Saturday, 9 April 2016

Brexit XXII, Shares and Trumpism

YES, SORTED! I can cross my legs, sit down on the floor and get up again with my legs still crossed, not using my arms to assist. Hay can't, but she does have pretty long levers in her legs. You guessed it - we watched Chris van Tulleken and Angela Rippon on TV reporting on ageing.

Cameron and his shares: he was left shares in an offshore company (or bought them, depending on where you get your information) which is not subject to UK tax. Now that's the same as investing in a foreign company. Nothing wrong with that - you wouldn't expect say a Dutch company to pay UK taxes unless it was based here. The benefit of the offshore company is it pays very little tax, if any, and that's a matter between it and the country the company is located in (could equally be the Isle of Man, Guernsey, Bahrain, Monaco or any one  of the 82 tax havens around the world). Once any dividends are repatriated to the UK they then become liable for UK tax, quite naturally, and Cameron paid his tax. As for not declaring the earnings on his MPs' interests, it's not UK sourced and I believe only UK sourced income needs to be declared. Seems the people calling him a hypocrite don't understand foreign investment and think it's all a scam. It's not - it's all above-board and totally legal and your pension company is probably doing it. It's no different from investing in a foreign company paying 19% corporate tax, as opposed to 20% - the only difference is that these places charge very little (or no) tax, but they receive other benefits as a consequence. With 82 of them, it's an impossible job to close them all down. Labour's posturing smacks of a populist, point-scoring opportunity.

We were watching a Dan Snow documentary about Viking expansion the other evening. History has taught us that nations that trade become relatively wealthy. The Viking settlements in America and Greenland didn't prosper and fizzled out due to them not having anything to trade - the market for Arctic cruises hadn't quite evolved yet, the people back home had more cod than you could shake a war axe at and the concept of a tax haven was not yet formulated. Similarly the wealth of the British Empire was based on trade - well, that, the odd Maharaja's treasure chest and slavery. Anything that promotes trade and makes it easier (or cheaper) is good for wealth, ergo a free trade bloc is good. It's all the other stuff that surrounds it that's the subject of debate and we must consider whether we throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Friendly Viking traders - probably from a tax haven.

The Duke of Wellington and the Roman elite had a rational fear of the mob, or ochlocracy, the rule of democracy spoiled by demagoguery, The modern term is mobocracy and is usually defined as the rule of passion over reason. It is typified by the unhindered rule of the majority and a loss of the protection of minorities. This is what we are about to see in the USA, where Trump will say anything to appeal to the mob to gain power.

An old school friend of mine who became an American citizen described it to me thus: The choices are,
  1. A septuagenarian, millionaire congressman who started life as a civil rights rabble rouser and has been a congressman ever since, never worked a day in his life, offering a socialist paradise where everything is free, gets the votes of mainly 18 year-olds. 
  2. A sexagenarian female liar, murderer and abortionist who has worked the system from being a poor lawyer to becoming a multi-millionairess and will be whatever you will vote for. 
  3. An evangelist senator who thinks the system is OK and can be changed from within by talking it to death, or 
  4. A businessman who started with 1 million from dad and has parlayed it into billions, albeit in net worth, but through 4 bankruptcies and 3 marriages and who doesn't understand, or want to understand the system, he just wants to change it. General intelligence level probably average, political correctness NIL.
So, from that analysis (and leaving aside the scurrilous comments about Hilary Clinton) it's basically a protest vote against career politicians and the system; however, in their desire to give politicians a kick up the arse, Americans must beware of the law of unintended consequences. Is it better to have someone who knows the world stage and is an expert in diplomacy and international politics (by dint of being a career politician), or a maverick, demagogue loudmouth who would make America a laughing stock and possibly bankrupt the country as a consequence (as Trump did with several of his companies)?

What is nefarious is that you can only enter American politics if you are very rich or have the backing of the plutocrats, and that's the irony of choosing Trump over the other candidates - it's perpetuating the Roman system.

No.1 Son is 18 today (No.2 Daughter was 29 the day before yesterday and No.2 Son is 16 next Tuesday - April is a busy month for me. No.1 Daughter is the odd one out being 39 in October). I was at sea on my 18th and so didn't have the traditional enjoyments. Rather than a drug and alcohol fueled party he's opting for a more sedate dinner at a local hostelry with the other members of the kampong.


  1. We are so old we had a 21st birthday party.

  2. I enjoyed your very succinct analysis of the American candidates. I guess from your recent posts that you are leaning toward the the non_brexit side of the fence.
    I wish your son a happy 18th, as the lady above said I had a 21st birthday (bit no party).