Episode 101 – 9th September 2011

This week we take an evidence based approach to the 50p tax rate, find out what on earth a synchrontron is and find out what Robin Ince thinks of skepticism and the arts.

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50p Tax (2:30) by James Firth
Abortion Counseling (11:34) by Tania Glyde
The Spectre of Racism (15:46) by Henry Boddington
Four Lions (23:24) by Tom Williamson
Synchrotrons! (30:16) by James O’Malley & Liz Lutgendorff (ft Andy Dent)
Science Is Vital (39:12) by James O’Malley (ft Della Thomas)
CineSci6 (41:50) by James O’Malley (ft Paolo Viscardi & James Robson)
Skepticism and the Arts (44:06) by Trent Burton (ft Robin Ince)
The sketch was by David Lovesy and Brian Two
The song was written by Drew Rae and performed by David Lovesy

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4 thoughts on “Episode 101 – 9th September 2011

  1. Question for James Firth:

    As I understand it, Sales taxes, such as VAT, disproportionately affect the poor. Is this true, and if so, does our very high VAT mean that we’re actually more unjust than most economies?

  2. The short answer, VAT at 20% is not particularly high for a developed economy. 14 of 27 EU member states have VAT within 1% of UK rates. Only 3 have lower than 19%; and one of these, Spain, plans a 2% rise to 20%.

    VAT should not disproportionately affect lower-imcome households if applied, – as intended – only to luxury items. But there’s a blurring of the lines, with many examples of non-luxury items being taxed. Tampons is a classic case campaigners targeted back in the 90s, leading to a cut – but not a complete removal – of VAT on female sanitary products in 2000. It’s been at 5% since then.

    Obviously even 5% is morally questionable. Another campaign IIRC from my student days was VAT on female razors but not shavers targeted at men. Maybe someone else will check this and pick up the ball for a later episode?!

    But in summary, UK VAT is pretty much on a par with many developed countries. And at least price tags include sales tax, unlike e.g. the US, where your’re left doing the math(s) in your head before buying! then.

  3. That was a nice feature for the Diamond Light Source. Just a small point though – it doesn’t accelerate X-rays to the speed of light as James said a few times. It accelerates a beam of electrons and uses that beam to make the X-rays. X-rays travel at the speed of light all the time, just like light, because they are electromagnetic radiation just like light but with a longer wavelength.

    Call me a pedant if you like! I quite like it when people do. :)

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