Thursday 9 November 2017

Stranger In Paradise

The release of The Paradise Papers has put a bucket of blancmange into the air conditioner. Wikipedia has an article on them giving lists and some information. Unluckily, Her Majesties investments on behalf of her maintenance costs have taken the main headlines. This distracts from the other questions that need to be asked.

Such as what are the big firms out there up to, why, where and to what effect for the rest us scrambling around with our lottery tickets, Premium Bonds and interest free government investments? The official line is that government spending will rise because it has to rise but how that is to be managed is difficult to explain.

Having done a lot of tax avoidance in my time, sadly grubbing away at the lowest levels rather than anything big or bountiful, to be complaining about others who have more money and are much better at it could seem a tad hypocritical. But when taxes are levied if allowances are made or some things excluded on political or other grounds then necessarily they are not entirely what they seem.

In my day however, it was all done on paper, claims for this, costs for that, this type of loan tax beneficial that type of spending free of tax and so on. Eyes crossed, tees dotted as we used to say to put some humour into the endless form filling. Send off or hand in the form and the chits and hope you got the figures right.

Today is very different. Technology has moved on. I do not even have to sit at a desk, I can deal with things almost anywhere, indeed even there, if you know what I mean. It is done in seconds and in only minutes complex transactions can go on moving money around to get the best deal or arrangement.

The big firms in the money game have not only got the latest in technology, they can afford to use it to the full. The result is that money can be moved, changed, reshuffled etc. in very large amounts. This can be done globally in series to avoid the crooks, or maybe the police and worse than them, the taxman. We call it money laundering.

How HMRC, our tax collectors, working with older, slower machines, short on critical information and not up with the latest ways and techniques; just that bit too far behind, can keep up with it all is very doubtful. Especially, if the teams of lawyers etc. employed by the big firms are able to win at the margins and beyond them muddle the difference between avoidance and evasion.

For a government needing taxes to pay for all those election promises made in haste and sometimes in anger, it has become impossible to get this by the traditional tax structure. That means either austerity way beyond our present imaginations, or heavy taxation where it would be least popular.

Not just property of all types, but food, a major import, all those goods more or less critical to our functioning and comfort that flow in from global sources, vehicles, essentially anything that moves or is consumed in the UK. Almost back to the 1960's.

This would be very unpopular, the best thing a party could do if an election came along would be to finish up as the opposition. The one who had to form a government would need to scour their benches for sado-masochist politicians who would enjoy becoming the fall guys for the bad times to come.

The trouble is that when a country is in this kind of fix and democracy cannot deliver because it cannot raise the taxes in the way it wishes to, then populations tend to look for alternatives. We have been here before in the past and it all ended very badly. It is the story of too many states in recent centuries.

The word "Paradise" refers to those tax havens located in warm and welcoming places around the world, welcoming that is to those with money. For the locals and the poor it is not the case. Much of the money goes through the City of London.

Perhaps Paradise Gardens in Bethnal Green might be made an outpost of The City and include within the enclave Barnsley Street and Cudworth Street.

For the money men it would be essential to include the "Smarty Pants Dry Cleaners and Laundrette" on the Bethnal Green Road, see the picture above.


  1. In essence, we have an expansion of the awful corruption, once the preserve of African and Arab despots. Now alliances across the Planet of politicians, drug barons and corporate facilitators. The adage small is beautiful would be preferable but nigh on impossible when the vast majority of an overpopulated world have only procreation to give them an all to brief moment of pleasure.

  2. One thing governments could do is tackle waste but there are no votes in it.

  3. And draining the bureaucratic fatcat swamp.