Sunday Reading

Written By: - Date published: 10:35 am, June 24th, 2012 - 6 comments
Categories: International, interweb, Media - Tags: , ,

I’m going to try and put up a piece each Sunday of interesting, longer, deeper stories I found during the week. It’s also a chance for you to share what you found this week too. Those stimulating links you wanted to share, but just didn’t fit in anywhere (no linkwhoring).  This week: Greece, Watergate and Tax avoidance.

The reporting of Woodward and Bernstein on Watergate was indeed excellent, but a new book looks at debunking the myths that have grown up around it.  Woodward and Bernstein weren’t the ones to nail Nixon (subpoena-wielding investigators did that), or even break the story.  ‘Deep Throat’ didn’t say “follow the money”, but did turn out to be a convicted felon for illegal break-ins himself (against domestic terrorists the Weather Underground) – pardoned by Reagan though, so never had to go to jail.

The book (and website) looks a lot at the ‘Golden Age’ of journalism – which it turns out is the typical rose coloured glasses of youth.  The media is not so clever or even influential as it likes to make itself out to be…

Also interesting on Watergate is a look at the women who did bring Nixon down.

What Syriza Stands for:

  • It’s an acronym for The Coalition of the Radical Left United Social Front, although the “radical” translates better as “alternative” in English, says Bournous
  • The party logo is made up of three flags that represent their core values – red for Marxism, green for environmentalism and violet for feminism

Syriza just failed to take power in Greece, and this article is a great look at who the fairly new party are, used to squabbling to get over the threshold, and now so close to power.  Still a lot of idealism and rapidly learning practicality…

When asked what the party’s policy is on Kazakhstan, he laughs. “These issues are new for us.”

The New York Times has an interesting piece from the editor of Greek newspaper about what he sees as the failed politics of all parties in Greece that got them into their present mess.  Greeks were left with a choice between fear and anger – anger at the old parties and austerity and joblessness; fear of where the rejecting austerity would lead – out of the Euro? into bankruptcy? Poverty beckons either way…

Not risking poverty, comedian Jimmy Carr joined about 1000 others in the K2 tax avoidance scheme channelling money out of Britain into Jersey and back into their own pockets.  He was roundly condemned by British PM David Cameron, with the scheme labelled ‘morally repugnant’.

Jimmy Carr quickly apologised for a ‘terrible error of judgement’, but the PM’s criticism has somewhat come round on him.  British Labour have been quick to point out:

“Oddly, [Cameron] did not take the opportunity to condemn as morally repugnant the tax avoidance scheme used by Conservative supporter Gary Barlow, who has given a whole new meaning to the phrase Take That.

“If he is also morally repugnant, why has he been given an OBE in the Birthday Honours?

“Why is the Prime Minister’s view of what’s dodgy in the tax system so partial? Sir Philip Green has interesting tax arrangements but far from being labelled morally repugnant in a Mexico TV studio, he has got a government review to head up,”

But still, it’s good having all sides of the political spectrum pushing against the wealthy who abuse the system.  Well, almost all – you’ve got to love the Tory backbenchers…

Right on cue, the fustian Tory MP Jacob Rees Mogg, who could be the estate manager on Downton Abbey, pops up to remind us all: “We do not have a moral duty to pay more tax than the law requires.” Andy Sparrow, the Guardian’s blogger-who-never-sleeps, spotted that gem, which is precisely back to front.

Mogg would be right to say we do not have a legal duty to pay more tax than the law requires – that is the difference between tax evasion, which is fraud, and tax avoidance, which is what Jimmy Carr was doing via the K2 scheme and tax lawyers and accountants spend sad-but-lucrative careers dreaming up to stay one step ahead of HMRC.

Where Mogg misses the point, as David Cameron does not, is that we have a moral duty to look out for each other, do we not?

6 comments on “Sunday Reading”

  1. r0b 1

    I like the idea of Sunday Reading!

    Here’s my contribution, a depressing piece by George Monbiot:
    Rio 2012: it’s a make-or-break summit. Just like they told us at Rio 1992

    This week’s earth summit in Rio de Janeiro is a ghost of the glad, confident meeting 20 years ago. By now, the leaders who gathered in the same city in 1992 told us, the world’s environmental problems were to have been solved. But all they have generated is more meetings, which will continue until the delegates, surrounded by rising waters, have eaten the last rare dove, exquisitely presented with an olive leaf roulade. The biosphere that world leaders promised to protect is in a far worse state than it was 20 years ago. Is it not time to recognise that they have failed?

    These summits have failed for the same reason that the banks have failed. Political systems that were supposed to represent everyone now return governments of millionaires, financed by and acting on behalf of billionaires. The past 20 years have been a billionaires’ banquet. At the behest of corporations and the ultra-rich, governments have removed the constraining decencies – the laws and regulations – which prevent one person from destroying another. To expect governments funded and appointed by this class to protect the biosphere and defend the poor is like expecting a lion to live on gazpacho.

  2. Mike Boon 2

    I’ve been having a few thoughts about tax avoidance this week… Particularly those that set up their affairs with trusts and companies and the like to get out of paying income tax. I think if people don’t want to pay tax, we shouldn’t force them to. BUT… if you decide that you’re not worthy of contributing like the rest of us then you have to pay FULL MARKET PRICE for all those things that we all pay our taxes for – schools, all healthcare including prescriptions for wee Tarquin’s asthma medication, university fees, use of all public amenities such as roads and ACC, and so on. If you’re so damn hell-bent on your ‘user pays’ free market bullshit, then shut up, stop paying tax and pay for everything.

  3. We may in fact have a moral duty to pay more tax than the law requires, if “we” are very successful and “we” aren’t taxed very much due to the political lobbying of “our” friends.

    I assume Jacob Rees Mogg was using the exclusive version of “we”, because there’s no way this moral dilemma applies to anyone earning an ordinary salary.

  4. Treetop 4

    It takes a lot for my heart to sink. My heart sunk for Joanne on Marae Investigates on TV 1 at 10 am this morning.

    CYFs allowed girl to live with rapist

    Joanne’s violation is extreme as not only was she raped, she contracted HIV from one of the perpetrators who has since died from AIDS and unknown to Joanne one of her children contracted HIV from her. Joanne’s partner has had to stop work. I just hope that ACC are covering Joanne and that she receives a huge payout from the government for having her life turned inside out and upside down.

    Re The Watergate scandal I have know what it is like to be accused of the Martha Mitchell Effect by an ACC psychiatrist regarding the Moyle Affair.

  5. Draco T Bastard 5

    The Ponzi Arithmetic of Profit

    As Minsky explains, real estate is far and away the largest asset class of every economy, so when the credit-money creating financial system gets to the point where it has to mortgage all the nation’s real estate as collateral for the, by this time, truly colossal sums of debt-money that are required to keep the monetary expansions happening (i.e. when you get to the vertical part of the exponential curve of debt-money creation where billions become trillions become quadrillions…), you have reached the terminal phase of the debt supercycle. Both the private sector and the public sector are financially exhausted so their game of credit expansion “handoff” has come to its end and there is nobody left solvent to reflate again.

    It’s a long article but that paragraph sums where we are now – in need of inflating the money supply but with no one (either private or public) capable of doing so as it’s already far beyond what the actual resources can support.

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