In a horrible pageant, played out as if for the amusement of the gods, the UK voted to leave the European Union last week in what's been called a "triumph of democracy". Basically, some people got a bit carried away with how important Britain is, based mainly on the popularity of "Keep Calm and Carry On" posters, and so fucked it. Roundly, and possibly irreparably.
Since then it's been a proper return to the good old days: sterling plunged to a 31-year low; the UK has lost its AAA credit rating; racism and xenophobia are back in fashion – as are most far-right tendencies; the public can expect a rise in taxes; and millions of young people had their destinies castrated by the old. It's been a fucking tidal wave of nostalgia.
Since our "Independence Day" (a phrase which, considering Britain's history, seems a little cavalier) there have been whispers of a crushing recession, and the fiscal savant George Osborne has prophesied a rise in tax and a cut in public spending. Dominic Cummings, Vote Leave's director, has said, "I don't think it's Vote Leave's job to provide figures," because "accuracy is for snake-oil pussies." We'll be fine, guys! The economy is going to be fine!
Well, Cummings (if that is your real name), someone has to provide some figures, somewhere down the line. So, in the spirit of unity and snake-oil pussies everywhere, here are some overlooked Keynesian strategies that could prevent the UK from plummeting back into the Dark Ages – and maybe even allow those who need it most a little more money from the government man.
THE GREEN ELEPHANT
There is one thing that could save this country from the economic and moral spit-roasting it is currently enduring: the legalisation of marijuana. The green, green ganja. The toke plant. The ol' hasher hasher hashish.
If the United Kingdom just went and did the decent thing and legalised marijuana medicinally – not even recreationally! – the financial benefits are still projected to be £1bn a year. That's ONE BILLION POUNDS – and people in chronic pain, with epilepsy or terminal illnesses, have a chill and natural way of relieving their symptoms without having to put extra strain on the NHS: it's win-win-win.
Dispensaries would provide much-needed employment, cannabis farms would revive a struggling agricultural industry, and pretty much all of the £361 million spent every year policing the illegal trade and consumption of cannabis could be saved (and, taking Denver as an example, a 2.2 percent decrease in crime in general could be expected, further saving much needed police time and money.)
As a bonus, everyone would be a lot more chill about the country's peril.
INCREASE CORPORATION TAX
The idea here is pretty simple: increase corporation tax on large companies and potentially generate billions, plus save us all from those Facebook statuses from worthy friends who are like, "rlly need this book, guys, but don't want to use Amazon! any ideas?" or, "ugh, starbucks spelled my name wrong AGAIN."
The Panama Papers scandal revealed (among other things) billions of pounds being funneled, legally, out of the UK to tax havens under the guise of "shell" companies. We're still a leaky bucket with all our goodies pouring out all over the place. That was fine when we were an international super-power; now, we're the village idiot, and we can't afford to be charitable to the super-rich anymore, not even our own born and bread variety (the ones who pass laws and things). So we're finally going to have to do the right thing by hiking up corporation tax and clamping down on avoidance. It has been on a steady decline from 28 percent since 2010, so let's whack it up 35percent to make up for our last six years of generosity, and get an extra £6.4 million a year on top of the £43.0 million we already get.
(The only problem with this is no one wants to do business with Great Britain any more, and companies in the UK are already paying higher tax rates in a climate of corporation tax falls – which is probably why George Osborn has just announced he'll be slashing corporation tax from its current 20% to below 15% instead.)
It will probably come as a shock, but research shows that gambling machines in betting shops like William Hill are four times more popular in poor, northern cities, and London boroughs with high levels of unemployment. Those places are also where betting shops proliferate. Surely companies wouldn't intentionally target those struggling with the temptation of a short cut to a disposable income, surely. But they do.
Instead, bookies should be going for people who actually have something to lose: why not stick a couple of Corals in the City? I've heard mums on school runs complaining Parsons Green doesn't have anywhere near enough Ladbrokes, and the entire population of Gilford is gagging to get rid their hefty pensions, but they just can't find a Betfred close enough. We should help them out by sticking betting shops on their doorsteps too.
The revenue from gambling machines – dubbed by the Daily Mail as "'crack cocaine' machines" – is hardly small, with £562 million per year streaming into the government coffers; and surely these profits would only bulge if we had oligarchs and bankers addicted to "Rainbow Riches": thus stabilising our economy, and, who knows; maybe we'd have enough left over to improve Gamblers Anonymous programmes in the worst effected areas. If not, we'll have enough for bulldozers.
A TAX ON BANALITY
Facebook is the maestro of algorithms, so it will only take a coffee-break for them to create a little line of code to hunt down and issue an on-the-spot £100 fine anyone using the following words on the site, in all those pro-Remain conversations that are currently littering your timeline: "the country will sort itself out".
No, it won't. The country is not a single-celled organism, it is not a fungus or a half-dead cyclamen – it's not going to come back to life if you just put it out in the garden for six months and forget about it. Unless you're really up for a medieval-style potato bartering system, and a civil war – don't say that. Or do, and, under this new legislation, you'll actually be helping the country.
COPYRIGHT THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
One thing we have done, really really well, is create a language: and everybody's using it, for free! Well: time to pay the piper, suckers. Kanye West doesn't just give his songs away does he? No. And we should follow his example by creating a platform for English – and maybe some other successful languages, maybe form a sort of linguistic EU – to get the money it truly deserves. So: America, Australia and anywhere else that fancies using our language only spelling it wrong and saying it wrong: now you have to pay, per head, to download English's whole back catalogue – and we will only release new words on our service. You want to say "peng ting", America? That will be one million dollars or pounds.
If all else fails, we could just make the United Kingdom a crowdfunding page? idk
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