Quelle Surprise

Alex Cobham at the Tax Justice Network published this blog late last week and I think it worth sharing because it shows that whilst some in business now recognise that tax responsibility is an issue that they must address they are still a long way from being willing to address the issues in the way that commitment to the Fair Tax Mark would, for example, require. I share Alex’s disappointment that yet another PR exercise is distracting from what is really required:

The B Team, [who describe themselves] as the leading global group for responsible business, has released a report: ‘A New Bar for Responsible Tax‘. To our great sadness, it moves the bar in one direction – towards the bottom.

When the B Team first got in touch to discuss their plan to work with major multinationals to establish a new standard of tax transparency, we were excited. The one thing lacking so far in the process towards public country-by-country reporting has been a champion among the major multinationals – and that’s exactly who the B Team work with. Moreover, they have made some genuine progress towards beneficial ownership transparency for their own group structures. We felt their staff were on the right track, and we hoped that they would be able to take the business members with them.

It soon became clear that the members were less keen. But even so, the report which has now been released is desperately disappointing.

Competition for the Fair Tax Mark.

such a pity, eh?

Rilly?

Four things worry me.

First, that the whole of the first page fails to address any question asked.

Why not just refer them to other pieces on the blog which can be found through Google?

Works for some people apparently.

Well, yes, sorta, maybe

The “right to keep and bear arms” was included as the second amendment to the US constitution in 1791 (Report, 17 February). Surely it would be logical to restrict that right to the types of guns available at the time: muskets and flintlock pistols? Semi-automatic guns have no place in private hands.
Elaine Yeo
Enfield, Middlesex

The logical restriction would be to what you can make at home. On the very simple grounds that you’ll never really be able to regulate that anyway.

It’s amazing what you can make with a hobby CNC machine these days. There’s even that high school student who made a nuclear bomb (sans payload, to be sure).

The Guardian on Russian Trolls

It was from American political activists that they received the advice to target “purple” swing states, something that was essential to the ultimate success of the campaign.

Quite so:

To maximise the likelihood of your efforts making a difference, we’ve zeroed in on one of the places where this year’s election truly will be decided: Clark County, Ohio, which is balanced on a razor’s edge between Republicans and Democrats. In the 2000 election, Al Gore won Clark County by 1% – equivalent to 324 votes – but George Bush won the state as a whole by just four percentage points. This time round, Ohio is one of the most crucial swing states: Kerry and Bush have been campaigning there tire lessly – they’ve visited Clark County itself – and the most recent Ohio poll shows, once again, a 1% difference between the two of them. The voters we will target in our letter-writing initiative are all Clark County residents, and they are all registered independents, which somewhat increases the chances of their being persuadable.

Wibble

Most UK employers believe a woman should have to disclose if she is pregnant during a recruitment process, according to “depressing” statistics from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

The EHRC warned that many businesses were “decades behind the law” after a YouGov survey of 1,106 senior decision-makers revealed that a third of those working for private companies thought it was reasonable to ask a woman about her plans to have children in the future during the recruitment process, 59% said she should have to disclose if she is pregnant and almost half (46%) said it was also reasonable to ask a woman if she had small children.

Rebecca Hilsenrath, the chief executive of the EHRC, said the findings were “depressing” and accused many British companies of “living in the dark ages”.

“We should all know very well that it is against the law not to appoint a woman because she is pregnant or might become pregnant. Yet we also know women routinely get asked questions around family planning in interviews,” she said. “It’s clear that many employers need more support to better understand the basics of discrimination law and the rights of pregnant women and new mothers.”

EHRC is talking about what the law is. The companies are talking about what they think the law should be. These are not the same thing.

As the Senior Lecturer keeps telling us about tax…..

We should await Chris Snowdon’s take on this

Keep an eye on here.

The average Briton consumes 50 per cent more calories than they think they do, according to the first estimates from the Office for National Statistics.

The new data show that men are the worst at kidding themselves – typically consuming 1,000 more calories than they estimate every day – while women eat about 800 calories more than they account for.

My first take is:

The new PHE advice, in the One You nutrition campaign, will say adults should limit lunches and dinners to 600 calories each, with 400 calories for breakfast.

Those behind the campaign say overall recommended daily consumption levels are unchanged- at 2000 calories for women and 2500 for men – but that the guidance is a “rule of thumb” to help people cut back.

This is still markedly (like, 20%) lower than wartime minimum ration.

It still ain’t that we’re all eating more.

Hmmm

The husband of the murdered MP Jo Cox has resigned from the two charities he set up in her memory after being publicly accused of sexual assault.

Technically I think he’s her widower.

But I think I must be evil. Ungracious at the very least. For my immediate supposition on hearing about two charities is that this means two CEO salaries.

Some failure

The ideas of the modern left were primarily born out of a new kind of practice and some undeniable facts. Neoliberalism had failed. In the survival strategies adopted by governments it has become, as the economist William Davies writes, “literally unjustified”.

The socio-economic system which has caused the greatest reduction in absolute poverty in the history of our species has failed?

Witness intimidation now?

Having briefed the staff in the office in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, that an investigation was under way, the main part of the investigation commenced. During the investigation 40 witnesses were interviewed. While the investigation was still in progress, the line manager of one of the suspects leaked an investigation report to an unconnected member of staff.

This resulted in three of the suspects physically threatening and intimidating one of the witnesses who had been referred to in the report. This incident led to further charges of bullying and intimidation against these three members of staff.

Idiot damn stupidity

There is legitimate fear that GDPR will threaten the data-profiling gravy train. It’s a direct assault on the surveillance economy, enforced by government regulators and an army of class-action lawyers. “It will require such a rethinking of the way Facebook and Google work, I don’t know what they will do,” says Jonathan Taplin, author of Move Fast and Break Things, a book that’s critical of the platform economy. Companies could still serve ads, but they would not be able to use data to target someone’s specific preferences without their consent. “I saw a study that talked about the difference in value of an ad if platforms track information versus do not track,” says Reback. “If you just honor that, it would cut the value Google could charge for an ad by 80 percent.”

That is, the value to the advertiser is cut by 80%.

He’s arguing in favour of a reduction in economic efficiency……

Hip? Hippy? Hypocri…….

Feb 17:

Oxfam is to at least temporarily lose its access to government funding as a result of a tiny number of its staff committing acts

Feb 13:

And the result was abusive: Barclays gained from this.

But is there outrage? I have not heard it.

Has there been a call for banks to take the moral high ground, issued by ministers? No.

Has Barclays been threatened with the loss of all its public contracts? No.

Is it ‘coz Oxfam pays (or has paid) me and Barclay’s hasn’t?

So here’s what the actual complaint is

The moguls behind the world’s biggest pornography websites have been entrusted by the Government with policing the internet to keep it safe for children.

MindGeek staff have held a series of meetings with officials in preparation for the new age verification system which is designed to ensure that under-18s cannot view adult material.

Tens of millions of British adults are expected to have to entrust their private details to MindGeek, which owns the PornHub and YouPorn websites.

Critics have likened the company’s involvement to ‘entrusting the cigarette industry with stopping underage smoking’ and want an independent body to create the system instead.

If a commercially minded firm does this work then the work will be done in a commercially minded manner.

Tarquin and Jocasta won’t get a look in as part of the nascent bureaucracy therefore.

How terrible, eh?

Someone should ask Emma Watson

Completely off topic, but I see on the BBC that Emma Watson has donated £1m to something called the UK Justice and Equality Fund, which is a campaigning group on sexual harassment. As this does not appear to be a charity, and is not a registered political party, I assume she will be receiving a big inheritance tax bill from HMRC in due course, just as those donors to the Brexit campaign did?

A comment from Jim on this very blog.

Well, yes, obviously

The problem that Britain has, partly as a result of cultural and governmental promotion of ownership, is that renting is, objectively speaking, second best. You can currently pay more in rent than an owner would in mortgage interest

The owner has to finance and then also maintain, doesn’t she?

Willy Hutton’s mistake

OK, OK, just today’s mistake from Willy Hutton:

Cities have always been the load-bearers of economic and social advance: agglomerations of people are the source of creativity and scientific experimentation; they also create demand and then supply that demand. Cities are ever more important, but they need to be big – at least 2 million in population by some estimates –to create the scale on which diverse economies depend. London’s advantage, above all, is its size, although it has benefited hugely from an undeclared industrial strategy favouring financial services, the creative industries, its transport and, most recently, its education system. Being the capital doesn’t hurt either, while membership of the EU has attracted hundreds of companies to locate their headquarters there.

Birmingham and Manchester, England’s next biggest cities, need to be bigger and governed as regions to capture these agglomeration effects and organise strategies better to support themselves economically and socially.

Yep, agglomeration, all entirely true. It’s people interacting with people which create economic wealth. Great.

But note the elision there. Willy says that’s about governance. That is, he’s insisting that London’s wealth generation is coming from the GLC (or whatever it’s called now), therefore Brum should have a BLC etc.

London was one of the pre-eminent economies of the globe rather before the GLC existed. The economic wealth creation isn’t therefore reliant upon this method of governance.

But we don’t all agree love

Finally, something on which we can agree: charity officials ought not to buy sex. No one, so far, seems prominently to have argued, of the Oxfam employees’ misconduct in Haiti and Liberia, that, providing their female purchases were adult, and not coerced, then their prostitution should rightly be called sex work, that is: a perfectly dignified transaction, from which both sides – say, impoverished survivors of a disaster and benevolent male humanitarians – stood to benefit.

I have actually made the argument. Private transactions alleviated poverty, great!

We have yet, admittedly, to hear from Amnesty International, the human rights NGO, which now doubles as the world’s leading advocate of legalised prostitution. In 2015, a year that will forever be celebrated by its allies in the pimping and trafficking community, Amnesty committed to the decriminalisation of all aspects of “sex work that does not involve coercion, exploitation or abuse”.

That definition rather kills off pimping and trafficking, doesn’t it?