Umm, no Ritchie, just no

A lot of effort has been and will be put into tackling tax evasion, and rightly so. But in my estimate tax avoidance cost the UK £19.1 billion in 2013/14 whilst tax evasion cost £73.4 billion, and of the latter no more than £4.3 billion was specifically offshore.

Tax evasion and tax avoidance can be said to cost the Government of the UK some amount of money. They can be said to cost the State, the Treasury, something. But they cannot be said to cost the UK, the country, anything. Because that country is simply the collection of people that make it up. And that group of people have, cumulatively, exactly the same amount of money whether tax is paid or not. It’s just in different pockets dependent upon whether tax has been paid or not.

And no, this isn’t just some trivial linguistic quibble. The idea of all in the State, all for the State and nothing outside the State is the very definition of Fascism. It’s essential to differentiate between the people and the State.

Whadda country, eh?


I’ve no idea who this bird is, being modern and up to date and all that, but there’s 400 people in our shared nation who managed to complain about that outfit.

Hundreds of viewers have complained after Rita Ora, the pop star, appeared on BBC One with a plunging neckline.

The singer, known for her I Will Never Let You Down song, wore a low-cut dress with a thigh-high split as she attended the launch of BBC talent show The Voice UK on Monday.

However, the 24-year-old singer’s most daring outfit came later in the day when she appeared on The One Show in a white Ermanno Scervino trouser suit with nothing underneath the blazer.

It would appear Ora offended fans of the prime time TV show, with 399 people complaining to the Corporation.

Of course, they don’t tell us how many phoned in to ask if she’d undo that rather strained looking button so perhaps there’s still hope for us all.


Fairly flimsy attack here

While creating the links for my previous post, I came upon this quite unpleasant post from right-wing blogger Tim Worstall, in which he introduces the concept of “underage totty”.

Underage totty in Worstall’s world is, as far as I can establish, a female who is a child in law and therefore with a right to legal protection from sexual predators, but who by dint of some pro-active display of her sexuality, can be seen not to be in need of that protection. Or something. From what he goes on to say about how 14, 15 and 16 year olds should be treated under law, Worstall seems to be suggesting that a physical capacity to act or appear in a sexual or sexualised manner should be the main indicator of when a young person should be regarded as an adult in law, when it comes to sexual consent.

No, the point is and was that various jurisdictions have different definitions of what underage totty is.

14, where I live in Portugal (and no, I do not live here for that reason), 16 in the UK, 18 in Florida which is the age under discussion in this particular case of alleged abuse. Given that difference in ages that various laws apply to those who need the protection of the law it is indeed reasonable to ponder what should be the age at which the protection of the law is extended.


Or is it just good enough to be able to associate “right-wing” and “paedo!” for some vague political purpose?

And underage totty is just that. “Totty”, attractive, toothsome, young woman, “underage”, one who is afforded the protections of the law from those who would partake of that attractiveness, toothsomeness.

Finally, yes, it is an interesting point for debate that someone in Florida at age 17 years and 364 days is deemed to require the protection of the law against my or your advances while one in Portugal, even the same person in Portugal, is deemed to have been entirely at liberty to decide for themselves for the previous 3 years and 364 days.

I’ve no idea who has it right (although I do, as I said, tend to think that 18 is probably a bit on the high side, as UK law also states) but it is an interesting point to note isn’t it?

Or is that combination of “right-wing” and “paedo!” just too attractive to pass up?

Very safe and reliable these renewables

A 328-foot tall wind turbine worth more than £2 million has buckled and collapsed on a mountainside in Northern Ireland.

Unconfirmed reports suggested the blades of the turbine had spun out of control – despite only light wind speeds – before the structure came crashing to the ground on Friday.

Locals claimed the sound of the turbine hitting the mountain could be heard up to seven miles away from the Screggagh wind farm, near Fintona in County Tyrone.

Some people compared it to an explosion while others claimed to have heard the sound of metal grinding throughout the day.

No-one was injured in the incident, which left debris scattered across the wind farm site.


What do ebook novels go for?

Anyone got a good idea?

Pulp novels I mean, not literary ones. Secret agent saves world, shags girl sorta thing? $9.99, 99 cents $3.99?

Obviously, looking at maximising gross revenue is the important thing. But what’s the usual price point?

Most fun from Ritchie

We need to defend democracy from those who want to create two classes of MP, reduce the number of elected representatives we have, and gerrymander one party rule so that any legitimate means of political opposition are removed from people in the countries of the UK.

One party rule, bad, check.

But most of all we should say that any country – including each that right now makes up the UK – stands or falls on its ability to work together and that those who make it their job to divide those within a country – and those within it from those without it – whether socially, culturally or economically, are not fit to govern in the interests of all the people within that state, which is the task we expect of those put into political office, whoever elects them.

Only parties that support the Courageous State should anyone be allowed to vote for. Check.

Climb aboard the bandwagon!

Sugary foods risk causing a public health crisis similar to smoking and should be taxed in the same way as tobacco, Jamie Oliver has said.

The television chef said sugar was “definitely the next evil” and should be targeted because of the burden it was placing on the NHS.


If, and it is if, sugar causes obesity (not overwight, but morbid obesity) then it saves the NHS money.

So, do I believe?

That some American billionaire might have some under age totty following him about which he “abuses” because they’re under the age of 18?

Sure, I believe that that can and does happen. I’d be astonished if it didn’t in fact, althogh setting the bar for abuse at 18 seems a little high for me. 14, 15, 16, maybe, as an age of consent, but 18 does sound a little patriarchal.

Do I go on to believe that this is then part of a pimping operation where Princes and Prime Ministers, senior lawyers and the rest are cheaperoned into these 17 year olds by the daughter of a disgraced and bankrupt former billionaire (the only one of this cast I’ve actually met just BTW)?

No, no, I really don’t think I do.

I don’t say categorically that it could not or did not happen. But jeez, there’s enough young women out there on the game that an organisation like this most surely isn’t necessary is it? Something so dangerous?

Well, yes, this would explain Amanda

This would usually be the point where I state for the record that I believe very strongly that all women are human beings. Problem is, I’ve just conceived a sudden suspicion that one of them is actually a Vogon spy in a skin suit.

Anyway, Marcotte was bad enough,


Grant that everyone involved in this conversation has admitted they consider themselves below average attractiveness (except maybe Marcotte, whose daily tune-ups keep her skin-suit in excellent condition).

Johann Hari resurfaces

And he’s getting some things right for goodness sake! More on this later elsewhere.

One thing though:

The author used to be the Independent’s star columnist, a prolific polemicist and darling of the left, until his career imploded in disgrace when it emerged in 2011 that many of his articles contained quotes apparently said to him but in fact lifted from his interviewees’ books, or from previous interviews by other journalists. Worse, he was exposed as a “sockpuppet”, or someone who anonymously furthers his own interests online.

I’m pretty sure that “Keith” here at Forbes is in fact Hari. And there’s one or two more on pieces of mine around I think.

Complete sodding toss from Ritchie

Since most economists view the world from a right wing, neoliberal perspective they really have nothing very useful to say on tax because their model of the economy sees no useful purpose for it. As far as they consider the issue tax is invariably an imperfection preventing the optimal outcomes that they assume markets will provide and which their models of the economy are built to prove. They do this by the use of assumptions for which there are no rational bases (like people being rational). Alternatively they ignore facts, like tax having a fundamental and seemingly useful role in every economy of note by funding the services that people very clearly demand that a government, and not the market, supplies. But because most economists assume that this is not possible they should, by default, be ignored in debate on tax on the basis they have nothing useful to say on an issue they have never meaningfully studied.

No one, no one at all, other than an anarcho-capitalist, assumes that all markets, nothing but markets, all the time markets, provides an optimal outcome. That’s why the economics profession is united behind the ideas of either cap and trade or a carbon tax to deal with climate change (if it exists). Because all agree that pure markets do not provide optimal outcomes all the time and everywhere.


As to rationality. So, people are not rational then. But they demand government services. They must therefore be irrational in doing so, mustn’t they?

Or, if they’re being rational in demanding from government certain things that the market doesn’t provide (in which they are being rational, the debate is only over which things markets and governments can and can not provide) then humans are indeed rational, aren’t they?

And absolutely no economist insists that government cannot usefully provide certain things, nor that tax revenue is required to pay for such (even the MMT loons insist that taxation is necessary to limit the inflation from funding government by creating new base money).

Ritchie doesn’t understand what economists do say but feels entirely comfortable in rejecting it all because….well, because what?

And then there is the problem created by politicians. Let’s start with the obvious problem that since Neil Kinnock lost the general election in 1992 no politician has believed it possible to increase tax

I think you’ll find that Gordon Brown did increase tax you know.He raised the personal allowance only by inflation, when wages were rising faster than inflation (and in at least one year didn’t even do that). That’s a rise in tax through fiscal drag and it’s how we ended up with people working part time on minimum wage paying income tax.

Then there’s the problem of most politician’s incomprehension of what tax is, and what it is for. This is a pretty big theme in my forthcoming book, The Joy of Tax, but the essence of the problem (even if we ignore for now the intimate relationship between tax and money) is it seems that all politicians think that the sole purpose for tax is paying for public spending. This is completely illogical: first tax is also used to reprice goods and services and secondly to redistribute income and wealth.

Err, yes, like all those economists talking about how to reprice goods through a Pigou Tax to deal with externalities.

Fucking moron.

Until 2009 that might just have been a theory but now we know it is true: £375 billion of quantitative easing has, since then proved that the government can spend without taxation and effectively cancel the debt it has created to do so without any effective economic consequence if there are otherwise under utilised resources in the economy, as has been the case since then. This should not have been a surprise to anyone: after all, it is now a fact acknowledged by the Bank of England that banks can also create and cancel money out of thin air to meet the demand of the private sector and have no impact on key economic objectives such as inflation if there are existing under-utilised resources in the economy. Why it should be different for a central bank is hard to imagine, except that as the overall best influencer of the price of money it has the greatest chance to do so with least likely damaging consequence arising.

So Milton Friedman was correct about monetarism then. As he showed in his Monetary History of the United States (with Anna Schwartz) and Ben Bernanke, an historian of the Fed’s actions in the 1930s, was an economist who knew what to do when the Crash came.

But economists should be ignored in favour of Ritchie because economists don’t have anything useful to say.

Whadda cretin.

I do appreciate discussion on tax. But in 2015 my wish is that it be informed debate. Without adequate theories of taxation most economists cannot offer that because they view it only as a funding mechanism whilst current politicians have forgotten the intellectual achievement of the post war generation of leaders who perceived it if, sometimes only glimly, as something so much more than that.

If you are determinedly ignorant of what economists say about taxation then how in buggery can you form a view of what economists say about taxation?

What we need are those able to ignite this debate again. Then we could have real political discussion in this country because it is tax that liberates economic possibility. The poverty of current debate is that it thinks the exact opposite to be true.

Hey, why not? Let’s have a proper debate on tax! Informed, perhaps, by what thousands of very clever people have worked out over the past couple of centuries rather than worshipping at the shrine of the dribbling incontinent that is the Retired Accountant from Wandsworth?

I’m all for it personally.

So the water’s not cold then?


Britons blew away their New Year hangovers by enjoying a dip in the seas and rivers as temperatures soared to near record levels yesterday, but forecasters warned chillier climes would return today with wintry rain in the north.
The Met Office said yesterday’s highest temperature of 15.1C was recorded at Murlough, County Down, with peak figures in England reaching 13.9C at Bude in Cornwall. They were close to the record set almost a century ago in 1916 when Bude in Cornwall saw 15.6C (60f).

Or they’re padding bikini tops these days.


You remark, almost with pride, that the population hasn’t shifted to the left – well, what exactly was your job as a political leader supposed to be about then?

I’m pretty sure, in this democracy thing, that a political leader is supposed to reflect the desires of the electorate, not mold them.

But then Neal Lawson always has been a bit of a fascist, hasn’t he?