Sunday, 10 April 2016

Review of the week: Panama goes pop

Well, what a week it’s been!

In this post:
  • Panama
  • Media coverage of Brexit

The big news of the week broke on Sunday 03 April 2016.   A German newspaper announced the end of a four-month-long investigation by an international team of journalists into a 2.6 tertabyte leak of documents from a lawyer in Panama which arranged tax avoidance schemes.

There is no direct impact of this news to Brexit v EurIn, but there may be indirect impacts that negatively affect both sides according to who within the establishment shall be revealed as deploying gross hypocrisy (i.e. doing something different to what they tell us plebs to do).

So far, the Icelandic prime minister has resigned, David Cameron has been in the spotlight (and complies with tax law, resulting in a scandalised media revealing just how ordinary people can avoid inheritance tax, as if members of the Labour Party don’t already know!) and FIFA’s brand new leader has been embroiled (quelle surprise!).  Big European names have yet to hit the British headlines, and nothing looked obvious in Google News Deutschland on Sunday 10Apr2016, but let’s wait and see.  It’s only a matter of time...

There is one point of nexus between UK, EU and tax avoidance: in 2013, the UK government lobbied the European Union to prevent transparency rules affecting offshore tax trusts.

Media coverage of Brexit

Relating more directly to Brexit v EurIn:
  • Rock star Mick Jagger - allegedly a closet political junkie - says that Brexit might have short-term costs, but might then be “beneficial in the long-term”.  It’s noteworthy: Jagger has been spot-on right before…
  • UKGovt is going to spend £9m of taxpayers’ money telling the taxpayers why it thinks EurIn is right for Britain.  Yes, UKGovt is entitled to an opinion, and yes, £9m is petty cash to a government.  OK, I’ll read it…
  • On 06Apr2016, the Dutch held a referendum about Ukraine’s associate membership.  It turns out activists triggered the referendum to make a different point, but even so, as a barometer of public disaffection with the European ruling elite, the referendum was useful.  This article summarises what the Dutch newspapers thought (“Anger gets a voice”).  This article is the Guardian’s Anglicised analysis.
  • The National Farmers’ Union of the UK published an analysis of Brexit.  The NFU has expressed no preference for either Brexit or EurIn, but the analysis is fundamentally about trade (and trade is irrelevant to the issue of Brexit).  The NFU concludes that, for its view of trade, EurIn is the least-cost option, but the analysis appears to have excluded the whole point of Brexit, which is the chance of participating in new, non-EU markets.  Moreover, the headlines suggest that the NFU has assumed a “status quo” view of trade, as if the sole change would be the immediate implications of trade rules, and that no other politics would contaminate the trade process.
  • Out of the blue - and probably related to the EU playing politics with TTIP - the EU on 07Apr2016 publicly wondered whether Americans and Canadians should obtain visas prior to travelling to the EU.  Amidst the Brexit v EurIn referendum in the UK, this is perhaps the most clueless thing for the EU to have wondered publicly.  It undermines the EurIn campaign and a supposed raison d’ĂȘtre for the EU (if the case for a United States of Europe depends on freedom-of-movement-across borders, then the same argument applies for a United States of the Entire Western World).  Thus, it plays into the hands of Brexit (“The Europeans sabotage even themselves at every opportunity!  They can’t think straight!  Wonky thinking, wonky policy, wonky negotiations!  We just can’t trust those crazy Europeans!”).
  • Project Fear?  Or Project Uh-Oh Watch Out For Bastille Mark II?  Fredrik Reinfeldt, the former prime minister of Sweden who spoke at the Conservative Party conference in 2006, told the Telegraph that he fears his old friend is in danger of losing the EU referendum on June 23 after because of rising anti-establishment sentiment in Europe.  Looks like the Dutch voted on 06Apr2016 as Reinfeldt predicted from experience.
  • Project Fear: Airbus Group wrote to its UK employees, recommending EurIn.  Companies rarely try to tell their staff what to think in political matters, especially where trade is demonstrably irrelevant to the question of Brexit.  It can only be corporate fear.
  • Project Fear: left-leaning structural biologist Stephen Curry dips a cautious toe into project fear.  At least his opinion is slightly measured, but there is still fear of the unknown within his piece, and I see no justification for his fears.
  • Project Ominously Cynical But Sadly Probably Too Right: JP Morgan’s boss Jamie Dimon reckons that, in the short-term post-Brexit, European countries would “retaliate” against Britain for their own political reasons, even if means that they inflict economic damage to themselves, but that, in the long-term, the UK may end up better off out of the EU.  He added that, in America, “taking away benefits, creating intergenerational warfare and scapegoating will make for very difficult and bad politics.”
  • Project Confused: Lord Owen wants Brexit to protect the NHS, because somehow leaving the EU also means leaving the TTIP currently under negotiation between the European Union and United States of America.  Owen dislikes TTIP because, like many lefties, he believes the state should never be accountable - financially or otherwise - for the consequences of its crap policy choices, thus re-enforcing the “state-wins-peoples-lose” serfdom that we taxpayers currently experience.  Very confused, wonky thinking by Lord Owen.
  • Project Confused: two UK trade union organisations disagree about Brexit v EurIn.  The hard-left RMT union wants Brexit, because the EU is “attacking” workers rights , would make re-nationalisation of anything practically impossible and undermines democracy.  The TUC claims otherwise, that Brexit would lead to uncertainty about the survival of existing employee rights.  Both are nonsense.
  • Robo-trucks are here.  Self-driving trucks successfully drove themselves from Sweden and Germany to Holland, crossing four borders.  In a post-Schengen world, do these self-driving trucks also queue for re-instated border controls and do paperwork by hand?
  • Climate change corruption: academic Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist analysed rainfall data for the last 1,200 years and has discovered that climate change models - used by the establishment to scare us taxpaying plebs into accepting “climate” policies that do nothing to resolve anthropomorphic global warming - are flawed.  Relevance to Brexit?  The European Union has claimed competence in environmental matters, and like all governments doggedly sticks to the interests of the establishment and not the objective, empirical facts.  Climatology is way more complex than the Brexit issue, yet governments give the impression that climate change can be “cured” by a few, deliberately wrong-headed, revenue-raising, waste-mandating, tick-boxey policy choices.
  • An interesting aside: a media company has measured exposure in the media of “Brexit”, with the leave campaign mentioned more often than the remain campaign.

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