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Showbiz folk can talk economics, but cannot expect to be free from pushback

“I’m thinking of making T-Shirts for Guardian readers and Progressives. The first one would say: I GET MY OPINIONS FROM MILLIONAIRE ROCK STARS AND ACTORS.”

Taken from a comment by someone called Stuck-Record at Tim Worstall’s blog. Tim was describing how he left a comment on an article by the actor, Bill Nighy, in defence of a “Robin Hood Tax”; Tim’s comment – which he said was entirely civil - was deleted. The Comment is Free site of the Guardian clearly cannot take dissent from some pro-marketeers. (I expect Tim drives them mad with his dissection of their views on a daily basis.)

The red lights on the mental dashboard go on in my head when the words Robin Hood come out. The false assumption of the tax proponents is that you can tax an activity – such as bank trading – without the impact in any way being felt by us ordinary folk. More cynically, politicians might like the idea because the actual cost impact will not be easy to see (wider bid/offer spreads for exchanging money, lower returns to investors, cuts to service and jobs in banks, etc.)

Of course, not all actors and music folk have collectivist, interventionist views on things like economics, or other things. The US actor Rob Lowe seems pretty intelligent, ditto Clint Eastwood, Michael Caine, etc. I don’t have a problem as such with actors/others talking about such things – we should not fall into the ad hominem fallacy of saying that non-specialists on subject A cannot talk about it (democracy is based on such a position, is it not?). However, actors, singers or whatever who want to get into the arena cannot expect to be treated any more gently than an economist or other specialist in an area of controversy. Being a luvvie doesn’t get you special favours.

One commenter managed to get past the CiF “checkpoint Charlie” to leave what I thought was a pretty good point:

The whole flaw is laid bare in this one sentence – a tax can be tiny or it can raise billions, it is unlikely to do both. Those billions you claim can be raised are a powerful incentive for organisations to circumvent the tax; on something as ephemeral as financial transactions that’s quite easy to do. It would merely hand volume to New York, Hong Kong or Singapore.

Of course France, Germany et al are in favour of it. It would be a EU wide tax that would fall most heavily on the UK and you even point out that a whopping 50% of the money raised could be spent on domestic causes – oh fantastic, we adopt a tax that could be damaging to one of our major industries and get to spend half of the proceeds on our own country. Do you honestly believe that Germany would accept a similar deal in relation to a green tax on luxury motorcars or France on farming?

10 comments to Showbiz folk can talk economics, but cannot expect to be free from pushback

  • Mr Ed

    Here is a quote from the Guardian’s rules for comments, you are clearly told that you may be misunderstood.

    9. Be aware that you may be misunderstood, so try to be clear about what you are saying, and expect that people may understand your contribution differently than you intended.

    So, presumably, if you say ‘…Taxes are destructive, and far too high…’, that might read to a socialist:

    ‘…the poor should be left to starve, and in fact should be shot…’ and therefore be ‘hate speech’.

    I can’t see the problem myself, once you abandon reason, and actively reject it, like a good socialist, all wonders flow therefrom. The only logic that socialists seem to retain is that if they destroy their enemies, then those enemies will no longer oppose them, that is about as far as they all take cause and effect, apart from the logic of stealing off others to enrich themselves, for a while.

  • pete

    Off message comments are often deleted at CiF.

    You know when you’ve really hit home when any trace of the comment is eradicated instead of the usual deletion and replacement by the message claiming it didn’t conform to their ‘community standards’. The FAQs are pointless, and have never given me the slightest hint as to why my comment was cut.

    It is all a bit random though, with many off message comments allowed to remain.

    Anything going against the house opinions on global warming or Israel is more likely to lead to deletion than on other topics.

  • Dom

    The Robin Hood analogy is always wrongly used anyway. Robin Hood stole from the tax collectors and returned the money to the tax payers. He should be invoked by libertarians / small government types.

  • Rob

    Yes, Robin Hood didn’t steal a tenth of a groat from every citizen each time they bought a loaf of bread, and then sent the money to the Holy Roman Empire.

  • CaptDMO

    So, I’m guessing that folks whose insights on ‘social” issues that call themselves “comedians” after being weighed, measured, and found humorlessly wanting, are to be considered “actors” when they hold the very same Union “membership card” (and dues) in order to compete in the bread and circuses arenas?

  • Stuck-Record

    Odd experience to log onto Samizdata and see a comment of your own at the top of a new thread!

    Re topic, I suspect that for every hypocritical luvvy lecturing their financial inferiors on the evils of aspiration, there are many more hypocrites spouting ‘progressive’ memes as protective colouration for their own rapacious pole-climbing. Then there are even more who just keep quiet for fear of being burned as witches.

    I know a very successful entertainments lawyer who is staggeringly rich and screws every penny for his clients. He is the very model of a slash-and-burn capitalist, yet tweets and facebooks about eeeevil tories and socialist magic money tree nonsense all the time. Weird.

  • Bruce

    Stuck Record:

    “yet tweets and facebooks about eeeevil tories and socialist magic money tree nonsense all the time. Weird.”

    Very effective camouflage used when stalking certain game.

  • Vinegar Joe

    “Rock stars…..is there anything they don’t know?” – Homer Simpson

  • […] Showbiz folk can talk economics, but cannot expect to be free from pushback […]

  • Johnnydub

    Stuck Record:

    it’s the same as the people who inhabit the cesspit that is the Guardian’s Comment is Free section.

    They obsess over and over about “how evil the Tories are” yet they’d be first in line for the guard jobs at the re-education / death camp that is the end point of their communist obsession….