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Bend over — here it comes!

“What’re you in for, son?”

Garlic smuggling.

It tells you all you need to know about food taxes here that you’ll make an extra £8 million if you can smuggle your ton of Chinese garlic past the tax man.

Hey — been shopping? I don’t know about the States, but over here…oh, my sweet, fancy Moses! Have the prices gone up since Christmas! They kept everything steady and ran lots of sales before the holidays, but now…let ‘er rip!

Like most people (I assume), we buy the same things over and over, so we notice. Cheap cat food by the six pack: £2.99 a fortnight ago, £3.50 today. Butter, £1 to £2. Liquor…no, I don’t even want to talk about liquor.

I’m taking up smack. It’s cheaper.

And the sneaky bastards are covering it up. First, the sneaky bastards at the supermarket are all touting this “brand match” thing. They’re holding prices fairly even on the big brand name products, where they have a lot of margin to play with, and steadily rising the price of the lesser brands, store brands and generics. So the register receipts say, “you saved £5 today!”…on the price of Heinz beans or Smirnoff vodka, while the basic, minimum cost of eating goes up and up.

Second, the sneaky bastards in government are pegging inflation to things like house prices and new cars. Well, sure…house prices have dropped. And everybody’s terrified to buy the big ticket items like cars, if they don’t absolutely have to, so no. Those aren’t going up, either. Yay, no inflation!

Meanwhile, back in Meatworld, where people must eat, wear clothes, heat the house and gas up the car before they do anything else, costs are galloping away. Food and energy. Through. The. Freaking. Roof.

And if our farmer neighbors are any indication, we ain’t seen nothing yet. Costs of grain and other animal feeds went up sharply this year. So, to avoid having to feed herds and flocks through the Winter, many of them took the loss and sold off as much livestock as they dared in the Fall. So there’s an abundance of meat on the market…until it’s gone.

Oh, what larks!


Comment from Skandia Recluse
Time: January 9, 2013, 11:30 pm

Tax avoidance, gonna be a lot of that going around.

Comment from Redd
Time: January 10, 2013, 12:19 am

Food, electricity, heating, etc., have been going up since the ahole took office in 2008. I haven’t bought new clothes in a couple of years. I also live in a high sales tax state. All these advocates for the poor are full of it. You never hear them complaining about what really hurts people.

Comment from dissent555
Time: January 10, 2013, 12:29 am

“Comment from Skandia Recluse
Time: January 9, 2013, 11:30 pm

Tax avoidance, gonna be a lot of that going around.”

Yeah, when the underground economy goes underground. “Hey, it’s dark down here . . . and crowded.”

Comment from Gromulin
Time: January 10, 2013, 12:36 am

Chinese garlic scares me. I bought this little mesh bag of them, five for a buck, at the local farmers market (didn’t see the china sticker until later). I don’t know what chemical they treat them with, but it’s been about 3 weeks now and still no green shoots…scary. The “local” stuff seems to sprout after only a week or so on the counter. I just wrote way too much about garlic, didn’t I?

On the subject of inflation – It’s not that the price of guns and ammo went up, it’s that the value of the dollar has suddenly decreased.

Comment from QuasiModo
Time: January 10, 2013, 12:59 am

Agreed…it’s not prices going up, it’s currency values declining…Obama is printing money like it’s going out of style and thereby stealing from everyone that owns U.S. debt, which is almost everybody.

Comment from Anonymous
Time: January 10, 2013, 2:18 am


Weasel’s gone full Brit!

Comment from steve
Time: January 10, 2013, 2:22 am

(still not “Anonymous”)

BTW, I am giving serious thought to buying a nice little still.

When stuff starts going straight down the crapper, having a small side business, servicing the local moonshine trade, will have to be a serviceable trade.

Comment from Bruno Braun
Time: January 10, 2013, 2:29 am

You need big pockets to conceal a ton of garlic. You probably shouldn’t bathe for a week just to mask the smell of the garlic.

Comment from Allen
Time: January 10, 2013, 5:16 am

Woohoo! Meatspace, oh crap I forgot. Sold some steer type critters recently. Large sale price increase. Feed bill, ooph. I’m sure it’s just until we get stimulated… Again.

BTW I’m hiring, anyone want a job spitting plum wine at cattle, and massaging it in? I hear the Obamas are paying top dollar.

Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: January 10, 2013, 5:25 am

You know what THEY haven’t included in the CPI (over here in the states) for a while now? Energy prices. Hooray!

Guess what it takes to ship apples from the magical land of New Waterdirt*! (“Energy”)

Guess what it take to stay warm in Winter so you can surive to fulfill your rôlé as consumer! (Hint: it can be measured in watts over a persiod of time)

Oh, I need to do a thing. I wonder if there is some way to measure its effect. Gosh.

Good thing we need a metric for the price of items that doesn’t take into account the cost of moving, producing, or storing those items.

*Say “hallo” to all the fags at U of Otago, Dunedin for me.

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: January 10, 2013, 6:39 am

I think inflation has been around 7-10% for several years now in America, but since they count it so carefully most of that doesn’t show up in official numbers. Were a Republican in the presidency we’d have all these calls to change the calculus and tell the truth – and they’d be right.

Instead we get a press that whispers once in a while about higher prices and a White House that puts out rosy reports. And every time you go to the store the packages are smaller and the prices higher. And apparently people just don’t notice.

But they still can afford their smart phone and 6 dollar coffee every day, somehow.

Comment from Anonymous
Time: January 10, 2013, 10:03 am

And some in the uS are at least semi-seriously discussing minting trillion dollar platinum coins as the answer to these problems. Idiots, I say. “In for a penny, in for a pound”, after all. Let’s start with quadrillion dollar coins. We can always jack them up later…

Comment from Oceania
Time: January 10, 2013, 10:56 am

I’ve noticed that the US will implode shortly …

Comment from RimrockR
Time: January 10, 2013, 12:50 pm

Down here in the Arizona Territories we’ve noticed that the packaging/weight of staple products keeps getting smaller (esp. cereal) – that’s what you see in Mexico supermarkets – teeny-tiny boxes and cans of stuff. BTW – garlic is probably one of the easiest plants to grow – plant in the fall and just leave them be ’til early summer. It always amazes me how much the retailers charge for it. As for buying a still – that has crossed my mind too. I’m always planning for our bright future.

Comment from Nina
Time: January 10, 2013, 2:42 pm

We are so screwed.

Comment from mojo
Time: January 10, 2013, 3:44 pm

“What’re you in for, son?”
“Garlic smuggling.”

“…and they all moved away from me there on the Group W bench…”

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: January 10, 2013, 3:46 pm

I’m too lazy to dig out the calculator and too stupid to do the math in my head but there’s something bothering my sub-brain about the numbers in that article. According to the article we’re talking about 1.2 tonnes ( bigger than tons we simple ‘merican boys use) of garlic here. But anyhow, that’s about 2700 pounddes, right?
And the article is talking about lost TAX revenue, right? So what the HELL is the amount of tax on a pound of garlic in Sweden? I keep rejecting the answer that bubbles up in my brain, and thus leave the correct answer to you smarter people.

By the way, I rather like the sentence, “What the HELL is the tax on a pound of garlic in Sweden?”. I’m going to a party tomorrow and I’m already working on a way to casually work it into a conversation over drinks.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 10, 2013, 4:06 pm

I tried to work that out myself, Some Veg, but I’m famously innumerate.

That’s about 2,600 pounds, isn’t it? So, it’s 8 million divided by 2,600 (am I right?), which gives something like £3,076 tax per pound? See, that’s when I decided I must be a ‘tard and gave up. That cannot be.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: January 10, 2013, 6:32 pm

I can remember a time when “8m” in a newspaper article would have been read as referring to 8,000. That was then, in America, and this is now in the UK–but if you use 8,000 rather than 8,000,000, the figure comes down to 2.976 pounds tax per pound of garlic. Which still seems a tad high. (Um. A tonne is 2240 pounds)

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 10, 2013, 6:41 pm

The internet tells me there are about eight bulbs of garlic in a pound. So, we go £2.976 divided by 8 is 37p tax on a bulb of garlic? No, that doesn’t sound right, does it? I’m sure I’ve seen a bulb of garlic for 50p.

It’s mystery.

Comment from mojo
Time: January 10, 2013, 6:42 pm

Tonne: 1000 kilograms = 2200 lbs.
Ton: 2000 lbs.

Comment from MikeW
Time: January 10, 2013, 10:41 pm

This is precisely why I am absolutely against the US implementing a ‘National Sales Tax’ like the VAT. Every single country that has put one in place for only a few [just the tip] percentage points quickly ramps up to the 20-something [full thrust] percent zone. This means that the government has a vested interest in consumer prices going up!

At first flush it’s a good thing that everyone is paying the tax, not just the wage earners. In actual practice it just means larger handouts for the increased ‘cost of living.’ The truth is that it’s better that tax come from income so government has a vested interest in higher wages and greater employment.

Googling on this garlic nonsense I found that UK has different tax rates for fresh and for frozen garlic which employs a bunch of bean govt. bean counters I suppose. Here’s an Irish dude who got 6 years for avoiding the 232% tax on garlic:

PS. Swease, 16p taxed at 232% is 37p. Add them together would be about 52p. That’s about what it costs where you are? Freaking Ouch!

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: January 10, 2013, 10:45 pm

Okay Quiz Kids:
Extracted from the article for your word problem for your homework tonight

“…the men had shipped the 1.2 tonnes of Chinese garlic…”

1.2 tonnes is 2645.5471 pounds


“…the men had avoided $13.1m (£8m) in Swedish taxes through the scheme.”

£8M is $12848020.51 dollars (note that the $13.1m is very close to the $12.8M assuming that the calculation was done earlier in the year when dollar wasn’t so valueless that you could get $1Trillion into one coin, like Weimar Germany)


I get £3023.95 per pound or(at 8 cloves per pound ) £377.99 per clove.

Since that can’t be right….. either my math is as lousy as I suspect; the article is wrong; or if my math and the article are both right, I’m forming a Swedish-bound garlic smuggling ring.

Oh, and Can’t Hark – the current convention is ‘K’ for thousands, ‘M’ for millions, and ‘Obama’ for trillions.

Comment from Gromulin
Time: January 10, 2013, 10:55 pm

I see I’m not the only one hooked on “Moonshiners”. Only “reality” show I can stand besides Top Shot. Gotta love Tickle. I’m on team Mark / Jeff though. In the real world, if’n you ran across those boys’ still, I think you’d end up at the bottom of that lake feedin the catfish and crawdads. Them’s some deep-woods hillbillies. How can we get some of those guys elected to congress?

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: January 10, 2013, 10:58 pm

And Mike….

We may not have to go as far afield as Sweden or even England to make garlic smuggling worth while. After reading your link, I checked on the U.S. import duty on Chinese garlic:

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) said in a statement that revoking the existing anti-dumping duty order on fresh garlic from China would be likely to lead to continuation or recurrence of material injury within a reasonably foreseeable time. All six commissioners voted in the affirmative.

This is the third five-year review since November 16, 1994 when the duty was first introduced. As a result, the existing order on imports of this product from China, which was used principally as a food product and for seasoning, will remain in place. The duty margin runs at 376.67 percent.


Comment from Sigivald
Time: January 10, 2013, 11:38 pm

If doing my math right, that’s $5450/lb in tax.

So presumably the idea is to prevent anyone importing any garlic whatsoever.

(On the other hand, this source suggests it’s an EU tax, not a Swedish tax.

So at least there’s that – and thus obviously a “only buy EU-grown garlic” protectionist policy.)

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Time: January 11, 2013, 9:31 pm

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