The Duty To Avoid Tax

For the first time ever, I walked into the Red Channel. There was nobody there, just a waist high white counter with a doorbell button. A laminated sign was sellotaped along side it which said “RING ONCE” and I pressed it.

Nothing happened for the next ten minutes so I pressed the button again. Immediately a large man in a shabby uniform burst through a door. He was overweight, unshaven and his eyes were red.

“Can’t you read?” he snarled.

“Sorry” I replied.

“What do you want?” he growled.

“I want to declare something” I said.

“Really” said the man. “And what would that be?”

“This” I said, taking a litre bottle of 25 year old Macallan from my bag and putting it onto the counter.

“Where did you get it?” he asked,

“At Duty Free in the airport” I replied.

“And is this all the alcohol you’ve got?”

“Yes, of course” I said. “I’m not an alcoholic”.

“Then you’re under the Duty Free allowance and this does not have to be declared” said the man. “You should have gone through the other channel like everybody else.”

“Ah yes”, I replied. “but I’ve been keeping track of the news while on holiday and in the last few weeks there has been a great deal of effort made, by politicians of all parties, to establish the moral case for paying tax. I want to be a good citizen and pay my share. So I insist on paying the duty on this whisky.”

“Well you can’t, there’s no form for it.” said the big man. “Just get out of here and stop wasting my time. We’ve got enough to do here without dealing with nut cases like you”

“Well if that’s you’re attitude…” I picked up my suitcase and walked out.

When I got home I carefully unpacked the thirty cartons of King Edward cigars from it without any feelings of guilt whatever. Then I picked up the phone.

“Hello, is that HMRC?  Oh good, I wanted to have a word with you about my ISAs…..”

 

 

 

 

Image Credit: Martin Burns

See No Evil

It’s just been a bad week.

Like most of you, I lead a quiet and peaceful life happily paying my taxes and smiling contentedly as I do my bit to keep the UK public sector juggernaut on the road. I am not active politically and rarely write any more. I am still a libertarian but I no longer try to explain the concept to others because I now know it is almost certain that they won’t understand. They will just look at me a bit strangely in future.

No, since the Tories took over from the appalling New Labour a few years back, the anger I used to feel has largely left me. If Chris Mounsey couldn’t sustain the venomous rage, how should I be expected to? Anyway, we’ve got the internet- it will guarantee our freedom, won’t it?

And then we get a week like the last one.

First, the Met Police decide that it is unlawful to view a video. Google and Twitter fall into line and close the accounts of “offenders”.

Then the Government announce their intention to introduce a statute giving the police and courts powers to interfere in personal relationships. So if I argue with my wife in future, I could end up in jail. The opposition say the proposals don’t go far enough.

Finally, text messages are put into the public domain and two men’s careers are ruined for privately expressing views that are judged to be politically incorrect.

So am I consumed with indignant rage at these events?

Not at all – it’s just been a bad week.

However I have to say it’s quite nice to be reminded how good it felt to be absolutely fucking livid….

 

 

 

 

Image credit: Tim Lenz

Legal Theft

I should begin with a disclaimer.

Over the last eight years I have owned two successful and profitable businesses which had to be liquidated because the bank I was with moved the financial goal posts. In both cases, my local “relationship manager” was powerless to help mitigate a blanket decision made much further up the food chain. So the news over the last few days regarding the actions of RBS in closing down small businesses seems less remarkable to me than it will have been to many others.

The assertion is that these businesses were closed by the sudden withdrawal of agreed lending in order that RBS could acquire the assets of the businesses at prices below the market value. It is worth noting that the story has been brought to our attention by a businessman who was invited to join the Department of Business Innovation and Skills and had not, apparently, been subjected to the compulsory briefing on how state corporatism works and what truths may not be stated.

But I have to tell you that what has been revealed thus far is [In Ken’s opinion -Ed] only the tip of the iceberg and all the major banks were following similar policies of preying on their customers – weakening them, killing them, then picking their bones.

For even more outrageous and scandalous examples it is worth reading some of the wonderful investigative reporting of Ian Fraser, particularly into the HBOS operation in Reading.

This was a scam run by the wonderfully named Lyndon Scourfield and involved Mediterranean yachts, suitcases of cash and East European call girls. So far, ten people have been arrested but, given the record of the Serious Fraud Office in prosecuting financial crime, I don’t suppose they are too concerned.

And, in parallel with the crimes perpetrated by the banks, it could be argued that the consequences of the actions of the asset factoring companies are even more devastating. After reading these horror stories, you will be astonished we have any small businesses left.

Furthermore, it is a strange fact that most of these crimes have been totally ignored by the main stream media. Not being a conspiracy theorist I assume that they think that the public are either uninterested in financial matters or too stupid to understand them. However it is a fact that, for every business destroyed, real people lost their jobs, homes, marriages and, in some cases, their lives.

But what has all this got to do with libertarianism?

Well, I recently wrote here about the detrimental effects of the energy cartel currently operating in the UK and my concerns regarding the unfettered power of state corporatism. The banking scandals referred to above are yet another symptom of the same problem – a sector protected by state regulation, actively conniving to make excess profits and protected, by the state, from failure.

It is increasingly clear to this libertarian how the battle lines are, and will be, drawn. On the one side we have the large corporations which collude with and feed off the state and are permitted, by government, and the uneven application of the rule of law, to feed off us. On the other side you have everybody else.

This story is important because I believe the natural affection that libertarians have for property rights and markets should not blind us to the dangers and excesses of the capitalist system currently operating in this country and we should understand that there can be no legitimate right to assets that have been stolen, however lawfully.

 

 

 

Remembrance customs

Yesterday we had various ceremonies of remembrance up and down the country where the current citizens of the UK congregated to remember those fallen in past wars. These are solemn occasions and there is obvious emotion involved when considering those who have acted heroically and selflessly and have sacrificed their lives on behalf of others.

© Eric

© Eric

But let’s just analyse this a little deeper.

It seems to me that what we are really doing in these ceremonies is celebrating the actions of soldiers sent, by the government of our nation state, to fight with and try to kill the inhabitants of another nation state. If, like this libertarian, you despise the state and only tolerate its existence in terms of it being a necessary evil, is there really anything to celebrate in the memories of aggression, or sacrifice, undertaken on its behalf?

Moreover the ceremonies of remembrance, significantly involving all of those currently controlling and running the state, have the effect of bolstering nationalism and therefore paving the way for further state aggression in the future.

Of course I do not advocate the burning of poppies or the causing of any offence to those who wish to participate in acts of remembrance, but I’m afraid I’ll not be joining them. Whilst I can wonder at individual acts of bravery and the altruism involved in risking or sacrificing life for a principle or belief, I cannot condone acts of violence undertaken on behalf of a collective which itself has violence at the core of its existence.

So, as we approach the centenary of WW1 and begin to sense the mawkish nationalistic sentiment with which the graves of those involved will be desecrated, I have to say that I will be remembering those involved as deceived, rather than heroic.