Sunday, 30 October 2016

European Court of Auditors tuts about an obtuse point of detail, completely misses the bigger picture

Reported by out-law.com on 27Oct2016, the European Court of Auditors has pointed to a weakness of a control within the Common Agricultural Policy (“CAP”).  It seems that the bureaucrats who run the CAP have decided that aerial/satellite images are a means by which to identify land subject to subsidy under the CAP.  Moreover, it seems that the same bureaucrats have chosen to believe that simply seeing a picture is apparently proof (beyond reasonable doubt) about the identity of the owner, and therefore the identity of the subsidy’s claimant.

The European Court of Auditors have correctly pointed to the Single European Amateurism and Half-Measures that characterise the implementation of policy throughout Europe (and not just at the level of the European Union; member states have more than just a hand in this systematic botch, too).

But the European Court of Auditors has chosen not to comment the blindingly obvious fact about the CAP: it’s a scam.  Amongst its many problems, it is deliberately designed to be economically dysfunctional.  It results in a market price so high that it effectively launders excess cash from consumers to landowners.  Where the consumer is also a taxpayer, then the same individual has paid for the same food product at least twice: once via his income taxes, twice via a supermarket till..  There are more efficient, and less prone-to-fraud, subsidy systems available.


The CAP is something else a Brexited Britain could scrap, especially if it has the confidence to beat up its own landowners, kicking them back into line with the people.


After all, revolutions - in Europe, of all places - have started on far less.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

The European Common Corporate Tax plan arrives: shall Remainiac rhetoric demand an outcome that the typical Remainiac doesn’t want?

While Remainics in the UK fight for as many referenda as it takes for Britain to re-vote in favour of the economic suicide of the European Union (most recently Tony Blair, a fact spun in this delicate way by the Daily Mail), the European Union progresses with its integrationist agenda.

Having first proposed the common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB) in 2011, the European Commission announced on 26Oct2016 (reported by Out-law.com) further ideas about how to implement it.  The European Commission launched a public consultation on 09Oct2016.

Some member nations of the European Union are far from happy with the principle of CCCTB, correctly seeing it as a threat to each members’ ability to define its tax base, and therefore the substantial part of each state’s taxation policy.

Taking a neutral perspective, one could argue that the CCCTB is a European equivalent of the existing corporate tax base in the United States of America, whereby each state relies upon the federal calculation of taxable income, from which to calculate each state’s tax take.  An apportionment regime applies in an attempt to reduce exposure to double-taxation, although this regime is far from perfect.

But the European implementation is likely to be much more complex, and much more political.  We have already seen that the European Commission is far more interested in the politics of pique, polémique and posture against its member nations, most obviously the Commission’s recent decision against Republic of Ireland re Apple, and to hell (apparently) with the collateral damage it has on the enforceability of international tax laws relating to European Union corporate taxpayers.

The promise - the near-sexual, sheer lust - of Brexit has almost certainty prompted the European Commission to step up the integrationist agenda.  By promoting yet another issue that UKGov never supported, the pique et polémique from the European Commission is clearly one of, “Oh, are you lot still here?  Well, hurry up and piss off.  We have a Soviet Europe to build.”

What is the impact of the CCCTB on Brexit?

UKGov disagrees with the CCCTB, largely because of its mandatory nature.  Corporate taxpayer groups similarly dislike it, largely because it prevents corporations from moving between European companies to optimise the value they get from each state relative to the taxes they pay, i.e. no fiscal arbitrage, no substitutability.  (Reality has a very different mindset from the deliberately misleading left-wing media narrative that wrongly screams crap about all corporate taxpayers being 100% tax evaders.)

In turn, this makes the position of some Remainiacs even more curious, especially for those - like former prime ministers, e.g. Blair - who defended UKGov interests by fighting against (some) European measures, such as the Single European Army and the CCCTB.

Therefore, to be rational, logical and consistent, that particular breed of Remainaic would need to vote in favour of leaving the European Union if, by the date of Article 50’s second anniversary, the European Union had committed (by treaty or by European law) to a CCCTB.


Given that all Remainacs are driven by pure emotion, with no logical sense, what is the chance of that?

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Car safety equipment: an example of a “technical” obligation for wasteful trade

Car safety equipment: an example of a “technical” obligation for wasteful trade

As if import tariffs and technical barriers to trade aren’t toxic enough to undermine the European Single Market that apparently depends on them, there is another form of economic corruption that European states foist upon their dozy consumer-electorates.

This type of corruption is the obligation for wasteful trade and it typically forms part of a series of other non-economic obligations whose breaches trigger a cash-fine.

One of the best examples of the latter is the list of “safety equipment” that car drivers need to have when driving in Europe… and each country is different!

This list, compiled by the AA, summarises the variation of laws that apply.  Some laws are consistent, including those whose obsolescence is now unquestionable (e.g. “original registration document”, a relic of an era when no-body had colour laser printers at home and the forging of such documents was so hard that it would be a big criminal enterprise to try to forge such documents; nowadays, all such registrations would/should be electronic to comply with basic common sense).

Too many of these laws vary.  Clearly, if safety were the real issue, then the standards would be congruent between all countries.

For example: the warning triangle would be practical only if it is large enough to be seen from over a kilometer away.  Fine, but such devices would fit on an open-backed truck, not inside the boot of the standard saloon car.  Thus, the warning triangles that consumers apparently need to buy are pathetically small and therefore offer zero benefit to any road user.

Worse, to deploy the small triangle at all means that the driver would need to walk a long way away from his vehicle on the road… and expose himself to avoidable danger as a consequence.  So the only sensible use of a mandatory piece of safety equipment is itself dangerous.  And only a few of the countries who mandate the triangle also mandate a reflective vest!  One simply couldn’t make it up!

The mess of laws relating to car safety represents classic European wonky thinking, yet none of car safety law is particularly difficult to figure out.  Yes, the range of road environments between countries can vary considerably.  The road environment can even vary within the same county, e.g. southern Finland compared to northern Finland, especially in winter.  One standard clearly can’t fit every environment, but the difference in law does not perfectly match the difference(s) in road environment.  You might expect vehicles in Finland to require resilience against being hit by a reindeer, especially in rutting season, but some such protections (e.g. cow bars) are banned in Britain, even though Britain has a similar risk in its moorlands.  So why have European governments made such a hash of it?

The answer can only be that European law generally follows the demands of pressure groups, including lobbyists, instead of a top-down, rational, logical, objective policy calculation.

We can thus conclude that, for these laws, “car safety” is actually a smokescreen, a mere excuse to introduce such laws.  The real objective of these laws can only be economic protectionism for vested interests, who lobbied hard for a law of “drivers need to buy my client’s products regularly and keep it in their car, even if it’s next to useless.”  A brilliant example of corruption that results in the “obligation for wasteful trade”.

As for child safety seats, the matter just gets even more absurd.  Child booster seats that meet Italian standards don’t meet French standards, so the world’s safest child booster seat (if one exists) would fail to comply with at least one of those two countries’ laws.  According to the AA, the Italians appear to have understood that point, to the extent that if you drive in a foreign-registered car, then your foreign child booster seat law applies, and not local Italian law.  So if your country’s safety standard is lower than that of Italy, you can lawfully breach Italian safety standards.  The net result is so absurd, it demonstrates the futility of having the safety standard in the first place (let alone the law!).  Again, one simply couldn’t make it up!

And all of this, along with import tariffs, is just fine and dandy in the European Single Protectionist Zone.

At least the European Commission has documented the consequences of the problem, producing a website that summarises each country’s requirements, in a way that makes quick comparison between countries impossible.  Wasn’t the European Commission supposed to be calling for the Single European Driving Zone as part of the Grand European Project?

12,651 European Union import tariffs!

12,651 European Union import tariffs!

If ever one doubted that the so-called ‘Single Market’ is a protectionist scam, one research has counted just how many protectionist measures the so-called ‘Single Market’ needs to remain cohesive.

No wonder European living standards are stagnant, or falling in real terms.  The imposition of a tariff amounts to a stealth tax on both production and consumption.  It would be worth imposing tariffs on goods that were price-inelastic, in the same way as indirect taxes.  It makes tactical sense to impose tariffs on businesses whose immediate customers are other businesses, so the cost of the tariff is effectively laundered throughout the supply chain until the end-consumer pays for the whole lot.  So import tariffs are more likely than not to be a deeply regressive artificial cost imposed upon consumers with low incomes.

The Economic Policy Centre compiled the data, mounted at website http://www.eutariffs.com/.  The CEO summarised his findings on brexitcentral.com.

Before conducting this extensive research, I assumed that most tariffs would involve food, the motor industry and steel. But in terms of revenue these amount to very little. By far the largest number of tariffs – 1,409 in fact – are levied on “organic chemicals”. These include tariffs on goods with names that one can barely pronounce like 2-Bromo-5-iodo-benzenemethanol at 5.5%, also introduced since 23rd June.

More seriously, retailers like Sports Direct which depend on dollar and euro-priced imports and have been hit by the falling pound could only gain from the elimination of a 16.90% tariff on sports footwear.

But as the depth and scale of the tariff wall became clear to me, the greatest issue of all struck me as the lack of democratic accountability behind these tariffs. Who decides, and on what basis, which tariffs are introduced, increased or even reduced?

Do they make these decisions on the basis of collection of revenue, strategic interest, crowding out competition or following industry specific lobbying? Or are they just some leftover tariff for something that doesn’t really matter any more?

16.9% tariff on imported sports footwear!!  Who gains from this tariff?  Vested interests, or those on low incomes who have to pay the greater burden of this tariff?  If the objective of the tariff were to reduce the quantity of sports footwear bought locally (and therefore imported), then wouldn’t that artificial suppression of sales also induce reduced earnings in the exporter’s country?

And this issue is just about tariffs.  Just think about the damage caused by other restraints of trade, the “technical” barriers to trade, or the “obligation for wasteful trade”.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

SHOCK HORROR: Boris Johnson accused to trying to set out his thoughts before coming to a conclusion

The idiots who run our mass media went into a frenzy of over-driven stupidity on Sun 16Oct2016 when it emerged that BoJo had drafted two articles prior to the referendum of 23Jun2016.

One of BoJo’s articles was an attempt to bolster the case for UKGov’s continued membership of the European Union.  The second sought to bolster the case for UKGov’s departure from the European Union.

2 days after drafting the articles, BoJo chose to join the Leave Campaign.

The draft article came to light as part of a book plug bya newspaper hack.

The BBC’s coverage was particularly infantile, its evil left-wing agenda dripping through every word of every version for each medium.  Here’s the web version.  The BBC’s line is that any attempt to rationalise a thought process is “duplicity”.


German court rejects challenge to CETA trade deal

Reported by Pinset Masons news service out-law.com on 14Oct2016, Germany's Constitutional Court has given the go-ahead for the German government to approve a proposed trade deal between the EU and Canada, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.


This is a good example of how to exercise sovereignty within the European Union, i.e. “The government should sign the agreement, but only on the condition that Germany can leave CETA again if forced to do so by a later German court judgment, the Court said.”


It’s particularly illuminating that the German court reserves the legal right to participate in defending German legal interests, playing its part within a wider mercantilist policy choice of the German state(s).  And yet, the demand came from pro-democracy groups, who - to coin a phrase - want to “keep control”.


The British could learn from this.  The challenge is which particular lesson to learn.  Is it a demonstration of how to impose democratic control as a final decision?  Or is it a demonstration of how to enable government to trample over individuals’ freedoms?


As for the deal itself, there is much work required by all of its signatories to ratify the treaty and to activate it.  One sub-parliament of Belgium has already rejected the treaty.


Out-law.com reported more of the mechanics of the CETA deal on 06Jul2016.  It sounds like a partial extension of the Single Market to encompass Canada using the same selective access rights core to the Single Market as it stands today.  So, like the Single Market, it isn’t a free trade agreement, but it is more like selective-state-sponsored trade agreement, whereby trade can be cancelled on a whim by any government.

Call to end EU trade measures on Chinese solar cells

Reported by Pinsent Masons on 14Oct2016, an open letter from a lobby group Solar Power Europe (the link on Pinset Masons article to the open letter is now withdrawn) calls for the end of protectionist measures against imported Chinese solar stuff.

Germany chose to phase out its nuclear power stations after the Fukushima nuclear event.  Since then, energy prices in Germany have increased as the overhead of the German power grid carries fewer kilowatt-hours on which to charge its fees.  It seems to have occurred to some in Germany (and elsewhere in Europe) that the import tariffs on Chinese imports inflates the underlying cost of energy production in Germany still further, and that this isn’t a particularly good thing for Germany (or for anybody else in Europe pinning their hopes on German economic muscle).

On the one hand, the open letter calls for common sense.  On the other hand, it shows that the European Union is still open to lobbying.

This example demonstrates both, i.e. the European Union needs to be lobbied to destroy European regulation that undermines Europe’s own economic (and energy) sustainability.  It’s akin to an open letter to the European government to permit human beings to breathe.

As the letter said, “A policy that was designed to help the few has failed to do so, only serving to harm the very many right across the EU.”

And that, of course, is the point.  Small, tin-pot vested interests are what the European Union is all about.  In European policy choices - whether import tariffs or employment law - the future can always be mortgaged; re-paying that mortgage is always somebody else’s problem.