Dementia tax

On the so called dementia tax…

Personally I think old people get far too much free stuff, but the old person is not really concerned about their wealth at that stage of their life. Its main effect is that it reduces the amount of wealth being passed on in their will. In other words, it’s an additional inheritance tax. I suspect that people haven’t yet fully absorbed this and over the next few weeks it will see the Tories lose votes from both the elderly who think they are being targeted and their middle aged children who understand the implications on their inheritance.

I think it’s possible (likely) at this stage that the Tories will only gain a small number of seats and that Labour will exceed their 2015 vote share.

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Neuroma updates…

Test run #2 went OK I think…

I did the same 3KM again but went much slower (6:10/KM vs 5:10 last time). My calf didn’t seize up afterwards this time but my hamstring feels tight enough to give a bit of resistance when I walk now, which I need to sort out because I don’t want it affecting my gait. This may be from weights rather than running.

I’ve had some twinges since. More than I would like but nothing too major. My foot felt tight in general in the evening but seemed to loosen off and relieve any vague aches after I did some manipulation to try to free up the metatarsals:

The massage therapist can help create space between the metatarsals by specifically stretching them. For some people, stretching of the toes in this manner might be torturous at first, especially in women who wear high heels. For others, stretching of the foot and toes actually feels wonderful. It is necessary to stretch the webbing between the third and fourth metatarsals, as well as the other metatarsals. This is done by grasping both toes and spreading them apart in a repetition-based stretch. Since the lesion will most likely be sensitive, short holds with several sets of 8-10 are beneficial. To open the tissue on the plantar foot near the third interspace, one toe can be pulled up while the other is pulled down. This is an intense stretch that replicates the Muldor’s sign, so it is important to be gentle. The forefoot can be stretched by grasping the calcaneus with one hand, while the other gently rotates the ball of the foot. Again, the movements are repeated in sets.

It feels acceptable so I will give it the rest of the week off and then I’ll go up to two runs next week.

I don’t think there is a long term case that it stays the same. Either activity will trigger a healing process and it will gradually get better, or it’s in such a state that activity will make it worse and it will need proper treatment. After 9 weeks off which basically seems to have been a waste of time, I’m feeling more open to finding out which.

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Election thoughts

At the moment the Conservative campaign makes me want to stab myself in the face. For all the attacks on Labour’s ambiguity, I have virtually no idea what a vote for the Conservatives means. The only policies they’ve been clear on are…

They want to legalise fox hunting, which doesn’t seem to be aimed at me because I’m not a psychopath. Grammar schools? Don’t care, I don’t know if they’re better or not, and that distinction doesn’t seem to have factored into the policy anyway. Workers’ rights? Well, the flagship policy turned out to be that I can take a year off work to care for someone, but I don’t get paid. I’m pretty sure I can stay at home and not get paid already, thanks. This isn’t exactly revolutionary.

I think that a vote for the Conservatives is a vote for higher taxes (because they’ve refused to commit to Cameron’s 2015 pledges not to increase them), no meaningful change on immigration (because they’ve committed to the same target they’ve had since 2010, under which immigration has soared, and been very wishy-washy over what brexit means for immigration), less spending on pensioners (because they’ve refused to commit to the triple lock), and a reduced chance of a hard brexit (because they’re neutralising Ukip and the nationalist wing of the Conservatives). But this is all guesswork and they could go either way. I thoroughly approve of scrapping the triple lock and of soft brexit, but they’re being intentionally ambiguous and treating voters like gullible idiots. I don’t entirely blame them for this as it’s a strategy that has worked well for them in recent history, but it does preclude me from considering them.

They’ve been pretty quiet on the stuff I care about, like: under their governance why has wage growth been below inflation more often than not, and what are they going to do about it?

Corbyn seems to be performing pretty well, all things considered. I have been pleasantly surprised. He is currently being clear and decisive and looks like a professional, which is in stark contrast to whatever the Conservatives are doing. It’s also in stark contrast to his performance as leader over the last two years, which is probably more indicative of his ability to run a country. With his strong performance in the campaign and weak performance from the Tories, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Labour dip only very slightly under their 2015 votes.

And as for the Lib Dems: Tim Farron is totally missing the point on everything, and while it seemed a few weeks ago they could safely count on my vote, I am completely unenthused.

I live in a Con/Lib marginal. I’m split between voting Lib to try to unseat the incumbent Tory (it won’t work) and spoiling my ballot. I will vote because I want to register discontent, but I don’t think I can support any of the options.

The main thing is that although this election seems to be amateur hour on every side, I think we’ll see a substantial change in direction from both major parties afterwards. Theresa May will have more power to ignore parliament, which may or may not be a good thing, and hopefully Labour will choose a leader who is not such a lost cause. It’d also be nice if Tim Farron stood aside, but I can’t see that happening unless the LDs gain literally 0 seats.

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I expect nothing and I’m still let down

This weekend the Lib Dems have unveiled two policies which make it very hard for me to vote for them. The first is a commitment to the pension triple lock and the second is increasing income taxes to fund the NHS.

Here’s the thing: The median earner in the UK, on a touch under £30k per year, already loses slightly under a third of their income in tax before it even reaches their bank account, then 20% on most purchases, and for younger people, there’s also the factor of rent prices, which is essentially an incredibly badly implemented welfare tax to support older people.

Most people already pay enough tax and don’t get much for it.

Committing to the triple lock is bad because it increases the tax burden on younger people to support old people. We have spent the last seven years aggressively cutting working age benefits while pensioners have been insulated from the struggles of everyone else. Alongside this, pensioner incomes at all but the highest percentiles exceed working age incomes – you have to go up to the top 20 percent before working incomes are higher than pensioner incomes (see graph below). There is no reason to continue transferring income from young people to old people because old people currently have more income!


Committing to rising income tax by 1p per pound to fund the NHS is also bad because most younger people are already net contributors to the NHS, so again, it increases the tax burden on young people to support old people. I am a youngish person who might make use of the NHS sometime in the near future to pursue surgery on my foot (morton’s neuroma). I estimate there’s a 50% chance of this happening. But here’s the kicker: the waiting list for actual treatment will be a few weeks to see my GP, then 2+ months to see a podiatrist and then it could easily be more than six months for surgery. Depending on how disruptive to my life the neuroma proves to be (and since I rely on the function of my foot to get to work, it could be very disruptive), I might decide that’s not acceptable and choose to go private, in which case, why am I paying taxes to support the NHS? I’m paying twice.

Sorry, Tim. I’m out.

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Test Run outcomes

The test run last Sunday (summary: short test run, after 7 weeks of rest) went almost as expected. Monday afternoon through to Tuesday afternoon I felt some neuroma discomfort and then it’s been OK since. I expected that, because I’ve been through this cycle on my right foot which eventually got better on its own. Unfortunately, the discomfort is much stronger than it ever was in my right foot, so I’m not feeling entirely confident.

I know I made some mistakes though:

1. I definitely went too fast and my left calf seized up around the same time that my foot started hurting, i.e. 36 hours later. It’s interesting that my right calf did not. I am fairly sure that calf tightness can compress metatarsals even at rest, because I’ve noticed before that vague neuroma aches sometimes go away with calf stretching. So adding unnecessary tightness in my calf is definitely not helpful. Lesson learnt: ease back into it, go much slower next time.

2. I wore the wrong shoes, but I couldn’t have known that before I ran. When this started flaring up, I bought some extra-wide New Balances to rule out the problem of lateral compression of my foot. I never had much success with them in the few times I ran in them as they tended to rub the inside of my left foot, along the side of my big toe and into my arch. This is a strange place for a shoe to rub and the best explanation I have is that my foot collapses too much (over-pronation) and causes friction against the inside of the shoe. As it happens I’m usually more concerned about the opposite (under-pronation), which wear patterns always used to confirm, so I suspect this is a semi-conscious error and I’m trying to roll away from the neuroma, but it results in a kind of shearing force across my foot. So, I think the NBs provide less support than my other shoes (despite both being neutral), and as the neuroma seems to have not benefited from the extra width, I should go back to my old ones, as well as making sure I’m not actively trying to roll my foot.

The original idea was to do another run this weekend, but I’m going to give it another week let it ‘reset’ more before I try again.

But as of next week, either it handles light running without getting worse or I go to the GP to start the ball rolling on more aggressive treatment, i.e. probably surgery. This will take months to sort out (NHS) so it makes sense to parallelise it with hoping it gets better on its own.

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The West Midlands Mayor election was pretty terrible. The only candidate to actually try to win was Andy Street, the Conservative candidate. He leafleted me quite a lot and his activists accosted me at the rail station a few times. I heard absolutely nothing from any of the others.

Despite this, Andy Street’s campaign was dreadful. Nowhere in his literature did he explain why he’d make a good mayor or commit to any kind of course of action if he became mayor. This information is similarly missing from his website. His website is more interested in obtaining donations and obtaining voluntary work. The superficially promising “Andy’s Plan” menu option takes you to a sign up form to harvest email addresses(!).

He’s like the candidate who turns up to an interview who, when asked why he wants to work there or what makes him qualified, looks confused for a while before suggesting that maybe you could give him some money. Although at least he turned up, which is more than anyone else did.

If Andy Street wins I’ll be disappointed and if anyone else wins I’ll be equally – or more – disappointed.

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Theresa’s Paradox

Today we see the paradox at the heart of brexit: That the UK is a strong and independent country that don’t need no EU, while simultaneously being so weak that it is being bullied by the big meanies at the EU.

For all his faults, were David Cameron still in charge, I don’t think his default reaction to things hotting up would be to blame bigger boys.

If you want to be perceived as a strong leader, the first step is to not stand around looking helpless while blaming other people.

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