Ritchie’s done what?

Even by the Murphmonster’s standards this is remarkable.

Benjamin Franklin once said that only two things in life are certain. One is death, and the other taxation. You would not, however, know this from looking at the courses offered by the UK’s universities, which I have happened to do.

So, this was no mistake: UK universities really do ignore tax. Searching a little harder, I did eventually find that Bournemouth University offer an undergraduate course in accountancy and taxation, and of course there are some universities who offer places for postgraduate study, particularly in taxation law, and the occasional Ph.D. But, overall, what is staggering is the extent to which UK universities completely ignore the issue of taxation as if it is of no consequence to society at large.

That gives rise to three questions. First of all, why does the government allow that? Secondly, why is there no demand for such courses? And, thirdly, given the importance of tax isn’t something being done to change this absurd situation so that we might, in the future, have some people who actually understand how tax works, because right now we are desperately short of them.

This is really quite alarming given Ritchie’s own educational background. He did accounting and economics: and I’m absolutely certain that he was taught about tax in both sides of that degree (I was in both sides of my similar degree at around the same time at a different university).

And I’m sure there’s bits about tax in the politics parts of various courses. And why doesn’t ask his mate Prem Sikka (a professor of accounting no less) whether he teaches tax in his courses?

The idea that there’s no study of taxation in UK universities because there is no degree called “tax” is simply absurd. It’s (as noted in his comments) as if we decided that we don’t study death because there’s no degree with that in its name:

Death did produce no results

But I doubt we need a study of death, more study of how to avoid it

As we might say with tax actually.

And, umm, isn’t there an Oxford Centre for Business Taxation? Which Ritchie knows?

36 thoughts on “Ritchie’s done what?”

  1. There’s plenty of degrees in general Courageous Stateology, if not specifically Fair Taxosophy.

    Politics, Sociology, Women’s Studies, etc. None of these courses are full of neoliberal bastards.

  2. If something is certain, why should one need to study it? You already know about it… 😉

    Using Franklin’s quote is a bit of a misfire to me, though. We have a myriad courses about Death, or rather the courses on how to avoid or at least defer it (medicine and allied trades); by lumping Tax in with Death he suggests that we really ought to have a myriad courses on how to avoid or at least defer taxes 🙂

    There has to be a wisecrack somewhere about how Murphy would have noticed people talking about tax had he bothered to pay attention to his economics lectures, but it’s too cheap a shot for me 🙂

  3. It’s his statement

    “why does the government allow that ?”

    that shocks me. He thinks the government has a list of things to be taught and not to be taught ?

    In any case, anyone who is interested in tax becomes an accountant. Which in Ritchie’s case still was not enough.

  4. He’s got a point. I’ve searched for degrees in air resistance, and couldn’t find any. This is pretty serious because without a thorough understanding of air resistance we cannot properly understand the dynamics of falling objects or design aircraft. I find it astonishing that such an important subject isn’t taught in British universities.

  5. “I did eventually find that Bournemouth University offer an undergraduate course in accountancy and taxation”. My golly that’s handy for ‘arry Redknapp.

  6. I myself wonder why there are no degrees in Model Train networks, a subject I infer to be of profound importance to some of the residents of Downham Market?

    No doubt due to the neo-liberals in government.

  7. Ritchie has added a like/dislike button to his comments. Now you can let Ritchie, Carol, Howard and others know what you think!

  8. “Why does the government allow that?”

    Everything you need to know about is worldview is contained within that statement.

  9. Everything you need to know about is worldview is contained within that statement.

    Exactly. And supposing the government did order universities to run such courses? How would they ensure attendeance? Why, then Ritchie would be demanding all students attend a semester or two before being allowed to graduate.

  10. @ Rob

    It’s remarkable, isn’t it.

    It’s not only that the government must allow things that exist to so exist, government must also allow things that do not exist to so not exist.

  11. Interested to note that Ritchie’s blog now has a “like” button on the comments, so you can approve of the wisdom shown by commenters. Along with a dislike button.
    Today’s prediction is that Mr M will shortly be disabling the facility.

  12. @TimNewman LOL @ degree in air resistance…

    We’re talking about the auto da fe fantasia of a taxing Torquemada with a PhD in oxygen theft….

  13. Anyawy, I think Tim is, as Ritchie would say, missing the point.

    It isn’t enough to have tax taught as a technical module within another degree course. That way leads only to facts and…sums.. and more facts to hide The Truth. No, what is needed is a stand-alone moral and philosophical discipline, taught by moral giants and disciplinarary experts. And guess who that might be!!!!!!

  14. erm – surely the phrase should be attributed to Defoe rather than Franklin! As I learned from my law student friends at the bar, get the lie in early, and make it a big one!

  15. Ironman – spooky. I was thinking the same thing.

    Professor Ritchie has a ring to it… much like an arse does.

  16. Actually, is there not a gap in the market here – I can see it now:

    The University of Taxation at the Old Orchard, Downham Market, Dean Richard Murphy.

    Hang on a moment there, I haven’t thought this through – it wouldn’t work.

    University = charity = no income, corporation tax, stamp duty land tax or VAT charge on its income.

    It wouldn’t do for Richard to be associated with such a neo-liberal blatantly tax avoiding body, would it – would it?

  17. Usually a lurker, not a comment maker, but wow, what a fundamentally demented and stupid thing for Murphy to write about.

    Considering Tax law changes every bloomin’ year, with something around 10 books published each year of the constantly changing law, I wouldnt see the point in doing an undergraduate degree solely in Tax. It would be useless after each year and the skills you would learn, ie calculating tax etc is the stuff you learn in an accountancy degree and/or training contract job. Its really not that much to it for an exclusive undergraduate degree, post-grad studies on certain aspects may be useful but I would not take tax advice off someone who had taken a tax undergraduate degree, on account of them being weird and stupid enough to do an undergraduate degree in Tax.

  18. He’s talking about the underlying principles of tax, not the precise rules in aplce at any given time.

    But i agree, it’s post-grad stuff not undergrad. Probably post-having-some-experience-in-tax stuff, too – a major problem with tax law is that it’s written by policy wonks who know the theory but have no experience of the practice, for example.

  19. Pellinor

    That’s my reading of what he’s saying. He wants an undergraduate course on tax policy making, Or at least that’s what I gather from his declaration that tax is politics, philosophy and economics.

    Yeah, you can apply bits of politics, philosophy or economics to taxation in varying measures, but that’s true of many things.

    And even if you did think that taxation IS politics, philosophy and economics, why don’t you just take, y’know, PPE? I’m pretty sure the wider knowledge and application of those subjects might be a bit more useful than zeroing in just on taxation.

  20. Tax is part of a standard econ course. Revenue law is usually a law elective and tax is a standard part of accountancy.

    It’s on a par with asking about democracy. There are exactly two undergrad courses in democracy, both at the university of essex. But does this mean no one studies it?

  21. LOL

    I see the good folks of this parish have been ganging up on Murphy by pressing the dislike button for every one of his blog comments

  22. There are a raft of degrees that consider tax as a module, or series of modules towards the degree. Few of these detail the basic parameters of filling in a tax return, but more the broad principles. However, tax is key to many economics courses, much as economics is a fundamental element of accountancy courses.

    More to the point, I recruited an individual who had the Bournemouth degree. Never again. When we looked back at what went wrong, a senior partner remarked “what do you expect if someone has a burning desire to study tax and only tax when they are 18”.

  23. When it was pointed out that jurisprudence was a non optional part if all law degrees (having asserted it must be taught on all law degrees) he seemed to suggest that meant no one took it seriously


  24. Having taught on that lone undergraduate tax degree, it’s actually a good one; a mixture of law, accountancy, bits of economics and politics; based on principles so that it doesn’t become out of date before you graduate.

    But it isn’t something that many people want to spend 3 years studying at the age of 18 or thereabouts.

    For undergraduates there are, as others have said, plenty of tax options (or even compulsory papers) within other degrees, particularly accounting, law, business. For those who want to specialise later there are taught Masters degrees (and of course professional qualifications).

    The idea that there is a huge unmet demand for 3-year undergraduate tax degrees is baffling. Where are all these poor neglected people?

  25. “First of all, why does the government allow that? Secondly, why is there no demand for such courses?”

    Seldom has anyone so rapidly answered a whiny first question with a whiny second one.

  26. He really does seem oblivious to them, even when the result is pointed out to him. I’m hoping for some form of big revelation on his part but I’m hoping for too much… Intelligence I think.

  27. Bravefart

    It’s therapeutic – certainly calms one after reading his drivel. As it was requested by one of his more bizarre followers, Carol Wilcox, I take great pleasure in disliking her comments, along with all the other Sockpuppets

  28. Tim

    Reading through the blog entry and the comments, he acknowledges that a number of courses contain elements of tax, but his ‘dream course’ where the ‘philosophy of tax’ and its practical application is applied is what is missing – the blog is evidently proving in sufficiently influential for him…..

  29. is there anyting worse than “philosophy of tax”? I vsn imagine courses in the philosophy of defecating, but those are even more pointless.

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