I am almost tempted to prepare a paper for this conference

Call for papers for a Research Workshop

SHOULD NATION STATES ‘COMPETE’?

City University, London, 25th / 26th June 2015

The 2015 research workshop co-organised by the Association for Accountancy & Business Affairs, City University, and the Tax Justice Network, will explore the notion of national ‘competitiveness’. This opens up possibilities for papers on a wide variety of themes, including tax wars (tax ‘competition’), the dynamics of ‘beggar-thy-neighbour’ politics, regulatory degradation, regulatory arbitrage, policy responses to ‘competitiveness’ pressures, and the impact of ‘competitiveness’ policies on home countries and third party countries.

Other related themes are likely to emerge as the workshop programme develops.

Offers of papers are especially welcome and early submission of an abstract of no longer than 300 words is encouraged. All submissions will be considered by the organising committee.

This workshop will bring together researchers, academics, journalists, policy staff of civil society organisations, consultants and professionals, elected politicians and/or their researchers, and government or international organisation officials.

The purpose of the workshop is to facilitate research through open-minded debate and discussion, and to generate ideas and proposals to inform and shape the political initiatives and campaigns already under way.

There will be a small charge for attendance at the Workshop. Participants are usually expected to finance their own travel although applications from students and others with limited means for bursary support will be considered.

More information about this workshop is available from: John Christensen, Tax Justice Network, john@taxjustice.net

competitiveness, race-to-the-bottom, regulatory arbitrage, Research Workshop, tax wars

My paper would, of course, state that tax competition is a wonderful thing. For it a) lowers the tax burden and b) moves us away from the harmful taxation of capital and corporations, to a lesser extent labour, and toward the taxation of the least mobile factors of production, land and resource rents.

Slightly concerned about the idea that I’d have to pay to present it: but it would perhaps be worth it for the joy of annoying them all so.

Thing is, I cannot see their definition of open minded debate and discussion including someone who so obviously has an, err, different answer to their main question. After all, I’ve already been disinvited to one such conference because some of the delegates, those looking for open discussion, objected too vehemently to what they thought I might say.

Pity that.

32 comments on “I am almost tempted to prepare a paper for this conference

  1. This opens up possibilities for papers on a wide variety of themes

    But from an exclusively narrow range of viewpoints.

  2. If the ill-named Tax Justice Network had a leg to stand on, they would welcome a paper from you to publicly demolish your position. But they don’t and they can’t, so they won’t.

  3. I wouldn’t bother Tim.

    Even if you did get to present at the conference they wouldn’t listen and they certainly wouldn’t learn.

    Any façade of ‘openness’ is an illusion, they only want presentations from “right minded people” (i.e. lefties and watermelons) who understand that the use of force is the only message the Plebs understand.

    Your talk of liberalisation and freedom would have them choking on their organic Vichyssoise.

  4. Worstall

    The problem is not what you would be saying, but rather that there’s years of naked aggression on this website connected to attacking various people who don’t hold your view.

    Why should they invite such a childish tit?

  5. Tim,
    This is the give away “…and to generate ideas and proposals to inform and shape the political initiatives and campaigns already under way.”
    So does your proposed paper support the political initiatives and campaigns already under way?

  6. Arnald, you seem to have become confused again. Your comment, obviously meant for Mr Murphy’s blog,has ended up here by mistake.

  7. Arnald,

    Tim regularly insults Murphy. So what? Calling people “stupid” is a long-standing traditional part of debate. It’s not “naked aggression”; it’s ridicule.

    Here’s the thing. You can come on here and call Tim a wanker, and then you can come back and do it again. You don’t get blocked or banned. But if anyone goes to Murphy’s place and even politely disagrees with his views on economics, they are banned.

    So which is the bigger problem: insulting people or being completely closed-minded?

  8. squander

    once again people are not understanding.

    Murphy’s blog is an extension of him, therefore I imagine he sees it as a professional exercise. Worstall’s blog is a stream of consciousness that has no purpose except to entertain himself. They are different things, Worstall is not pushing an agenda.

    If I didn’t know either and I had to research who I wanted to speak at a conference, say on tax competition, it’s clear that after a few minutes who it would have to be.

    If I wanted someone to speak about how there’s no sex trafficking or why there’s no poverty, or aren’t the gayers funny, or why people of a dusky hue are dusky, maybe even a rant about something that involves wanting someone to hang, then Worstall wins.

    It’s nothing to do with comments policies, I think you’re all going blind with that, it’s to do with owning the content and wanting to control what gets published.

  9. If I didn’t know either and I had to research who I wanted to rant at a conference, say on tax competition, it’s clear that after a few minutes who it would have to be.

    There, fixed it for you Arnald.

  10. Tim

    It would be cheaper and just as effective if you posted them a curry cr@p in a package, the morning after a hot vindaloo and a few beers. It would provoke the same reaction from the person opening the envelope as one of your papers.

  11. Nothing should be called a workshop unless it contains at least a bandsaw, lathe or drill press – I suspect the most this “workshop” will contain is a vice (or probably several mis-labelled as virtues)

  12. @Mr Lud & obligato
    No use of the word “workshop” where hands will not become dirty & floors require sweeping, needs treating with the slightest seriousness.

  13. Might one, I wonder, persuade Mr Murphy Richards of the Justice for Taxes website to present a paper. He seems to be an expert on these matters, and it would be interesting to see how far through the selection process he managed to get.

  14. For me a workshop must at the very least contain a) a welder, b) a heavy bench vice c) at least one adjustable spanner and most important of all, a large sledge hammer for ‘making things fit’.

  15. Asking the question, “Should Nation States compete?” is like asking the question, “Should the sun rise in the east?”. IOW, as a result of the Prisoner’s Dilemma, nation states will always compete in order to maximize the economic benefits (jobs, VAT, corporate tax, consumption etc.) to their country. In short, politicians do not get into or remain in office because they enact policies beneficial to another jurisdiction but harmful to their voters.

    A recent high profile example is Ireland. Occasionally to neuter international noise they will pull a nice PR job like saying they will “close down the double Irish”. In reality they gave a grace period for those who have not already put this in place and then a longer grace period for those who have the structure to adjust it slightly to continue to reap its benefits. Irish economic benefit continues unabated and the half-informed press laps up the artificial cream filled eclair of apparent capitulation. Irish politicians then quietly engage in even more tax competition by bringing in new patent box legislation, which the international press doesn’t even notice because they are still focused on the eclair. I haven’t seen anything this smooth since Richard Branson said he left the UK not for tax reasons but to practice yoga on Necker Island!

    As for the premise, “beggar they neighbour”, the jurisdiction that lost this time because they were uncompetitive today can compete better tomorrow. I am sure they didn’t talk about “beggaring they neighbour” when they were the beneficiaries.

    Finally for those who use the phrase “race to the bottom”, they obviously have never heard of the law of diminishing returns. Those engaging in “tax competition” are quite cognizant of “economic optimization”. In short, while they might sacrifice possible tax revenue for something like employment, they will never do it for no possible benefit.

  16. David Lesperance

    It is possible for states to agree not to compete. International treaties can prohibit certain acts. Countries can prevent profit shifting through legislation. This isn’t a one shot prisoner’s dilemma. It is a repeated game with the possibility of (partial) commitment and as such is not straightforward.

    To the extent that this workshop is about such ideas, it is no bad thing in and of itself.

    To be fair to Tim, I think he would put forward perfectly decent arguments in favour of competition, and I am sure that the likes of TJN and their ilk will be ill informed and ignorant.

  17. What possible motivation would a country have for entering into a bilateral or multilateral treaty to stop engaging in a completely legal activity which is economically beneficial to them with no corresponding benefit. I agree that it is theoretically sign such a treaty but in the real world they never will actually enact it.

  18. This is all a smokescreen by TW.His ideas on taxing land values rather than wages and profits would go down a storm at this conference because they are in the mainstream of their kind of debate. And he knows it.
    He has to pretend to be opposed to anything except High Tory Anarchy to keep his supporters (you lot) and, one suspects ,his influential allies happy.The Adam Smith Institute, for instance, pumps out 100% High Tory Anarchy bullshit but Adam Smith
    himself was the biggest land taxer writing in English. Worstall is a tragic figure because he has to keep the assorted loonies,fruitcakes and closer racists happy by spouting the ASI line that free markets solve all known problems while actually being true to Adam Smith’s much bigger message.
    He should go to this do! The many land taxers there could do with his support (from such an unexpected quarter) .
    And you lot can wake up. Worstall is a bigger landtaxer than me.

  19. David Lesperance

    Actually there are lots of reasons why countries enter into such treaties – precisely because there are benefits to them, which they could fail to reap if they could not commit through treaties.

    Remember the prisoner’s dilemma ends with a Nash Equilibrium that is worse for both parties than the opposite outcome, but not as good for one of the parties if they can defect from the agreement. Since it is a multiple round game, the prisoner’s dilemma need not end in the confess, confess outcome anyway (depending on pay-offs, discount rates and strategies), but the use of treaties is a way for commitment ex ante.

    The anti-bribery convention of the OECD is an example of a law that hurts the home country, but has long run pay-offs if a large enough proportion of the world can be convinced to participate.

  20. ken,

    > Actually there are lots of reasons why countries enter into such treaties – precisely because there are benefits to them

    I think this was actually David’s point. They do it for the benefits — i.e., they are competing. Bilateral agreements not to compete are misleading: the competition still occurs, but during the negotiations over the agreement.

  21. Arnald,

    > Murphy’s blog is an extension of him, therefore I imagine he sees it as a professional exercise. … It’s nothing to do with comments policies … it’s to do with owning the content and wanting to control what gets published.

    That is an entirely good and fair reason not to have comments on one’s blog. It is not a good reason to have comments and to make a point of talking about how important debate is while rigorously deleting anything that doesn’t completely agree with you. People who insist on surrounding themselves with sycophants are to be avoided and ignored. When such people make films, we get The Phantom Menace. I see no reason to suppose that their performance in other disciplines might be any better.

  22. Squander Two

    If you read his original post, he was making a comparison to the Prisoner’s Dilemma, it is fairly clear from the way he writes this comparison that he thought countries were forced to compete, even if the end result was less desirable than avoiding competition. My point is that this isnt a one shot prisoner’s dilemma and that countries can commit not to compete (and indeed need not do so anyway given the repeated nature of the game), which makes them better off.

    Your point is thus wrong. the competition (to the bottom) in his original post is inevitable – in Prisoner’s dilemma terms, it is what is known as a dominant strategy, and he does not conceive of the possibility that negotiation of a treaty that limits competition (even though it is desirable).

  23. DBCR,

    Thanks so much for the industrial levels of condescension. Personally, I already knew that Tim supports a land tax. Perhaps I’m somehow the only one here who does, though, and everyone else will now, thanks to you, wake up.

    Twonk.

  24. ken,

    > If you read his original post …

    I did, thanks. Did you?

    > the competition (to the bottom) in his original post is inevitable

    What, his original post in which he explicitly said that the race to the bottom is not only not inevitable but that it is highly unlikely?

  25. Squander Two

    David wrote:
    Finally for those who use the phrase “race to the bottom”, they obviously have never heard of the law of diminishing returns. Those engaging in “tax competition” are quite cognizant of “economic optimization”. In short, while they might sacrifice possible tax revenue for something like employment, they will never do it for no possible benefit.

    Squander wrote:
    What, his original post in which he explicitly said that the race to the bottom is not only not inevitable but that it is highly unlikely?

    how do you get to highly unlikely from this? The original argument uses the Prisoner’s dilemma and suggests that countries compete with regard to optimisation of their economies in light of the possible actions of other countries. The law of diminishing returns in his model would simply mean we don’t end up with zero tax rates, but we would be racing to the bottom consonant with economic optimisation. Treaties allow for commitment and thus undermine competition (and thus David’s use of the Prisoner’s dilemma).

  26. > how do you get to highly unlikely from this?

    By reading it.

    > The law of diminishing returns in his model would simply mean we don’t end up with zero tax rates, but we would be racing to the bottom consonant with economic optimisation.

    Yes, if you redefine “bottom” to mean “some point above the bottom”, you can then claim to have reached it when you haven’t.

    If David wants to come back and defend his own opinions, I’m sure he can. Personally, I’m happy to have understood them.

  27. @S2
    At least I am in-your-face condescending.TW has been condescending to his Net followers for years: throwing them morsels of sneering at the Guardian; the BBC; political correctness , anything that hints at healthy eating, climate change ,you name it, topped up (or flattened down ?)by some industrial level carping at Murphy while he harbours the most subversive belief in Land Value Tax, which in the form he seems to favour could reduce all UK house prices to the value of the depreciated bricks and mortar. A Land Value Tax moderate like me, ( and Martin Wolf and JS Mill) would leave the present house prices alone and only tax land value inflation in the future.But TW is the real Henry George deal, apparently ,red in tooth and claw.
    And he’s got you lot dangling on a string.Good for him I’d say, but he does miss out on the most telling criticism of Murphy: that he doesn’t really understand LVT where TW does to the full.

  28. Dear Ken and Squander Too: Thank you, for trying to help explain my views to others, but hopefully I can succeed in doing it myself. Here it is in bullet form

    -The original question was “Should Nation States compete?”. Given that the organizers are focused on the area of tax, I made the assumption that they were referring to economic competition;

    -One way of competing economically relates to tax policy, but the political goal is to maximize the total economic benefit for that country in the mix (jobs, VAT, corporate tax, property tax etc.) which is best for that country;

    -I pointed out that politicians are motivated by what appeals to their voters and have no incentive to implement policies which economically (or otherwise) harm their voters but which benefit other jurisdictions;

    -I then equated this to the gaming theory of the “Prisoner’s Dilemma”. This thought process for politicians happens with each decision on economic policy and happens over and over again;

    -I then acknowledged that countries enter into bilateral and multilateral tax treaties all the time BUT ONLY WHEN THEY SEE AN ECONOMIC BENEFIT FOR THEIR COUNTRY;

    -Since a “global level tax playing field” (which is the goal of those who want countries not to compete economically) requires UNIVERSAL agreement to withdraw from tax competition, I noted that this is a pipe dream because there is not universal trust that EVERY COUNTRY will withdraw (the essence of the Prisoner’s Dilemma). Conclusion, dreams of no competition are a pipe dream.

  29. DBCR,

    You appear to have constructed an interesting imaginary world. It looks somewhat paranoid. I’m glad I don’t live there.

    I agree with Tim about some things and not others. I notice quite a lot of the threads here start with someone saying “Sorry, Tim, you’re completely wrong on this one.” Sometimes it’s me. This world in which we’re all hanging on his every word, secure in the knowledge that we’re bound to agree with it, is entirely in your head.

    You’re also assuming that we would all be outraged by a drop in house prices. Can’t think why.

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