market pricing mate!!!

>I not a marketing expert, but companies are in the business of making money.
>They will sell items at the highest price the customer is willing to pay.
>It will be interesting to see if the changes to the tariffs in the EC will
>lower prices.
>
>73 Eric e...@world.std.com

Yes but in a supposed single market why should the british consumer pay more?
I suppose they protect inefficient farmers, why not protect inefficient
carmakers? In the end they too fat and die anyway. Sooner or later
we'll pay for all this protectionism.

-Jonathan

********************************************************************
** These views are my own and do not reflect upon the policy *******
** or views of the University of Wollongong, only of a young *******
** welshman in a land down under ---Cymru am Byth ******************
********************************************************************
Phone +61 42 213018 Fax +61 42 213112 Email J.L...@uow.edu.au

Eric A Cottrell

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Jan 10, 1993, 2:01:03 PM1/10/93
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>This actaully a load of bullshit. Jap cars sell for much lower prices
>here in Australia, even though the import tariffs and taxes are higher
>and we drive on the left as well. In fact a lot of Euro cars are cheaper here
>too (e.g. Peugeot 205 GTi, Golf GTi, Audi 80). This is despite extra features
>required to meet Aussie design rules and the low volume of sales!!!!!

Good Point Mate!

A current issue in the US is the tricks the foriegn companies can play to
reduce their taxes.
I heard stories of ham radio equipment not shipping to the U.S, but
where instead shipped to Europe because of the poor exchange rate of the U.S.
dollar (and maybe because they could get higher prices). This has lower volume
than cars.

>Yes but in a supposed single market why should the british consumer pay more?
>I suppose they protect inefficient farmers, why not protect inefficient
>carmakers? In the end they too fat and die anyway. Sooner or later
>we'll pay for all this protectionism.

My understanding is that the EC is not completely a single market. It will be
interesting to see what the changes in the area of beer, wine, and electronics
will do to pricing.

What is needed is for the media to raise the issue and investigate it seriously.
Pull a few hundred reporters off covering the Royal Family and set them down
with paper and pencil (or computer) to do some basic research and fact finding.
It seems like the government commissions (like the Car Price one) follow the
commentary on investigating bodies made in the "Yes, Minister" and
"Yes, Prime Minister" TV series.
73 Eric e...@world.std.com

Aled Morris

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Jan 11, 1993, 2:11:04 PM1/11/93
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In article <C0I43...@world.std.com>, e...@world.std.com (Eric A Cottrell) writes:
|> I seem to remember a commission reporting that cars are higher priced in
|> the UK due to driving on the left. I can understand this in cars, but not
|> in other goods.

Yes, it must cost the Japanese a fortune to convert their cars to right hand
drive ;-)

Actually, I think the price difference can be accounted for by (a) the fact
that companies such as GM Europe makes a profit, whereas in north America
they run a $1,000 loss on each car sold, (b) the higher level of standard
equipment in the UK, and (c) the ploy in the UK of subsidising heavily
discounted fleet sales at the expense of the private purchaser.

Subjectively, I think UK sold cars are of a much higher quality than in the
US too. The Zeta engined Ford Escort sold in the UK is way, way better than
the Escort sold in the US.

As for pricing, the UK MRP on the Escort LX 16v is about #9k? The cheapest
Escort in the US is $10k. Thats without Air, Auto or any fancy options.
To get a comparable car to the UK one will take you closer to $15k. Hmmm...
where's the difference?

Aled

p.s. the above numbers are rough guestimates.

al...@ncd.com Network Computing Devices Inc.
(415)694 4543 350 North Bernardo Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94043

Ray Dunn

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Jan 11, 1993, 6:35:35 PM1/11/93
to
In refd article, e...@world.std.com (Eric A Cottrell) writes:
>I seem to remember a commission reporting that cars are higher priced in
>the UK due to driving on the left. I can understand this in cars, but not
>in other goods.

Why would that be? Perhaps for imported European cars (_noone_ in the UK
drives American cars) but it costs the domestic car industry in the UK no
more to make a RHD car than it would to make a LHD car, and Japanese cars
of course are imported to the UK in RHD as for their own domestic market.

What was it we decide here recently? Over 40 countries drive on the left?
--
Ray Dunn at home | Beaconsfield, Quebec | Phone: (514) 630 3749
r...@philmtl.philips.ca | r...@cam.org | uunet!sobeco!philmtl!ray

Martin Baines - Sun UK - SE Manager Cambridge

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Jan 12, 1993, 5:10:33 AM1/12/93
to
In article 1il2dk...@morrow.stanford.edu, mos...@pangea.Stanford.EDU (Antony Mossop) writes:
[deleted earlier thread]
>>Well we could start by removing the subsidy from central taxes
>>to local government. At the last budget that put 2.5% on VAT
>>to reduce poll tax for those individuals who didn't like
>>having to pay for local services.
>Ahh you mean the community charge (close kin of the deceased Papua
>New Guinean hut tax, killed off after the local powers deemed it
>regressive [urban legend?]). You might not have noticed this but
>a flat rate tax where everyone pays the same regardless of income
>is regarded by most people as grossly unfair and exists in no other
>civilised country. The British public had next to no say in this
>matter it was just dumped on them. The sole beneficiaries were people
>with large expensive properties who strongly equate with those of higher
>incomes, many of whom also disagreed with this tax. Later, after massive
>non-payment the govt. admits that maybe they were wrong.
>Forgive my cynicism but do you really believe they'd have bothered
>to do this if everyone had paid up? If a policy is forced on people
>that is unpopular and unfair their only recourse (and a very justifiable
>one at that) is disobedience.

You forget we live in a democracy another (legal) form of objecting
is through the ballot box. If you are correct, and the poll tax
as so unpopular BUT there hadn't been the campaign of law breaking
surely the government would have lost the last election if they
still supported it?

Don't misinterpret me though: I am no great fan of the poll Tax -
personally I have always believed in a local income tax to pay
for local government. It just annoys me to see law breaking
being supported.

>> The other subsidies from Central
>>to local government account for between 2% and 5% on VAT (depends
>>on whether you consider paying for Education and the Police
>>to be central government's job, or local governemnt's), that
>>gets us to about 10% VAT. Next abolish the NHS, there goes the

>>rest of VAT and a bit of direct tax. Voila we have US tax levels.

Politically unacceptable means just that: politician won't do something
because they believe it would affect their chance of re-election, or
would upset vested interests in their own party. As you correctly
point out the current government are not going to make hugh changes
in the rate of direct taxes: any increases will come from less obvious
means like increasing the VAT base. Labour looks like it too would
avoid commitment to large direct tax increases, again for electorial
reasons.

Personally, I favour raising government revenue via an *honest*
direct taxation system. By that I mean one that admits that our
basic rate of tax in the UK is actually 44% not 25% (i.e. 25%
Income Tax, 9% NI, 10% Employers NI contribution). I also don't
agree with "progressive" tax: why should I keep less of each
pound I earn the more I earn? Having go the Tax system fair and
honest I then think Tax should be as low as possible: in general
I believe in trusting individuals to make decisions about their
own money, rather than assuming the government can spend it better
than they can.

There ends the lesson from the "Independence for East Anglia in Europe
but only if they fix the ERM, give more power to the European
Parliament, and reduce Taxes" Party.

Now back to the original show...

Dave Jones

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Jan 12, 1993, 10:04:14 AM1/12/93
to
Aled Morris (al...@grant.ncd.com) wrote:
> In article <C0I43...@world.std.com>, e...@world.std.com (Eric A Cottrell) writes:
> |> I seem to remember a commission reporting that cars are higher priced in
> |> the UK due to driving on the left. I can understand this in cars, but not
> |> in other goods.
>
> Yes, it must cost the Japanese a fortune to convert their cars to right hand
> drive ;-)
>
> Actually, I think the price difference can be accounted for by (a) the fact
> that companies such as GM Europe makes a profit, whereas in north America
> they run a $1,000 loss on each car sold, (b) the higher level of standard
> equipment in the UK, and (c) the ploy in the UK of subsidising heavily
> discounted fleet sales at the expense of the private purchaser.
>
Understandable given the high turnover in fleet sales compared to the
average owner who hangs on to a car much longer. But then again, the
private car is so expensive compared to an average salary that hanging on is
the best tactic.


> Subjectively, I think UK sold cars are of a much higher quality than in the
> US too. The Zeta engined Ford Escort sold in the UK is way, way better than
> the Escort sold in the US.
>
Hmm, are we talking about the same actual car? Remember that the US Escort
line is now based on the Mazda (323 ?). Damn fine car. We have a Mercury
Tracer (same car, slighly more deluxe) with added air conditioning that cost
us $11.3K.

> As for pricing, the UK MRP on the Escort LX 16v is about #9k? The cheapest
> Escort in the US is $10k. Thats without Air, Auto or any fancy options.

What options do you want? The adjustable driver's seat is nice but not
necessary, auto transmission runs about $800. Stereo? Anyone who buys
manufacturer audio is paying too much for too little. A tach is standard
on the Tracer.

> To get a comparable car to the UK one will take you closer to $15k. Hmmm...
> where's the difference?
>
> Aled
>
> p.s. the above numbers are rough guestimates.
>
> al...@ncd.com Network Computing Devices Inc.
> (415)694 4543 350 North Bernardo Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94043

Of course, you may have to pay more in California.

--
||------------------------------------------------------------------------
||Dave Jones (d...@ekcolor.ssd.kodak.com)|Eastman Kodak Co. Rochester, NY |

Eric A Cottrell

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Jan 12, 1993, 2:52:27 PM1/12/93
to
In <15...@lupine.ncd.com> al...@grant.ncd.com (Aled Morris) writes:

>As for pricing, the UK MRP on the Escort LX 16v is about #9k? The cheapest
>Escort in the US is $10k. Thats without Air, Auto or any fancy options.
>To get a comparable car to the UK one will take you closer to $15k. Hmmm...
>where's the difference?

Yes we have to be careful to compare apples with apples.

I see alot of smaller cars in the UK. I rented a 1.3 liter Ford Fiesta and
was very pleased with it's performance. Fuel ecomony was good which offsets
the higher gas price. I was also surprised to find a self-service petrol
station on Skye with a reasonable price. I would not hesitate to rent a car
again and may do that when visiting Burn's country this year.

On some other comments I have seen...

Last Summer I talked to a BR employee while waiting for a train. He said
that he would not live in the US because it is too expensive. I think the
same way about the UK. I wonder if we each think it is expensive due to media
reports on costs of certain items? We are having problems in the US about
health costs and my company has tried to keep cost down. There is the NHS
in the UK, but I would not want to wait a couple of months for certain
procedures. I think we agree that CDs are too expensive, but is there
anything cheaper in the UK than elsewhere?

One benefit (??) of VAT over Direct Taxes is that VAT also gets money from
tourists. I looked into the VAT Recovery Scheme (Note: UK Usage) and it is
only reasonable if I spend 50 Pounds Sterling or more on certain items.

Some B&Bs are actually cheaper in the UK than the US. When some
people start a B&B in the US they think they can get 75 or more dollars
per night. I suppose it is cheaper than those 135 dollar hotel rooms in the
area, but I think they miss the point. I admit that B&Bs in London are
expensive, but I usually stay in a nice quiet town, like Bedford, and take
the train in.

73 Eric e...@world.std.com

Albert Gaylord

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Jan 12, 1993, 4:05:44 AM1/12/93
to

> From: al...@grant.ncd.com (Aled Morris)
> Newsgroups: soc.culture.british

> In article <C0I43...@world.std.com>,
> e...@world.std.com (Eric A Cottrell) writes:
>|> I seem to remember a commission reporting that cars are higher priced in
>|> the UK due to driving on the left. I can understand this in cars, but
not
>|> in other goods.

> Yes, it must cost the Japanese a fortune to convert
> their cars to right hand drive ;-)

Why? They drive on the same side of the road as the British!

Albert Gaylord

Antony Mossop

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Jan 12, 1993, 10:02:17 PM1/12/93
to

The style of democracy in the UK doesn't quite work as ideally as you
would suggest. Apart from the arguable biases introduced by party funding,
media ownership, the first past the post system and the constant Gerryman-
dering of constituency boundaries there is the bias in the party system
itself. People do not get to vote on individual issues they get to vote on
a party they wish to govern them (whether this is democracy is questionable).
The parties subscribe to a mixture of popular and unpopular policies the
voter then votes for the combination they like best or dislike least
(of course most people vote according to many other criteria). The upshot
of this is that whilst the poll tax was grossly unpopular the Cons may well
have been voted back in even if they had continued to support the community
charge. So what do you do now, the majority of people disagree with a
certain policy but cannot get their will felt due to the crudities of
the electoral system? The answer is obvious, you act upon the policy in
question and disobey.

This next bit is going to be a bit crass and obvious, you'll have to
forgive me for this. When a government makes a law in contravention of
the wishes of its people the law is invalid. A govt. is the servant,
not the master of its public. The public in this case has the right to
ignore this law. There are times when disobeying the law should be
supported even when the majority of people agree with the law e.g. disobedience
in parts of Nazi Europe, civil rights activities in '60's US etc, though this
is a lot harder to justify in terms of 'democracy'. Laws shouldn't be viewed
as absolute rules but should be interpreted with a view to the will of
the public and one's own moral code.


Tony Mossop, geophysics, Stanford

netnews user

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Jan 13, 1993, 1:24:36 AM1/13/93
to
In article <72688353...@therose.pdx.com> Albert....@f40.n105.z1.fidonet.org (Albert Gaylord) writes:
>Path: news.cis.umn.edu!umn.edu!spool.mu.edu!uwm.edu!ogicse!qiclab!therose!postmaster
>From: Albert....@f40.n105.z1.fidonet.org (Albert Gaylord)
>Newsgroups: soc.culture.british
>Subject: Record shops (LPs)
>Message-ID: <72688353...@therose.pdx.com>
>Date: 12 Jan 93 09:05:44 GMT
>Article-I.D.: therose.726883539.AA00000
>Sender: postm...@therose.pdx.com
>Lines: 17

Oh dear...what was that about the humour impaired (or should that be
"comically challenged")?

Jim Reid

unread,
Jan 13, 1993, 6:32:46 AM1/13/93
to
In article <1993Jan10....@cc.uow.edu.au> jll...@cc.uow.edu.au (Jonathan Lloyd) writes:

New cars are a rip off in the UK period. They use transfer pricing and other
nasty tricks to fool us. The extra cost of RHD is not enough to account for
the difference. Excluding taxes and tarrifs etc even low volume luxury
models are cheaper in Australia.

Yes but in a supposed single market why should the british consumer
pay more?

Car prices in Britain are a rip-off for a number of reasons. The main
one is that manufacturers charge what the market will bear. This is
because something like 70% of new car sales in the UK are to fleet
buyers. [Many employers provide their employees with fully-expensed
cars to employees as a perk.] Fleet buyers are mainly concerned with
running costs and don't really care about the purchase price - they
get huge discounts and they're spending company money, not their own
anyway. If the price is artificially high, companies recoup that in
tax breaks and through a knock-on artificially high price when the car
eventually gets sold into the second hand market.

Another reason was protectionism, which goes back to the days when
British Leyland was losing hundreds of millions of pounds turning out
shoddily built junkheaps like the Morris Marina and Austin Allegro.
Japanese manufacturers had/have a "gentleman's agreement" not to take
more than 10% of the UK market. The law of supply and demand pushed
their prices up, particularly as personal imports were nearly impossible.
Other car manufacturers quickly followed suit and this gravy train has
continued ever since. [Until recently, Ford UK made enormous profits
selling mediocre cars like Sierras, Escorts and Cortinas to fleet
buyers at huge mark-ups.] Nowadays, the protectionism has gone - at
least officially - but prices have not come down. The manufacturers
are happy to continue with inflated profit margins in the UK market
for as long as possible.

The government has also made car prices a rip-off. New cars are
heavily taxed: roughly 20-25% of the purchase price goes to HM
Treasury in value added tax and car tax.

I was shocked when I found that the Rover Sterling was being sold in
the USA for about half the price it costs in the country of manufacture!

Jim

R.J.W...@lut.ac.uk

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Jan 13, 1993, 10:18:10 AM1/13/93
to
In article <C0rB7...@world.std.com> e...@world.std.com (Eric A Cottrell) writes:
>
>Some B&Bs are actually cheaper in the UK than the US. When some
>people start a B&B in the US they think they can get 75 or more dollars
>per night. I suppose it is cheaper than those 135 dollar hotel rooms in the
>area, but I think they miss the point. I admit that B&Bs in London are
>expensive, but I usually stay in a nice quiet town, like Bedford, and take
>the train in.
>
B&B's in the UK serve a different market to those in the US. British (& Irish)
ones are aimed at the 'budget' market hence they are much cheaper.

Rob.
<R.J.W...@uk.ac.lut>

Matthew Huntbach

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Jan 13, 1993, 1:58:01 PM1/13/93
to
In article <1j00np...@morrow.stanford.edu> mos...@pangea.Stanford.EDU (Antony Mossop) writes:
>charge. So what do you do now, the majority of people disagree with a
>certain policy but cannot get their will felt due to the crudities of
>the electoral system? The answer is obvious, you act upon the policy in
>question and disobey.
>
Yes, I agree with you on most of this, and perhaps you should
have added that the opposition were particulalry stupid in the
1987 election in almost failing to mention the poll tax as an
issue.

However, to some extent you have to take policies as a package,
including the popular and unpopular. Politics crudely comes
down to balancing desire for the government to "do something"
and reluctance to pay taxes so it can. You will always find
that higher government spending and lower taxes are
popular, while spending cuts and higher taxes are not.

Matthew Huntbach

Aled Morris

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Jan 13, 1993, 1:40:34 PM1/13/93
to
In article <1993Jan12.1...@pixel.kodak.com>, d...@ekcolor.ssd.kodak.com (Dave Jones) writes:

> Aled Morris (al...@grant.ncd.com) wrote:
> > Subjectively, I think UK sold cars are of a much higher quality than in the
> > US too. The Zeta engined Ford Escort sold in the UK is way, way better than
> > the Escort sold in the US.
> >
> Hmm, are we talking about the same actual car? Remember that the US Escort
> line is now based on the Mazda (323 ?). Damn fine car. We have a Mercury
> Tracer (same car, slighly more deluxe) with added air conditioning that cost
> us $11.3K.

Is that $11.3k after discount but before tax?

It has always struck me as odd that Ford low-end models are not based on their
own excellent autos that they designed in Europe. The Festiva/Fiesta is
a better example: the US gets a rebadged Kia Pride (a dog by any measure,
curious, but not inconsistent with Ford's relationship with Mazda, since
the Pride is manufactured by Kia in Korea using old Mazda 121 tooling which
they aquired a couple of years ago when Mazda redesigned the 121 into the
_very_ oddly shaped vehicle it is today). In the UK, the Fiesta has been
in the top 5 best sellers for the last XXX years, why wouldn't it sell in
the US?

I guess the issue is cost, since both the low end Fords (Fiesta and Escort)
would be more expensive to manufacture that the US sold equivalents.

Notwithstanding this, the US are in for a treat when the Tempo is replaced
by the same car that replaces the Sierra in Europe (the name escapes
me---Mateo???).

The Europeans are not left out since the '93 Probe will be introduced later
this year. I wonder what the price and specification differences will be?

That just leaves the Taurus, which was originally designed ``to be more
European'', and is now #1 best selling car in the US (beating the Honda
Accord even).

The British should see an increase in the number of 6 and 8 cylinder vehicles
once the company car tax structure is changed to ignore engine size too.
Ford's best selling engine in the US is the V8, I believe, but this could
be due to the large number of pick-up trucks they sell.

Aled

p.s. Ford owns 25% of Mazda I believe

Martin Baines - Sun UK - SE Manager Cambridge

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Jan 14, 1993, 11:48:53 AM1/14/93
to
In article 1j00np...@morrow.stanford.edu, mos...@pangea.Stanford.EDU (Antony Mossop) writes:
[deleted earlier thread]
>>Don't misinterpret me though: I am no great fan of the poll Tax -
>>personally I have always believed in a local income tax to pay
>>for local government. It just annoys me to see law breaking
>>being supported.
>>
>
>The style of democracy in the UK doesn't quite work as ideally as you
>would suggest. Apart from the arguable biases introduced by party funding,
>media ownership, the first past the post system and the constant Gerryman-
>dering of constituency boundaries there is the bias in the party system
>itself.

I have to take exception here: constituency boundaries are decided
by an independent body: the Boundary Commission. The government
don't decide themselves, it's done by civil servants. As it
happens for years the structure of constituancy boundaries
has favoured Labour: Scotland has more less voters per seat
than the rest of the UK, and demographic changes (movement
from the North to SE of England) has left SE England
under-represented. If the last election had been run with
a homogenious consituancy size the current Conservative
majority would have been about 60 not. The coming new set
of boundaries expect from the Boundary Commission are likely
to add another 20 seats the Conservatives: again due to
increases in population in the SE and Midlands of England
and reduction of population in the indutrial north. Scotland
will remain over represented unless the government acts
to change it.

>People do not get to vote on individual issues they get to vote on
>a party they wish to govern them (whether this is democracy is questionable).
>The parties subscribe to a mixture of popular and unpopular policies the
>voter then votes for the combination they like best or dislike least
>(of course most people vote according to many other criteria). The upshot
>of this is that whilst the poll tax was grossly unpopular the Cons may well
>have been voted back in even if they had continued to support the community
>charge. So what do you do now, the majority of people disagree with a
>certain policy but cannot get their will felt due to the crudities of
>the electoral system? The answer is obvious, you act upon the policy in
>question and disobey.
>
>This next bit is going to be a bit crass and obvious, you'll have to
>forgive me for this. When a government makes a law in contravention of
>the wishes of its people the law is invalid. A govt. is the servant,
>not the master of its public. The public in this case has the right to
>ignore this law. There are times when disobeying the law should be
>supported even when the majority of people agree with the law e.g. disobedience
>in parts of Nazi Europe, civil rights activities in '60's US etc, though this
>is a lot harder to justify in terms of 'democracy'. Laws shouldn't be viewed
>as absolute rules but should be interpreted with a view to the will of
>the public and one's own moral code.

I actually agree with you regarding laws being not absolute: I just
don't consider taxation in a democracy as an issue to defy the law on! If
the government started deporting Jews (even with a parliamentary
majority) it would be different. Also if Scotland had returned a
majority of votes for a party in favour of independence, and the
government didn't recongise this it would be another case when I would
support a civil disobedince campaign. In other words, obeying the
rule of law should be the default, and disobeying only resorted
to when either democracy has broken down, or the majority start
violating the basic human rights of the majority.

Martin

Martin Baines - Sun UK - SE Manager Cambridge

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Jan 14, 1993, 12:42:12 PM1/14/93
to
In article 93Jan1...@hunter.cs.strath.ac.uk, j...@cs.strath.ac.uk (Jim Reid) writes:
[deleted earlier thread]

>Car prices in Britain are a rip-off for a number of reasons. The main
>one is that manufacturers charge what the market will bear. This is
>because something like 70% of new car sales in the UK are to fleet
>buyers. [Many employers provide their employees with fully-expensed
>cars to employees as a perk.] Fleet buyers are mainly concerned with
>running costs and don't really care about the purchase price - they
>get huge discounts and they're spending company money, not their own
>anyway. If the price is artificially high, companies recoup that in
>tax breaks and through a knock-on artificially high price when the car
>eventually gets sold into the second hand market.

Ah hem! As a drive of a company car (oh dear, here comes the
hate mail from the Radical Greenies) let me say PRICE DOES MATTER.

The cheaper the car, either (a) the more car I get for my car
allowance, or (b) the less the money the company has to pay
to give me the similar level of benefit. Hence it is in either
the company's or my interest to negotiate a good price. Whether
case (a) or (b) applies depends on the details of the company
car policy. Anyone who doubts price is important on company
cars should listen to about a minutes worth of conversation
near a Sun coffee machine!

Actually as most companies contract hire cars these days, the
real relevant figure is hire cost which depends on capital cost
depreciation, insurance and maintainance costs. Hence cars
with seemingly low capital costs (e.g. Alpha Romeos) can end
up costing way more on lease than supposedly expensive cars
(e.g. BMWs).

There are no tax breaks for the company when buying/leasing
cars: these were pluged years ago. At current rates of individual
tax on company cars they still (usually) represent a good deal
for the employee (i.e. the company paying ŁX to give me a
car is a lot less than the company would have to pay me in
real money to buy/run the same car); although in recent years
the tax perk side of the equation has reduced considerably.

>The government has also made car prices a rip-off. New cars are
>heavily taxed: roughly 20-25% of the purchase price goes to HM
>Treasury in value added tax and car tax.

Actually, special Car (purchase) Tax was abolished in the
autumn budget statement. Now you only (!) pay 17.5% VAT
just like everything else.

>I was shocked when I found that the Rover Sterling was being sold in
>the USA for about half the price it costs in the country of manufacture!

I wasn't shocked, just dissapointed.

Jim Reid

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Jan 14, 1993, 12:49:10 PM1/14/93
to

Aled Morris (al...@grant.ncd.com) wrote:
> Subjectively, I think UK sold cars are of a much higher quality than in the
> US too. The Zeta engined Ford Escort sold in the UK is way, way better than
> the Escort sold in the US.
>
Hmm, are we talking about the same actual car?

Not really, though there is considerable similarity. Some of the major
components are the same - engine/drivetrain, floorpan and body panels
- but that's not the whole story.

US versions of "world cars" are usually better for creature comforts -
air conditioning, power operated windows, automatic transmissions and
so on - but much, much worse to actually drive. They are notorious for
soft, soggy suspensions; vague power steering; abysmal gear changing
and miserable performance. The latter isn't helped by all these
performance sucking gadgets like the air conditioning and detuned
carburation systems needed to meet exhaust emission standards.

These are only good for cruising at 50-60 mph on wide, flat and
straight roads - which is where most Americans seem to drive anyway.

Jim

kevinh

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Jan 15, 1993, 5:11:41 AM1/15/93
to

In article <15...@lupine.ncd.com>, al...@grant.ncd.com (Aled Morris) writes:
|>
|> It has always struck me as odd that Ford low-end models are not based on their
|> own excellent autos that they designed in Europe.

Is this a joke? Nobody in any european car magazine i've seen (esp. UK ones)
has given a low-end Ford anything other than criticism! Usually the same
for all Fords actually. Witness the fact that Ford had to visually re-design
the latest Escort because of the severe crticism and poor sales halfway
through its expected model life.


|> The Festiva/Fiesta is
|> a better example: the US gets a rebadged Kia Pride (a dog by any measure,
|> curious, but not inconsistent with Ford's relationship with Mazda, since
|> the Pride is manufactured by Kia in Korea using old Mazda 121 tooling which
|> they aquired a couple of years ago when Mazda redesigned the 121 into the
|> _very_ oddly shaped vehicle it is today). In the UK, the Fiesta has been
|> in the top 5 best sellers for the last XXX years, why wouldn't it sell in
|> the US?

Because it's a plodder, nothing special, and is usually bottom of the list
when comparisons are made with virtually any other competitor, with the
possible exception of the Kia Pride :-).

Ford cars usually sell well in the UK for some strange reason but
not so well in other european markets.


|> Notwithstanding this, the US are in for a treat when the Tempo is replaced
|> by the same car that replaces the Sierra in Europe (the name escapes
|> me---Mateo???).

Mondeo, and it's already been slagged off for it's "safe" styling (looks
like a japanese something etc).

|> al...@ncd.com Network Computing Devices Inc.
|> (415)694 4543 350 North Bernardo Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94043

kev...@hasler.ascom.ch

Matthew Huntbach

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Jan 15, 1993, 5:49:41 AM1/15/93
to
In article <1j45hl...@grapevine.EBay.Sun.COM> martin...@uk.sun.com writes:
>I have to take exception here: constituency boundaries are decided
>by an independent body: the Boundary Commission. The government
>don't decide themselves, it's done by civil servants. As it
>happens for years the structure of constituancy boundaries
>has favoured Labour: Scotland has more less voters per seat
>than the rest of the UK, and demographic changes (movement
>from the North to SE of England) has left SE England
>under-represented.

It's not just a matter of constituency sizes. Labour has a lot
of seats where it uselessly piles up huge majorities. The
Conservatives have a lot of seats where usefully they have
reasonable majorities but not enough to pile up wasted votes.

e.g. ignoring the LibDems, imagine there are thirty seats each
with 50,000 voters, ten of which are Labour strongholds where
the votes split 35,000 Labour to 15,000 Conservative, and
twenty of which are Conservative marginals where the votes
split 22,500 Labour to 27,500 Conservative.

That gives the Tories 20 seats to Labour's 10, despite the fact
that Labour got 800,000 votes and the Tories 700,000.

Matthew Huntbach

Guy Barry

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Jan 15, 1993, 7:08:16 AM1/15/93
to
In article <1993Jan15.1...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk> m...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk (Matthew Huntbach) writes:
>
>It's not just a matter of constituency sizes. Labour has a lot
>of seats where it uselessly piles up huge majorities. The
>Conservatives have a lot of seats where usefully they have
>reasonable majorities but not enough to pile up wasted votes.

I'm afraid you're wrong -- it's the other way round. Quoting
from Butler and Kavanagh page 282:

"The 2.1% swing that Labour achieved should, if uniform across the
country, have left the Conservatives with 356 not 336 seats. ...
Why did Labour fare better than would have been predicted if
the 2.1% swing figure had been known in advance? It did so because
it won 12 of the 18 seats that would fall on a 2.1% swing and it
compensated for its 6 failures by gaining 17 of the 24 seats
vulnerable to a swing of between 2% and 4% as well as a further
11 seats beyond that point. Of these 28 uncovenanted gains eight
were in Greater London and the Midlands, where the swing in any
case was higher than average. Conservatives piled up extra votes
in their safest seats and less so in the marginals, while Labour
gained votes in their crucial target seats. ... As the electoral
outcome now suggests, while a uniform swing of 3.8% would bring
the parties level at 39.0% apiece, this would result in Labour
having 320 seats to the Conservatives 282. The Conservatives
would no doubt be howling at the injustice of the electoral
system."
--
Guy Barry, University of Cambridge | Phone: +44 (0)223 334757
Computer Laboratory | Fax: +44 (0)223 334678
New Museums Site, Pembroke Street | JANET: Guy....@uk.ac.cam.cl
Cambridge CB2 3QG, England, UK | Internet: Guy....@cl.cam.ac.uk

Matthew Huntbach

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Jan 15, 1993, 8:58:46 AM1/15/93
to
In article <1993Jan15....@infodev.cam.ac.uk> gd...@cl.cam.ac.uk writes:
>I'm afraid you're wrong -- it's the other way round. Quoting
>from Butler and Kavanagh page 282:
>
OK, I stand corrected, perhaps the situation I referred to was
more applicable in the 1983 election, but reversed by 1992.
Whatever, what I meant was that size of constituencies is not
the only determining factor in unfairness with
first-past-the-post, even with a pure two-party system. The
exact distribution of votes can be quite critical.

Matthew Huntbach

Guy Barry

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Jan 15, 1993, 10:48:11 AM1/15/93
to
In article <1993Jan15.1...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk> m...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk (Matthew Huntbach) writes:

You're right. Suppose for the sake of argument we ignore all votes
that weren't cast for one of the two main parties (hope that's not too
painful for you!). As Curtice and Steed point out, there are two main
sources of bias that can occur under the FPTP system: differences in
constituency size (including differential turnout for these purposes),
and differences in how "efficiently" each party's vote is distributed
-- a party's vote being distributed more efficiently if it wins more
seats by small majorities. The first can be measured by the difference
between the mean share of the two-party vote won by (say) the Tories
and their overall share, since the mean share ignores differences
in the sizes of constituencies. The second can be measured by the
difference between the *median* share and the mean share (the median
seat being the seat that has to be won for an overall majority of
one, again ignoring third parties). The total bias can therefore
be measured by the difference between the median vote and the overall
vote.

Here are the relevant figures for the Tory vote at the last three
elections:

Mean-Overall Median-Mean Median-Overall
1983 -0.5 +1.7 +1.2
1987 -0.8 +1.4 +0.6
1992 -1.2 -0.0 -1.2

As the negative figures in the first column show, Labour has
consistently benefited from concentrating its vote in smaller
constituencies. In 1983 and 1987 the Tories more than compensated for
this by distributing their vote more efficiently. But in 1992 this
advantage disappeared, leaving Labour as the net beneficiary of
bias. (Curtice and Steed note that at most post-war elections
Labour's vote has been less efficiently distributed than the Tories',
but not always; in Feb 1974 and 1979 it was the other way round.)

Aled Morris

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Jan 18, 1993, 1:38:28 PM1/18/93
to
In article <1993Jan15.1...@hasler.ascom.ch>, kev...@hslrswi.hasler.ascom.ch (kevinh) writes:
>
>In article <15...@lupine.ncd.com>, al...@grant.ncd.com (Aled Morris) writes:
>>
>>It has always struck me as odd that Ford low-end models are not based on their
>>own excellent autos that they designed in Europe.
>
>Is this a joke? Nobody in any european car magazine i've seen (esp. UK ones)
>has given a low-end Ford anything other than criticism!

Well, it's all relative y'see. Sure, compared to other European cars,
the Escort is nothing special. For your money you could get a new Astra
("1.4 Astra makes 1.4 Escort look silly" -- Car Magazine, Dec 1992),
Citroen ZX (winner of numerous group tests), Rover 200, etc. etc. But
if you choose an Escort, you get a competent, cheap to run, reliable
car with good performance and handling.

This isn't what you usually get in the USofA.

> Usually the same
>for all Fords actually.

Ford bashing has long been a sport of British motoring magazines (and I
myself have been guilty of this in the past) which can mainly be attributed
to Ford's long model lifetime, lack of product breadth, and conservative
styling (maybe a product of the first two points?)

Major points in Ford's favour are their car's reputation for reliability and
cheap cost of ownership (says he opening the floodgates for horror stories
from Capri owners ;-), the Zeta engine, Ford's commitment to motorsport, and
thus their saving grace---the performance models of each car (Fiesta RS1800,
Escort RS2000 and RS Cosworth, Sierra Cosworth (RIP), Granada 24V.)

I don't want you to get the idea that I'm a Ford fan, I'm really not
(particularly), I just wanted to make the point (originally) that _even_
Ford Europe makes better cars than in the US.

GM is just a non-starter in the US, whereas Vauxhall/Opel Europe have a fine
range of cars, each of which is remarkably better that the Ford equivalent.

>>The Festiva/Fiesta is
>>a better example:

...


>> why wouldn't it sell in
>>the US?
>
>Because it's a plodder, nothing special, and is usually bottom of the list
>when comparisons are made with virtually any other competitor, with the
>possible exception of the Kia Pride :-).

No, you missed the point! Sure it doesn't rate highly in comparison with
the best European subsubcompacts, but that's irrelevant in the US market, it's
not like it would have to compete with the Rover Metro, Renault Clio, etc.
I was trying to point out that a _quality_ small car might stand a chance
of creating a new niche market in the US, where the only competition would
be from a Geo Metro (a GM rebadged Suzuki, I think, it's a three cylinder
no hoper).

I imagine some Americans would be stunned that a Fiesta RS1800 could outperform
their 5.0 litre Mustang! and cost more :-(

>kev...@hasler.ascom.ch

Aled

p.s. the Ford Probe gets good reviews in all the UK Magazines I've read.

Jim Reid

unread,
Jan 19, 1993, 8:12:24 AM1/19/93
to
In article <1j45hl...@grapevine.EBay.Sun.COM> martin...@uk.sun.com (Martin Baines - Sun UK - SE Manager Cambridge) writes:

I actually agree with you regarding laws being not absolute: I just
don't consider taxation in a democracy as an issue to defy the law on! If
the government started deporting Jews (even with a parliamentary
majority) it would be different. Also if Scotland had returned a
majority of votes for a party in favour of independence, and the
government didn't recongise this it would be another case when I would
support a civil disobedince campaign. In other words, obeying the
rule of law should be the default, and disobeying only resorted
to when either democracy has broken down, or the majority start
violating the basic human rights of the majority.

But for many people (though obviously not you), the Poll Tax failed
these criteria. It was undemocratic. First of all it encouraged poor
people to disenfranchise themselves in the hope they would escape the
tax. (Hardly surprising when the Electoral Register was used to
determine who was to pay the Poll Tax.) Secondly, the tax was first
introduced in Scotland, where there was (and still is) no Conservative
majority. [I also don't remember the Poll Tax being in the manifesto
for the second Thatcher government which introduced it. So Scotland
got a tax from a party it didn't vote for which wasn't even in its
manifesto!] As far as public opinion on the Poll Tax was concerned,
democracy clearly had broken down. The government persisted with this
deeply unpopular tax and was completely unmoved by the public outcry
against it. Since there was no immediate prospect of removing the
government - the election was at least two years away - opponents of
the Poll Tax had two choices: civil disobedience or give in to the
government.

On your second get-out, the government (not the majority) were
tramping on the rights of the minority. Poor people who couldn't
afford the tax - like 18 and 19 year olds on training schemes - were
being subtly pressured into giving up their right to vote.

Jim

Martin Baines - Sun UK - SE Manager Cambridge

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Jan 19, 1993, 12:30:06 PM1/19/93
to

Although I think the Pol Tax was daft politics, I really can't
subscribe to the Conspiracy of the Tories view either.

The Poll Tax was rushed through in Scotland mainly because
Scotland was the area screaming most about the rates. Remember
the re-rating that caused average rateable values in Scotland
to be increased in line with England and Wales? Then it was
the Scotish screaming to abolish the hated rates. Combine
this with Thatcher's personal commitment to abolish the
"unfair" rates system, the civil service's inability to
suggest any alternative (they were/are implacably opposed
to local income tax) and you end up with the Poll Tax. At
the time it looked (to some people) like it would be easy
and cheap to administer. What really killed it was the level
that it had to be levied at: originally the government
thought it would be about £100 per person (£25 for students,
UB40s etc). At those levels it would have probably caused little
comment. Unfortunately for the government, the effect of
removing local authorities power to levy the business rate
meant all variable income had to come form the Poll
Tax, hence Tax bills about 4 times the level originally
envisaged.

All in all a fine example of the Cock Up school of politcal
history. In hindsite it all seems so obvious....

Incidently the new Council Tax looks like another good
example of the ability to create conspiracy theory. So
far *everyone* I know who has got their assement has been
plesantly surprised by which group they are in: most are
one band lower that they expected, some 2 bands lower.
Is this is a conspiracy? After all if there is a consistent
low valuation, it just means the basic rate will be higher:
we all know the net effect is the same, but the government
can point the finger at the nasty councils and blame them
for the high rates.

R.A.McPheat

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Jan 19, 1993, 2:15:43 PM1/19/93
to
martin...@uk.sun.com wrote:
>
>The Poll Tax was rushed through in Scotland mainly because
>Scotland was the area screaming most about the rates. Remember
>the re-rating that caused average rateable values in Scotland
>to be increased in line with England and Wales? Then it was
>the Scotish screaming to abolish the hated rates. Combine

The objection was to the fact that Scotland was revalved twice after the
revaluation in the early 1970s but England and Wales was not. The rateable
values were not brought into line with England, the difference was increased.
There was no demand in Scotland (apart fron within the Tory party) for the
replacement of the rates with the poll tax and little demand for the
replacement of rates.

>this with Thatcher's personal commitment to abolish the
>"unfair" rates system, the civil service's inability to
>suggest any alternative (they were/are implacably opposed
>to local income tax) and you end up with the Poll Tax. At
>the time it looked (to some people) like it would be easy
>and cheap to administer. What really killed it was the level
>that it had to be levied at: originally the government

>thought it would be about #100 per person (#25 for students,


>UB40s etc). At those levels it would have probably caused little
>comment.

Yes it would have. There was considerable opposition before the actual figures
were announced. The objection was that everyone (excluding students, UB40s,
the queen, etc.) had to pay the same, however much they could afford.

Robert.

Jim Reid

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Jan 20, 1993, 6:15:37 AM1/20/93
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In article <1jhdqu...@grapevine.EBay.Sun.COM> martin...@uk.sun.com (Martin Baines - Sun UK - SE Manager Cambridge) writes:

The Poll Tax was rushed through in Scotland mainly because
Scotland was the area screaming most about the rates.

Wrong. Tory politicians in Scotland were screaming about the rates.

Remember
the re-rating that caused average rateable values in Scotland
to be increased in line with England and Wales?

Wrong. Scotland had two rates revaluations which pushed up everyone's
bills because of the rocketing inflation in house prices. This tended
to hammer Conservative votes who mainly lived in the leafy suburbs.
Support for the Conservative party crumbled as a result. Revaluations
in England and Wales were postponed because they would lead to even
larger rises in rates bills and a drop in support for the Conservative
party. It was then that the loony Poll Tax idea was adopted.

Then it was
the Scotish screaming to abolish the hated rates. Combine
this with Thatcher's personal commitment to abolish the
"unfair" rates system, the civil service's inability to
suggest any alternative (they were/are implacably opposed
to local income tax) and you end up with the Poll Tax.

So how come we're now getting the Council Tax - Son-of-rates? The Poll
Tax was yet another daft idea invented by the Adam Smith Institute,
the right-wing think tank that had the ear of Mrs. Thatcher. When she
was frantically looking around for a replacement for the rates, the
"solution" proposed by the Adam Smith Institute was the obvious (to
Mrs. Thatcher and her yes men) choice.

At
the time it looked (to some people) like it would be easy
and cheap to administer.

Anyone who honestly thought that must have been on hallucinogenic drugs.

What really killed it was the level
that it had to be levied at: originally the government

thought it would be about #100 per person (#25 for students,


UB40s etc). At those levels it would have probably caused little
comment. Unfortunately for the government, the effect of
removing local authorities power to levy the business rate
meant all variable income had to come form the Poll
Tax, hence Tax bills about 4 times the level originally
envisaged.

Wrong. What killed the tax was widespread public opposition to it,
notably amongst Conservative supporting sections of the population.
[That opposition indirectly brought down Mrs. Thatcher too.] The Poll
Tax was expensive to administer and collect. It was also unfair as a
flat-rate tax did not take account of people's ability to pay. That's
why it died. The excuses you give above are flimsy and are at best
minor contributory factors.

All in all a fine example of the Cock Up school of politcal
history. In hindsite it all seems so obvious....

Hindsight had little to do with it. Anyone who didn't ascribe to the
fantasy that Mrs. Thatcher could do no wrong could see what was wrong
with the Poll Tax from the outset. All that was needed was a little
common sense to see just how impractical the wretched tax was to
administer.

Jim

Steve Reynolds

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Jan 20, 1993, 8:28:08 AM1/20/93
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In article 93Jan2...@hunter.cs.strath.ac.uk, j...@cs.strath.ac.uk (Jim Reid) writes:
>In article <1jhdqu...@grapevine.EBay.Sun.COM> martin...@uk.sun.com (Martin Baines - Sun UK - SE Manager Cambridge) writes:
>
> The Poll Tax was rushed through in Scotland mainly because
> Scotland was the area screaming most about the rates.
>
>Wrong. Tory politicians in Scotland were screaming about the rates.
>
> Remember
> the re-rating that caused average rateable values in Scotland
> to be increased in line with England and Wales?
>
>Wrong. Scotland had two rates revaluations which pushed up everyone's
>bills because of the rocketing inflation in house prices. This tended
>to hammer Conservative votes who mainly lived in the leafy suburbs.
>Support for the Conservative party crumbled as a result. Revaluations
>in England and Wales were postponed because they would lead to even
>larger rises in rates bills and a drop in support for the Conservative
>party. It was then that the loony Poll Tax idea was adopted.


I never understood this argument at the time. If the rateable values of the houses
were raised significantly, then why wasn't the rate/pound reduced so that the
total income from the rates stayed the same or rose with inflation?

---

---------------------------------------------------
| Steve Reynolds |
| Ericsson-CAMTEC |
| Leicester |
| UK |
| TEL: +44 533 537534 |
| EMAIL: st...@terminus.ericsson.se |
---------------------------------------------------

David George

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Jan 20, 1993, 8:36:34 AM1/20/93
to
In article <JIM.93Ja...@hunter.cs.strath.ac.uk>, j...@cs.strath.ac.uk (Jim Reid) writes:
|> Wrong. Scotland had two rates revaluations which pushed up everyone's
|> bills because of the rocketing inflation in house prices.

There is zero logic in this statement Jim. Rates only rise if the local council
is spending more money. Revaluations will mean some people pay higher rates,
some lower. If the rateably value of all property is increased than the general
rate will be lower (% levied on rateable value) and the money raised will be
same. This is common question on '0' level (grade) maths papers.

If rates went up across the board it is for a number of reasons:

1) general inflation
2) the council is providing more services
3) the rates were previously too low, the council was borrowing
4) the rate support grant is being reduced - presumably to finance
ii) higher govt. spending (under Labour)
iii) tax cuts (under the Conservatives)
5) some councillor is bunging all the road laying contracts out to
his brother, who charges twice as much because he has to pay
backhanders.
...

|> It was also unfair as a
|> flat-rate tax did not take account of people's ability to pay.

It was a two tier tax. Levied at either 20% or 100% depending on ability to
pay (means tested). It was a stupid tax because it didn't take into account
people's ability to want to pay. Apart from a few disgruntled Labour MPs the
people who generally wern't paying were mobile, often with quite good incomes,
as opposed to the image of a disenfranchised underclass.

There probably isn't a fair system. Local income tax means anyone rich enough
not to have to work, with his cash stashed away in Jersey of Bermuda won't pay
a penny. Local sales tax might work, everyone has to buy things and rich
people generally buy more, unless they're like Craig Cockburn and order it all
through the post from America :-). I guess the British just don't like change,
although they seem to have been bought off by the Conservative's slight of hand
with the rate support grant.

David.

C R Pennell

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Jan 20, 1993, 9:32:08 AM1/20/93
to
j...@cs.strath.ac.uk (Jim Reid) writes:
[lots of good things about why teh polltax was a disaster - but eliminated
for reasons of saving space]
:
: Wrong. What killed the tax was widespread public opposition to it,

: notably amongst Conservative supporting sections of the population.
....... Hindsight had little to do with it. Anyone who didn't ascribe to the

: fantasy that Mrs. Thatcher could do no wrong could see what was wrong
: with the Poll Tax from the outset. All that was needed was a little
: common sense to see just how impractical the wretched tax was to
: administer.

And a little honesty and courage to stand up to her and oppose her. You're
right: lots of Conservatives DID disagree over the pool tax, partic.
inside parliament. but look how long it took to get it reversed.
The World Service today says there's lots of disatisfaction with the
"de-nationalisation" of BR on Conservative back benches. But don't hold
your breath for them to do anything about it.
Question: do you think Conservative MPs opposed the Poll TAx ebcause they
thought it was wrong, or because they thought their constituents might
vote against them. Do you think the same answer will hold true for the
railways when the full result becomes plain?

Richard Pennell, History NUS.

Martin Baines - Sun UK - SE Manager Cambridge

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Jan 20, 1993, 10:17:03 AM1/20/93
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In article 10...@quirm.terminus.ericsson.se, st...@terminus.ericsson.se (Steve Reynolds) writes:
>>Wrong. Scotland had two rates revaluations which pushed up everyone's
>>bills because of the rocketing inflation in house prices. This tended
>>to hammer Conservative votes who mainly lived in the leafy suburbs.
>>Support for the Conservative party crumbled as a result. Revaluations
>>in England and Wales were postponed because they would lead to even
>>larger rises in rates bills and a drop in support for the Conservative
>>party. It was then that the loony Poll Tax idea was adopted.
>
>
>I never understood this argument at the time. If the rateable values of the houses
>were raised significantly, then why wasn't the rate/pound reduced so that the
>total income from the rates stayed the same or rose with inflation?

Because the local council could get away with it! As you rightly point
out the actually contribution should be (about) the same for the same
tax take regardless of ratable value scaling. What used to happen before
rate capping was introduced though was (many) councils treated any additional
income from revaluing as being theirs of right, rather than reducing
the overall rate. The argument was justified by saying as ratable value
was (loosely) based on value of the property it showed how rich the
occupant was. Obviously if we had previous undervalued the property
before, we had underestimated how rich our ratepayers were; as we now
know they are actually richer than we thought, we can now extract more
money from them. Q.E.D.

As for saying rates were not unpopular, this is plain rubbish. Like
most taxes, those who paid them hated them. The particularly nasty
thing about rates, was the way they made you pay money out of income
based on the value of a nonliquid asset. They worked particularly
against the widowed and retired. The Labour party was not particularly
concerned about this, as much of their support came from people
in subsidised social housing: although council tenents paid rates,
their rents were subsidised out of the rates - for some reason they
didn't complain very much about them!

At least the council tax has an upper limit, so a widow finding herself
with a limited income has an upper limit on what she wil need to pay -
if fact she will even get a discount for being a single occupant of the
property. Still nowhere near as fair as a local income tax, but at
least a bit better than the rates.

Guy Barry

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Jan 20, 1993, 9:21:31 AM1/20/93
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In article <10...@quirm.terminus.ericsson.se> st...@terminus.ericsson.se writes:
>
>
>I never understood this argument at the time. If the rateable values of the houses
>were raised significantly, then why wasn't the rate/pound reduced so that the
>total income from the rates stayed the same or rose with inflation?
>

I think that there were disproportionate rises in rateable values
within sime local authority areas, so that some people would have had
to face huge rate rises if the overall rate revenue were to remain the
same. (Presumably others would have seen a substantial fall in their
rates, but you didn't hear much about that at the time.)

In any case, as far as I can make out, the main determining factor in
the size of people's local tax bills -- whatever the system of
taxation -- is the size of the central government grant. I'm sure the
poll tax would have been rather more popular if it had only covered
15% of local authority expenditure (I think that's the proposed
figure for the council tax).

Phill Hallam-Baker

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Jan 20, 1993, 1:41:51 PM1/20/93
to

|>In article <1jhdqu...@grapevine.EBay.Sun.COM> martin...@uk.sun.com
|>(Martin Baines - Sun UK - SE Manager Cambridge) writes:
|>
|> The Poll Tax was rushed through in Scotland mainly because
|> Scotland was the area screaming most about the rates.
|>
|>Wrong. Tory politicians in Scotland were screaming about the rates.

Not quite right, not so much Tory politicians as the Glasgow Hilhead brigade.
The story goes back to the Gloasgow Hillhead byelection, the rerating impetus
came when the Glasgow covern of the Tory party spent the whole by election
winging and whining about the rerating. They managed to convince the ministers
that the rates were a serious problem.

At no time though were they pressing for a poll tax. That came when Waldergrave
was given the job of thinking up a better system. He came up with a report that
said that given that a local income tax was ruled out a priori and the rates
were not acceprtable the only other scheme possible would be a Poll tax which
was clearly a dumb idea. Thatcher decided on change at all costs, egged on by
the crowd of sycophantic toadies she had filled the cabinet with (Patten, Chope,
Fowler, Clarke etc) and the rest is history.


|>Wrong. Scotland had two rates revaluations which pushed up everyone's
|>bills because of the rocketing inflation in house prices. This tended
|>to hammer Conservative votes who mainly lived in the leafy suburbs.
|>Support for the Conservative party crumbled as a result.

Not really true that there was a notable drop because of the rates. The tory
party was imensely popular anyway. The Falklands factor was measurably less
important in Scotland than in the rest of the UK, this is most probably due to
the fact that the Scotts do not regard the Tory party as the patriotic party of
the nation but more like a bunch of cynical hypocrites who would wrap themselves
in any flag to get votes.

|> At
|> the time it looked (to some people) like it would be easy
|> and cheap to administer.
|>
|>Anyone who honestly thought that must have been on hallucinogenic drugs.

10 billion piounds down the drain.

|> What really killed it was the level
|> that it had to be levied at: originally the government
|> thought it would be about #100 per person (#25 for students,
|> UB40s etc). At those levels it would have probably caused little
|> comment. Unfortunately for the government, the effect of
|> removing local authorities power to levy the business rate
|> meant all variable income had to come form the Poll
|> Tax, hence Tax bills about 4 times the level originally
|> envisaged.
|>
|>Wrong. What killed the tax was widespread public opposition to it,
|>notably amongst Conservative supporting sections of the population.
|>[That opposition indirectly brought down Mrs. Thatcher too.] The Poll
|>Tax was expensive to administer and collect. It was also unfair as a
|>flat-rate tax did not take account of people's ability to pay. That's
|>why it died. The excuses you give above are flimsy and are at best
|>minor contributory factors.

The major difficulty was caused by the subsidies given to businesses, the
transitional releif scheme vastly increased rates. I refused to pay my poll tax
because there was a 160 pound surcharge contribution to the "safety net". This
was a porkbarrel scheme to keep the poll tax in Wandsworth and Westminster and
other Tory areas low. There was no way that I was going to pay a surcharge in
order to subsidize rich areas.

|> All in all a fine example of the Cock Up school of politcal
|> history. In hindsite it all seems so obvious....
|>
|>Hindsight had little to do with it. Anyone who didn't ascribe to the
|>fantasy that Mrs. Thatcher could do no wrong could see what was wrong
|>with the Poll Tax from the outset. All that was needed was a little
|>common sense to see just how impractical the wretched tax was to
|>administer.

HINDSIGHT ?????

Let any Tory appologist give the name of ONE opposition member who supported the
Poll tax. The poll tax failed in precisely the manner that it was predicted to
fail. It was viciously unfair, had no public support and was beauracratic to
administer.


Given that the Tory proposal is merely the old rates scheme with a rerating and
a cap on both maximum and minimum contributions I fail to see how they can claim
it to be any form of dramatic advance on the rates. Such measures could have
been got through the House of commons with by a junior minister on a two line
whip.

Changing the Tory system is unlikely to be a priority for the next Labour
government but it will not be hard to remove the deliberate subsidy for the
super rich and the penalisation of the poor. Idealy a local income tax would
have been introduced however the difficulty there is that so much disruption has
been caused by the Tory poll tax blunder that another reorganisation needs a lot
of justification. Whether the Labour party move to support a local income tax
now that the original reason for rejecting it, the need for a fast replacement
fot the Poll tax is gone is anyone's guess. I suspect like Ken Livingstone it
just isn't to ask local government to make yet another set of changes.

Meanwhile if ever anyone is tempted to vote for a tory candidate look to see
which lobby they went through to vote on the poll tax. If they voted for it ask
them if they have ever appologised for it.


--

Phill Hallam-Baker

Matthew Huntbach

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Jan 20, 1993, 12:15:36 PM1/20/93
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In article <JIM.93Ja...@hunter.cs.strath.ac.uk> j...@cs.strath.ac.uk (Jim Reid) writes:
>Wrong. Scotland had two rates revaluations which pushed up everyone's
>bills because of the rocketing inflation in house prices. This tended
>to hammer Conservative votes who mainly lived in the leafy suburbs.

No. The idea of the rates was that property was assessed for
the amount of rent it would bring in, and each council set a
proportion of that rent it would take as local tax (although
owner-occupied property is not actually rented, it makes some
economic sense to regard owner-occupiers as "renting to
themselves").

However, rather than update every year to take into account
inflation, the rateable value was set at the amount a property
would give in rent in the year 1972 (in England and Wales, I
forget what year it was in Scotland). Thus it ended up, rather
ridiculously, that councils had tax rates well over 100%,
but this was balanced by the fact that real rents had gone up
by several multiples.

All that re-rating means is setting the rateable values at
realistic values reflecting today's rents, and reducing the tax
rate accordingly. If a council had 10,000 houses, with a
rateable value of #100 each, and it needed to spend #1,000,000
pounds, it had to set the rates at 100%. Re-rating meant that
the rateable value of the houses would be set at say #1000
each, and the tax rate accordingly reduced to 10%.

Now it may well have been that several councils craftily didn't
reduce their tax rate by quite as much as would be required to
balance things out, noting that rather than getting the blame
themselves, the innumerate 90% of the population would blame
the "Tory re-rating", even Tories (who are not notable
numerate). However, there was apparently a real problem in that
rents had not all changed proportionately since the last
re-rating, thus some people's rateable values went up by a
bigger multiple than others. A particular point (again this
applies to England and Wales, I am not sure if it applied to
Scotland) is that flats were rather more highly regarded than
houses in 1972 than they are now, thus they had relatively high
rateable values, and houses relatively low. So people living in
houses rather than flats (thus more likely to be rich, thus
more likely to be Tories) had higher proportionate rises.
People with lower proportionate rises kept their mouths shut,
just as those who gained from the poll tax kept their mouths
shut.

Moral is - it doesn't matter how unjust the taxation system is,
whatever you do to change it someone's bound to lose out, and
you can bet that someone will make a fuss about it. No doubt if
we still had window tax and it was finally abolish, you'd get
all these sob-stories about poor old dears living in windowless
houses who'd never had to pay tax before now having to pay
whatever replaced it.

Matthew Huntbach

Guy Barry

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Jan 20, 1993, 10:49:15 AM1/20/93
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In article <1jjqdf...@grapevine.EBay.Sun.COM> mar...@uk.sun.com writes:
>
>As for saying rates were not unpopular, this is plain rubbish. Like
>most taxes, those who paid them hated them. The particularly nasty
>thing about rates, was the way they made you pay money out of income
>based on the value of a nonliquid asset.

I think that from many people's point of view, the particularly nasty
thing about *all* forms of local taxation (at least, all the ones
we've had in Britain) is that they're much more visible than central
government taxation, since a bill comes through the letterbox. Most
people, paying their income tax through PAYE and paying other
invisible taxes like VAT, don't see how much they're paying in
national tax. Even the Lib Dem proposal for local income tax has this
feature, since (as I understand it) they propose that the Inland
Revenue should collect a flat-rate supplementary tax on behalf of the
local authority, and that the local authority should then issue either
a refund or a further bill. Of course, this is all supposed to be
a Good Thing since it increases accountability, but the fact remains
that most people don't like paying bills.

Someone in a previous posting suggested a local sales tax. I can't
see how this could be made to work in Britain, particularly in urban
areas, since people in high-taxed districts would just nip over the
local authority boundary to do their shopping in a cheaper district.
(You thought the European single market was bad enough!) Also it's
unworkable with mail-order goods.

David George

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Jan 21, 1993, 4:21:58 AM1/21/93
to
In article <1993Jan20.1...@infodev.cam.ac.uk>, gd...@grebe.cl.cam.ac.uk (Guy Barry) writes:
|> Someone in a previous posting suggested a local sales tax. I can't
|> see how this could be made to work in Britain, particularly in urban
|> areas, since people in high-taxed districts would just nip over the
|> local authority boundary to do their shopping in a cheaper district.

|> (You thought the European single market was bad enough!)

Yes it's pretty bad that you can't go to Belgium, order a car, and bring
it straight back to the U.K. Single market, only in name and not in practice.

|> Also it's unworkable with mail-order goods.

Okay, a flat rate local sales tax, say 17 % (as VAT is a present). Local
authorities would then have to cut their cloth according to the amount of
money they take in. I believe the German Laender receive their revenues
from MWSt. (VAT) so why not the U.K. ? I would abolish VAT and the rate
support grant at the same time. I also believe the UK should be organised
into regions with much more power over local affairs, like education, the
police etc. The Govt. should concern itself solely with defence, economic
(hah!) and foreign policy. With town councils (normally rife with corruption)
restricted to emptying dustbins. Town councils could receive their revenue
from the region rather then levying a rate directly.


What ? I hear, but how would local authorities raise more money for crazy
spending ideas ? Well think of yourself as a local authority, if you want
a new car you can't just go round to your employers safe and take an extra
20% salary, you have to economise elsewhere. If the idea were not so crazy,
like building a sport centre, they could borrow to finance it rather than
jack up the rates.


I am definitely against local income tax, which I believe will leave a load
of rich tossers living in big houses not paying a bean, or at least their
fair share because their crafty accountants have salted all their cash away
somewhere.


David.

Matthew Huntbach

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Jan 21, 1993, 7:54:42 AM1/21/93
to
In article <1993Jan21.0...@osf.org> da...@postman.gr.osf.org (David George) writes:
>Okay, a flat rate local sales tax, say 17 % (as VAT is a present). Local
>authorities would then have to cut their cloth according to the amount of
>money they take in. I believe the German Laender receive their revenues
>from MWSt. (VAT) so why not the U.K. ? I would abolish VAT and the rate
>support grant at the same time. I also believe the UK should be organised
>into regions with much more power over local affairs, like education, the
>police etc.

The idea of the rate support grant is that it evens up local
authorities. Under your scheme, an authority in a wealthy area
would have far more to spend per head of the population than
one in a poor area.

Also one of the principle choices in democracy is deciding
between a high tax rate and a high level of services, and a low
tax rate and low level of services. It is hardly decentralist
to take this choice away.

I do not see why regional governments should be any less
corrupt than Westminster or town councils. Most of the powers
you want to give to regional governements already lie with
county councils (though the Tories are busy taking them away).
All you are asking for is a few almagamations of counties.

Matthew Huntbach

Martin Baines - Sun UK - SE Manager Cambridge

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Jan 21, 1993, 9:42:14 AM1/21/93
to

I more or less agree with Matthew here: if we have a tier of government
it should have the power to raise its own finance *and* be accountable
for that finance. What we have at present is a system where most of the
finance is fixed by central government, and a little can be varied by the
local authority. This is the worst of all worlds: the local authorities
can duck responsibility for high/low spending and point the blame at
the government, and the government can argue that since they pay the
bill they call the shots.

My own prefered solution would be single tier authorities, with more or
less the powers of the current county councils combined with district
councils *except* with education removed from their control: instead
all schools would be completely self governing with a capitation fee
paid direct to the school for each pupil (parents get complete freedom
in chosing school, school gets complete freedom in subjects, budget,
selection etc). The current surcharge on VAT that goes to local
authorities would be removed, and (central) direct taxation would be
reduced as well by a level to compensate for the abolition of the rate
support grant. *All* income for local authorities would come from (a)
local income tax raised via PAYE and paid to the authority where you
are resident and (b) local business rate; both to be set by the local
authority. The only influence of central government would be an
independent national audit office with the remit to ensure honesty and
to point out bad management. Local authorities would be compelled to
produce annual reports to tax payers on use of funds, and to accompany
the report with an independent report from the audit office.

If there are any politcal parties out there interested in adopting
the above scheme I would love to know!

Graham Allan

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Jan 21, 1993, 9:54:58 AM1/21/93
to
In article <1993Jan21.0...@osf.org> da...@postman.gr.osf.org (David George) writes:
>
>I am definitely against local income tax, which I believe will leave a load
>of rich tossers living in big houses not paying a bean, or at least their
>fair share because their crafty accountants have salted all their cash away
>somewhere.

You can use this objection against normal income tax as well. Do you think
it should be replaced by something else?
There will always be some people who manage to avoid whatever tax regime
is adopted, but I don't think the number of people who could manage it is
all that high. I think a local income tax would probably be fairest to the
largest number of people. Sales tax also hits lower-income people
disproportionately, as they directly spend more of their income than
better-off people (who can afford to put money aside into saving, pension
schemes, etc).

Graham

Matthew Huntbach

unread,
Jan 22, 1993, 6:23:17 AM1/22/93
to
In article <C17LF...@news2.cis.umn.edu> alla...@student.tc.umn.edu (Graham Allan) writes:
>In article <1993Jan21.0...@osf.org> da...@postman.gr.osf.org (David George) writes:
>>
>>I am definitely against local income tax, which I believe will leave a load
>>of rich tossers living in big houses not paying a bean, or at least their
>>fair share because their crafty accountants have salted all their cash away
>>somewhere.
>
>You can use this objection against normal income tax as well. Do you think
>it should be replaced by something else?

Personally, yes. I would like to see tax on income that people
have actually worked for reduced, and replaced by tax on
unearnt income and wealth. I would say the only reason that
income tax is generally accepted is that people have got used
to it. I don't see why someone who is immensely wealthy should
be tax free just because he or she isn't working so isn't
earning an income.

Matthew Huntbach

Gordon Riddell

unread,
Jan 22, 1993, 5:54:08 AM1/22/93
to
>In article 93Jan2...@hunter.cs.strath.ac.uk, j...@cs.strath.ac.uk (Jim Reid) writes:
>>In article <1jhdqu...@grapevine.EBay.Sun.COM> martin...@uk.sun.com (Martin Baines - Sun UK - SE Manager Cambridge) writes:
>>
>>Wrong. Scotland had two rates revaluations which pushed up everyone's
>>bills because of the rocketing inflation in house prices. This tended
>>to hammer Conservative votes who mainly lived in the leafy suburbs.
>>Support for the Conservative party crumbled as a result. Revaluations
>>in England and Wales were postponed because they would lead to even
>>larger rises in rates bills and a drop in support for the Conservative
>>party. It was then that the loony Poll Tax idea was adopted.
>
>
>I never understood this argument at the time. If the rateable values of the houses
>were raised significantly, then why wasn't the rate/pound reduced so that the
>total income from the rates stayed the same or rose with inflation?


I seem to remembet that the rate/pound did reduce but this is where the
accountability arguements came to the fore. They weren't going down far
enough. Council tenants, for instance, saw smaller rises in their overall
rates bills for political reasons, except in Tory council areas. Thousands
of people notionally didn't pay rates so didn't really care what the
rate/pound was. The Poll Tax was supposed to conquer this "problem".

Gordon

Matthew Huntbach

unread,
Jan 22, 1993, 8:00:00 AM1/22/93
to
In article <1993Jan22.1...@merlin.comlab.ox.ac.uk> lib...@comlab.ox.ac.uk (Gordon Riddell) writes:
>I seem to remembet that the rate/pound did reduce but this is where the
>accountability arguements came to the fore. They weren't going down far
>enough. Council tenants, for instance, saw smaller rises in their overall
>rates bills for political reasons, except in Tory council areas. Thousands
>of people notionally didn't pay rates so didn't really care what the
>rate/pound was. The Poll Tax was supposed to conquer this "problem".
>
Rating valuation is carried out independently, with rented
housing assessed on exactly the same basis as owner-occupied
housing. It is not possible for rates for council tenants to be
fixed artificially low "for political reasons".

And who are these "thousands of people who notionally didn't
pay rates"? Although rates bills were nominally sent to the
"head of household", are we really to take out there were
households all over the country with worried husbands voting
Tory to keep down the rates, and wives gaily voting Labour
without a care for the potential higher rates bill?

Matthew Huntbach

Jim Reid

unread,
Jan 22, 1993, 8:22:03 AM1/22/93
to
In article <1993Jan20.1...@osf.org> da...@postman.gr.osf.org (David George) writes:

In article <JIM.93Ja...@hunter.cs.strath.ac.uk>, j...@cs.strath.ac.uk (Jim Reid) writes:
|> Wrong. Scotland had two rates revaluations which pushed up everyone's
|> bills because of the rocketing inflation in house prices.

There is zero logic in this statement Jim. Rates only rise if the
local council is spending more money. Revaluations will mean some
people pay higher rates, some lower. If the rateably value of all
property is increased than the general rate will be lower (% levied on
rateable value) and the money raised will be same. This is common
question on '0' level (grade) maths papers.

What I said was a simplification because I didn't want to get
diverted into a detailed explanation of the mechanics of local
government finance under the old rating system. Oh well.

If rates went up across the board it is for a number of reasons:

1) general inflation
2) the council is providing more services
3) the rates were previously too low, the council was borrowing
4) the rate support grant is being reduced - presumably to finance
ii) higher govt. spending (under Labour)
iii) tax cuts (under the Conservatives)

Up to a point. What happened was that there were two revaluations in
Scotland which dramatically increased the rateable value of property.
(As we all know, this was based on the notional rental value of your
home, which, indirectly, was dramatically increased by the inflation
in house prices in the 70's and 80's and by the abolition of rent
controls by the Thatcher government.) The highest increases tended to
be in areas which usually voted Conservative. The protests from these
Tory supporters naturally got the attention of Tory MPs who then
lobbied for rates reforms which led to the Poll Tax.

Councils did not cut their rate charges when rateable values rose for
a number of reasons. The main one was to minimise the impact of the
squeeze on their finances. This was caused by inflation, but mainly by
central government cutting the rate support grant and introducing
rate-capping. Rate-capping means that the government decides how much
local government may spend and, if they exceed that amount, the
difference is deducted from the rate support grant. (i.e. A #1M
overspend would lose a council #1M from government - a #2M shortfall
in revenue.) The introduction of the government-set business rate also
didn't help.

Local authorities had/have little control over their own affairs.
Their main source of income - rate support grant - was controlled by
the government and being reduced. Business rates were also controlled
by central government. (BTW these were cut in the hope that this would
"help businesses".) This left domestic rates as the only significant
way a council could raise revenue. Hence, domestic rates increased and
the howls from those worst affected - Conservative supporters - gave
rise to the Poll Tax as the Thatcher government decided to "do
something about the rates".

Lothian Regional Council was the only in Scotland to deliberately
overspend and improve services (like heavily subsidising public
transport). Not surprisingly, they were heavily penalised by the
government and LRC's domestic rates bills had the biggest increases.

5) some councillor is bunging all the road laying contracts out to
his brother, who charges twice as much because he has to pay
backhanders.

Ahhh, now you're talking about Monklands District Council... :-)


|> It was also unfair as a
|> flat-rate tax did not take account of people's ability to pay.

It was a two tier tax. Levied at either 20% or 100% depending on
ability to pay (means tested).

Not really. An 18-year old working for 80 quid a week paid the full
whack, just like say a cabinet minister earning 1600 quid a week.
The discounts which were introduced didn't go far enough and had lots
of anomalies. It also does not detract from the blatant unfairness of
the tax: it's not unreasonable to expect a fair tax to levy approx. N
times more (less) on someone who earns or is worth N times more (less)
than me. The Poll Tax didn't do this.

Jim

Jim Reid

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Jan 22, 1993, 8:52:32 AM1/22/93
to
In article <1jjqdf...@grapevine.EBay.Sun.COM> mar...@uk.sun.com (Martin Baines - Sun UK - SE Manager Cambridge) writes:

As for saying rates were not unpopular, this is plain rubbish.

Who said that they were? Nobody likes paying taxes. It's a fact of life.

Like
most taxes, those who paid them hated them. The particularly nasty
thing about rates, was the way they made you pay money out of income
based on the value of a nonliquid asset. They worked particularly
against the widowed and retired.

Oh, not that chestnut again! Broadly speaking, the more expensive your
home was (and therefore your likely income), the more you paid in
rates. Granted there were some anomalies - elderly widows living in
mansions in Morningside - but they could have been dealt with by a
careful programme of reform. Something along the lines of the new
council tax isn't so bad - it has its faults though - could have been
done as a first stab at rating reform. It's a disgrace that the Poll
Tax was introduced because of Mrs. Thatcher's crocodile tears for
these wee widows and pensioners living in big houses.

The Labour party was not particularly
concerned about this, as much of their support came from people
in subsidised social housing: although council tenents paid rates,
their rents were subsidised out of the rates - for some reason they
didn't complain very much about them!

Some Labour councils cynically exploited this. They had a policy of
keeping rents low, but rates high. Typical Labour voters in their
council houses could get rates rebates (ironically paid for by central
government), leaving mainly Conservative supporters paying high rates
bills. Not suprisingly this policy was popular with Labour councils as
it didn't alienate their natural support and also let them score a
victory over the government by screwing extra money from it for rates
rebates.

Jim

Matthew Huntbach

unread,
Jan 22, 1993, 9:53:22 AM1/22/93
to
>In article <1jjqdf...@grapevine.EBay.Sun.COM> mar...@uk.sun.com (Martin Baines - Sun UK - SE Manager Cambridge) writes:
> Like
> most taxes, those who paid them hated them. The particularly nasty
> thing about rates, was the way they made you pay money out of income
> based on the value of a nonliquid asset. They worked particularly
> against the widowed and retired.
>
>Oh, not that chestnut again! Broadly speaking, the more expensive your
>home was (and therefore your likely income), the more you paid in
>rates. Granted there were some anomalies - elderly widows living in
>mansions in Morningside - but they could have been dealt with by a
>careful programme of reform.

Such as a state remortgage scheme. All these poor elderly
widows with their huge houses, presuming they didn't want to
rent them out, could have remortgaged to pay the rates. On
their death, the mortgage is paid off from the inheritance. If
there are people who stand to gain from their inheritance and
thus lose out, well it's their fault for not helping pay
granny's rates when they clearly have a beneficial interest in
the property.

The important thing about rates or land tax (which I would
prefer) is that they act as a disincentive against underuse of
land, which is pretty vital in a crowded place like the UK, and
prevent the serious economic problems (see UK circa 1993), not
to mention serious social problems (see UK circa 1993) of
boom and bust when land becomes an object of speculation.

Matthew Huntbach

Guy Barry

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Jan 22, 1993, 8:50:06 AM1/22/93
to
In article <1993Jan22.1...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk> m...@dcs.qmw.ac.uk (Matthew Huntbach) writes:

>And who are these "thousands of people who notionally didn't
>pay rates"? Although rates bills were nominally sent to the
>"head of household", are we really to take out there were
>households all over the country with worried husbands voting
>Tory to keep down the rates, and wives gaily voting Labour
>without a care for the potential higher rates bill?

No, but there were households all over the country containing grown-up
children who didn't make a separate contribution towards their
parents' rates bill, or with lodgers (usually with no tenancy
agreement) who paid an inclusive rent with no specific rates element.

By the way, rates bills weren't sent to the "head of the household".
If the local authority didn't know the name of the occupier they'd
address the form to "The Occupier", and (in owner-occupied properties
anyway) it was the responsibility of the occupier(s) to decide whose
name appeared on the rates bills -- indeed the rates account could be
in joint names if the occupiers so wished. This caused problems when
Housing Benefit was first introduced, since the DHSS (as it then was)
insisted on treating all claims by married (and unmarried) couples
in the man's name, whereas the local authority's rate account
was in some cases in the woman's name, or in joint names.

Phill Hallam-Baker

unread,
Jan 22, 1993, 12:18:42 PM1/22/93
to
In article <1993Jan21.0...@osf.org>, da...@postman.gr.osf.org (David
George) writes:

|>In article <1993Jan20.1...@infodev.cam.ac.uk>,
|>gd...@grebe.cl.cam.ac.uk (Guy Barry) writes:
|>|> Someone in a previous posting suggested a local sales tax. I can't
|>|> see how this could be made to work in Britain, particularly in urban
|>|> areas, since people in high-taxed districts would just nip over the
|>|> local authority boundary to do their shopping in a cheaper district.
|>
|>|> (You thought the European single market was bad enough!)
|>
|>Yes it's pretty bad that you can't go to Belgium, order a car, and bring
|>it straight back to the U.K. Single market, only in name and not in
|>practice.
|>
|>|> Also it's unworkable with mail-order goods.
|>
|>Okay, a flat rate local sales tax, say 17 % (as VAT is a present). Local
|>authorities would then have to cut their cloth according to the amount of
|>money they take in. I believe the German Laender receive their revenues
|>from MWSt. (VAT) so why not the U.K. ? I would abolish VAT and the rate
|>support grant at the same time. I also believe the UK should be organised
|>into regions with much more power over local affairs, like education, the
|>police etc. The Govt. should concern itself solely with defence, economic
|>(hah!) and foreign policy. With town councils (normally rife with
|>corruption)
|>restricted to emptying dustbins. Town councils could receive their revenue
|>from the region rather then levying a rate directly.

Won't work, under EC law VAT is mandatory. In fact there is a convergence on a
uniform rate.

However there is a good case for devolving all the power that Thatcher
centralized back closer to the councils. Having seenm what Tory education
policies do to an area I am not at all keen on giving Wandsworth PLC a free hand
to sell the children off to the highest bidder to work don the mines.


|>What ? I hear, but how would local authorities raise more money for crazy
|>spending ideas ? Well think of yourself as a local authority, if you want
|>a new car you can't just go round to your employers safe and take an extra
|>20% salary, you have to economise elsewhere. If the idea were not so crazy,
|>like building a sport centre, they could borrow to finance it rather than
|>jack up the rates.

This is how they do raise money for things like that. Only sports centers etc
tend to be expensive. I know of a council where the Labour group were after
privatizing the sports center to be rid of the running costs!

|>I am definitely against local income tax, which I believe will leave a load
|>of rich tossers living in big houses not paying a bean, or at least their
|>fair share because their crafty accountants have salted all their cash away
|>somewhere.

Perhaps if the govt put half the effort in to catching Tax dodgers as it does
social security scroungers?


--

Phill Hallam-Baker

Frank K Bowles

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Jan 22, 1993, 9:23:26 AM1/22/93
to
[I also don't remember the Poll Tax being in the manifesto
|> for the second Thatcher government which introduced it. So Scotland
|> got a tax from a party it didn't vote for which wasn't even in its
|> manifesto!]

You may not remember it but it was there in both the UK and Scottish Tory manifestos in 1987.

It was only an immediate prospect in Scotland so the media didn't
bother too much about it. Neither did Labour or the Alliance. It was
one of the single biggest faux pas's ever made, as it was the Tories
biggest Achilles heel that year.

Frank
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West TEC, 7 Caledon Street, Glasgow G12 9BY, Scotland.
Tel: +44 41 220 5338 Email: fbo...@gssec.bt.co.uk
Fax: +44 41 220 2438 [GM4KAV]
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