Monday, December 13, 2010

A 1p tax on text messages?

Almost 100 billion SMSs were sent last year in Britain alone. If it's true that the deficit matters, then do your maths.

In an interview in today's Guardian, union leader Bob Crowe mentions in passing that he'd "put a 1 pence tax on every text message that's sent in Britain", arguing that "[the measure] would nearly wipe out half the deficit".

Crowe may be a little over optimistic on the figures, but the idea is certainly spot on.

Last year, 96.8 billion text messages were sent across Britain, an increase of 23% on 2008 - and that's without counting 600 million picture messages on top.

The Office for National Statistics said that "[t]he current budget (excluding financial interventions) showed a deficit of £7.1 billion in October 2010".

A significant portion of that money could be recovered in one fell swoop, as it's highly unlikely an extra 1p per text would impact significantly on the billions of SMSs being sent each day. It'd be certainly infinitely less intrusive than many of the austerity measures this government is taking.

If it's true that Britain's financial emergency can warrant half a million people being made redundant and cuts to the tune of £330m in councils like Birmingham, then what is an extra 1p per text or picture message if it can rake in (at the very worst) over £1bn in just a year?


Duncan Stott said...

A terrible idea.

The reason text messages have become so prolific is because it costs the mobile network a tiny amount to send.

An SMS message contains 140 bytes of data. Compare that to a voice call, which uses over 1000 bytes every second. An SMS will cost the network fractions of a penny to send.

SMS is now offered practically for free on many tariffs. I'm on PAYG, but still get 300 free texts for a month (more than I need) when I top up. The reason the networks can offer free texts is because they cost so little in the first place. This is what has led to the boom in SMS traffic.

But now add Bob Crow's 1p tax to the cost of each text. This cost will bear on the network, which will be passed on to customers in some way. That will probably mean the end of free texts on all but the high end tariffs. That will dramatically cut the number of texts sent, and therefore cut the amount that would be raised for the government.

Still, it's a creative idea, although I do wonder about the sort of mind who on seeing a large number related to behaviour instantly thinks 'tax it'!

roym said...

im not sure i understand what Duncan is saying.
would a 1p rise in messaging lead to an alteration in behaviour whereby people make more voice calls (thus using more data?)

i doubt anyone will think twice about sending a 21p text vs 20p.

Jackart said...

The response of the socialist to having his ideas rubbished. Censorship. Well done!

claude said...

I had to delete an abusive message from someone who seemed to see red when a 1p tax is proposed on text messages ("regressive", he called it) but then he actually cheers the government of major VAT hike! Fancy that.

REMEMBER: abusive messages will be deleted. You are more than welcome to express your opinion no matter how right wing. Just don't insult and swear at people who are guilty of having a different opinion.

claude said...

Censorship? You come here insulting "fucking this fuckin that idiot this and idiot that" and you call mine censorship?
You'd have thought a Libertarian should be respectful of other people's private property...!

Jackart said...

But it's such a profoundly stupid idea.

Right. again. For the benefit of the po-faced, without the swearing.

1) Text is, for most people not on the cheapest pay as you go tarrifs, free. Therefore raising tax on this will be regressive, because the cheapest pay as you go tarrifs are the prerve of the benefit-classes. It will slso affect the parents of teenage girls disproportionatley.

2) This isn't free money for the government because either it will

a) change behaviour as people text less or
b) spend less elswhere which will have the knock on effect on

i) VAT and corporate profits and therefore
ii) income taxes on workers.

True the effects listed under b) will not be measureable at the level of the individual but will be accorss the entire economy.

So the tax cut will affect the poorest worst and won't overall raise anything like the amount you think it will, because of the knock on effects.

The point is that this demonstrates the profound and lumpen idiocy at the heart of socialism which sees success and thinks TAX THAT!

It doesn't work, and the belief that there's pots of free money to be looted by government demonstrates the stupidity which sees the socialist willfully or even religiously refuse to accept concepts like tax incidence, the laffer curve or incentives in the welfare state. The result is at best the fiscal nightmare left by the Labour party and at worst deathcamps and the socialist tries to re-educate man into his infantile creed.

The Government is already spending half of GDP and taxing 40%. THERE IS NO MORE MONEY FOR GOVERNMENT. NONE. NADA. ZILCH. ZIP. GONE. SPENT.

Leave people alone to spend the fruits of their labours as THEY wish, not you. Stop taxing them.

Socialism was tried in a perfect experiment and it was demonstrated to be such a profoundly rubbish system that it took the most productive people in the world, Germans, and made them poor. Likewise that mercantile and inventive culture, China was destroyed by your vicious creed, compared to the Libertarian dream state of Hong Kong. In both cases which way were the refugees flowing? RElax the economic choke hold, you get a huge flowering of wealth benefitting people. Over tax, you kill the golden goose.

Socialism not only makes people poor, it also makes people miserable.

There, No swearing, but plenty of abuse for your ignorant and facile creed. Are you going to censor this? I thought you were better than that, Claude.

claude said...

"There, No swearing, but plenty of abuse for your ignorant and facile creed. Are you going to censor this? I thought you were better than that, Claude."
Jackart, spare us the patronising wailing and learn some manners, mate. Not my fault if you find it so difficult to avoid swearing while you debate.
Just imagine if every single comment thread was full of "idiot", "fucker", "socialist crap" and all the rest. Not on my blog, thank you very much. You wanna swear, go ahead, it's a free country, but go do it at Conservative Home or Guido or similar.
Is it so difficult to just show some respect?

As to your point about "fiscal nightmares", you have no credibility the moment you support this government's VAT tax hike.

A 1p tax on text messages would "change behaviour"??? And George Osborne's 2.5% VAT rise won't? Do us a favour mate. At least be coherent and admit that you're supporting the wrong party.

As for your verbal diarrhea about socialism, "your vicious creed", China and the old Soviet bloc, I hope that helped you let off steam because you just wasted your time, you're knocking on an open door here.

Your idols in government were raised on a diet of jollies to apartheid South African, General Pinochet and various cheers for Central American biological warfare throughout the 1980s.

I can safely say I abhor communism. You and your hypocritical lot are so self righteous that you can't even get round to admitting you actively supported some of the most appalling regimes in history.

What's that got to do with a 1p tax on a text message, god alone knows, Jackart.

Coming next...a post on fox hunting to prompt a comment about Stalin's gulags?
Perspective, anyone?

Jackart said...

I would prefer a few more unemployed local government prodnoses. That is, I would have preferred the deficit to be cut ENTIRELY by spending cuts rather than tax increases.

It's The idea that there is money for the Government to loot which is just stupid. And VAT is not as stupid as this idea because VAT is not as regressive: a much greater percentage of a low-income is spent on non-vatable things, whereas THIS will affect pretty much ONLY the poor and teenage girls.

It is this sort of behaviour-changing lunacy which so distorts economies. Text messages are free and have few externalities. They allow non-time sensitive information to be passed easily and cheaply. Taxing such a harmless thing would lead to more and higher bills, especially for the poorest who are on pay-as-you-go contracts.

I am not saying that this is as bad as the gulag, but it is this kind of thinking, the thinking of the looter, which leads to them.

I said, "at best the fiscal nightmare of new labour, at worst the gulag" as indications of where this thinking could, and has in the past led.

And I am a Libertarian. So I would have been against Apartheid. Pinochet, however was the lesser of two evils. He also left the most prosperoous country in south America. Likewise, Franco or the Communists. Shit choice, but the right one in the end. Frankly throwing Apartheid or Pinochet at the Tories is pretty weak, when plenty of the Labour party in the 1970s and 80s barely hid their support for the USSR. But if I had a choice, I'd have chosen Franco's spain over Communist Cuba.

Socialism, even in it's british form is evil, yes even the relatively benign new labour model, because it beleives NANY KNOWS BEST. You might point to the Nordics as successful socialist countries, but they have widespread markets in everything even education, and non-distortionary taxation. Ie not garbage something-for-nothing nonsense like this. But mostly because they have markets.

And this is the point. Markets are freedom. Not just voting, which is merely a specific market in political ideas. Markets are the most powerful force for allocating resources fairly and for generating economic growth. If you have markets, and don't interfere in them with damn fool ideas like this, you get wealth.

Really, I am sorry for the tone of the last couple of posts, but this really is a very silly idea, which you should be ashamed of. And I've had a few.

And like a red rag to a bull, you mentioned Bob Crowe, who is the crowning turd on the dungpile of British socialism. He's motivated entirely by spite and no better than Nick Griffin.

Charlie said...

Last I checked Bob Crowe is not a racist, homophobic, sexist git, so actually he's already a lot better than Nick Griffin.

claude said...

you mention Franco's Spain. You implied you wouldn't have liked it. "Shit choice" you said, but then you added -CLEARLY- that Franco's Spain would be your choice vs socialism/communism.

Now this troubled me. Because it goes to show how some people view politics and government literally like football teams. Devoid of context. "I'm not a Manc but gimme Man City over Man Utd cuz that Ferguson is a right one".

The context within which he came to power is crucial. And I genuinely hope you aren't aware of how he did because otherwise this would your professed "libertarian" ideals no good. In fact it would pour manure all over them.

Franco moved a military coup d'etat against a democratically elected government. A coalition that stretched from the liberal left/republicans all the way to 1930s-style communists and even anarchists.
You make the comparison with Cuba, and I'm no fan of Cuba, but Castro at least overthrew a vile dictatorship. At least the initial intention was noble. What exactly was noble about Franco and his terror camps?

Franco was defending the big oligarchs, the huge landowners, aristocrats and, of course, the Church, which at the time in Spain was IMMENSELY powerful and oppressive.

The republic was starting to hand over the land to ordinary people. They were at the time split as to whether to do it in an anarchist or soviet fashion. But either way, they subverted the unnatural order of power that had reigned supreme for centuries.

A Libertarian should salute that.

Not to mention that Franco quashed the popular will and he did so, just to make it better, with the active military/manpower help of Hitler and Mussolini.

Unless I misread what you meant, to think that -at a push- you'd pick a Nazi-propped up regime vs anything remotely "left-wing"/socialist is quite troubling.

claude said...

I forgot.
Franco took the vote (and other basic freedoms) away from women for another 40 years.
The Republic had just made it possible for women to vote.

Which of the two a libertarian should support, you'd have thought, is definitely not Franco.

Unless, of course, 2010 libertarianism just means freedom to make as much money as you can no matter which basic rights are trampled on?

Jackart said...

Refugees from spain over the pyrenees? Not as many as floated accorss from Cuba to florida since the 50's.

Communism is worse than facsim (very different from Nazism). People vote with thier feet. So. In a choice, I'd take the lesser of two evils. This is not to say I support facism, just that sometimes reality bites and I'd rather OUR sons of bitches in charge. This is not a football team thing. Just a judgement.

Of course liberal, free market democracy is the goal. It's just socialism gets in the way. Look at Venezueala - how's the bolivarian revolution going there Hugo?

And I think the impulses behind New Labour are exactly the kind of statist nonsense - interference in markets against the rub of human nature which so marked communism as profoundly wrong.

Look at ex-facist countries. Ususally considerably less shit and for a shorter time than those recovering from a dose of communism.

The same is true with the milder forms of the disease: socialism. They screw economies, and therefore the people of those economies far worse because they deny the power of markets.

Of course, the few societies which practiced libertarianism got very rich, very quickly. But no-one's offering that. Doesn't give "intellectuals" anything to do, and doesn't need circle-jerking politicians to tell everyone what to do.

My dictator of choice: Sir John Cowperthwaite who banned the collection of GDP data in Hong Kong "lest some damn fool try to do something about it".

claude said...

I like to think that, had I been my current age in 1936, I'd have joined George Orwell. You?

BTW: Between 50,000 and 100,000 people were executed after Franco took power in 1939. Some studies put the total up to 192,684.

As for the exiles, 465.000 people crossed the Pyrenees alone straight after the Civil War as Franco set up concentration camps against socialists, unionists, anarchists as well as Basque/Catalan nationalists. That's France alone. Many were forced back into Spain after the Nazis invaded France.

Jackart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jackart said...

Both sides committed horrors during the war, and you sensibly ignore that.

So you reckon half a million lefties left, and 200k were killed following it? We're talking 2% & 1% of the population, most of them pinkos. The AVERAGE result of a communist takeover of a country in the 20th Centruy. was a 10% depopulation, pretty much selected at random. Franco was clearly a humanitarian by comparison.

Sure, there was a liberal and a libertarian faction in the spanish civil war fighing on the republican side. They got purged by the communists in 1937 (from memory). Once that happened, I would have crossed the lines, as lots of non-communists did. That, and the spectacular incompetence of the commmunists is why Franco won. The contribution of Germany is much over-rated. The soviets contributed far more.

The fact is ANYTHING is better than communism. Frankly Franco, Pinochet et all are ameteurs at Mass Murder compared to monsters like stalin and Mao.

Communism makes the same mistakes as socialism, just with a little more enthusiasm. The underlying error is the same. A belief that markets are evil and the state is good. Worse that the state both can and should compel people to act in the collective interest rather than the individual interest.

In final analysis that's always coercive.

Facists like Franco typically leave most people alone, unless they're politically active. Socialists tend to interfere in everyone's life, Which is why communist countries are more miserable than facist ones. Both, however are deeply horrid.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010 2:21:00 PM

claude said...

You said a number of astonishing inaccuracies in your previous comment. This one, however, cannot go unchallenged:
"Facists like Franco typically leave most people alone"

This is ignorant.

Franco took the vote away from women and stripped them of basic rights (ie openining a bank account, you probably didnt know that).

He forbade millions of people, the Catalans and the Basque, from SPEAKING or WRITING in their own language and you call it "leaving people alone"!

Jesus Christ, man, and all you can do is to shout Stalin and Mao to make it sound mild?

Charlie said...

Can I really take seriously anyone who uses the term 'pinkos' and says that dictators A and B were 'mere amateurs' at killing people than C and D (as if it's a 'who is the worst regime' contest) - on balance, no.

Jackart said...

Anyway. I'm not supporting either. I suspect you retain a soft spot for the cuban regime, no?

Stan Moss said...

Claude, I think you're being to soft on the Tory here.
Check this: Tory Jackart says that people like Bob Crowe who believe in higher taxation, redistribution and better conditions for workers are AS BAD as Nick Griffin, a man who is known for his anti-semitism, open racism, call for ethnic cleansing and homophobia.
From now on, every single thing the Tory writes will be weighed against the above.

Jackart said...

The point is that Bob Crowe is motivated by spite against people who are class enemies. Griffin is motivated by spite against racial/cultural enemies. Both equally destructive. Difference is one can actually do damage. Crowe.

YOu use "Tory" like it's abuse.

Charlie said...

Yeah, because Nick Griffin and his hideous party don't cause any damage at all with their racist bile. BNP are better than Tube strikes - brilliant logic!

Jackart said...

Um. Yes. The BNP are ridiculous. Tube strikes are an expensive pain in the arse.

Paul said...

I think that history will judge what Jackart to be saying about communism to be entirely correct. It killed far fewer people than fascism and endured for longer. Undeniably people like Pinochet etc were shits. But they did cede power to democracy, I can't imagine happening anytime soon in North Korea or Cuba. The last authoritarian regime in the Americas is the Cuban Socialist one.
Back on topic, I'm not sure I support the 1p tax on text messages. Then again VAT is a tax mostly paid by poor people as well. Personally I would want to see less of all taxes, starting with fuel. In fact developing countries in particular need cheap fuel as do owners of small businesses in the west and lower income groups in general.

Paul said...

Typo, I meant what Jackart was saying about communism.

Stan Moss said...

Jackart: I thought you were proud to be a Tory, why do you take it as an insult.

Fact though: you equate Tube strikes, disruptive though they may be, as holocaust-denying Nick Griffin. In your view they're both on the same level. Congratulations.

I love the fact your 2:51PM message backtracked entirely on your 2:23PM one the moment someone exposed your poor grasp of history. Your notion that Franco and the other sanguinary brown shirts were little more than old-fashioned patriarchs says a lot about your politics.

Paul: Unlike Cuba or the 1917 revolution, Pinochet and Franco destroyed democratically elected governments. All right-wing dictatorship set of to tear down elected governments. I see to you Tories these are quibbles.

Paul said...

Stan, actually as a point of fact I'm no Tory but that is not taken as an insult. Admittedly Pinochet was a thug, Allende however was no saint either. In fact his rule was increasingly an authoritarian one. He ordered amongst other things for his air force to bomb his own capital. That's by the by though even if you disagree and I don't intend to act as an apologia for Pinochet etc. But the fact remains that according to HRW and numerous other sources, the sole remaining authoritarian regime in the Americas is the Cuban socialist dictatorship. Yet they get an easy ride from the left in particular.
Interestingly one history I read on the Spanish war, suggested the Republicans might have won had they not unleashed (or allowed to be unleashed) the wave of anti-clerical violence that occurred by anarchist and other groups. Initially local power brokers such as France were not hostile to the Republic.

Jackart said...

Stan. I am a Libertarian and a tory. I don't take "tory" as an insult. What I said was "you say "Tory" like it's an insult"

Christ, you must be stupid enough to be a socialist.

Anyway. Bob Crowe is vile on a biblical scale. And he's dangerous because superficially plausible people like yourself think he's OK and something other than a vile dinosaur trot bent on destruction.

Nick Griffin is vile, agreed, but utterly risible, so not dangerous.

Charlie said...

Do please keep telling us how Bob Crow and the Tube strikes he calls for is more dangerous than the leader of a political party which is comprised of thugs and which does its best to stir up racial tension wherever it can with bare-faced lies - I've needed a good laugh lately.

Stan Moss said...

'Stupid enough to be a socialist', says Tory Jack Art?

At least not so stupid to support a party , the one you support, that was set up to stuff working people like me. Since their inception the Tories have done nothing but defend the status quo, the rich, the landowners, the upper class, the elites. Every single fragment of social change that gradually took place in the last two hundred years and made this island a better place had to be fought tooth and nail against the Tory establishment and the wealthy few they represent. The Peterloo Massacre of 1819 is the symbol of Tory tyranny in this country. No wonder you find the way General Pinochet or Generalisimo Franco seized power acceptable.