The Rise of the Centrist

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
I know it's not a personal reflection as you said, but I disagree - being difficult to provoke is not the same as being weak. In my experience it takes the stronger side to not be drawn into a petty squabble; what's that saying?

"Don't be tempted to get drawn into an argument with an idiot. They'll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience"...?

Something like that, anyway?

As I said in that comment - @Bladesman made some excellent (positive action) comments I agreed with.
Also, ‘Don’t mistake my politeness for weakness’.
 

Boris_Johnson

ADC
Moderator
DirtyBAT
Debate is key!

100%

This is how the left and right try to halt progress by stifling debate.

I've seen both sides to it, some more blatant than others. From the dreaded "so what you're saying is..." misquoting, to simply screaming "RACIST!"

I saw a 5 minute clip last night - Tommeh Robinson was trying to use that exact technique on two Muslim guys outside of court. They'd just turned up to film him and he was being quite confrontational with them. I lost count of the amount of "so you're saying" quotes he used.
 
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I know it's not a personal reflection as you said, although I disagree that being difficult to provoke is being weak. In my experience it takes the stronger side to not be drawn into a petty squabble; what's that saying?

"Don't be tempted to get drawn into an argument with an idiot. They'll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience"...?

Something like that, anyway?

As I said in that comment - @Bladesman made some excellent (positive action) comments I agreed with.

Your right about the 'wrestle with pigs your gonna get down in the mud,' Perhaps didn't acknowledge the reality that there is a time to be "not be drawn into a petty squabble" but I also think you would acknowledge that may be perceived, as weakness by a enemy who never plays fair...

I hope you share that as i wrote that I rolling my eye's at myself using an ironic call to fairness on the battlefield.

Also the whole point of this thread is to consider the strengths and weakness's of 'centralism' as a political position, as opposed to being either left or right. I don't feel I have to fully defend as much my position rather it is more to critique the centre.
 
Indeed, and I miss that.

I think a problem is that the media were also generally more benign. That's switched, with the shouty elements - actually the Leftist shouty elements being given credence where they were once treated as the fringe idiots they are (the Right has been no-platformed).

The centre I think remain (Remain?) angry (80-seat majority) but are just tired of the constant noise from the BBC in particular.

No-one I meet and speak to is pleased with the BBC at the moment. I know that there's another thread for this so I won't linger but I'm talking about (I hesitate to use the term) ordinary people (in this case, where 'ordinary' are those not given to political extremes). Whether it be people from a wide circle that I've known for an age, people I fall into conversation with, or people that I catch up with after long periods of time, the consensus is that the MSM in general are detached.

The anger is still there. It just simmers. In part because it's simply not worth voicing publicly because of the concerted vitriol which is immediately brought to bear.

... which is probably one of the reasons that this thread exists in the first place!

I think Brecht summed up this febrile era nicely:

Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again.

I fear that at this rate we may have to go through some dark times before this tendency to franchise discourse to the extremes is cauterised, enabling a return to centrism....
 
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That's true, except for where it isn't.

The problem is that while "everybody" pays some tax, little of it comes in from the lower earners (how do you tax them much? they don't have much to take...) and lower down the incomes scale, folk are getting out far more than they put in. Which is the point of a progressive system, but is often overlooked or deliberately ignored.

As long ago as 2012, it was being pointed out that you had to be up into the top 40% of incomes, for (on average) your contributions in taxation to outweigh the direct and indirect benefits received from the State.

That's become even more pronounced since then, with the rise in the income tax threshold meaning lower earners pay much less direct tax (getting on for half of UK adults don't pay any income tax at all). The big contribution to the exchequer made by lower-income households as a proportion of income, and the reason it's sometimes cited that they pay "a lot of tax", is from duty on tobacco and alcohol; a 20-a-day habit will set you back £100 a week these days, most of that straight to HMRC...

But in terms of actually raising money, even the Guardian is having to admit that taxation is falling most heavily on the upper end of the income scale, and not because "the rich" are getting richer.



And when the calls to spend lots more on the NHS, or on welfare, or on public transport... are the 40-50% of the British adults currently paying no income tax, willing to cough up 20-30% of their take-home pay to fund it?

Because that's what you get in Scandinavia: high rates of tax, with very low allowances, because there everyone really does pay.

Dig a little into the claims that the UK needs to spend more here, there and everywhere, and it either becomes "modern monetary theory" (i.e. print money and pretend nothing can go wrong) or "tax the rich more, but definitely not me".



And they pay surprisingly little, when you dig into the numbers and the net receipts.



And the higher you crank up the top rates on those people and businesses, the more worthwhile such avoidance becomes; or folk simply stop bothering and move to Ireland or other lower-tax jurisdiction, or simply decide that they're not going to put in extra hours when they're not seeing any return for it.

Add to that Government obsession with tinkering and you see all sorts of schemes where one part of the Treasury is wailing "tax avoidance!" while another is gratefully noticing investment by British backers into whichever politician's Really Good Idea is currently getting favoured status.

UK tax law currently runs at something like 40,000 pages of text and even HMRC admit that no one person is now able to understand it all, with at least one trial of an alleged tax-dodger collapsing when the defence got HMRC witnesses to directly contradict each other on the stand: and successive governments keep adding yet more complexity.

But it keeps coming back to the point that everyone is willing to say nice things and promise everyone a unicorn as long as "someone else" is paying for it; it's when the details emerge, of "and you will have to pay a fair bit more in tax to fund this" that they decide they're not as keen on the reality as they were on the theory.
Details hmmm. Yeah ok!


And very likely just the very tip of the iceberg!
 

endure

GCM
Details hmmm. Yeah ok!


And very likely just the very tip of the iceberg!
"Researchers from Warwick University and the London School of Economics (LSE) analysed anonymised HMRC tax returns of higher earners and found that the average person with £10m in total remuneration had an effective tax rate of just 21 per cent – less than someone on median earnings of £30,000."

21% of £10 million is £2.1 million...
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
"Researchers from Warwick University and the London School of Economics (LSE) analysed anonymised HMRC tax returns of higher earners and found that the average person with £10m in total remuneration had an effective tax rate of just 21 per cent – less than someone on median earnings of £30,000."

21% of £10 million is £2.1 million...
Yes, because what @rgjbloke clearly can't get is that if someone earns lots and lots, even if they pay a lower rate of tax they will still ultimately pay more than someone earning significantly less.

Back to my point made previously - the top one percent pay 30 percent of all of the income tax in this country.

The evil bästards.
 

jrwlynch

LE
Book Reviewer
Details hmmm. Yeah ok!


And very likely just the very tip of the iceberg!

Point proved - note the delicate term "total remuneration" which includes pension fund contributions (where the Treasury give you tax breaks to encourage you to save for your old age), share options (where the Treasury encourages employees to become stakeholders in their businesses & treats that favourably for tax purposes), capital gains (where the value of your asset may go down, as well as up, and income is only realised - and taxed - when assets are sold...) - if you're going to tax folk on how much their shares go up, do they get rebates if their share price later goes down?

If not, how do you persuade anyone to invest in shares if they're an uncertain and unreliable return, yet are still as heavily taxed as employment income?

It's a popular wheeze to claim that someone who's got a big shareholding, that's appreciating in value, has that money as income as if money was being shovelled through their letterbox every day; but it's only theoretical, until they sell some shares (and become liable for tax). And the value of your asset may go down, as well as plummet...


For example, back when there was still a company called Marconi, I had some shares in it through an employee sharesave scheme. The share price went up, as they jumped on the "internet" bandwagon, and up... getting to the point where even my small holding would have attracted capital gains tax (with about 900 shares, peaking at nearly £14 a share). So, how much tax should I have paid on that? (bearing in mind that until I sell the shares I'm a broke junior engineer)

And then the bubble burst, and the price of a Marconi share dropped below £10. Then below £5. A colleague bought some because he couldn't believe they'd stay below £3 for long... in fact they dropped below £1, then down to literal pennies, and finally the company was restructured with one share in "New Marconi" for every 200 shares you had: if you had less than a thousand, you got a cheque in the post paying you 0.1p per share. (I kept the cheque for 85p for a while as a memento). So, my small shareholding went from £12,000 to 85p without my ever seeing a penny of that notional gain or loss. Could I write off a loss of £12,000 against my tax bill? (No, I couldn't - capital gains are entirely at your own risk, which is why they're taxed at a lower rate)

If you've got a big investment portfolio, you should be diversified to reduce risk... but you're still going to get hit by market contractions, which come along every decade or so and wipe great swathes off the worth of various assets.


As the report says, "Low EATRs are driven by structural features of the tax system, not just the misbehaviour of rogue taxpayers. Two key policies largely explain our findings: the decision to tax some forms of remuneration at much lower rates than others, and the availability of generous tax reliefs."

If you want a reliable income, be an employee, but you'll be paying income tax and NI on it - but it's a contractual issue between you and your employer, if they try to cut your pay you have redress. If you've built a business, and it's succeeded, you'll pay CGT on the shares when you sell them; at a lower rate, because you're taking more risk and the taxman actually tries to reward that. If your business falls flat... you're on your own.

The folk paying the lowest overall rates on big earnings, are using Entrepreneur's Relief (see page 10) which was brought in to encourage folk to take more risks to invest in businesses to create wealth, provide jobs, et cetera, with less of a "if you succeed we'll tax you, if you fail tough luck" issue. It's now being wound back... but this wasn't some illegal dodge, this is the Government declaring "we want people to do this" and providing the incentives to make it happen.


And the dismaying point of the report, for those who assume that there's a huge lake of money that various megarich Scrooge McDucks are swimming in which could provide everyone with a free house and a unicorn grazing in the garden, is that - if the very best outcomes were achieved, of raising tax rates on "the very rich" without any negative consequences, folk leaving or restructuring their arrangements et cetera... it might bring in a few billion pounds, which sounds like a lot - but is background noise in the overall UK economy.

The report itself points out, "Our findings are not – for the most part – driven by complex tax avoidance schemes or taxpayer bad behaviour. Instead, the disparities that we identify are baked into our tax system, through political choices: first, taxing similar forms of remuneration in different ways, and second, granting a raft of uncapped tax reliefs"
 

jrwlynch

LE
Book Reviewer
Yes, because what @rgjbloke clearly can't get is that if someone earns lots and lots, even if they pay a lower rate of tax they will still ultimately pay more than someone earning significantly less.

Back to my point made previously - the top one percent pay 30 percent of all of the income tax in this country.

The evil bästards.

And that carries quite significant risks.

To cite an example that should be (but often isn't) familiar...

Suppose that once a week, ten men go out for a few beers, and the bill for all ten comes to £100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this...
  • The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
  • The fifth would pay £1.
  • The sixth would pay £3.
  • The seventh would pay £7.
  • The eighth would pay £12.
  • The ninth would pay £18.
  • And the tenth man (the richest) would pay £59. 
So, that's what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every week and seemed quite happy with the arrangement until, one day, the owner caused them a little problem. "Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your weekly beer by 20%." A night's worth of drinks for the ten men would now cost just £80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free but what about the other six men? The paying customers? How could they divide the £20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share? They realized that £20 divided by six is £3.33 but if they subtracted that from everybody's share then not only would the first four men still be drinking for free but the fifth and sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. 

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fairer to reduce each man's bill by a percentage, more savings going to the less well-off.
  • And so, the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (a100% saving).
  • The sixth man now paid £2 instead of £3 (a 33% saving).
  • The seventh man now paid £5 instead of £7 (a 28% saving).
  • The eighth man now paid £9 instead of £12 (a 25% saving).
  • The ninth man now paid £14 instead of £18 (a 22% saving).
  • And the tenth man now paid £49 instead of £59 (a 16% saving). 
Each of the last six was better off than before with the first four continuing to drink for free. 

But, once outside the bar, the men began to compare their savings. "I only got £1 out of the £20 saving," declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, "but he got £10!" 
"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved £1 too. It's unfair that he got ten times more benefit than me!" 

"That's true!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get £10 back, when I only got £2? The wealthy get all the breaks!" 

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison, "we didn't get anything at all. This new tax system exploits the poor!"

The next week the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, feeling that he clearly wasn't welcome; so the nine sat down and had their beers without him. Who needed the greedy rich bloke anyway?

But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important - they had a bill of £72 to pay, and they only had £31 to pay it with...
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
And that carries quite significant risks.

To cite an example that should be (but often isn't) familiar...

Suppose that once a week, ten men go out for a few beers, and the bill for all ten comes to £100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this...
  • The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
  • The fifth would pay £1.
  • The sixth would pay £3.
  • The seventh would pay £7.
  • The eighth would pay £12.
  • The ninth would pay £18.
  • And the tenth man (the richest) would pay £59. 
So, that's what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every week and seemed quite happy with the arrangement until, one day, the owner caused them a little problem. "Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your weekly beer by 20%." A night's worth of drinks for the ten men would now cost just £80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free but what about the other six men? The paying customers? How could they divide the £20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share? They realized that £20 divided by six is £3.33 but if they subtracted that from everybody's share then not only would the first four men still be drinking for free but the fifth and sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. 

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fairer to reduce each man's bill by a percentage, more savings going to the less well-off.
  • And so, the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (a100% saving).
  • The sixth man now paid £2 instead of £3 (a 33% saving).
  • The seventh man now paid £5 instead of £7 (a 28% saving).
  • The eighth man now paid £9 instead of £12 (a 25% saving).
  • The ninth man now paid £14 instead of £18 (a 22% saving).
  • And the tenth man now paid £49 instead of £59 (a 16% saving). 
Each of the last six was better off than before with the first four continuing to drink for free. 

But, once outside the bar, the men began to compare their savings. "I only got £1 out of the £20 saving," declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, "but he got £10!" 
"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved £1 too. It's unfair that he got ten times more benefit than me!" 

"That's true!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get £10 back, when I only got £2? The wealthy get all the breaks!" 

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison, "we didn't get anything at all. This new tax system exploits the poor!"

The next week the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, feeling that he clearly wasn't welcome; so the nine sat down and had their beers without him. Who needed the greedy rich bloke anyway?

But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important - they had a bill of £72 to pay, and they only had £31 to pay it with...
Thank you for sharing that. I had it in mind earlier but wouldn't have known where to find it.

It's one of those awkward little ditties which explains why the politics of jealousy do us no favours.

No doubt it was written by a rich Right-winger - or more likely his PR company or personal assistant, as said rich Right-winger would have been engaged full-time in ensuring that his money was hidden away and paying tax was avoided.

That's why the NHS has had a budget increase every year bar one since its creation is subject to cuts and the poor are dying in their brazillions.
 
Centrist just means "when you get people to agree on things, what they agree on ends up being in the middle". Call it something else if you want, but the principle is almost certainly how you do and want to run your life.
What I do see a lot of on face ache is the villification of centrists by the left**
The conflation of adopting the middle ground and tolerating various opinions with tacitly supporting the far right
ie They pretend that when you say listen to both sides - both have merit you would apply that to Hitlers lot.

As such they portray centrismas enabling facism / racism etc

Often accompanied by the If you believe any of the above - various moderate ideas such as NHS, pensions, welfare etc you are a socialist - Thus infering anyone not idntifying as or identified as a socialist must not agree with any of those grr tory / capitalist etc

** Its face ache its always the left spouting off - Other platforms may well have the right doing it.
 
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Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
What I do see a lot of on face ache is the villification of centrists by the left**
The conflation of adopting the middle ground and tolerating various opinions with tacitly supporting the far right
ie They pretend that when you say listen to both sides - both have merit you would apply that to Hitlers lot.

As such they portray centrismas enabling facism / racism etc

Often accompanied by the If you believe any of the above - various moderate ideas such as NHS, pensions, welfare etc you are a socialist - Thus infering anyone not idntifying as or identified as a socialist must not agree with any of those grr tory / capitalist etc

** Its face ache its always the left spouting off - Other platforms may well have the right doing it.
Pretty much: "If you're not all the way over here with us, you're Right over there with them."
 

Boris_Johnson

ADC
Moderator
DirtyBAT
Pretty much: "If you're not all the way over here with us, you're Right over there with them."

To quote Obi-wan Kenobi just prior to his first engagement with Anakin Skywalker:

"Only the Sith deal in absolutes, I shall do what I must"

George Lucas was clearly a noble Centrist.
 
I've posted this before but it illustrates the benefits/contributions between the lowest and highest earners and shows the highest earners pay far more than the lowest earners and get far less back from the state.

Tax.jpg
 
Just to throw this little thought grenade into the mix.

People on the extremes of politics, at either end of the scale, must see themselves as having what they must consider to be 'normal' well-balanced views and opinions. If they have that view then they must believe their views are centrist and everyone else is an extremist. Much like the man in the asylum thinking he is the only sane one and everybody else is mad.
 

Yokel

LE
Just to throw this little thought grenade into the mix.

People on the extremes of politics, at either end of the scale, must see themselves as having what they must consider to be 'normal' well-balanced views and opinions. If they have that view then they must believe their views are centrist and everyone else is an extremist. Much like the man in the asylum thinking he is the only sane one and everybody else is mad.

Yes - see Professor Steven Pinker's explanation of 'the left pole'.



As for tax, I just want to add two things:

1. Complex rules makes life harder for everyone, and aid tax evasion and avoidance. Many have been rightly disgusted by huge companies reaching agreements with HMRC to pay a tint proportion of what they owe. The feeling that HMRC go for the low hanging fruit feeds the perception of unfairness.

2. Judging people solely by their economic output is not a path anyone wants to go down. What about the disabled who still contribute to family and society, people caring for relatives, people like care workers etc?
 
Just to throw this little thought grenade into the mix.

People on the extremes of politics, at either end of the scale, must see themselves as having what they must consider to be 'normal' well-balanced views and opinions. If they have that view then they must believe their views are centrist and everyone else is an extremist. Much like the man in the asylum thinking he is the only sane one and everybody else is mad.
It might be even more complicated than that.

I see myself as (libertarian) right-wing: small government, low taxes, self-sufficency, and self-responsibility (you can do what you want, as long as you don’t hurt anyone, accept the consequences of your actions, and don’t expect others to bale you out).

However, looking at a political spectrum quiz, I’m soft-left.

There may not be any such thing as a “centrist”; on some issues, we could all be further out (or in) than we realise.
 

Mr_Relaxed

War Hero
The English 'cult of the gentleman' and its impeccable manners developed because our ancestors drank beer instead of water and carried edged weapons.

If you didn't want to get in a fight to the death over a minor difference of opinion or a misunderstanding, you communicated politely, respected differences of opinion, and wisely agreed to disagree. That pragmatic approach to communication is immediately conducive to constructive dialogue and an ongoing learning process.

I wonder if much of the shrill intolerance that we witness today stems from the fact that the chattering classes and most of the younger generation have never had to tread lightly around dangerous men.
I think if your average punter who can’t help but be inflammatory on Twitter tried it in a pub, then they’d suffer a short sharp shock. It’s the reason I still maintain that Twitter should require a credit card. Traceable? Think that might improve the level of public discourse.
 
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