Interesting question here

Will the Adam Smith Instituite sack a Senior Fellow for promoting the benefits of tax evasion?

Given that it’s an unpaid position I’m not even sure if I can be fired. The title could be withdrawn I suppose….

Let’s ignore the fact that Worstall has clearly not read Smith properly, second has not understood him and third is just making excuses for the fact that his reading ends in 1776. Let’s instead note what he then concludes based on this premise:

I routinely make fun of tax justice campaigners for example–insisting that people cheating on their taxes is a good idea. Tax avoidance, and yes even tax evasion, serves the public purpose by placing a limit on how much government can try to squeeze out of the rest of us.

It’s not just that Smith said nothing like that, in fact arguing for something that can reasonably be called the exact opposite; what’s really shocking is that here we have a Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute promoting law breaking and I am sure that there will be no hint of him being sacked as a result.

Which tells you all we need to know about the UK’s right wing.

But only on tax, of course.

But what is truly, truly, wondrous about this is that he’s complaining about an article in which I roundly support the Modi government’s attempts to clean up tax evasion and black money.

However, there does exist a limit at which this reverses. In the crude vernacular of my native England this is known as when people are “taking the piss.” A stage which black money in India can be said to have reached.

One of those institutions which we’re finding is absolutely vital to such economic development is the general belief among the population that the game is fair. The economy is not a zero sum game, it’s positive sum. You do not have to lose so that I may gain, it is entirely possible, through simple voluntary cooperation and trade, that we both gain from the same action or transaction. But for this to be true everyone must believe that this is true. And we are finding that not everyone does believe this and that is at least one reason why some places are very much poorer than they should be.
….
In broader terms, everyone must believe–or a large enough portion of everyone at least–that the game is basically fair, that there are rules and those rules are obeyed by everyone. Only then, if all believe in the possibility of that positive sum economy, do we actually get that positive sum economy and thus the highest degree of opulence.

Arvind Kejriwal has claimed that this is all a fix by Modi (no, I don’t think he’s correct). My own technical view is that it’s a clever plan. But going to the root of the idea I think it’s better than just clever. An essential move in fact. Reading the comments over the past couple of days (and yes, I do read them, also welcome them, you all in aggregate know more than I do on any and every subject so please do inform me) I’ve seen that there’s a rage at the manner in which the Indian economy, specifically with this black money problem, is felt not to be fair, does not have this tolerable administration of justice. Yes, there are specific concerns about forgery of notes, terror financing, house prices and so on, but the more general point Smith avers still stands.

We’ve got to believe that the economy is roughly, tolerably, fair for it to work in producing that opulence. That’s not a belief that many have about the black money problem in India today. Thus rooting out that problem is justified. It’s not just clever it’s necessary.

Murphy choose to call for me to be fired over possibly the only article I’ve ever written which supports harsh crackdowns on tax evasion and avoidance.

It’s difficult to make these things up really, isn’t it?

32 thoughts on “Interesting question here”

  1. Elsewhere on his blog, he does his usual trick of believing the UK exists in isolation.

    There must be lots of transfer pricing irregularities and they can only be to the detriment of the UK, he claims.

    That the UK’s relatively low CT rates mean that there is good incentive to shift profits to the UK doesn’t enter his calculations.

    When this is pointed out to him, he just blusters on about Ireland, despite there being no evidence or parallels.

  2. @Andrew C

    Actually, to be fair to him, he says in the comments that any profits moved into the uk are then moved out again.

    Which kind of makes you wonder what the point of hmrc looking at it are

    Maybe hes assuming hmrc can stop profits moving out without any reaction from other countries to stop them moving in in the first place . . .

  3. Can you sue him? I’ll donate to the funding of lawyers. It’d be fun to get a grovelling apology out of him on his website, donation to say, the George Bush Foundation.

  4. If there are benefits to tax evasion, which I’m sure there are as you’ve described, why not openly discuss them?

    What’s wrong with honesty in debate?

    Oh yes, Ritchie’s a lefty. Lefties don’t do honest debate. At least he didn’t find some excuse to call you racist, which is their default when losing.

  5. You lost him at “routinely make fun”. If your idea of summer fun is a trip to Dachau where you manage to convince yourself you are a latter-day Edith Stein then you are about as familiar with “fun” as you are with “perspective.”

  6. This has made me laugh:

    ‘Let’s ignore the fact that Worstall has clearly not read Smith properly, second has not understood him and third is just making excuses for the fact that his reading ends in 1776’

    I was certain that in his eyes Smith was a mainstay of the world of ‘conventional economics’ and as such part of the entire canon Murphy deemed inferior to his enormous understanding – why else did he leave Southampton otherwise??

    Even putting that to one side. I think I will eat my own ears if Murphy has got more than one chapter into the Wealth of Nations or even glanced at the Theory of Moral Sentiments. Those are tough, weighty works that require good understanding of history and economic concepts and proven ability to evaluate material conscious of the historical context. Since Murphy has proven, time and again to have zero understanding of history or economic concepts and is widely viewed as the archetype of the ‘ahistorical man’, his claims are even more laughable than they normally are. Indeed I think if he is going into the business of insults he needs to learn from Tim…..

  7. Ironman

    ‘If your idea of summer fun is a trip to Dachau where you manage to convince yourself you are a latter-day Edith Stein then you are about as familiar with “fun” as you are with “perspective.”’

    That did make me laugh out loud! There was a silver lining to that trip of course. He came to the realisation that the people at Dachau could have been ‘just like him’ – A rare occasion where I agreed with him. He reminded me of just such a person:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Gottfried_Weiss

  8. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Well, some of the people at Dachau could have been just like him. They’d have been wearing SS uniforms, mind.

  9. “…what’s really shocking is that here we have a Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute promoting law breaking…”

    If Tim were Mr Litigious, he could grab Richie by the pussy here.

  10. Well, the only thing we know for sure is that Tim’s gotten right up Ritchie’s nose this time.

    Well done!

  11. I think there’s a typo in the original article where he’s talking about comments. The phrase “in aggregate” is misleading and should have been removed.

    (and yes, I do read them, also welcome them, you all in aggregate know more than I do on any and every subject so please do inform me)

  12. I think this time it might be worth the price of a lawyer’s letter, just for the comedy of him going apoplectic XD

  13. I forgot to congratulate you, Tim, for evidently irritating him so much. And don’t sue him: it’s not worth the hassle.

  14. I think if you were looking for libel lawyers, Private Eye would probably recommend the firm they call Carter-Fuck (Carter-Ruck)?

  15. Not that I’m going to do anything as silly as look for a libel lawyer. But it would be fun to find out who acted for Ashcroft. Then film Ritchie’s look as he realises who is after him again.

  16. BiCR – sorry about that! That profile photo was the closest of the commandants I could get to a Young Murphy…..

  17. As he routinely and deliberately conflates tax avoidance and tax evasion he isn’t really in a position to say what is legal and what is not.

  18. Clearly he has never dealt with HMRC when it comes to transfer pricing if he thinks it’s a stroll in the park to hoodwink them and they are happy to turn a blind eye

  19. I wonder if this is his revenge for pointing out he was getting grants while acting as a de facto sole trader?

    I can’t see the ASI caving in to Richie, somehow.

  20. Bloke in North Dorset

    “I can’t see the ASI caving in to Richie, somehow.”

    From what I’ve read and heard from Sam Bowman it will be a cold day in hell when he takes advice from Ritchie.

  21. But, but just EVERYONE wants to talk to Murphy. As he was saying to a really important person the other day who agreed with everything he said.

    One of the best from Murphy was when he name dropped claiming to have spoken frequently and at length with HMRC Director General for business tax “Jim O’Harra”.

    I politely queried why, if he’d spoken to Jim so often and at such length, he didn’t know that his name was Jim Harra.

    But Murphy neither published nor answered my query.

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