Tax isn’t the French problem

Civil war is a strong term to use. I suspect John Lichfield knows that. I presume he uses it wisely as a result. And where France goes, who knows who might follow?

I have a concern. As Lichfield notes, France rioted 50 year’s ago and rising prosperity deflected the anger. Now no one thinks that will happen. All increases in prosperity go to a tiny handful in society. People are oppressed, and they know it.

We need to be clear about the cause of the oppression. The superficial anger is in tax. I am well aware of it. But the cause is inability to make ends meet.

We cannot do without tax.

And we need green taxes.

So the problem has to be tackled another way.

The problem is excess rents.

And maybe excess interest costs.

And a lack of a living wage.

The problem is not tax.

The problem is the failure of a society where enough is made for all to make sure all can partake.

No, really, the problem is not tax. In France. Where tax as a percentage of GDP is 45.3%, compared with the OECD average of 34.3% (which is pretty much where the UK is).

No, tax definitely isn’t the French problem.

Sounds like the system is working then

Third, it is that the accounts that the profession produces are not fit for most purposes, precisely because they are only designed to assist those deciding whether to supply capital to a company or not, and nothing else is considered.

They’re designed to do this, they do this. What’s the problem?

That a Senior Lecturer at Islington Polytechnic does not like this isn’t a problem with the system now, is it?

The political extinction of a plurality of the population

Isn’t this a lovely thing to wish for?

One is Flip Chart Rick who wrote this yesterday:

I will never get behind Brexit. I will have to accept it if it happens but I will never be reconciled to it. It is a stupid idea. I will never forgive the people who took us down this road. I will do whatever I can to bring about their political extinction.

That seems like a fair summary to me.

Isn’t that nice? A plurality of the country should be politically exterminated? Because wrongthink, you know.

No government at all is ever a functioning one

What is extraordinary about this is that the UK has not even got the option of crashing out of the EU whilst keeping any pretence of having a functioning government, if the ability to enforce the law and collect tax owing is indication of that, on which I think most would agree.

So, to the man who insists that the tax gap is £120 billion. Being able to collect tax due is the definition of a functioning government. Which the UK government currently does not do. Therefore, by this definition, the UK government is not a functioning one.

And Brexit is going to change this how?

Sure, there’s an answer to this. Which is that a functioning government is one which collects the tax due which is worth collecting. But that inevitably means a tax gap. Which isn’t something Spudda is likely to agree should happen either.

An accountant might be able to understand this

“Rent-to-own” retailers such as BrightHouse will be banned from charging vulnerable customers over the odds for household goods under new rules proposed by financial regulators on Thursday.

Rent to own involves customers obtaining products such as washing machines or electronics under hire-purchase agreements before taking ownership when they have completed all the payments.

Under the proposed rules, which will come into force in April, firms will be banned from charging more than 100 per cent interest on items.

The implication is obvious: would appear that 100% interest rates are considered fair. This is what it is like to live in the UK in 2018.

No, the ruling is that total charges over the lifetime of the agreement not exceed 100% of the cost of the item.

20% interest rates per year over 5 years would meet this. 10% over 10 years. 3% over 30 years.

Wonder what the interest rate was when Spudda bought his first flat back in the 80s? Did he, over the years, pay more interest than principal? And would he describe that as a 100% interest rate?

Now, change the subject of the question. Would an accountant so describe?

Brexit means Caroline Lucas will become PM.

From the Sage of Ely:

What then? I’m told on the grapevine that Leavers will not accept this outcome: civil disturbance is likely. I think that is possible. Hence the route to a coalition; a national government after an almost inevitable general election as the Commons fails to agree again – or is pulled down by such a coalition acting to do so. Then there will be the fundamental reforms to make sure that UK politics will never again present people with three options in England and Wales that almost no one finds especially palatable. The Scots are in a different place, of course.

And I should add, in all this the move towards another Scottish referendum is almost inevitable, and likely to pass – just to escape the mayhem.

Who will lead that Coalition? Caroline Lucas, most likely. Precisely because she would not be from any major player in it.

As far as I’m aware Poe’s Law is not involved here.

To define civil society

They say of the project:

The Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism is a global not-for-profit organization that was founded in 2014 by Lynn Forester de Rothschild, the Chairman of E.L. Rothschild LLC. The organization was established to engage leaders across business, government and civil society in their efforts to make capitalism more equitable, sustainable, and inclusive. The Coalition develops practical thought leadership and convenes the Conference on Inclusive Capitalism to bring together renowned leaders from the world’s largest and most influential asset owners, asset managers and corporations to positively influence the future of capitalism. The organization works with other like-minded groups through our Allied Efforts program and extensive public outreach.

Note those words ‘and civil society’. I checked their website. There is no hint of a single civil society organisation involved.

So, err, what is the definition of civil society?

Amazingly, it’s not only those groups which have a mate of Ritchie’s in them. It’s, umm, any gathering of peeps in society. The Cub Scouts are civil society. The FA – to the extent that it’s not enshrined in legislation – is civil society.


I have been reading ‘Several short sentences about writing’ by Verlyn Klinkenborg this week. It was recommended to me by my Copenhagen Business School colleague, Professor Len Seabrooke. The book is easily the most radical I have read on writing. For that reason alone I recommend it, presuming you are open minded about how English should be written.

Who is it advising us on clear and elegant writing?

He;s at CBS as an external examiner on a unit about tax. “My colleague at” sounds bit grand for that. Still, it does open the question, has the colleague read some Ritchie and, gaspingly, reached for the first thing on how to write better he can find?

The problem with a Curajus State

Dominic Raab has admitted he only realised that the Dover – Calais trade route was fundamental to UK economic well being after being appointed Brexit Secretary.

I’m not going to doubt his sincerity.

Nor am I going to question his timing.

I am just going to ask how anyone with such a lack of curiosity that they cannot appreciate something so basic made it to selection as an MP, let alone got to have Cabinet rank on an issue where this mattered.

The problem with a Curajus State is that those who would run it are know nothing toads. An no, e can’t insist that only those who know stuff get elected – that’s up to the peeps, isn’t it?

A musing, no more

Just a thought:

In fact, Stockholm is something of a unicorn factory, producing the second-highest number of billion-dollar tech companies per capita after Silicon Valley. In Sweden overall, there are 20 startups per 1,000 employees, compared to just five in the United States, according to data from the OECD. In the 2018 Bloomberg Innovation Index, Sweden tops the list, second only to South Korea.

Income taxation is so viciously high that the only way to make enough to get out is to start up a business?

Actually, it’s probably that capital gains and corporate taxation are significantly lower than labour income taxation. The same point but with a different gloss perhaps. But an interesting illumination of Spud’s point that income and capital tax rates should be the same, no?

Now, who could do this?

I mean, I would, but what’s the point?

One of the biggest cash prizes in world economics has been launched to find “radical ideas” to reinvigorate the British economy.

Launched against a backdrop of deep public distrust in politicians to revitalise the UK economy, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) thinktank has lined up an £150,000 prize fund to uncover fresh ideas.

Ritchie just needs to submit the manuscript of The Curajus State, doesn’t he?

Mea culpa, mea culpa

Like it or not, tax justice has fuelled the alienation many feel from a global elite operating multinational corporations. Whether this has had the unfortunate consequence of fuelling populism is an issue open to question. That it is an issue that still angers people is, I think, beyond doubt.

Ritchie wants to apologise for having caused Trump, Brexit and Orban by talking about tax justice all these years.

It’s a fascinating question alright

The question goes to the core of the search for truth.

And asks if we want a politics based on hope, and not fear.

And empathy, and not aggression.

And of mutual respect instead of mistrust.

In essence, it is asking do we care for the other person, whoever they might be, or not?

It is the question of our times.

Do we want ethical politics, or not?

How about a politics not determined by the Senior Lecturer as a start?

Or to be less facile, how about free market liberalism? That one where people get to live and work by their own ethical standards, limiting only third party harm, the one where empathy is shown not demanded, respect earned not insisted upon?

To City University


Thank you for your kind inquiry as to whether I would be interested in your vacancy for a Professor of Practice in International Political Economy. I understand that the pay rate is that of a Senior Lecturer. Given that I have no teaching experience nor no known ability at such I should be able to take up the reins of the previous incumbent without too much difficulty.

I do though have what might be a major concern. I actually know something about international, political and economy, having had an international business career for some decades, been intimately involved in party politics and fought more than one election, plus a known and demonstrable knowledge of economics. Even my predecessor in the post on offer has agreed with that last point despite his disliking the flavour of my opinions built upon that knowledge. I do need to reassure myself that knowing something of the subjects under discussion is not going to disqualify me from your detailed consideration for the post.

I should also ask whether the vermine comes with the post or is that something I should try to organise separately?

Your etc.

A. Applicant.


A year today I must either have a new job, be self-employed again, or for the first time in my life be unemployed. That is because my contract at City, University of London, expires on 31 October 2019 when the EU funded Horizon 2020 project that funds my current employment ends. There is very limited prospect of securing a similar source of funding in the UK at present because of Brexit. The consequence is I am already beginning to think about what I might do.

And we’re told there are no benefits to Brexit?


I have to take exception to this as a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, which is also a regulator. If a member firm wants to quit a market it is not the ICAEW’s job to defend that firm’s commercial interests. Its job is to act in the public interest. And if there is no market-based solution to auditing in the future, so be it. The ICAEW should recognise that and not seek to support the unsustainable retention of a private monopoly that has not met the public interest test, but has secured significant wealth for a few.

Competition quitting a market proves it’s a monopoly already.

Someone who likes MMT really should grasp this

I am finally back in the UK with time to notice the budget. And one of the most notable things about it was Philip Hammond’s discussion of the national debt. He claimed, as do the Office for National Statistics, that our national debt is now about 85% of GDP. That, he and they say, is about £1,764 billion.

Except that is simly not true. Near enough £435 billion worth of the UK’s national debt, which is supposedly owing by the government, is owed to the Bank of England, which is owned by the government. So the government owes itself. And debt you owe yourself is not debt at all. That’s because paying it off makes no difference to your well-being. You are in exactly the same overall state with the rest of the world as you were before you paid it if you do that. So the debt does not actually exist. That is the only obvious logical consequence of that fact.

In other words UK national debt is near enough £1,329 billion. Tht is 64% of GDP. Which is, in national debt terms, neither here nor there and certainly poses none of the threats to the UK economy that Hammond claims the national debt does.

On alternate days we’re told that the national debt is money that the government has pumped into the economy. We’re also told that if there’s too much money in the economy – which might happen if government pumps too much in – then MMT tells us that it should be taxed out again.

QE is indeed government pumping more money into the economy. A quick glance at the M0 or M1 aggregates will show that that QE debt is exactly that.

So, if that inflation ever does turn up – something rather essential to the basic MMT claims about inflation and tax that it will – then it will need to be taxed back out of the economy.

If QE is real debt, the national debt is the 1.7 trillion, then taxes at some point must rise to pay it back. If it’s not real debt but MMT is true then taxes must rise to cut the inflation from it not being paid back.

Ritchie’s claims of definitions change the real world how?

Not that national debt of £1,764 billion is a threat to well-being either. That is unless private wealth is a threat to well-being. Because the national debt is simply national savings because it represents the amount that people want to save with the government. It’s no more than people putting money on deposit in the safest account available in the UK economy. And what is so terrible about that?

If the government had the 1.7 trillion on tap then nothing would be wrong. It doesn’t – all it has is the future tax revenue it can gain from the population. If we all desire to save less with he government then what happens? Taxes must rise to pay us all back. For we do all agree that if we voluntarily save with the government then we’re equally at liberty to voluntarily dissave with he government, no?