clhollandwriter: (Default)
To say I'm tired of politics right now is an understatement.

We've got Trump over in the USA, mooning North Korea and apparently trying to start World War Three. He also seems to be trying to find out if it's possible to bankrupt a country through playing golf. From an outsider's perspective, it appears that no one over there actually knows how to deal with a president with no real interest in doing the job, and so they (and by extension the rest of us) are stuck with him for four years.

Here in the UK we have Brexit and the Tories. It probably hasn't escaped anyone's notice that Theresa May's called for a snap General Election, that will coincidentally make the Tory election fraud investigation go away, and probably reduce the opposition to them in Parliament, allowing them to push through a hard Brexit, further dismantling of the NHS, and whatever the hell else they like. The fact that this is on top of the PM saying that Scotland can't have a second referendum on independence because of the "destabilising effect" it will have so close to Brexit is just the cherry on top of the hypocrisy cake as far as I'm concerned. They don't think the possibility of replacing the whole government will be destabilising at all?

Honestly, I don't think they do. None of the other parties will have time to prepare anything like a reasonable campaign, but you can guarantee the Tories have been planning this for some time. The Labour party are tearing themselves apart over Jeremy Corbyn, and I doubt very much will unite behind him for the sake of the country. The Liberal Democrats still haven't been forgiven for the mess they made over the Coalition. There isn't a viable opposition, so what this will do is cement the Tories in power for another five years, with a larger majority, during which they can do whatever the fuck they like.

So I'm angry, and I'm tired. And tired of being angry. I live in a Tory stronghold, prior to that I lived in a Labour/Plaid Cymru stronghold. I've always voted (except that one time I fucked up my postal vote) but my vote has never, ever, made a difference. I keep doing it because otherwise I have no right to complain about the outcome - except it apparently doesn't even give me that these days. I don't think I've seen a single discussion of Brexit that doesn't degenerate into (if it doesn't start with) "You lost, stop complaining and suck it up" from a Brexiteer troll who apparently doesn't understand how democracy works.

Democracy means that even a minority opinion still gets a voice. That's why we have opposition parties. That's why opposition parties get seats in Parliament. There are checks and balances that stop the majority party running roughshod over everything (and yes, that includes the House of Lords). If you're too stupid to understand that you really have no business voting on the X-Factor, let alone the serious business of government. But I guess that's what we get when we treat a referendum like a reality TV show.

And yet, this is how we're doing Brexit. "Brexit means Brexit" and anyone who doesn't agree with Theresa May's vision is told to shut up. All this General Election will do is cement that, because there won't be anyone left in Westminster with a strong enough voice to question. It will further validate the trolls on social media, and all those racists who have come squirming out of the woodwork. Like the woman on the bus a couple of months ago who screeched "EU Out!" at a man who was only guilty of queuing while Spanish. I live in area dependent on tourism and English language schools, but hey let's just send all those kids from the EU home and fuck the economy, shall we.

I think what's made me most angry is the sense that the whole thing is being run by Basil Fawlty. We don't have a plan, or if we do it was written down on the side of a bus somewhere. We want all the benefits of a relationship with the EU, but none of the compromise - tapas bars but not the people who actually run them. I keep hearing that things will be better after Brexit, but so far I haven't seen any proof. And I'm getting tired of asking for it.
clhollandwriter: (poppy)
If you've been following EU writers and other sellers of "digital services" on Twitter lately, you might be aware of something called VATMOSS. The thing is, you might not. It's about to  become law on 1st January, but HMRC and other tax authorities seem to have been particularly lax on actually telling anyone about it.

There are a vast number of links flying around about it (and I'll collect some together when I get the chance) but here's the short version: instead of using the seller's rate of VAT, purchases will use the buyer's. This is not a particularly big deal by itself, but here's the kicker. The VAT registration threshold from 1st January will be nil.

Yes, that's right. If you run a hobby business selling digital copies of knitting patterns from your kitchen table, you will be required to sort out VAT as soon as you sell anything for one unit of the currency of your choice.

There are three ways to approach this: 1) become VAT registered in any country in which you trade in the EU (there are 27 to chose from); 2) if you're in the UK become VAT registered in that country only and use their VAT Mini-One-Stop-Shop (VATMOSS - I don't know if other countries in the EU have their own version); 3) use third parties (eg Amazon) who do all this for you.

Actually, there's a fourth approach: stop trading. I'm hearing a lot of people on Twitter saying the burden of VATMOSS is pushing them down this route.

Here are the problems with the first three options:
1) Becoming VAT registered in 27 countries requires a lot more time and admin than most micro-businesses have the capacity for, or the cash for if it comes to hiring an accountant.
2) Becoming VAT registered in only the UK still requires the burden of quarterly VAT returns, something which most owners of micro-businesses don't have the time or cash for.

In additional, both of these options come with the additional burden of having to prove the location of the buyer. Traders
will need to collect 2 different non-contradictory pieces of information about where the buyer lives. Not only is there a logistical problem with this - particularly as Paypal has stated that it would be in breach of data protection to provide this information at all - but also sellers may be required to register for data protection in any of the EU countries they sell in. This is not something that sole traders can support. I'm not sure consumers will be happy with their personal details sitting on someone's laptop on the kitchen table for a decade, either.

3) As far as I can tell - and there hasn't been confirmation of this, along with a lot of other things in this clusterfuck - sellers using a third party are expected to check that it is compliant with the new VAT rules. Amazon sent an email earlier this week to confirm it will be.
I've contacted both Smashwords and Draft2Digital on Twitter to find out if they'll be compliant come January 1st. Neither has answered, which I assume is a no.

Oh, haven't I mentioned? The EU somehow expects this to be enforceable worldwide. I honestly don't see how the EU expects to police this, or indeed to force third parties outside the EU to be compliant with the new rules. For a lot of these third party sellers, the easiest option will be simply to stop trading into the EU at all. I expect this to be the route most of them take.
America, China, and India are big enough markets that they can live without the digital backwater the EU is about to become.

The fifth option (and apologies for this becoming a bit like the Spanish Inquisition sketch) is to stop trading in the EU. I'm guessing a lot of the smaller marketplaces will just do this. It may or may not be illegal for EU businesses to go down this route - and then we're back on ceasing trading.

I saw something on Twitter yesterday (apologies I didn't keep the link) that Google has changed the Terms and Conditions of its Helpmeets that you can no longer charge customers in the EU.

If Google aren't prepared to deal with the VAT changes what the hell chance do the rest of us have?

What's making this whole situation worse is that November was the first most UK micro-businesses heard of it. I've been filling in tax returns as a sole trader for the last seven or eight years, and I've yet to hear anything from HMRC about the new rules I have to follow. I found out about it on Twitter. I don't know how traders who aren't on social media are going to find out, since the mainstream media isn't bothered by it and no one in HMRC or the government seems to want to do it.

There is a petition on to ask for the VAT threshold to be maintained so that micro-businesses aren't affected. It needs another three and a half thousand or so signatures (it already has in excess of 11k) so please consider signing it if you know anyone who'll be affected by this and haven't already. Vince Cable has already responded, but he clearly hasn't looked at the issues involved. His response boils down to "very few businesses will be affected and this was communicated ages ago". An independent survey (link when I find it - this was a couple of weeks and a cold ago) suggested that actually 250,000 business will be affected in the UK alone. And HMRC has admitted it only consulted businesses that were already VAT registered, which is a bit like banning sausages and only telling vegetarians.

At this point it's becoming impossible to tell if this is honest and damaging incompetence, or a deliberate attempt to put the uppity proles back in their place working for other people instead of themselves.

There's also a survey aimed at the EU as a whole, to collect data about the businesses that will be affected. Again, please consider signing if this is you.

This is going to affect pretty much everyone, even if they're not direct sellers. I only sell via third parties, but will need to take my books from Smashwords by the end of the year. I also need to review if it's viable to keep them on Amazon at all. Although they'll be compliant, the differing VAT rates - up to 27% in some cases - will mean either having to hike up the price of books to compensate, or lose the difference from already tiny profits. I'm not honestly sure it's worth it, and I'm super glad I didn't give into the urge to redo my ebook covers earlier in the year.

It doesn't end there. The plans are to roll this out to physical products in the next year or two, at which point you can say goodbye to POD via anyone but Createspace, and to craft sites like Etsy or Folksy. So if you're a direct seller of craft items, or sell through third parties who don't already deal with the VAT for you, you might want to make your voice heard now, before your business is destroyed as well.
clhollandwriter: (Marvin)
So this morning, I discovered a note on one of my forum posts accusing me, and another member, of misogyny.

The exchange in question was one where I made a joke about someone accusing me of whoring my reprints around (not the term this person had used, I was being snarky) rather than letting them make money from selling it themselves. Someone else made a joke about my joke, and we were were accused of "using the language of misogyny".

I really don't appreciate being judged, especially not by someone who played no other part in the conversation and made no attempt to do so. And I can't help but wonder if their problem came from the fact that the other forum member was male, and that I go by my initials on that site because it's the name I write under. Maybe she (and I'm assuming from her username that she's female) assumed I was male too. Because what woman would used such a loaded term as "whore"?

Well, I would actually.

I used the word in the sense of somebody selling a good or service for money. Men can be whores. They can also be sluts, the other word used in the exchange. I've known a few of those. I wasn't aiming the word at anyone, merely saying I'd been implied as being one myself for choosing to make money from my intellectual property.

Perhaps I should have used the word prostitute instead, although that seems to me like semantics and reeks of the kind of questions we're seeing over the use of the word vagina in American politics. I don't appreciate other people telling me I don't have access to my own language because it offends them. There is a world of difference between using a word to offend and using a word that others incidentally find offensive. It's like telling homosexuals they can't use the word queer, because it might offend others of the same sexuality. Likewise anyone using a term traditionally used against them.

Women can reclaim words too, just like the LGBT community and people of colour can. I'm a woman, and I'll say someone accused me of being a whore if I want to. That doesn't make it okay for a man to call me a whore, and that doesn't make it okay for anyone to try and silence me.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
Originally posted by [ profile] la_marquise_de_ at If you only do one thing today...
Originally posted by [ profile] seph_hazard at If you only do one thing today...
Originally posted by [ profile] ozisim at If you only do one thing today...
...make sure that ALL Geeks can get married if they want to!

Dear UK Flisters,

I know I'm preaching to the choir with you guys when it comes to LGBT equality, but believing something is fair and actually getting off your bum and doing something about it doesn't always follow like it should. So here's a little (and slightly preachy) reminder!!

Three things I'd like you all to do before you go to bed tonight (if you haven't already)

1/ Go here and sign the C4EM's petition for marriage equality. This is the simplest and probably most visible way to show your support. It currently has 60,000 signatures -- the petition against (by C4M) has over 500,000!!!

2/ Go here and fill out the government's consultation. It might take a little bit longer, but you can bet that for every pro-person who doesn't find the time, there will be dozens of 'anti' people who will.

3/ Email your MP. There's a handy template there for you to use so you don't even have to think of what to say. Also, you can go here to see where your MP stands on the issue. A hugely important thing to do because the majority of MPs will be voting with their conscience rather than following the party line, so make sure you let yours know your feelings.

4/ Okay, so I lied. There's actually a fourth thing. And that is simply spread the word. The consultation ends in two day - it's our last chance to get as many people mobilised as possible. So tweet it, Facebook, blog it, beat your friends and family around the head with it until they give in!!! And if you want to repost to your own journal (and please feel free to edit), here's an ever-so helpful button

clhollandwriter: (Default)

Found via [ profile] aliettedb  and [ profile] truepenny , but originally posted by [ profile] suricattus here.

There is a move afoot in the nation -driven by the GOP - to repeal the new health care laws, to protect corporate interests, to defend against fear-mongering (and stupid) cries of "socialism!", and to ensure that people are forced to choose between keeping a roof over their heads or getting necessary health care.

This movement is killing people.

Think I'm overstating the fact?

Ask the friends and family of writer/reviewer Melissa Mia Hall,
who died of a heart attack last week because she was so terrified of medical bills, she didn't go see a doctor who could have saved her life.

One person. Not the only one. That could have been me. Yeah, I have access to insurance -- I live in New York City, which is freelancer-friendly, and have access to freelancer advocacy groups. Through them, I can pay over $400/month ($5,760/year) as a single, healthy woman, so that if I go to the hospital I'm not driven to bankruptcy. But a doctor's appointment - a routine physical - can still cost me several hundred dollars each visit. So unless something's terribly wrong? I won't go.

Someone who lives in a state where there is no Freelancer's Guild or MediaBistro to put together an insurance plan for freelancers? Someone who has been laid off or downsized, and can barely make ends meet? SoL.

That could be you. That could be your best friend. That could be someone you've never met. That could be any of us - because there are people out there who think that taking care their neighbor is someone else's problem.

No. It's our responsibility. All of us, together. As a nation.

EtA: Nobody is trying to put insurance companies out of business. They will always be able to offer a better plan for a premium. We simply want to ensure that every citizen - from infant to senior citizen - doesn't have to choose between medical care, and keeping a roof over their heads, or having enough to eat.

We're trying to get this to go viral. Pass it along:

I won't watch another friend die because they can't afford healthcare. Save the Affordable Care Act! #ForMMHall #HCR

From my own point of view, living in a country with a "socialised" healthcare system, I'd suggest anyone who's against such a thing in the US get the real facts about it from the people who live with one - rather than from those with an agenda of their own.

[ profile] mevennen 's post is a good place to start.

My own experience - I've not yet had a major condition that's thrust me into the care of the NHS, but I've had a number of minor problems over the years that were scary enough without added fears of bankruptcy. As a child I constantly suffered from tonsilitis, and I dread to think what the six-monthly rounds of doctor's appointments and medication would have done to the family finances if we'd had to pay for them. I've had relatives have strokes, heart attacks, die of cancer.... All horrible things, and I can't imagine how much worse they would be with the constant spectre of huge bills.

Without getting too personal, there's one example I'd like to give: I know someone, a woman in her sixties who lost her husband and lives alone. She started going blind from cataracts. She doesn't like to be a "bother" and prefers to spend her money on her grandchildren than herself. If she hadn't had the ability to have the cataracts removed on the NHS, she wouldn't have done it. Rather than be a bother to anyone, and waste all that money, she'd have gone blind.

I bet there are hundreds like her in the US who have gone, or will go, blind. How any civilised country can allow that to happen to anyone is beyond me.


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