In sickness and in health

Bach’s Double Violin Concerto was once played as a conversation between husband and wife, by two virtuosi, at a memorial service in Westminster Abbey for the late spouse of a prominent politician. A Tel Aviv Labor Court decision earlier this month suggested grounds for a similar musical parley between the National Insurance Institute and the…

A Grim Tale

Once upon a time, children’s behavior was kept in check by Cautionary Tales. Something was prohibited, someone (traditionally a naughty kid) did what they were forbidden to do, and someone (the same kid) came to a sticky end. Young bedtime readers’ inclination to err was doused by bed wetting and anguished screams in the night.…

Searching for what isn’t there?

When I studied economics around the time Americans elected their first septuagenarian president, everything was made to look simple. After decades of the complex world according to John Maynard Keynes,  Milton Friedman dug up an old equation of Irving Fisher, and Monetarism and its Rational Expectations offshoot were launched at the inflation-tired leaders of the…

Kids’ stuff

In A.S. Byatt’s 2009 masterpiece ‘The Children’s Book’, the reader has one horrible advantage over the predominantly young characters in the novel. As they gradually grow and mature through the closing years of the 19th century and the Edwardian decade that followed, the carefree youngsters are surrounded by art and privilege, several poignantly attending the…

Keeping VAT off the streets

When people refer to ‘tax evasion’, they are rarely talking about VAT. The criminal non-payment of VAT, as distinct from its elder siblings - Income Tax and Corporate Tax, is universally known as VAT Fraud. The name reflects none of the grudging respect for the brilliant wheezes of talented white collar crooks . No, sir.…

No time to die

  In his latest movie, Quentin Tarantino - parodying Hollywood’s parody of itself - has a baddie refusing to die despite multiple wounds to her body. Finally, Leonardo DiCaprio (SPOILER ALERT) incinerates her with a flame thrower he happens to have next to his Beverly Hills swimming pool, and what's left of her reluctantly succumbs.…

…for the people?

  ‘Plutocracy’ is viewed generally as a dirty word. The idea (if not the practice) of government by the wealthy is anathema to those who treasure democracy. At first whiff the OECD Secretariat’s proposal for a unified worldwide approach to the taxation of the digital economy, issued for consultation earlier this month, failed the plutocratic…

Red Scotch Tape

  When Queen Victoria opened the Great Exhibition in 1851, Britain was the world’s leading industrial power, producing more than half its iron, coal and cotton cloth.  Well, I don’t think Her Late Majesty would be very amused to hear from her great-great granddaughter how the country she bequeathed to her descendants in perpetuity is currently faring…

One day more

  Of all the hackneyed aphorisms that grate on my undertaxed mind, that one about nothing being certain except death and taxes has got to be prime candidate for the next cull of the English language. So, I was both irritated and fascinated when it was brought to my attention that Monday last week was…