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Eddie Mair | 22:03 UK time, Friday, 23 March 2007

The Blog is full of places for frivolity and fun. In here, it's serious. Think, reflect, debate...then later maybe relax on the beach. Seriously.

Comments

  1. At 11:47 PM on 23 Mar 2007, Frances O wrote:

    Eddie, stop posting! Ain't you got a home to go to?

    (Discuss)

  2. At 01:30 AM on 24 Mar 2007, Val P wrote:

    Gosh - it's 1.35 on Friday morning, and nobody wants to be serious yet?

  3. At 01:34 AM on 24 Mar 2007, Val P wrote:

    O Frances, is that your strapline?

  4. At 08:41 AM on 24 Mar 2007, Gillian wrote:

    Frances O/wen? It must be. Good on yer! A poem read out on air, and now a strapline. Go and buy a Lottery ticket while you're on a roll!

  5. At 12:45 PM on 24 Mar 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Clearly Eddie Mair does not sleep.

  6. At 01:14 PM on 24 Mar 2007, Belinda wrote:

    Appy (5): I think you'll find that Eddie clearly sleeps between 5-6pm on weekdays.


    Just kidding!

  7. At 03:11 PM on 24 Mar 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    The froggerators seem to let through one-liners, but to send anything over a wee paragraph to some limbo-bin. I wonder if that's why we haven't heard from Simon in a while...
    xx
    ed

  8. At 03:13 PM on 24 Mar 2007, nikki noodle wrote:

    But seriously, though, who has mentioned the fact that our tax has doubled from 10p to 20p in the pound?

    And that it will hit the worser off most?

    And that it wasn't announced so much as hauled off a spindle?

    (!) phew, that is serious, isn't?

  9. At 04:33 PM on 24 Mar 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Nikki,

    Cheer up! The pints are only up by a wee bit and not till tomorrow, so here's one on me.
    xx
    ed

  10. At 08:59 AM on 25 Mar 2007, Anne P. wrote:

    Ed (7) Yes I was missing Simon too.

  11. At 03:12 PM on 25 Mar 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Just testing - a four paragraph postb sent an hour ago Vs this oneliner. Which gets through first (or ever)?

  12. At 03:25 PM on 25 Mar 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Oneliner took less than 12 min. Serious post ....?
    GRRRrrr!
    ed

  13. At 07:18 PM on 25 Mar 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Still waiting...

  14. At 08:33 PM on 25 Mar 2007, Karl Handy wrote:

    Speculative thinking...

    Tony Blair is to Gordon Brown as Sven Goran Eriksson is to Steve McClaren.

    Maybe.

  15. At 08:42 PM on 25 Mar 2007, Gossipmistress wrote:

    OK - serious topic alert!

    Anyone know anything about the surrepticious privatisation of the NHS?

    I have medic friends who are very worried indeed and say Drs are leaving in droves for NZ and other places. One friend, a SHO, told me that in her PFI hospital the private owners have so much control that they can't even put a sign up on a door. Another friend told me they're not allowed to change a lightbulb. The Private company has to come in and do it.

    And the cost?

    £300 for the sign, £50 for the lightbulb.
    No wonder there's no money to pay the nurses.

    Hand up who knows what 'NHS' stands for?
    If you said 'National Health Service' you may not be right for much longer. It will be the 'National Health System' where private companies will be allowed to use the 'brand'. GP's, Primary Healthcare Trusts - they want to privatise them all. But they'll still call it 'NHS' in the hope that none of us will notice.

    The NHS then won't be directly responsible for anything that goes wrong, and won't have to provide NHS training or pensions.

    With the propensity of the private sector to 'cherry pick' all the easiest procedures in order to maximise profits, what will happen to all the most difficult procedures & high risk patients? Will anyone want to treat them?

    I can't claim to be any sort of expert on this but I'd be interested to hear from anyone who is.
    There's also a link below to a precis of NHS privatisation, by the 'Save Our NHS' campaign.
    (I'm not a member or have any axe to grind with the NHS!)

    http://www.keepournhspublic.com/pdf/Patchworkprivatisationexecutivesummary.pdf

  16. At 09:28 PM on 25 Mar 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Karl,

    That doesn't help me becasue I know Sven G E used to be in charge of the England football team but I thought McClaren was all about formula one cars???...


    Ed,

    Some quite short and completely inoffensive posts of mine have failed to show up even after one of my "push" posts today. It's all gone keprplunk, hasn't it?

  17. At 09:45 AM on 26 Mar 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Still waiting!

  18. At 11:57 AM on 26 Mar 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Appy,

    Almost useless, and could be cause for paranoia, because they just let Gossipmistress through with several paragraphs, for which thanks and a shared "GRRRR!" How long will this take to show, I wonders.
    xx to you both - ed

  19. At 12:35 PM on 26 Mar 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    GM (15);
    regarding the PFI thing in the NHS, it was ever thus.

    Way back in the early, halcyon days of 'New' Labour consultants radiologists at an early PFI hospital discoverred that they had no lightboxes on their consulting room walls. Rather vital one would think for viewing X-ray photos and diagnosing the nations ills?

    One consultant tried to get one put up, only to discover that if he did it himself it would be criminal damage, because the hospital didn't belong to the NHS, but to the PFI 'partner' who built the thing.

    Required an amendment to the PFI contract, at great expense, to get lightboxes put up in all the required places.

    Or the wards where there was nothing written into the contract about who topped up the patients water jugs at their bedsides. Result: £40k for the PFI company to amend the service contract, specifying who would do the job.

    It's not simply the bricks-and-mortar costs of PFI which are outrageous. The company which gets the building contract also gets the contract to run all the hotel services; hot-and-cold water, air-conditioning, cleaning, kitchens, janitoring, etc. And they make an absolute killing on those by cutting the service to the bone. Why do you think that MRSA and other infections took a major upswing after PFI became standard practice?

    The way it's financed is a con. Governments can borrow money cheaper than any commercial organisation, in the forms of gilts, or Government bonds. But if Gordon did that he'd shatter his own self-imposed Golden Rule by a country mile. So he gets a private company to build it on borrowed money at commercial rates of interest.

    That rate is inflated because with no finished asset to secure the loan against the interest charged is necessarily higher than it would normally be. And the contract is signed on the basis of the interest which the PFI company is being charged.

    Once the hospital/school/prison is completed there is an asset. So they renegotiate the commercial loan to a lower interest rate, reflecting the security they can now supply, and pocket the surplus cash. None of it is returned to the Government to reduce the burden on the Exchequer.

    And finally; Who owns the asset? Well the Government says that it doesn't. With some justification. PFI deals run for typically 35 years, at the end of which the Government owns the asset. So PFI is at heart a Hire-Purchase deal. So the builder owns it, right?

    Well no. Not exactly. The Government allows them to keep the asset off-balance-sheet (shades of Enron!) by saying that the Government actually owns it, although they have used ownership of it to secure their reduced loan terms. So they have spent a fortune and have, apparently, no asset to show, just an annualised income. So the whole expenditure is used as a loss against tax. Thereby reducing the income of the same Exchequer which contracted the build in the first place.

    The reason that this kind of duplicitous accounting is tolerated is to let us have the schools and hospitals we want. The terms are scandalously expensive, but we don't care, because no-one knocks on our doors with a collecting tin for the cash. It disappears quietly in further taxation. At the same time Gordon looks like a miracle worker for keeping a fantastic economy running. If he were forced to put this expenditure on the balance sheet the economic performance of the country would have to be shown in a very much worse light. And that would never do.

    Interestingly there was a report a couple of weeks ago which commented that some completely independent audit panel within the Treasury itself had decided that this was unacceptable accounting and was going to force the Exchequer to bring the assets and costs on-book and reveal the true costs of PFI. Needless to say the Treasury doesn't want that to happen while Gordon is still in charge, it might ruin his reputation and tarnish his leadership credentials this summer.

    And for this he has mortgaged the nations financial future for the next thirty years.

    Twenty four hours to save the NHS? Don't make me laugh, they've destroyed it. My SO used to be a physio in the NHS. She quit last year because the 'system' had determined that every single patient could be cured in 6 x 15-minute sessions of physio or less, no matter their state of health. Need more Sir? Go private, we won't help you.

    So she went private herself and now earns at much for three days work as she used to for five. And she gets her paperwork done during working hours, she doesn't have to bring case-notes home in the evening for two hours of clerical work writing up patient treatment. And she gets two days off a week to pursue her other interests.

    Any wonder that staff are leaving in droves?

    Re: simple privatisation. The GP practise in Buxton is being privatised to an American profit-making company. Only the court ruled that no proper consultation was done with the locals, Patsy Hewitt tried to shanghai it through quickly. So they now have to conduct a proper consultation, at the end of which they will ignore the wishes of the locals and carry through the original plan anyway. And the existing GP practice put in a lower bid for the franchise, but were ignored. Surely no-one's getting a *bakhanda* for taking the highest bid? There's no corruption involved, is there?

    Si.

  20. At 01:26 PM on 26 Mar 2007, witchiwoman wrote:

    GM - yes, its happening and theres very little the staff can do about it. My mom is a practise manager and has been saying this for years; however all this is coming from higher powers and any consulatation with the 'front line' is lip service only.

  21. At 01:43 PM on 26 Mar 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Well said Simon! You've been missed! At least you can post more than a paragraph and have it appear. Is there some sort of BBC bias against me personally?
    GRRRRR!
    ed

  22. At 01:54 PM on 26 Mar 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Marc,

    HELP! HELP! I can't say anything serious!

    and for that I get a malicious!

  23. At 02:01 PM on 26 Mar 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Ed (21);
    Thanks. I appreciate that more from yourself than possibly any other Frogger, given our past differences of opinion.

    Cause was a job change, now in Norfolk for a while. Had no Internet access during my lunch hour for the last couple of weeks. So unable to comment on contemporary events as threads were posted and comments made.

    I wonder if your ongoing comms problem is down to the fact that you are sat in a treehouse presumably on wireless? Lags inherent in broadband wireless switching/routing might be disrupting your Frogging pleasures. Is there an improvement if you use a short LAN connection direct into your broadband router?

    Si.

  24. At 02:04 PM on 26 Mar 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Ed, I've told you before, you should take it as a compliment!

  25. At 02:19 PM on 26 Mar 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Appy,
    It must be a Zionist conspiracy! ;-(
    xx ed

  26. At 02:54 PM on 26 Mar 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    It IS!

  27. At 03:05 PM on 26 Mar 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Sure looks like it. Two subsequent brief posts have failed....

  28. At 03:13 PM on 26 Mar 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    "Frogging pleasures" (Si at 23)

    Wonderful!

    I could do with a few of those at the moment ;o)

  29. At 03:38 PM on 26 Mar 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Si,
    Still waiting for a slightly bigger paragraph responding to yours....

  30. At 04:04 PM on 26 Mar 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Just because I'm paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't against me!
    xx
    ed

  31. At 04:06 PM on 26 Mar 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Well Ed (29);
    after all it does have to make it's way the whole distance down from Scotland.....

    Si.

  32. At 04:07 PM on 26 Mar 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Well I managed to look at your link Ed, so maybe a breakthrough is coming.

    Welcome back Si, we wondered where you were :-)

  33. At 04:32 PM on 26 Mar 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    CHENEY: CRITICISM OF ME EMBOLDENS OUR ENEMY
    ;-)
    ed

  34. At 05:02 PM on 26 Mar 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Si (31),

    Aye, that'll be right!
    My round!
    xx
    ed

  35. At 06:47 PM on 26 Mar 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Ed Inglehart (all over this thread)

    I've found something interesting about posts being refused or vanishing: if I just press "submit your comment" straight off, it can take an age to get there or never appear at all, or get wild error messages, but if I press "preview your comment" first and only then press "submit your comment", it seems to get through better.

    Is this the same as PUSH, or is it a whole nother quirk of the frog?

    (A quirk MUST be the noise made by a startled frog?)

  36. At 10:15 AM on 27 Mar 2007, silver-fox wrote:

    Great postings.

  37. At 10:33 AM on 27 Mar 2007, Member of the Public wrote:

    The latest research from consumer group Which? shows how just a fraction of dental practices in parts of England are taking on new patients this only confirms what many families across the county already know from their own experience, that the Government's reforms of NHS dentistry have failed to deliver.

    In 1999, Tony Blair promised everyone would have access to an NHS dentist within two years. Almost eight years on, the Which? survey shows a postcode lottery still exists when it comes to finding dental treatment.

    It seems at the heart of the problem are the new contracts for NHS dentists which have only succeeded in antagonising the profession and left those looking for treatment no better off.

    The reforms were supposed to encourage more dentists to stay within the NHS by taking them off the pay-per-treatment treadmill and giving them more time to help patients prevent damage to their teeth in the first place.

    Instead, they find themselves pursuing targets based on a points system which can see practices paid the same for doing one filling in a patient or 10. The consequence was many dentists leaving the NHS altogether while others are still in dispute with their local Primary Care Trust a year on from the introduction of the new system.

    For patients, the new arrangements have seen charges go up for those who look after their teeth but come down for those with the most problems. Most importantly, among those dentists who have stayed in the NHS, few see any incentives to take on more patients. A decade since Labour warned there was 24 hours to save the NHS, dentistry is still in intensive care, which is nothing to smile about.

  38. At 06:22 PM on 27 Mar 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    I'll try it Chris. Thanks.
    xx
    ed

  39. At 12:11 AM on 28 Mar 2007, admin annie wrote:

    I've never really understood GB's aversion to gilts myself, and it certainly left a hole in the investment for widows and orphans department.

    The problem with the NHS - or at least one of them - is that the technology and medical developments have outstripped the country's ability to pay for them. This is a hard, to many indeed an unfaceable truth, but it is a fact nonetheless. I have long thought that the only way forward is for the NHS to be responsible for A & E, psychiatry and geriatrics, plus other care for those on benefits, and for everyone else ie those in employment to have compulsory private health insurance. I'm sure this isn't a popular view but is it really sensible to supply free health care to that man at Barclays who was paid £22 million last year? Well he probaboy has private health care anyway but I'm sure you take my point.

  40. At 11:13 AM on 28 Mar 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    But Annie (39), Once again those just above the benefit line would be hit. Now if that chap with the £22 million paid more of it in taxation...

  41. At 12:16 PM on 28 Mar 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Appy (40);
    then he'd move his income offshore and the £9m he currently pays would reduce to zero. He already pays around 40% of his income as tax.
    Where's the benefit in that?

    Why should he pay more? Just because he can? That's the politics of envy. Why shouldn't we ALL pay more in direct taxation. Why not raise the Income Tax rate to 25%, instead of cutting it to 20% (and then claiming the money back by abolishing the 10% band).

    The real problem is that we ALL want those new hospital, new schools, new prisons to commit the burgeoning numbers of crims into. But no-one really wants to front up and pay for it. So we'll tolerate GB and the benighted PFI schemes. Then we'll be paying for the rest of our working lives.

    Si.

  42. At 02:39 PM on 28 Mar 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Simon (41), Why must you throw in that horrid line "The politics of envy" every time you disagree with someone's political stance? (Oh yes, I forgot, you're a Tory). Not everyone thinks that way. For the record. I certainly don't. Furthermore, I did not say "If the government charged him more tax", which is the phenomenon you go on to problematise, I suggested that a solution might be paying more tax. Actually doing it. What should have been obvious was that I did not expect this to actually happen: it was a throwaway line about an ideal.

    As for: The real problem is that we ALL want those new hospital, new schools, new prisons to commit the burgeoning numbers of crims into. But no-one really wants to front up and pay for it. What a sweeping generalisation! How dare you presume to speak for me, and the many, many others who would happily see the tax system become much more fair. Judging everyone by your own standards, is it?

  43. At 03:08 PM on 28 Mar 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Annie,

    I thoroughly agree with you on gilts. Why in the world should we them people pay others a profit to borrow money at higher rates than we can borrow it?

    It's just plain daft.
    xx
    ed

  44. At 04:02 PM on 28 Mar 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Appy (42);
    I know, I know. I saw the offer on the beach, whence I go in moments to imbibe the generously proffered libation.

    But he can't voluntarily pay more tax. It would be illegal for the state to accept it. Surprising perhaps, but true.

    The meaning of Tax is pretty well defined on Wikipedia;

    "A tax is a financial charge or other levy imposed on an individual or a legal entity by a state or a functional equivalent of a state. Taxes could also be imposed by a subnational entity. Taxes consist of direct tax or indirect tax. A tax may be defined as a "pecuniary burden laid upon individuals or property to support the government: a payment exacted by legislative authority."A tax "is not a voluntary payment or donation, but an enforced contribution, exacted pursuant to legislative authority" and is "any contribution imposed by government..."

    So for him to pay further tax it would have to be exacted out of him by a legislature. Perhaps what you're suggesting is that he should make some kind of further voluntary cash contribution to the state? I seem to recall that a few years ago now someone tried to do that as a major bequest in a will, only to have the cheque returned because there is no legal mechanism for anyone to do that.The state is not permitted to take more from you in tax than legislation permits it to. That's why the proposals in each Budget have to be debated and enacted as primary legislation, because they change the laws of the country.

    I'm content that this man is paid what he gets. Your true value in fiscal terms is what you can get paid in return for your labour. Naturally there is more to any person than simply their income, however large, so to see him purely in terms of his paypacket is unfair.

    If Barclays think he is worth that much then so be it. I'd like someone to think that my work was worth so much. He has paid more in tax to the state in a single year than I will ever see in my entire life. So I expect that the Treasury are also most grateful. No doubt they will be very grateful for his future contributions also.

    It just sounded as if you wished that people paid so highly could be soaked by the state and have much of their fairly-won income removed by the minions of the Revenue. In which case what would be the point of him staying in this country and contributing to the success of his employer? He may as well move abroad and be paid elsewhere. And let's not forget that his business unit in Barclays has become a genuine world player under his guidance, which means that it pays handsomely in Corporation Tax on its much-expanded profits, contributing even more to the Exchequer and helping to pay for state pensions, healthcare and schooling.

    Whenever I hear someone complaining about the income of the rich I hear envy. I don't envy him, I wish that I could be him. Only, no publicity please (not possible for a quoted company). If he were a swindler or a conman then it would be different. But so far as I can see he has made his way legitimately.

    For all that we know he is a major contributor to charities and does other good works, but chooses not to speak of them. Perhaps he doesn't. It seems a little churlish to complain about a man when all that we truly know of him is the size of his income. Or to wish for him to give it all away.

    As for the tax thing to pay for state amenities; What IS 'more fair'? Now that's a sweeping generalisation without specifics. Most of us have direct taxation deducted by the pay office at work, or we pay it on goods that we buy. GB has inflated the money supplied to education and health.

    But there is a general sensation that the money has largely been wasted. The NHS is in crisis due to a cash shortage. Education, depending on how you analyse the results, has demonstrably gone backwards in the last ten years, despite the largesse pumped into it. What the hell has all that money actually done? What has it achieved? And if the answer is 'Not very much actually; then why would anyone want to pay more for the same lack of results.

    We DO want new hospitals, schools, etc. Don't we? I certainly think that it's a good idea. But my tax burden has actually risen in real terms since 1997, and will rise further thanks to the increase in small companies Corporation Tax. Am I being served any better as a result? No. Would I be willing to vote for a party which proposed to increase Taxation to pay for these shiny things I want? No. Even the LibDems have quietly dropped their '1p on Income Tax for education' pledge. They know that the tax burden has reached its limit.

    I do not presume to speak for you. And when you speak of "many, many others" you fell into the same generalising trap which you have castigated me for. I would suspect, and it's a guess, that to "many, many" people a "much more fair tax system" would mean that they all pay less tax. If my guess is true how will these things be paid for?

    Ed (43);
    You lost me there somewhere. Didn't understand what you were driving at.

    Si.

  45. At 04:19 PM on 28 Mar 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Member of the Public:

    You say: "For patients, the new arrangements have seen charges go up for those who look after their teeth but come down for those with the most problems."

    I'm afraid this is patently untrue, or at best a gross overgeneralisation. In the area where I live, there is no longer an NHS dentist within a 17 mile radius. I am on a low income, but not sufficiently low to qualify for any benefits. During the last 18 months I have had to spend around £2,000 of my savings on private dentistry as the only route to good dental health. I have always had regular check ups and followed all advice provided by dentists and orthodontists. I am now facing a further bill for two crowns of £770. I would suggest that I fit into your description of one of those with 'the greatest problems', but in my case the cost of my dental treatment has been going up and up.

    On a more positive note, I spoke this morning to my PCT to see if there were any NHS dentists with open lists within a 20 miles radius. One has now reopened their list. Speaking to their receptionist today, I've been told that their list has indeed reopened, although I will have to wait about two months to get an appointment, and I have to travel 19 miles to register with them before I will even get an appointment. That is now a very high priority for me given that it will make the difference over whether or not I can have these crowns fitted, although it will still be at a cost of something in the region of £200. If I don't have the crowns I will lose two teeth and adjacent teeth will thereby become unstable.

    NHS dentistry is, I agree, in something of a mess. It is, at best, a postcode lottery. But, by heavens, it is the only affordable option for most of us.

  46. At 04:22 PM on 28 Mar 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    No worries, Si, just re-stating the idiocy of contracting to rent (at a guaranteed profit) capital assets built with money borrowed on the private market (higher costs then government borrowing).

    Double whammy isn't in it. We pay a profit to the contractor, based upon his total costs which include an unnecessarily high cost of debt servicing.

    Much cheaper for the government to borrow the money at lower rates and pay for the build, but you know that as well as I do.
    Slainte
    ed

  47. At 04:31 PM on 28 Mar 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Si and Appy,

    On a "much fairer tax system", so far as I am concerned, I would probably pay more tax on my homestead, considering its excellent 'site value'. I think it's high time local government was financed by local taxation based upon bare land values (not taxing improvements, which have been paid form out of taxed earnings), rather than being almost entirely the dependent of central government.

    My local authority was designed by central government and draws almost 90% of its budget from central funds. What sort of 'local' democracy do you think that fosters?
    http://home.btconnect.com/tipiglen/taxation.html

    xx
    ed

  48. At 04:40 PM on 28 Mar 2007, Sara wrote:

    Admin Annie (39) - interesting! When we lived in the Netherlands (some years ago, so I can't speak for what goes on there now) the system was that all hospitals were private hospitals. There was no NHS (obviously). What the state provided was insurance. Everyone had to pay for this insurance according to income (as we do), but claiming from it was means tested (which I'll explain in a mo), so if you earned more than a certain amount you had to take out private health insurance as well. ("Had to" is deliberate - you were not given the choice).

    The hospitals were excellent - at least those I came into contact with - and everyone got the same treatment. Only when the Bursar came round with the papers to sign was the question of which insurance would pay up mentioned.

    Means testing seemed fairly innocuous - you were put into one of about seven bands based on your total income tax bill, and whichever band you were in determined how much (if anything) you were entitled to from the state. When I got chicken pox (quite serious as an adult) I needed help to look after the children and the house, etc., and this is provided by the state - it's called Green Cross or some such. Free if you are in the bottom band, paid for by us in full as we were expats and clearly not in the bottom band or anywhere near it. Identical service paid for by everyone and available to everyone, but not necessarily free. We thought the system made a lot of sense.

    But oh how we love the dear old NHS, founded on the principle that health care for all would mean everyone was healthier, so it would pay for itself. Now it is practically unmanageable, and little did we know what amazing treatments would be possible in the 21st century, and how much the real cost of it all would be.

    The NHS looks to me like a dear old teddy bear which has lost its hair and most of its stuffing, but we just keep on buying more stuffing and stitching on the patches.

  49. At 05:08 PM on 28 Mar 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    AAAGH! Si, you misunderstand me again. I didn't mean that someone with lots of money should voluntarily pay extra tax. I meant that if the paying of more tax actually happened it would be a good thing -- I recognise that there are steps to reach an ideal. I've admitted already, it was such and yet you insist on making it sound as if I had suggested some practical solution, the details of which you then draw in yourself and subsequently criticise!!!

    I'm not going to comment upon relying upon Wikipedia as a valid resource other than to say "take care".

    I most certainly did not fall into a generalisation trap -- the difference between your post and mine is this: you referred to "all"; I spoke of "many". I do know many people who feel that way. I accept there are also undoubtedly many who do not, but I did not speak for them.

    And Your true value in fiscal terms is what you can get paid in return for your labour -- Awful, just awful.

  50. At 11:11 PM on 28 Mar 2007, Gossipmistress wrote:

    Big Sis (45) - at that rate it'd be cheaper to get private dental insurance. I pay £17.60 a month and it covers eveything except lab fees. I've had various fillings & a crown and not paid any extra on top.

    Admin Annie & Sara - thank you, lots of things I certainly didn't know.

    Si - thank you for explanation of PFI's etc

  51. At 08:26 AM on 29 Mar 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    But Appy (49);
    I immediately made the point that income is only one aspect of what defines a person, and a tiny part at that. What's awful about that?

    Si.

  52. At 08:52 AM on 29 Mar 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Gossipmistress: But would they accept me? I somewhat doubt it, which is why I haven't looked into the insurance route.

    I suspect, anyway, that my premium would be a lot higher.

    I will, however, follow your suggestion by checking it out. I think I did look at one plan last year, but didn't think I'd be accepted. Insurers don't like people who claim, and, sadly, I'd have to make frequent claims.

  53. At 01:44 PM on 29 Mar 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    GM: Just an extra here on the dental insurance front. Can you tell me whose plan you use?

  54. At 01:49 PM on 29 Mar 2007, Gossipmistress wrote:

    Big Sis - I'm with Denplan - only because our much-loved dentists of many years couldn't hack it with NHS work any longer, so we went with them when they went private.

    I've had the policy for maybe 12 years or so, but I don't remember the fees ever going down (for no claims etc). I don't know how they work it out, but it's probably worth a look :-)

  55. At 02:38 PM on 29 Mar 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Thanks, GM. I'll check them out. It's always good to have a personal recommendation.

  56. At 04:21 PM on 29 Mar 2007, Anne P. wrote:

    Big Sis, ditto as for GM, but our dentist assessed both me and my husband and said it was worth my while but not his as latter needs a lot done and it would actually be cheaper for him to pay as you go rather than via insurance. If you have a dentist you can trust you should get good advice about the best course of action. I reckon I get good value and am also covered for implants should I ever need them.

    Other dental plans are of course available (and I don't have shares in any of them).

  57. At 04:42 PM on 29 Mar 2007, Humph wrote:

    Anne P (56) After reading the last sentance of your first paragraph, I will be at the naughty corner, should anyone wonder where I am.

    H.

  58. At 09:05 AM on 30 Mar 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Just posted this on the current thread, but possibly for discussion here?

    A topic I'd like taken up arises from a piece in Mary Seighart's column in yesterday's Times. She wrote:

    "Recently, I wrote a column about the disappearance of older women from television. Their male contemporaries, such as Michael Parkinson, Sir Trevor McDonald and Alan Titchmarsh, are allowed to continue as national treasures, but women, in the main, get locked away in the safe or exiled to radio not long after their first wrinkle appears.

    "Now it is Moira Stuart's turn. This serene newsreader used to do all the BBC's morning bulletins. Then she was restricted to the Sunday ones on Andrew Marr's programme. Now she has lost that job too. A fine reward for 25 yras' service at the Beeb.

    "According to the newspapers, she is only 55, younger than Jeremy Paxman. Her Who;s Who entry does not even have a date of birth: perhaps she saw this coming. But, when will the BBC learn that at least half of its viewing public want to see some women of wisdom and maturity on their screens, and not just bimbos who play pertly and prettily to the older men who sit next to them?

    "We female viewers feel insulted by the airbrushing out of our gender after a certain age. The BBC is a public-service broadcaster and it makes great play of consulting its licence-payers. Perhaps the corporation would deign to listen to us on this?"

    Ms Stuart, incidentally, presented a fascinating documentary last week about the roots of slavery. I, for one, would be extremely sorry to see her disappear.

    But this is an issue of concern to many, and not only women. What do others think?

  59. At 10:14 AM on 30 Mar 2007, Anne P. wrote:

    Humph (57) Oops...perhaps there should be another corner for those who provoke fellow froggers into naughtiness, however unwittingly.

  60. At 10:41 AM on 30 Mar 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    I'll sign your petition, Sis! (58)

    xxxxx
    ed

  61. At 11:39 AM on 30 Mar 2007, Anne P. wrote:

    Big Sis, It's one of those sad facts of life that older men are viewed as 'mature' and therefore still interesting, while older women are sidelined.

    We do not respect age especially in women. We do glorify a plastic wrapped, surgery enhanced, over-slim ideal of womanhood particularly in the media.

    Having said that we now have a generation which grew up with a very different view of women's roles and capabilities and if the baby boomers can't change these attitudes then who can?

    First thing I'd want to check out is who is making these decisions and using what criteria. Is it based on some spurious idea of 'what the public wants'.

    Thank heavens for radio where looks are irrelevant and you can concentrate on the content.

  62. At 12:58 PM on 30 Mar 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Big Sis (58), Absolutely -- but I see there is a new Furrowed Brow so perhaps I'll go over there.

    Just to note, however, that there is a slightly more positive side to this, in that we are starting to see more women of all ages in acting roles -- both on TV and in films: There used to be an awful absence of that too. I would certainly support raising the profile of this issue in the more 'serious' world of news and current affairs.

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