Jan Boucek

Privatise the Olympics

Written by | Friday 9 March 2012

I became a fully conscious taxpayer a couple of years before Montreal hosted the 1976 Olympic games. Those games are probably best remembered as the ones that started the modern era of over-blown, over-budget and financially disastrous Olympic games. With notable exceptions of the games in Los Angeles and Atlanta, all of them have been vanity sinkholes for taxpayer cash. For Montreal taxpayers, the last bond was finally paid off in 2006.

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Pensions redux

Written by | Tuesday 28 February 2012

Remember pension tax simplification in 2006? At the time, it seemed like a reasonably good idea - reduce the patchwork of legislation built-up by successive governments to encourage retirement provision by simplifying the previous eight tax regimes into one single regime. But as with all national schemes, politicians can’t leave well enough alone and the tinkering with simplification began from day 1. And it just won’t stop – we can expect the Chancellor to fiddle some more come the March budget statement.

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Wicked web

Written by | Monday 27 February 2012

Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive

The tangled web that has become university funding in the UK is already throwing up early evidence of what a fraud the whole thing will prove to be.

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It's complicated

Written by | Wednesday 22 February 2012

Last week, BBC Radio 4’s PM show each day profiled an unemployed person. On Friday, it featured Leanna Brown, 20 years old, a single mum of  a two-year old, living in Sheffield and unemployed for two years.

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Snippets from a wacky world

Written by | Wednesday 15 February 2012

“A spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses, while hopeful that credit easing would cut the cost of lending, said that peer-to-peer forms of lending – where individuals lend directly to businesses – needed to be explored.” What’s to explore? Put a sign up in your shop window saying “Loan wanted – please form orderly queue.”

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Any plans for this decade?

Written by | Wednesday 8 February 2012

I’m sure the folks in Brussels-land mean well with every intention of making the world a better place but you do wonder what planet they live on. Maybe it’s the dull weather or the flat vistas of the Belgian plain that give us Viviane Reding, vice president of the European Commission and EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, and her plan for the rest of this decade.

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There, that's better!

Written by | Thursday 2 February 2012

Well, we’ve stripped those Royal Bank of Scotland rascals of their titles and bonuses and the surge of optimism pulsing through the economy is palpable. The stock market is soaring, businesses have launched ambitious investment schemes and dole queues are disappearing.

If only.

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Who wants to be a businessperson?

Written by | Monday 30 January 2012

Who in their right mind would want to be a businessperson these days? It’s always been tough creating and growing a business - failure is more common than success but the potential for reward and the thrill of the chase still appeal to the energetic, the imaginative and the diligent.

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Even Obama gets it

Written by | Thursday 26 January 2012

Recognising a great opportunity when he sees it, US President Obama has announced a series of measures to boost the demand for natural gas whose price there has recently plunged on surging supply due to ever improving extraction technology and rapid development of shale gas reserves.

Now, Obama’s proposals may not quite meet classic market strictures for policy initiatives: he wants tax breaks for trucks powered by gas and grants to communities who have ideas for encouraging the use of natural gas.

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Markets don't fail

Written by | Monday 23 January 2012

Led by the UK’s own prime minister, markets are under assault for causing all our current economic woes. Blaming “market failure”, David Cameron is trying to outbid Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband for policies to reform the market system.

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