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The cleverest man in the world

It would appear from yesterday’s UK budget, before my accountant gets through the smallprint, that Gordon Brown has decided one million small UK businesses hold just too many awkward voters to browbeat in one go. So he has only smacked us with a light tap rather than the full hammer of state retribution he was muttering about earlier in the month.

There is still a Section 660 court case, with a judgement due in June, where he may yet succeed in fully wrecking the small business sector, just as he managed to do recently with the UK film industry, and the IT contractor sector several years ago, with his IR35 measure, but I’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

What really puzzles me, however, is why whenever he deliberately introduces tax loopholes, to apparently encourage small businesses, instead of financial journalists just praising him in newspapers the damned small businesses actually take advantage of his faux largesse. Which means he has to get all moody and pompous before closing his own damned loopholes down again. And of course, if it is so wonderful to sack 40,000 civil servants, or should I say re-badge 40,000 rent-seeking deadbeats as outside agency staff, just why was it so wonderful to take them all on in the first place, at the rate of 500 anti-smoking awareness counsellors a week, for a full seven years?

And just to round off this triplet of Keynesian fact-changing stupidity, if everything is going so well with the British economy, just why is it the Red King of Scotland is borrowing so much? I know I could live off caviar and Krug champagne if I possessed the ability to make the British taxpayer pay off my credit card bills, but I would certainly avoid bragging about it if I was morally bankrupt enough to try it. Somebody, somewhere, is going to have to pay the piper at some point, even if some in the private sector are currently working overtime to supply the government with goods and services paid for with money borrowed off future taxpayers. This gives Gordon apparent economic growth without the tax revenues you would normally associate with such growth, which is why he is reaching for the overdraft facility like Craggy Island’s Father Jack would reach for the Black Bush whiskey after the end of Lent.

The difference between these two sons of the cloth is that Father Jack just gets drunk, whereas Gordon Brown gets drunk on the power of spending and wasting other people’s money.

In conclusion, there are two answers to my general doublethink questions above. Gordon Brown is either the cleverest man in the world. Or, as Eric Morecambe might have once put it, the man’s a fool.

I’ll spare you the trouble of asking you to guess the direction in which my own opinion lies.

BTW, for any wavering Gordon Brown worshippers reading this, who are beginning to suspect it might just be the Eric Morecambe option, if you want to know why it is all going so horribly wrong for New Labour, read the Murray Rothbard article entitled The Myth of Efficient Government Service, where the whole shooting match is revealed with Uncle Murray’s usual sure-footed conciseness and shattering clarity.


16 comments to The cleverest man in the world

  • bob

    Andy.. hows Susan these days?

  • Tony

    500 anti-smoking awareness counsellors? Hmm, I wonder what colour their shirts are?

  • Well, I can’t really blame him for closing the tax loophole for the UK film industry. This one allowed tax benefits that were larger than the actual money invested, meaning that a company could “invest” in a film, gain the tax benefit, sell off its interest in the film before it was released, and actually come out ahead, receiving in effect a subsidy from the Treasury for this absurdity. This did what you would expect, which was encourage the creation of many really crappy films that were made purely so that the financers could claim the tax concession, not because anyone was intended to actually see them.

  • Andy Duncan

    Mr Jennings writes:

    This did what you would expect, which was encourage the creation of many really crappy films that were made purely so that the financers could claim the tax concession, not because anyone was intended to actually see them.

    And who introduced this ‘loophole’ in the first place? Step forward the fat controller, G. Brown.

    Pretending for a moment to accept the premise that taxes are necessary (which is difficult enough :), I think this only shows, once again, central government’s and Gordon Brown’s general business incompetence. But it’s not his fault. The political system itself puts these incompetent people in charge who are good at stealing money and encouraging us to believe that taxes, and they, are necessary, to rule over the rest of us peasants. The trick will be for us not to argue about which taxes are, or are not, justifiable, but simply to just get all taxes down, in whatever shape or form they come, not just those helping leftie luvvies in the UK film industry.

    Personally, aside from perhaps the subsidy you mentioned, which I assume came from you and me in our personal taxes, I’m pleased some astute business people managed to take Gordon at his word, worked through the inane consequences of his films ‘concession’, realised he’d shot himself in the foot (again), and managed to get a few million quid of their own money out of the government’s hands, to spend it, untaxed, on something they thought more valuable than pumped-up Whitehall salaries.

    As long as they’re not reaching into my back pocket, which I’ll agree is as bad as taxation itself, good luck to anyone who manages to get Gordon out of their lives, especially if they use his own ‘concessions’, before he re-brands them ‘loopholes’ once he realises people aren’t doing what he wanted them to do.

    I just love it when the puppetmaster realises he has been played as a mug.

  • Michael M Mason

    A prominate socalist writes:-

    im sorry.. im still confused.. if this blog isnt about killing socalists.. why is there a handgun placed prominately in the top left hand corner..?

    It’s a warning. We care passionately about apostrophes.

  • Andy Duncan

    Michael M Mason writes:

    It’s a warning. We care passionately about apostrophes.


    bob writes:

    .. if this blog isnt about killing socalists..

    Not killing socialists bob, killing socialism. You’re welcome to come and join us, anytime, BTW. Even if you are now, or ever have been, a socialist.

    Even Professor Hermann Hans-Hoppe, my intellectual leader, was once a socialist (which came as a right shock to me! :), so there’s hope (or should I say, Hoppe), for everyone.

    The gun is for defending ourselves from socialists, thieves, pimps, tax inspectors, gangsters, and anyone else who coercively tries to steal our property to fulfill their own needs, desires, ambitions, or ends.

    Unprovoked aggression we leave to the collectivists.

  • bob


    This blogroach does not respect private property or respond to polite requests, so his comments have been deleted.

  • D Anghelone

    This sounds like what has become a standard “bargaining” technique for government officials. Threaten the outrageous so to raise hackles and then “settle” for something less as palliative.

  • Even Professor Hermann Hans-Hoppe, (sic) my intellectual leader, was once a socialist (which came as a right shock to me! :),

    Yes, he was once a libertarian as well which came as a shock to me.

    N.B. The fellow’s name is Hans-Hermann Hoppe

  • Andy: I think that my criticism is more along the lines of Mark Steyn’s criticism of the welfare state a couple of weeks ago, which is that the real tragedy isn’t that it is a waste of money but that it is a waste of people. If we have a situation where the government essentially pays you to make movies, and they do so regardless of whether the movies are any good or if anyone gets to see them, you get a lot of really bad movies. If the success of movies genuinely depends on their making money, then there may be fewer of them but at least some of them will be movies that people actually want to see. The output of the British film industry has been an immense amount of unutterable crap while subsidies like this (and the scandal of lottery funding to the film industry as well) have been in place. (You have no idea how much – something like 95% of all films that have been made with lottery funding have not been released in cinemas). Almost any change to the status quo would improve things.

    This sort of regulation – immense amounts of red tape – bureaucrats deciding what should be made and who is eligible – and on and on and on – is I think even worse than high taxes on their own. (Of course, the two things go together, because you need high taxes to pay the bureaucrats). I don’t think it is fair to say that removing this concession would wreck the British film industry because in concert with government it has already managed to thoroughly wreck itself, and this sort of tax loophole was part of how it did it. At least if we get rid of the subsidy we will be paying for fewer self-important tranzi-lefy filmmakers.

  • Andy Duncan

    Paul Coulam writes:

    N.B. The fellow’s name is Hans-Hermann Hoppe

    Whoops! 🙂

    I was so shocked the other day when I read in his PDF-linked Theory of Socialism and Capitalism, that he’d been a socialist, a lot of my neural connections spontaneously rewired, nonsense causing sorts all of. Mea Culpa.

    Look out for the section on ‘Conservative Socialism’, which provides, at least for me, one of the best analyses of why it is Conservatism is not the way for any of us to go.

  • Andy Duncan

    Mr Jennings writes:

    At least if we get rid of the subsidy we will be paying for fewer self-important tranzi-lefy filmmakers.

    Yes, I think we can all say ‘Yeah’ to that. Another lesson from this experience, I think, is that deep down Gordon Brown knows that less taxation stimulates economic activity (hence more socialism and more taxation stifles it).

    So, whenever he decides, in his palace, he needs more of something (like Channel4-style films, small businesses in Cambridge creating web sites for councils, Welsh windmill manufacturers, etc, etc), he lowers the taxation in that particular arena (usually temporarily, and never so you can rely on it), to stimulate that activity, even if, as you say, he over-stimulates it to create more of a product than a free market would naturally produce.

    At least it gives us an inkling that deep down, just as with Lenin and the NEP to feed a starving Soviet population, socialists like Gordon Brown know that capitalism is the best way to generate wealth, and that socialism is the best way to destroy wealth.

    The conceit of the man is that he thinks he can turn this economic activity on and off like a tap, at his command, whereas what he is in fact doing is creating Uncle Murray’s islands of calculational chaos, where no business man or woman can rely on any government policy for any length of time, thereby creating these great shifts in capital flow between industries as the capital chases the latest gimmick tax cut, whether or not the capital is moving into areas which will actually benefit the general population or not. Hence we’re all worse off.

    It would simply be better, if one must accept taxation, if he just introduced one flat rate of tax for every kind of industry and just let us get on with it, saving money by sacking all the administrators who look after all of these temporary HM Treasury induced loopholes. At least then we’d all have a permanent level playing field and could plan long-term, thereby creating greater wealth in the long-term.

    Indeed one of the reasons there are so many small businesses in this country, and not that many successful big ones, is that once you hit a threshold (I believe 300,000 in turnover per annum), you start paying a much higher corporation tax rate, probably making less money at a 400,000 turnover, than you would on 299,000. So few bother expanding beyond the 300,000 mark (or whatever it is, I personally just dream of getting close to the limit! :).

    So the ‘loophole’ brought in to encourage small businesses, to possibly later become big ones, (ie. a lower corporation tax), is the very measure, a grand canyon of a measure, which keeps them small and stops them becoming big ones. Yet another kind of welfare trap keeping us all poor.

    Though being, as I am, a intellectual disciple of …errr… Hans-Hermann Hoppe, all taxation, even of the flat level playing field kind, is to be despised, naturally.

  • claire tyler

    It’s easy to look at the broader picture when it’s not you that’s possibly going to be unemployed.

    I work for an organisation that puts Government Policy into effect locally, by scrutinising local planning applications to make sure they fit in with guidelines, overseeing funding allocations for projects as diverse as traffic improvement systems, community safety projects, or education initiatives; and even administering nominations for honours lists, or the Golden Jubilee awards.

    We work with public health departments on (yawn, sorry but – ) anti-smoking campaigns locally, we’ve been involved with local agriculture in promoting locally grown produce and tying it in with fruit for schools and health vending machines. We deal with European Structural Fund grants and help local authorities put plans into place (and act on them) when there are BSE, Foot and Mouth outbreaks, and have contingency plans for all sorts of emergencies.

    We work with Home Office, police and other agencies on crime reduction, and work closely with the home office on anti-drugs campaigns. But if people think it’s a ‘waste’ then I hope they are happy to pay my benefit when they make me redundant!

  • Claire: At the risk of sounding unkind, as I do not want there to be any system of local planning applications at all thus I do not want there to be any need for people who have to administer the detested system… and as I do not regard whether or not people smoke as any of the government’s business, my views on tax funded anti-smoking can be imagined… and as I regard all European funding as perverse (I used to work for the European Investment Bank & the CIPFA and to quote the treasurer of a major English Met Borough Council I knew “why should we be grateful to Europe for getting only some of our own money back?”), I do not want there to be a European Structural Fund to begin with… and as I regard government action during the foot and mouth outbreak as part of the problem… etc. etc.

    In short I would be delighted to see you unemployed, at least with regard to your present employer.

    Please understand I hold no animus towards you personally and do not wish you ill, but to put it bluntly I regard you as being in the business of servicing a vast wealth-destruction machine and what is more, you are doing it at my expense. Of course I hope you will find a productive private sector job as quickly as possible should you indeed be where the rather small axe falls on the public sector.

  • u lot talk alode ov crap