Someone Sent a Promised Land

In the press this week, was a report that the DVLA thinks that they have lost £200m in road tax revenues since introducing the new disc-free tax system.  It caught my eye because, about a year ago, the Chancellor announced how they will now do away with paper tax returns and replace them with an online tax account.  Many of us wondered at the time how the IT would work.

In the 1970’s (I know I don’t look old enough) I recall how we all thought computers would do away with almost all mundane work, and we would live lives of leisure, and only do the work that humans must do.  It was a Promised Land, delivered by second class post via Royal Mail (like most government mail), it seems.  Is Government trapped in a 1970’s time bubble, desperately doomed to failure, yet hoping to save costs by computerising our lives?  Or does government have a long term strategy?

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In, Out, Any Way the Wind Blows

The_European_Parliament.jpg

You may be expecting some wisdom on how to vote on the EU Referendum.  If I had any to offer, I might be tempted, but I do not propose to advise you on something I do not understand.  I have been itching to write something on the subject, fond as I am of my own verbosity, but quickly realised that the EU Referendum is a roll of the dice.  So I decide to make some observations, and if those observations inform your choice, I apologise, for they have not yet informed mine.

In talking to people on the subject I notice that the Decidedly Inners appear to look with a plaintiff disbelief that anyone could possibly think otherwise than to remain.  It is almost a religious fervour.  Those, on the other hand, who are less sure, tend to look shyly as they tell of a secret immoral desire to vote to leave.  A guilty apologetic pleasure exists among the not-Quite Decidedly Outers, as if theirs is a perversion, an irresistible, anti-establishment mischief.  And this led me to think about the Referendum itself.   For there is sheer dishonesty in the whole process, setting Big-Endians against Little-Endians, as if either actually knew which was right and which was wrong.

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Legislation, legislation, legislation

In case you have ever worried that Parliament does not do very much, take a look at the volume of legislation that afflicts us these days.  If you wonder why your best friend requires a copy of your passport before he will sit and drink a glass of wine with you, or why your partner will not let you eat your dinner until you have identified yourself with your postcode, the first line of your address and your date of birth, look to legislation.  Legislation was once the reluctant last choice for dealing with any issue, now the phrase “there ought to be a law against…” has been taken to heart by our leaders.

I remember reading that someone had worked out that in the ten years from 1997 to 2007, there were more new laws introduced by Parliament than had been introduced in the entire century from 1897 to 1997.  Perhaps that does depend on what you mean by a “new law”, but the point is quite clear.  In 1997, my books of tax legislation took up less than half the shelf space than they do today.

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