Wed, 28 Nov 2012
Fair Tax

I've been trying to find time to write down my thoughts on some of the recent news regarding tax avoidance and the bad publicity that came out of the grilling the three finance heads of Google, Amazon and Starbucks endured in front of the Public Accounts Committee in Parliament a week or so ago.

And it was very bad publicity. Whether technically legal or not, it leaves a bad taste in one's mouth when so much effort is put into avoiding paying your fair share of tax. I like all three companies but it's a question of basic fairness.

Luckily, I don't have to say much more because John Kay says it much better here : Corporate tax should be fair and shared.

The analogy between the US and the EU is obvious. And while countries might pursue apportionment unilaterally, a global agreement would be far preferable. Not just to protect revenue. The repeated revelations that many major companies pay little or no tax, even if they do so by legal means, fuels a public sense that tax is mainly for little people. We need only look at Greece to see how socially, politically and economically corrosive that perception can be.

Read it - it's short and to the point. Life isn't fair on its own. We have to engineer fairness in.

Another person I should mention is Richard Murphy at Tax Research UK. He's been pushing for tax reforms along these lines for a while and very eloquently, Again, this is not about hammering people or companies with more tax, or more the state being more profligate. It's about making sure the burden is fair and shared by all who benefit. Including multi-national companies.

Sun, 18 Nov 2012
The Lost Prince at the National Portrait Gallery

A visit to the National Portrait Gallery to see The Lost Prince exhibition. The "prince" being Henry Stuart, first son of James 1st of England (6th of Scotland), who would have become King Henry IX if he'd survived. Unfortunately, he died young (18) of, what appears to have been, typhoid. Wikipedia has a good page.

Good exhibition about someone I hadn't known at all. Considering his brother became King Charles I, it is interesting speculating what might have been different if he'd lived. The 17th century may have been quite different. Would there have been a Civil War? The Commonwealth? A very pivotal period of history. Some good discussion on the NPG blog along these lines.

As well as the main attraction, the NPG has a lot of other beautiful paintings, including some good contemporary portraits. A couple I particularly liked were by Germaine Greer by Paula Rego and Sir John Tavener by Michael R. Taylor. The Rego is very deft work in pastel.