Asian Raspberry Pi

English: Extract from Raspberry Pi board at Tr...
Raspberry Pi - almost actual size. Image via Wikipedia

For those not aware, Raspberry Pi is an initiative to supply incredibly low-cost, tiny little computers for school children to use. They retail at $25 for a standalone model and $35 for one with a network port soldered on. They’re also being distributed by a non-profit charity. A wonderful idea and I’ll be buying one once they go into full production.

Even better – from a pride point of view – is that it’s a British company doing this. The aim was to make it as British as possible including the manufacture. Sadly, this hasn’t been possible.

To keep the price point low, the actual building of the board has had to be done in the Far East. Partly this is down to manufacturing costs and availability of plants wherein the work could be done. What really stinks, though, is that even the closest British plants in price ended up being non-viable due to a ridiculous policy on import duty.

You see, if you have something like this manufactured abroad and imported in then the finished product incurs zero tax. However, if you import in the individual components these themselves do attract duty. Hence importing the bits to have the system built in the UK is more expensive than paying a factory in China (or wherever) to build them and then just shipping in the finished products.

And we wonder why we have no sizeable electronics industry in this country any more.

Full marks to the Raspberry Pi people for their openness and honesty. Minus several million to the idiots at the Inland Revenue for a somewhat inexplicable policy.

[BBC article which prompted this post]

UPDATE: Someone’s started a government-targeted e-petition regarding the issue.

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The benefits of being famous

I just read on the BBC News site that Wesley Snipes has been sentenced to three years in jail for being famous. OK, so not quite true but close enough. His actual charges were tax evasion but the judge stated that an example had to be made of him as he was famous, despite being of good character.

Isn’t this just a little bit unfair? Surely a person should be judged and sentenced based purely on the circumstances, severity and so forth of the crime involved and on their past behaviour, risk of re-offending and so forth?

The other thing that niggles me is the large sentence for what’s effectively a white collar crime – a financial one. A financial one in which the government were the victim. How come stars who drink-drive or get caught in some drugs scandal don’t get similar harsh treatment? Is it just the fact that the taxman’s involved which gets the stakes raised as they want to frighten people into giving them money?

I just find it rather… well, amusing isn’t the right word, but – bonkers that a corrupt government can kick up a stink about not getting their cash so much when there are far more serious crimes being committed. Face it, the US government wouldn’t miss Snipes’ back-taxes if they weren’t haemorrhaging cash in the Middle East courtesy of the  Midget Oil Baron Of Doom who’s currently ensconced in the White House.

Or maybe Snipes just had a shit lawyer and should have got the one who got Kiefer Sutherland down to 48 days for drink-driving. A sentence he was going to serve in fits and starts around filming until the writer’s strike screwed him over.