Archive for the ‘UK Uncut’ Category

Starbucks hosts … charity fun day

September 14, 2014
Starbucks hosts ... charity fun day

Starbucks hosts … charity fun day

Tax-dodging, poor working conditions, rubbish coffee, and now Starbucks hosts a charity fun day.

It was not so long ago when UK Uncut occupied Starbucks across the country, turned each Starbucks into a crèche to highlight their tax-dodging activities.

Another massive fail by the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor.

This is where the imbecile leader of the council welcomed Starbucks for making Farnborough their home.

Er no, Starbucks opened a tacky coffee shop where people with no self-respect, who are clueless as to what constitutes good coffee are not too embarrassed to congregate and be seen.

Er no, Starbucks did not make Farnborough their home. Their home, their corporate headquarters, is Seattle. Their corporate headquarters for the UK is not located in the UK. For tax dodging Starbucks corporate headquarters for the UK is located in Holland.

How much did Starbucks pay for this cheap greenwash stunt?

Were Starbucks to pay their fair share of tax, they would be no need for Rushmoor First Responders to go to Starbucks with their begging bowl, as such services would be properly funded by the public purse.

Note: A decade or more ago, Rushmoor had an Aldershot Green Day sponsored by McDonald’s!

Trickle down does not work

September 1, 2014
Greed is the religion of the billionaire  class

Greed is the religion of the billionaire class

No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country. — Franklin D Roosevelt (1933, Statement on National Industrial Recovery Act)

The first TED talk by venture capitalist and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer was banned by TED. It was claimed to be mediocre. Could it be because he told the truth? It also raises a big question mark against TED.

Forbes published a garbage piece, which I will not even lower myself to address, in which it was claimed, not mediocre, but a display of ignorance.

A couple of weeks ago, the French Economics Minister told the truth on failed French economics policy, austerity, tax breaks for the rich, cuts for the poor. The reaction of the unpopular French President (20% approval rating) was to fire the entire government. Should it not be the President who resigned?

Across southern Europe, austerity is not working.

Pay the rich more and they work harder. Pay the poor less and they work harder. Strange that.

We have seen wages flat line for nearly a decade, ever since the economic crisis hit, wages were not much better before. If we take account of inflation, then wages have gone down.

When productivity goes up, we either need fewer people or we need to consume more.

If we increase productivity year on year, such that after ten years, productivity had doubled, we are either producing twice as much stuff with the same number of people or half the number of people are required to produce the same amount of stuff.

Stuff in general we do not want or need, stuff that has environmental costs of extraction, manufacture, shipping and distribution, stuff that we possess for six months, stuff that then has to be disposed of, incurring yet further environmental costs. These externalised costs, which are not reflected in purchase price, we all pay for.

The rich do not create jobs for the simple reason there is a limit to the amount of money they can spend, how many yachts, mansions, luxury cars.

Quantitative easing has been a massive failure, for the simple reason it has gone to the bankers and the rich.

We need wealth redistribution, but the reason why we do not have wealth redistribution, is because we would be redistributing the wealth of the rich, and they being rich and powerful own the politicians.

Had money been given to the poor, they would have, if only because they are living on the breadline, spent that money in the economy.

We need higher minimum wage, better welfare payments, free health care, free higher education. All of which benefit everyone, but disproportionately benefit the poor.

We also need progressive taxation where the rich pay a higher rate of tax, not as we have at present a regressive taxation system, where the rich pay less tax than the poor, where a banker in the City of London pays less tax than the cleaner who cleans his office.

We need to hit hard, the tax-dodgers.

We need to move away from a tax on personal income, to a tax on corporations, a tax on resource depletion, a tax on waste generation, a tax on pollution.

Too many are currently getting a free ride. When the rich dodge tax, they are getting a free ride. When corporations externalise their costs, pollute our air water, destroy our natural resources, exploit the poor, they are getting a free ride

At a recent meeting at Davos, Bill Gates, one of the richest men on the planet, argued vociferously for not increasing minimum wage.

The prevailing theory is trickle down. The poor sit below the rich man’s table, and if they are lucky, a few crumbs fall off the table.

At times of growth, everyone sees an increase, the rich a lot, the poor a little, but that little, is enough to keep the poor oppressed.

When there is zero growth the rich still get fatter, leaving less of the pie for the rest of us.

During the recession, there has not been the mass layoffs we have seen in the past. That is because productivity has gone down, there is a lowering of demand, the workers still employed are put on short shifts, reduced hours, paid less. One reason why wages are shrinking.

There has been a increase in jobs, but these have been McJobs, mind-numbing de-skilled, low-wages, part time, temporary, zero hours jobs.

The wealth creators, the job creators, are the small companies, the ones who do not have the political clout.

The big companies destroy jobs. Each time they destroy jobs, their share price rises, more for me, less for you.

Wages at Walmart, McDonald’s are so low, they have to be subsidised by the state. Yet another mechanism to transfer wealth from the poor to the rich. Companies that argue they cannot remain in businesses without paying low wages, do not deserve to remain in businesses.

There is though a flaw in the argument put forward by Nick Hanauer, that of continued growth.

The society Nick Hanauer describes has been true for some time, certainly the post war period when we saw real growth, car manufactures for example, would pride themselves that they paid their workers a decent wage, such that they could afford the cars they made. This is no longer true.

The reason it is no longer true, is that we have hit the limits of growth. Banks have been criticised for not lending to businesses, but when banks are looking for a return of 10% or more, they are not going to lend when the economy is not growing.

We have exhausted what we can loot from the commons then sell back.

Nick Hanauer hints but no more, at the gift economy. He dismisses the rationale actor, out to maximise self interest, more for me is less for you, and says we are irrational, emotional, that we reciprocate.

An economy where we reciprocate is the gift economy, the sharing economy, where we all contribute to the commons, more for me becomes more for you.

He is also compares the economy with an ecosystem, where we have closed loops, feedback. On a finite planet, an economic system, has to be embedded within the planetary ecosystem, a part of Gaia, not apart from Gaia.

We cannot have unlimited growth, unlimited growth is where a cell becomes cancerous.

We are moving increasingly towards a Police State, in a crude attempt to maintain inequality.

Why has the Mayor of London decided he needs water cannon on the streets of London? You do not need water cannon for happy people?

Nick Hanauer was one of the first private investors in Amazon, he co-founded a company which was sold to MicroSoft for $6.4 billions, he together with his friends owns a bank. He has his own yacht, a private plane. He was co-author of The Gardens of Democracy. He was also instrumental in pushing for an increase in the minimum wage in Seattle.

Income inequality in the UK

June 26, 2014

The UK is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world. The gap between pay at the top and bottom is huge. Living standards for everyone – apart from those at the very top – remain squeezed. But it does not have to be.

Distorted news coverage by the BBC

June 26, 2014
Metro letters

Metro letters

You may or may not have been aware that 50,000 marched against austerity in London last Saturday.

You may or may not have been aware that the Saturday previous, across the country Vodafone was occupied in protest at their tax dodging activity.

If you were thinking, maybe you missed the mention by the BBC, you’d be correct. You missed the mention because there was no mention.

Nor would you be aware that the Green Party were offering a radical alternative, which is more can be said of Labour under the spineless Ed Miliband, which is offering, what ever the Tories offer, we will hit the poor and disadvantaged even harder, as we saw with the threat to curtail benefits to young unemployed.

We have banal news coverage at its worse with the Westminster Hour, or the infantile exchanges at Prime Minister Question Time.

We have has-been politicians wheeled out as ‘experts’.

We are led to believe there are no alternatives to austerity, that there is no money.

There are alternatives, it is simply that they are not being discussed.

There is the money, if tax dodging was dealt with.

If a poorly resourced outfit like Democracy Now, can cover the issues, can wheel out experts, why not the BBC?

A couple of nights ago, BBC Radio 4 World Tonight had a report on what the Germans thought of British thoughts on the EU. Does anyone give a toss?

BBC Radio 4 World at One, once a week wheels out their so-called MPs Panel. Does anyone give a toss?

BBC is obsessed with the minutia of what happens at Westminster, the tittle-tattle.

On Climate Change, BBC practices what can only be described as false impartiality. A reputable scientist will be pitched against Nigel Lawson, a has-been politicians, disaster as Chancellor, and an ignoramus on climate science (which he dismisses as opinion). No mention of where the funding is coming from.

Across Europe, and in Latin America, though to a lesser extent in the UK, as a reaction to austerity, people are moving towards collaborative commons, a sharing economy. When did you last hear this discussed, analysed or reported on by the BBC?

This criticism could equally be levelled at the mainstream media. True, but when newspapers are the organs of Big Business, we know what to expect, we can choose not to buy, not to read.

BBC is funded by us, we have already paid up front for the coverage.

BBC is a public service with a remit to cover and analyse news, events signifying social and political shifts in the country, and not a spokesperson for power or corporate interests.

We have a cosy elite, all went to the same schools.

Do we need to launch a campaign for real news?

Without news, analysis, people do not know what is going on in the world.

Failure to report protest is deliberate, it may give others ideas, show them it is the norm not the exception.

The response from the BBC is the usual Nanny knows best:

Thanks for contacting us about coverage of the People’s Assembly anti-austerity demonstration on 21 June.

We understand you feel there was insufficient coverage of this demonstration by BBC News.

We have received a wide range of feedback about our coverage of this story. In order to use our TV licence fee resources efficiently, this general response aims to answer the key concerns raised, but we apologise in advance if it doesn’t address your specific points in the manner you would prefer.

Your concerns were raised with senior editorial staff at BBC News who responded as follows:

“We covered this demonstration on the BBC News Channel with five reports throughout Saturday evening, on the BBC News website on Sunday, as well as on social media. We choose which stories we cover based on how newsworthy they are and what else is happening and we didn’t provide extensive coverage because of a number of bigger national and international news stories that day, including the escalating crisis in Iraq, British citizens fighting in Syria and the death of Gerry Conlon.

We frequently report on the UK economy and what it means for the British public. We also reflect the concerns of people such as those demonstrating, and others who hold opposing views, across our daily news output on TV, radio as well as online, and we also explore them in more depth including in our political programming and current affairs investigations, debates on ‘Question Time’ and during interviews and analysis on programmes such as ‘PM’ and ‘Newsnight’. Inevitably, there may be disagreements over the level of prominence we give to stories, but we believe our coverage of this subject has been fair and impartial.”

We hope this goes some way to explaining our position, and thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

Convicted criminal Andy Coulson, former Editor of The News of The World and government spin doctor, was “concerned” that a forthcoming series of reports on the Government’s public spending review had the correct “context”.

Coulson made his concerns known to Helen Boaden, the BBC’s head of news, at a recent lunch meeting. Miss Boaden is understood to have “reassured” Mr Coulson over his concerns.

In the note for Mr Thompson, Miss Boaden provided Mr Thompson with a detailed list of all the positive news coverage that the BBC was planning, or had already broadcast.

It details the extensive opportunities that will be offered to Government ministers including George Osborne, the Chancellor; Nick Clegg; the Deputy Prime Minister; and Mr Cameron to explain the public sector cuts.

In the absence of a functioning independent media, not one promoting vested interests, we do not have a functioning democracy.

Please sign the petition calling for changes to BBC news reporting.

Why all roads lead to … Luxembourg

June 8, 2014
Vodafone tax dodgers

Vodafone tax dodgers

THE value of Britain as a tax haven for the world’s biggest multinationals is revealed in Vodafone’s latest, surreal, results.
The company has never been known for generous worldwide tax payments – typically reporting a tax rate well below the average of the countries it operates in – but for the year to this March its figures show a credit – that is, a profit from tax – of £14.8bn.

The remarkable windfall is largely the accounting result of the firm “recognising” the future tax benefit, worth £17.4bn, of losses racked up in Luxembourg. This equates to around £70bn of losses booked in the Grand Duchy – equivalent to twice the country’s entire gross domestic product – where Vodafone sells, er, no phone contracts at all. The £70bn isn’t a real loss at all but the paper write-down of acquisitions, including that of German engineering company Mannesmann in 2000, for which Luxembourg’s predatory tax system, somehow tolerated by the EU, gives relief.

A single beancounter

The outcome is a tax haven into which Vodafone will “for a significant number of years”, it says, pour profits from the UK, Germany and other countries that are struggling to fund public services in the age of austerity. The losses will mop up the profits and take billions off the company’s tax bill. Last year £2.5bn was sent there, dodging more than £500m in tax. At this rate the losses will last 25 years or so. As Eye readers know, the Luxembourg company making most of this profit employed less than a single beancounter, earning $15,000 a year in a company earning profits of $2.4bn.

Until recently Britain’s tax laws would have caught profits that a British multinational diverted into tax havens in this way – unless a deal could be struck with a friendly taxman. But chancellor George Osborne has neutered the relevant legislation in the name of “competitiveness”. The specific changes that allow for Vodafone’s ruse, and thus create its £17.4bn Luxembourg tax break, were forged in a Treasury/business “monetary assets” working group that included… Vodafone tax director (and ex-HM Revenue & Customs director) John Connors!

Brass plates

In return for the multibillion pound tax dodging opportunity, many more multinationals will set up head offices in the UK, amounting to not much more than brass plates with directors flying in for a board meeting and a night in the West End, while companies like Vodafone that were headquartered here anyway will escape tens of billions in tax.

PS: Andy Halford, the finance director who presided over Vodafone’s gargantuan tax avoidance structure and negotiated a cushy settlement over it with ex-HMRC boss Dave Hartnett, has just moved to Standard Chartered, the UK bank looking to restore its reputation after being embroiled in sanctions busting and money laundering. The future of British banking is in safe hands!

Originally published in Private Eye 1367.

It was Private Eye that first exposed the tax dodging activities of Vodafone and led to the formation of UK Uncut and their first direct action.

Want an explanation for austerity, public sector cuts, look no further than Vodafone and other tax dodgers such as Starbucks, Google, Amazon, Caffe Nero and the lax attitude of the ConDem government to tax collection and tax avoidance.

UK Uncut has nationwide action planned against Vodafone on Saturday 14 June 2014. If there is not an action planned against Vodafone near you, then why not start one?

Tell tax dodger Google to pay its taxes

May 2, 2014
Google tax dodger

Google tax dodger

Google isn’t paying its taxes. The multi-billion dollar corporation has been under scrutiny for using shell companies in Bermuda, Ireland and elsewhere to shelter at least $33 billion of revenue.

It’s the same old story of a corporation avoiding taxes to maximize short-term profits and CEO pay-outs, while ordinary people are left to foot the bill for critical services — our children’s schools, fire and police services, teachers, roads and hospitals — which directly benefit the company.

This week Google’s shareholders are proposing a comprehensive tax policy at the shareholder meeting. If enough of us support them we could get Google to pay the $2 billion it owes in taxes around the world and ensure it complies with national laws that benefit Google’s customers, employees, suppliers and society as a whole.

Can you join Google’s brave shareholders and ask it to pay taxes?

Google is one of the most notorious multinational corporations exploiting cross-border tax loopholes across the world:

  • In the UK, Google only paid £11.6 million despite making a £5.5 billion profit, channeling its profits through Ireland to Bermuda where no taxes are levied.
  • In the US, Google has been investigated by US Senator Carl Levin for deferring taxes on over $24 billion of revenue.
  • In Italy, the company is being audited by the Tax Police for its tax avoidance strategies — even its offices have been searched.
  • In France, Google’s tax avoidance prompted the government to institute policies to prevent tax evasion by internet giants like Google.

Across the globe, cash-strapped governments are imposing austerity. Governments are cutting essential public services and corporate tax avoidance means ordinary people have to pay the price for massive profits being funnelled away into tax havens. What is more, tax avoidance severely exacerbates growing inequality around the world.

This shareholder season we are sucessfully mobilizing investors to hold corporations to account. We supported Kellogg’s shareholders pressuring the company to report human right abuses; we have floodded Vanguard and Fidelity’s facebook walls urging them to vote for Duke Energy to disclose political contributions; and we asked these big mutual funds to stop overpaying CEOs at fast food companies while workers make $9 an hour.

That is the power we have when we come together and we can do more — we can get Google to pay its taxes.

Please join Google’s shareholders and tell the company to pay its taxes.

A sign of the times

March 12, 2014
admission charge for entering a church, a bar of soap

admission charge for entering a church, a bar of soap

Admission charge for entering a church, a bar of soap, not a symbol that those who enter are unclean, but as a contribution to a local food bank.

Food banks are the fastest growing sector of the economy in the UK, a clear sign of the failure of the evil ConDem government. Hit the poor and elderly, the vulnerable and disabled, help the rich get richer and take a softy softly approach to tax dodgers.

snouts in the trough

snouts in the trough

When Members of Parliament debated poverty and food banks, the chamber of the House of Commons was almost empty, when it came to discussing their own salaries, it was full to overflowing. Business as usual, pigs with their snouts in the trough.

It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter heaven.

    Matthew 19:23-25: And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. “Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?”

    Mark 10:24-26: The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?”

Top Story in War On The Working Poor (Thursday 13 March 2013).

Davos 2014: The arrogance of the elite hits a new high

January 29, 2014

It was recently revealed that the 85 richest people now own as much as the poorest half of the world combined. Statements from the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos suggest that the arrogance of the economic elite grows as quickly as their wealth.

Last week Davos turned into a global “Parasite Street” as representatives of the increasingly rich economic elite met in a lush Swiss ski resort wrapped in security and media hype. The annual World Economic Forum once again saw a group, consisting predominantly of rich old men, plotting the next steps of global exploitation.

Parasite Street WEF Davos

Parasite Street WEF Davos

With their newly published Global Risk Report, the WEF readily hand out advice on everything from global poverty to social media. The report provides an interesting insight into the growing arrogance of the economic elite.

According to the WEF, one major ‘risk’ of 2014 is rising economic inequality. A bit of a cocky statement considering the overlap between the richest people in the world and the membership of the WEF. To put it bluntly, it is the 1 % telling the 99 % to be more equal.

Likewise, the report (commissioned by some of the world’s biggest polluters) features a warning about spiralling climate change: “Is it possible that we have already passed a point of no return and that Earth’s atmosphere is tipping rapidly into an inhospitable state?”. Maybe it is even more telling that this warning is put in the same section as the threat of adverse psychological impacts from a possible encounter with alien life forms.

Another main risk this year is supposedly ‘digital wildfires’ spreading panic on social media: “While the benefits of our hyperconnected communication systems are undisputed, they could potentially enable the viral spread of information that is intentionally or unintentionally misleading or provocative.” If nothing else it shows a lot about their view of us – the ‘common’ people – as digital savages that need to be pacified and controlled (unlike multinational businesses…).

It’s hard not to wonder what kind of misinformation and panic they are referring to. The Arab Spring? Or student protests? As we are bombarded with increasing amounts of corporate lies (such as how Unilever creates a bright future for our children) it seems nothing less than extreme for the world’s top businesses to lecture the general population on what to share online.

To me the WEF of 2014 has confirmed one thing: In this age of austerity, where we are all told to tighten our belts, the rich do not only get richer – they also get more arrogant.

Published by WDM.

The more wealth the rich accrue, the greater their arrogance they have the right to accrue more wealth.

At Davos we had Bill Gates, the richest man on the planet, railing against the minimum wage.

We have had the rich squealing at the thought of having to pay in the UK 50p tax.

50p tax rate

January 27, 2014
more people pay Bedroom Tax than will pay 50p tax rate

more people pay Bedroom Tax than will pay 50p tax rate

This image says it all, more people pay Bedroom Tax than will pay 50p tax rate proposed by Labour, which is only to restore it to where it was before the ConDem government dropped taxes for the rich and increased taxes for the poor.

From the screams we have heard from the rich, anyone would think the end of the world is nigh they are being asked to pay an extra ten pence in the pound in tax. And that of course is when they pay tax.

They will leave the country. Well let them, are we really going to miss the bankers, who do not generate wealth but simply screw others, Rotten Bank of Scotland is having to set aside yet more money as compensation for the get rich scams it runs.

From Davos, we are hearing bleating that the minimum wage is bad, this coming from of all people Bill Gates, one of the richest people on the planet.

The Koch Brothers, are pouring in millions, to buy the next US election.

The Rich are concentrating ever more of the world’s wealth into their pockets, or to be more exact, their offshore bank accounts to avoid tax.

Bring down the Big Six

November 26, 2013
We're all in this together

We’re all in this together

Looking after our profits

Looking after our profits

According to Office of National Statistics, winter deaths last year up by 29% to 31,000. Coincidently, Big Six profits have soared.

Today protests in London against the Big Six, calls for nationalisation.

Organised by UK Uncut, was trending on twitter in London.

Media blackout as usual by mainstream, media. BBC mentioned rising deaths, fuel poverty, but no mention of protests across the country against the Big Six.

Big Six say prices have to go up, blame green taxes, cost of distribution, cost on wholesale markets.

Energy prices should be high. We then value energy, are frugal in its use. We only have to look at what has happened in the Philippines to see why energy prices should remain high. And no way should energy be subsidised by the taxpayer. Having said that, it does not grant licence to print money by mostly foreign-owned energy companies.

The Big Six bleat about what they call green taxes. Strictly speaking, green and social taxes. This money raised goes to insulation, renewable energy, helping to offset energy costs of those in poverty. These charges account for roughly 10% of the average bill, thus are insignificant.

Those in poverty, pay a significantly higher proportion of their income on fuel. They are also hit proportionately harder when prices rise faster than inflation. The latest price rises are three times the rate of inflation.

Those on benefits, have seen a cut in their benefits, out of which they now have to pay Council tax and Bedroom Tax.

Distribution costs have gone up, allegedly to pay for infrastructure costs.

This leaves wholesale costs. These have remained fairly flat. But when we do see spikes, these are spot market prices. Are we to really believe the Big Six are buying on the spot market, not have long term deals in place?

The Big Six claim they are making little money, that they have massive investment plans to pay for.

At the very least, the Big Six are being economical with the truth. The distribution side of the business does have a relatively low profit margin. Where are the investment costs? There are none. The distribution side merely buys and sells.

And who do the Big Six buy from? The generators. And who owns the generators? The Big Six. And it is the generation side of the business where the Big Six are making a killing.

The Big Six have to be broken up, into generating and distribution companies. We have to have transparency in the market.

The government should not give in to bullying by the Big Six and remove the green and social taxes.

We also need to see a change in the way users are charged for fuel. There should be no standing charge (which proportionately penalises those who use less, especially those who are struggling to pay their bills), a flat rate per KW-hour, and end to confusion pricing.

There can be no excuse for either the standing charge or the confusion pricing. At a petrol station, you do not see a price per litre plus standing charge. At a supermarket checkout, you are not billed for your groceries, then a charge on top for the checkout.

One of the most obscene example of standing charges is levied by SSE. Those with pre-payment meters (usually those in poverty) are already being charged at the highest rate for their fuel. For SSE customers, each time they put £10 on a card, to put money on their prepayment meters, they ae ccharged £1-92 for the privilege of doing so, almost 20%.


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