Shock! Horror! Terrible, tragic, depresing and disasterous news. The sandwich shop in Worcester has closed!! So I was sat in the office briefly day dreaming about my forth-coming luncheon delight when my work colleague (and also a fan of the incredible egg mayo and salad sandwich) tells me that the little shop that makes them has closed down. Clearly an effect of the recession and more importantly a bloody travesty! Goodness only knows how I can break the news to the GF (a faithful reader and all round good egg) – no pun intended, or in fact made.

On top of this gastronomic catastrophe, yesterday was budget day. So what did the jumped up little badger have up his sleeve this close to an election ? All the talk had been of a careful and non-vote winning budget, but some how I’ve struggling to swallow that load of guff. I suspected more likely is a hardly-tweaked-at-all budget, and possibly crow-barring in something that they’ve been promising for ages, but haven’t delivered on. The old smoke and mirrors trick to leave us all believing that they’ve actually been working very hard on something which really they’ve just been delaying all along. And I wasn’t too far off the mark with the brief abolishon of stamp duty for first time buyers. Guff. Could I be more cynical ?

A couple of budgetary items that are annoying me of late are Road Tax and the TV Licence (Make no mistake, TV Licences are a Tax).

Now, Road Tax (Vehicle Excise Duty) is commonly misunderstood to fund road projects, such as fixing pot holes! Originally the proceeds were correctly used for the Road Fund, which started in 1910. In 1936, Winston Churchill moved the proceeds into central funds, and the Road Fund should receive grants from there. So clearly this means the amount of revenue raised from the Tax is far more than is required to maintain the roads. To my mind this is not conducive to a clear and open government and could be construed as creative accounting at best, and highway robbery at worst (not pun intended or indeed made, yet again)

The TV Licence is controlled by the BBC and it provides about 75% of the BBC’s income with the rest coming from sales of thier products elsewhere on the planet. This in itself doesn’t strike me as too much of a problem, but I do insist that it’s spent wisely. The fact that a large portion of it’s output is “art” in the form of drama, comedy etc. means that defining “spent wisely” becomes a very subjective process. But that is not the case for all of it’s output, some of which is clearly a waste of money and could never of been considered art in the first place.

Take for instance Chris Moyles – Please! Take him. Anywhere. Just off the radio. Nothing is worse than awakening to the sound of a man who loves his own voice and has nothing of interest to add to the day. Worse still, Radio 1 seems unable to play any music before 7am – or at best very little and they let Moyles spill his drivel all over the place instead. In 2007 the Independent claimed he was earning £630k p.a. for getting up early and annoying everyone – bearing in mind that was over 3 years ago, and his profile is considerably higher since he’s now considered “The saviour of Radio 1”, I suspect it’s closer to the £1m mark by now and I had heard a recent rumour it was £6m. But let’s be generous and call it a mere £1m.

By my rough reckoning, Moyles is on the air for 3 and half hours a day, 5 days a week. Let’s assume he has 20 days holiday a year then he’s on air for 840 hours a year (or 35 days straight). If the £1m figure is right (and I freely admit it may be less – or even more) then he’s earning about £1,200 per hour he’s on air. After tax then it’s £715/hr roughly – only roughly – not being exact, just throwing numbers around here.

Last week was Sport Aid. So far they’ve raised about 31.5 Chris Moyle’s, but £50 could pay for a bicycle ambulance to transport pregnant women to hospital in Tanzania or put another way, 1 Chris Moyles = 20,000 bicycle ambulances, or 14 bicycle ambulances per hour after tax!!!

You do the math. Chris Moyles in my ear in the morning or enough Bicycle Ambulances to fill Beijing?? I think my choice is clear, but of course this is only my choice and plenty of people will dislike me in his defence.

Just one other point on numbers – there’s approx’ 61m people in the UK and it’s almost impossible to live here without a TV licence, but lets assume that only 40m of them have to buy one, then TVL revenues are currently running at £5.68bn p.a. Just out of interest 😉

This of course opens up a raft of questions about the state of our nation. Historically, I’m not one to get political but that all seems to be changing of late, and quite right too. We should all be more politically involved, because after all that’s what effects our day-to-day lifestyles. The problem with this is that you can’t seem to get a cigarette paper between the two main parties involved, and the majority of the public seem to think that “they’re both as bad as each other”. It seems natural that this is the market that the Conservatives should be going after if they want to snatch the power back, but the more likely outcome could well be a hung parliament.

Obviously this will need much further thought – but I’m quite liking the idea of a hung, drawn and quartered parliament (no pun intended, although possibly one made at last!) – who’s with me ??? – Vive La Angleterre!

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