Thursday, June 10, 2010

On Tax Competition

One of the most extraordinary concepts ever dreamed up by that large section of the population, which includes many of the politicians of the developed world, that totally fails to understand how the world works, and even fails to notice that in many places it is working extremely well, in terms of personal freedom, wealth unimaginable only a hundred years ago, and growing up not expecting to lose half your children before they’re five, or to have to go war, or to starve if you lose your job, or to die if you get ill, and who do not understand how all this has come about; those people who heap praise on tyrants and governments and political and religious systems that condemn entire nations to poverty and enslavement, yet point out every minor imperfection in the West as though it were damning proof of the final failure of what has, in fact, created all that is good about living here; those who constantly preach how some benighted and ill-conceived political theory must make such and such a place a paradise on Earth, though they have absolutely no intention of going to live there because they know that in practice they would, like the lucky citizens of those paradises, have none of the things which their own countries, which they criticise so much, have given them, and who want, for their own satisfaction, to make other people obey laws that they themselves don’t expect to be bound by; is the idea of unfair tax competition.

The belief that the purpose of tax is to create homogeneous conditions for commercial investment and activity, to stop some countries from being better places to run a business than others, effectively to discourage the practice of trade, enterprise, employment, innovation, wealth creation, work, and all those things which have made our countries such good places to live in, is an idea so utterly stupid and bizarre that it is not even socialism. It could only be conceived in the twisted minds of bureaucrats for whom real people have no value except as piggy banks that may be rifled repeatedly and without apology in order to keep them in paperwork. To imagine that there is any real meaning, let alone value, to such a concept requires you to treat a perverse kind of equality as an end in itself, the only end, before which everything else can be disregarded (for some reason Neil Kinnock’s obsession with the Eurobus comes to mind) and that the state, and not the person, is the basic unit of humanity, to be revered, and sanctified, and preserved whatever the cost. Fascists, in a word.

Not surprisingly, the cradle of this idea is Brussels, but I genuinely find it hard to believe that even there the phrase ‘unfair tax competition’ can be spoken with a straight face and taken seriously. And yet it is so.


Mark Wadsworth said...

Yup, and it is the EU that imposes The Worst Tax Of All, namely VAT.

CIngram said...

Indeed, yes, and don't even get me started on death duties, which cause enormous heartache and many family breakdowns apparently for the sole purpose of punishing people for daring to have a little bit of good fortune (the heirs, of course, not the deceased).