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Delusional taxation

The Guardian gave us a piece that is just too unequal for words (at https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2018/jul/07/its-time-for-britains-millionaire-pensioners-to-pay-up). Not only is the stage wrongfully set by Phillip Inman, he hides behind the emotional drive and gives no consideration of the historical facts. So even as he ‘treated’ some people to ‘The Financial Crisis: How Did We Get Here‘, we need to see the right setting on how the inactivity of some got us to this place. He starts right of the bat with ‘The retired are having a great time at the expense of young families thanks to generous pensions and property wealth‘. You see, the property boom is fictive, artificial and pushed because some council’s needed to look good for investment, the prices are driven upwards. The fact that three governments have been totally ignorant of the housing situation and that is shown with an utter lack of social housing is one piece of this evidence. In addition, some of these places have been taxed again and again, in some cases up to four generations. Phillip does not notify the reader on that part. The bigger and even more deafening blow of injustice is given with: “A two-year investigation by the Intergenerational Commission, a group sponsored by the Resolution Foundation think-tank, has found that what it calls the “contract between the generations” is at breaking point. It warns that society risks dumping a disproportionate amount of the costs of an ageing population on their shoulders. It’s been going on for some time and now the situation is acute“, you see I was largely aware of that part in the 90’s, when I was not in the UK. Several people notified their governments of this danger (Netherlands, Germany, UK and Austria), yet those governments were all about sailing in good weather, it was not on their plate, so they ignored it. Several players in these places warned of the dangers and in the end too little was done, until it was too late and now everyone is crying on the hardship that comes. The largest portions of those people now getting a pension worked, they worked every day and more hours than ever compensated for. All the elected politicians who remained asleep, optionally on Viagra or at parties ignoring the long term effects as they would no longer be in office (which is a speculation on how they used their time). Now those in office are set in a stage where they cannot unset the rights that these people acquired. Now it is all about “54-year-olds and above – are making increasing demands on an economic and social system that, after the 2008 financial crash, can barely cope with existing commitments“, yet those are demands that they were entitled to. They were taxed, often taxed too high and whilst some politicians made really poor decisions on how to invest these surpluses, they never considered that the losses would remain to bite everyone and now there is almost quite literally hell to pay for these people, and in this case these people are not the retirees, they are the former elected politicians, the economic advisors and the consultants that were hired at a much too high overpriced setting.

When we see “subsidised deposits: that just sent house prices spiralling upwards“, we should take the home owners that live in their home, all paid off out of the equation, should we not? In that same setting “It’s because they have a generous occupational pension and property wealth beyond anything they might have considered when they bought their first home“, you see, as long as they live in that house, it is their home, not wealth, not something they eat. Those caught in the bubble should not get taxed because they merely want a roof over their heads. Yet, in the eyes of those economists that does not count. Yes, those economists who have been setting the stage in their own advantage for decades, they are all ignored in this, are they not?

I do however like the setting that Phillip gives with: “Baby boomers had no idea that the overly generous pensions, failure to deal with the overspill from dirty industries and nimbyism would build up costs for the young“, yet in all this, he does not mention that since 1996 certain changes were needed, because the greying population issue was already well within the scope of everyone (everyone with any level of intelligence that is).

So when we see: “The commission and IF say working pensioners should at the very least pay national insurance. We should go beyond this policy and force the retired to pay income tax under a separate regime. This would set the 40p rate at £20,000 (compared with £43,000 for workers) and the 45p rate at £40,000 (against £150,000 for workers). A new regime for property tax is also needed that taxes more wealth at a lower rate, spreading the load and making it less avoidable, capturing the rich and middle-income earners alike

We need to change the setting. We need to make it very clear that this is not just wrong; we should demand that these people come out in front of it all. Not hide behind the word ‘commission’, but we are entitled to know the people and they need to be held accountable for their actions in this.

So,

  1. David Willetts, Executive Chair of the Resolution Foundation (chair)
  2. Ben Page, Chief Executive of Ipsos MORI
  3. Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General of the CBI
  4. Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC
  5. Geoffrey Filkin, Chairman of the Centre for Ageing Better
  6. John Hills, Professor of Social Policy at the LSE
  7. Kate Barker, economist and former MPC member
  8. Nigel Wilson, Group Chief Executive of Legal & General
  9. Paul Johnson, Director of the IFS
  10. Sarah O’Connor, Employment Correspondent at the Financial Times
  11. Torsten Bell, Director of the Resolution Foundation
  12. Vidhya Alakeson, Chief Executive of Power to Change

All commissioners of the Intergenerational Commission (at https://www.intergencommission.org/), in addition to this, all the economic advisors where bad advice can be identified, those economists, need to get taxed for the losses that their advice caused out of their own pocket. You cannot tax one population twice over, whilst these people get richly rewarded for not doing their job correctly in the first place. The UK was far behind, when the BBC gave us in 2007: ‘The UK is going through the biggest pension shake-up in 50 years’, they were already a decade too late, this is not news, this issue has been slowly growing for over a decade and now we get highly priced think tanks giving out reports on how to solve stupidity and inaction. So when we see “In an attempt to improve the state pension prospects of women – who often take time out of work to look after children – the number of years of National Insurance Contributions (NICS) it takes to earn a full state pension will be cut from 44 to 30. This will mean millions more people, mainly women, will be entitled to a full state pension. The government has also tried to tackle the issue of vanishing workplace pension provision, as firms move to cut staff pensions” (at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6937301.stm), we see a level of inactions from a failing setting. Instead of giving a clear change of more payments into the pension system, we see a feigned ‘the number of years of National Insurance Contributions (NICS) it takes to earn a full state pension will be cut from 44 to 30‘, so not only is there an issue of shortage, the setting that a full pension could be earned was set to 68%, so 30% is close to gone, because all the late starters now suddenly get a full pension. When you realise those levels of close to insane stupidity, will the hearings show that economic advisors told them that it would work? So who were these consultants? We want full disclosure of these people. Should we not be allowed those facts? And when we confront these people will their reply be: ‘it was slightly more complex than I comprehended‘. So can we foreclose on these highly paid consultants and auction off their belongings to make up for the losses?

If that sounds unfair, consider the unfairness of taxing a group after a lifetime of service (or at least 68% of the time) again? Most these people had to bend over backwards to keep their place, keep their job and when it is finally retirement time, we hit them again. I think that this is beyond acceptable.

So when we see the end “The millionaire no longer just lives in the squire’s house. Times have changed. The retired teachers of Beverly in Yorkshire, and former BT engineers in Tunbridge Wells, are having a great time at the expense of young families” then my response is: ‘It is a fucking lie!‘ They are living of funds that they were taxed for their entire lives, the fact that they live in places that they made liveable is because they worked on it most of their live and suddenly that value is because no one was willing to contain the housing bubbles as it call in the foreign investors. That is the truth of the matter and whilst we all consider that truth, also consider the article (at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/feb/04/anger-over-glut-of-posh-ghost-towers-london), where we see “London councils have granted property developers planning permission to build more than 26,000 luxury flats priced at more than £1m each, despite fears that there are already too many half-empty “posh ghost towers” in the capital“, the Battersea Powerhouse, where social housing was cut after agreements were ‘adjusted’, and as we see in addition: “Politicians and housing campaigners said the figures show councils are prioritising the needs of the super-rich over those of hardworking young Londoners“, we start to see how the entire setting from Phillip Inman is just a load of bollocks, the flawed London setting is showing that the infrastructure will collapse sooner rather than later, it is a simple setting because empty places do not fuel the needs of groceries, butchers and supermarkets. They are merely empty plots that have only value for the investor and only for as long as profit can be made. Not only is the pension setting a travesty, when seen against the backdrop that David Lammy,  the Labour MP for Tottenham gives “Just 6,423 affordable homes were built in London during the 2016-2017 financial year (the latest figures available), a 5% decline on the previous year and a big drop from the 19,622 built in 2014-15“, labour is not innocent here either, the previous labour governments were no help in any way and whilst we see how 26,000 luxury flats are added to the London region driving prices even further up, the setting of: ‘to generous pensions and property wealth‘, is merely a facade on inflated egos and the need to find taxation for those houses to be vacated so that they get upgraded too. Some people should be ashamed of themselves and until those names are out in front in the open and those who failed get prosecuted, until that day is fact, there is not acceptable setting where the pensioners are to be taxed in any way.

It just ain’t cricket!

Oh and whilst we are at it, can someone please sack the entire Wandsworth council? When we need to set to the forefront “Only 9% of the homes will be affordable, far below London mayor Sadiq Khan’s 35% affordability target for all new large developments” again (I already did that last year), we need to make sure that those who allowed that drop will never be allowed to work anywhere in government ever again, let’s face it, they could still become barber or Uber driver.

In addition, in a flair of social justice when we see “The Coutts figures, compiled by housing data service LonRes, show that developers are pushing ahead with the vast number of expensive new flats despite failing to sell more than half of the 1,900 luxury homes they built in London last year“, these developers should not be allowed to continue, unless the unsold apartments are leased for social rentals to the council at £1 per year, whilst 80% of the rent goes to the pension funds fuelling it and 20% is for the developer (for their cooperative trouble). So, I solved the entire issue for the next 5 years without having to tax the pensioners and getting almost 1,000 additional social homes. There was not need to get 12 commissioners involved, we merely need Mayor Sadiq Khan to set the London legislation to that solution. I do believe that the lord mayor owes me a large cappuccino with two sugars and a warm blueberry muffin. That’s not too outrageous a fee, is it?

 

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Under cover questions

Yes, it has been a week. When the fire was first reported I steered clear. It was a fire. What was weird was the ferociousness of the fire, I had questions from the moment I saw the fire, but I waited. I had no Intel, I had no facts and it was a fire after all. Fires happen. Yet, those who saw the limelight seeking photos from the Telegraph might have noticed a thing or two. You see, the fire was like a fire that Hollywood could not do. The Towering inferno was not that intense. The fact that the fire had a casualty list that is massive is also an odd part in all this. So I decided to wait, I would not be the one shouting arson on something that was not that. The consequence is a little too unsettling. Yet now, a week later I found myself collecting what I could. It started with the noise on cladding.

The first thing I found was a similar issue in Victoria, Australia. On April 30th 2015 we see: “Testing conducted by the CSIRO in mid-April on behalf of MFB found that the Alucobest cladding material installed by building company failed to comply with high-rise combustibility requirements“, in addition there is “The external cladding material on this building did not prevent the spread of the fire as required by the Building Code of Australia,” said MFB chief officer Peter Rau“. It was a fire that happened in 2014. So these events had been happening for years. This now gets us to Rydon Ltd in East Sussex. They got the job, because they were £2.5 million cheaper. Like in the Towering Inferno, that place went down in the story because of cutting corners. So my initial thought was that this might be the case here too. The question is ‘Was that the case?‘ You see, it is all good and fine in books, but the reality is how were the materials tested, how did the makers of the original cladding present their materials? One of the parts is ‘Celotex RS5000 PIR thermal insulation‘, when we look at those specification we see: “Fire propagation ‘BS 476: Part 6′, Pass” and “Surface spread of flame ‘BS 476: Part 7′, Class 1“. It comes with the footnote “The fire performance and classification report issued only relates to the components detailed above. Any changes to the components listed will need to be considered by the building designer”

The entire issue becomes more of a mess when we consider that ITV business editor Joel Hills stated that he had been told that the installation of sprinklers had not even been discussed (at http://www.itv.com/news/2017-06-15/grenfell-tower-original-proposed-contractor-was-dropped-to-reduce-cost-of-refurbishment-project/), the ITV article focusses on the ‘cost saving‘ which is correct, yet the one part they do not raise is whether the materials were up to scrap. In addition they do mention two parts that are essential. One is “In 2013 the government wrote to every local authority to encourage them to retrofit sprinkler systems in older tower blocks. It did so at the request of a coroner who leads an inquest into a fire in Camberwell in which six people died“, the second one was “Before passing judgement on whether the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management therefore acted irresponsibly, bear in mind that, according to the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association, only 100 older tower blocks in Britain have been retrofitted with sprinklers since 2013. Around 4,000 have not“, the councils were apparently put off by the costs, which in this was about £1150 per apartment. We read more about these tests as presented by Celotax (at http://www.ecosafene.com/EN/firetesting/building/228.html), so we get some clarity here. Yet the surface flame test (BS 476-7, linked in the referred page), gives us “Extinguish the pilot flame 1 min after the start of the test“, yet these numbers will not add up, because there were no sprinklers, no dousing the flame, so the entire operation will be working on different elements. This does not invalidate the test, yet if I look at the Ecosafene site I am now looking at ‘BS 476-15Fire Tests on Building Materials for Measuring the Rate of Heat Release‘ as well as ‘BS 476-5 Fire Test to Building Material for Ignitablity‘, you see, this caught fire somehow, after that Bob is your crispy dead uncle (in this case). Yet in all this, we did not mention Celotex. Their site gives us “As with the rest of the nation our thoughts continue to be with those affected by the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower in London. On Wednesday, as soon as we were able to, we confirmed that our records showed a Celotex product (RS5000) was purchased for use in refurbishing the building. We wanted to provide an update to that statement and provide further information as we are able to. It is important to state that Celotex manufacture rigid board insulation only. We do not manufacture, supply or install cladding. Insulation is one component in a rain screen system, and is positioned in that system behind the cladding material“, It is what we now see in the Metro that kinda takes the biscuit. “Controversial cladding was added to Grenfell Tower in part to improve the view for nearby luxury flats“, which must have been a nice clambake to watch I reckon. It is the term ‘Controversial cladding‘ that now becomes the focus. You see, the Birmingham Mail and others are all about: “Grenfell Tower £8 million refurbishment ‘met all required standards’“, yet the fire does seem to tell a different story. The Guardian has another article linked to all this. The article ‘Complex chain of companies that worked on Grenfell Tower raises oversight concerns‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/15/long-builder-chain-for-grenfell-a-safety-and-accountability-issue) gives a few items a few answers and more questions. In opposition I need to give the quote “Ben Bradford, a fire safety expert who is managing director of the risk consultancy BB7, said the multiple links in the chain of contractors could cause safety problems. “There are probably multiple failings that have occurred in this particular case,” he said. “The work, in terms of fire stopping, often falls to a sub-contractor. They don’t always realise the critical nature of the components they’re installing in the overall system“, I have an issue here. It is not untrue what he is stating, yet the elements on the page give us a little clarity. You see Rydon used Harley Curtain. This setup is not unique. Rydon cannot afford the amount of people needed, hence a subcontractor is used. They would work according to the requirements of Rydon. That link is seen with the subsequent links to Celotex and Arconic. So Celotex is the insulator and we saw all those links, yet now the actual cladding remains. ‘Reynobond PE‘, in the end Rydon had to sign off on that, in clarity, at present Rydon is the responsible part (until valid defence is given). You see, when we go to Arconic, we see “Reynobond PE features a polyethylene core that adds strength and rigidity to the coil-coated aluminium panels. This maximizes its flexibility and formability, while maintaining a light weight for easy installation“, you see, when I went to High School (early 70’s) I was told that polyethylene was combustible, it is a common trait in the polymer group as they are all inflammable family members. You see, perhaps it is just me, but the brochure states: ‘building code recognition‘, is that the same as passing a test? The tests Canadian fire tests CAN S101, CAN S102 and CAN S134 are a nice mention, yet the idea that an AMERICAN company is relying on Canadian fire tests got me thinking. I have not found the answer; I am merely puzzled by it. The question is what did Rydon know on that part? They are supposed to be the expected experts, I am not!

The question still gives us a concern, you see the fact that the outside got to play the part of Roman candle is one side, at that point the sprinklers inside the building would have been pretty useless at that point. What is interesting is the mention on page 5 of the brochure: “It’s perfect for new and retrofit projects less than 40 feet (three stories) high” This is an interesting part because the ‘why‘ comes into play, why only 3 stories? That part becomes a point of discussion, as page three shows a 7 story high building in the images. On page 6 we see the safety rating form flames and smoke as a pass with Class A as per ASTM E84. That part revealed two elements. One is the mention ‘This test method measures flame growth on the underside of a horizontal test specimen, using the Steiner tunnel test‘, the operative word is ‘horizontal‘, the next one is shown (at https://www.astm.org/Standards/E84.htm), here we see “This test method exposes a nominal 24-ft (7.32-m) long by 20-in. (508-mm) wide specimen to a controlled air flow and flaming fire exposure adjusted to spread the flame along the entire length of the select grade red oak specimen in 51/2 min“, in addition they do not give ‘measurement of heat transmission‘, which seems a pretty important element in VERTICAL applied cladding, as flames tend to ignore gravity and move upwards adding to the temperature, for those extra crispy roasted victims. More important the ‘effect of aggravated flame spread behaviour of an assembly resulting from the proximity of combustible walls and ceilings‘ and as polyethylene is combustible, we now have an issue. From my point of view, if Rydon signed off on this there is an issue. Yet more important, the fact that there is documentation that goes back to 2014 in Australia and there are a number of buildings in London that have this issue, London Town there is a much larger issue in play. Now, we see that everyone is bashing Theresa May, and as she made me no Bundt cake I am fine with that. Yet this is a long term failure. It has an impact on several administrations on both sides of the political aisle. There is a clear call, one made by MP David Lammy in the Independent (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/grenfell-tower-fire-corporate-manslaughter-arrests-david-lammy-mp-labour-london-kensington-a7790911.html). I agree that ‘corporate manslaughter‘ is more than a fair call. As the Tottenham Labour MP states this, there is a call for the executives of Rydon to explain and show their elements in all this. They should be in defence mode and it could result in their arrest if clear evidence of negligence is found. The elements I found clearly support that and that is merely the 45 minutes getting through some of the brochures and going through the fire tests. You see, the earlier quote from the Birmingham Mail with ‘met all required standards’ does not hack it in my view. I found three issues in mere minutes, so we either have a systematic failure of government allowing this to continue (even more damning in light of the concerns from the occupants that had been going on for some time), the other side is that underlying communications might or might not exist. There is no way to tell until this is brought into the open. David Lammy might not ‘name’ anyone, but I did, and they should be named. Yet that also means that they can and should defend themselves as they might not be the guilty party, but no matter what, they are to a larger extent, the accountable party until properly investigated. And this is not because I am trying to have a go at Rydon, I want this to come out into the open. The failure that we saw burn is just one of several buildings where cladding has been applied to, and as the train wreck is pushed into the limelight carriage after carriage, only then will we see the complete extent of the failure and there is no ‘walk softly’ that option has been taken away by the dozens of fatalities. A little limelight is the least of the problems these people need to face.

Even as we saw the ‘cost saving‘ there is still going to be a backlash to KCTMO, you see, they made a call on the cheaper option, which might be fair, but why was the ‘other‘ solution cheaper? When those elements are brought to the surface there will be questions as they tend to come, fair or not. This all gets to get political soon thereafter as we saw the ‘reasoning’ of ‘improve the view for nearby luxury flats‘, you see, I am not buying a Versace suit so that I look more appealing to my neighbour. She (and he) can bloody well move to Knightsbridge and get a more expensive view there. Yet, that is just me.

rs5000_productdatasheet_aug16

Reynobond_Brochure

 

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