Back in the U.S.S.R.

"For our last number, I'd like to ask your help. The people in the cheaper seats, clap your hands. And the rest of you, if you’d just rattle your jewelry." John Lennon's immortal words at London's Royal Variety Performance in November 1963 reflected the weltanschauung of the time - Britain was careering towards a General…

A lot of hot air

Mass hysteria is not a concept normally associated with the local tax community, but the hype in recent months around an impending change in partnership tax law is having its effect. The situation is analogous to a hot air balloon, into which hot air continues to be injected until, eventually, the balloon leaves the ground…

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…

Read the small print!

Israel’s much vaunted ten-year tax holiday for new residents is viewed by some as the best thing since sliced bread. To me, it is analogous to shopping for food. My local Jerusalem pint-sized supermarket is no place for the uninitiated, and not much of a place for the initiated. Prices are high at this emporium…

Not their finest hour

Randolph and Jennie Churchill clearly understood their son better than my parents understood me. Winston once related that, as a young child, his mum and dad would not allow him to see the Boneless Wonder at P.T. Barnum’s famous circus, because the ‘spectacle would be too revolting and demoralizing for my youthful eyes’. An ‘exclusive’ …

You’re Fired!

In the first half of the 19th century, criminal cases at London’s Central Criminal Court - The Old Bailey - generally lasted less than half an hour, hardly enough time for the noose to tighten around a petty thief's neck. Meanwhile, as evidenced by the fictitious Jarndyce versus Jarndyce in Bleak House, Chancery cases over…

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…

The postman doesn’t even ring once

Charles Dickens spent much of his literary career railing against the demonic effects of 19th century bureaucracy. He could just as well have been writing today. Unfortunately, now as then, most of us obediently accept the nonsense thrown at us by the nation’s institutions, because – once solved - we don’t have the time, patience…

The People’s Court

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first performance of the classic satirical farce ‘Accidental Death of an Anarchist’, in which two policeman under investigation for the death of a suspect in their custody weave a web of increasingly improbable explanations as to how he fell out of the interrogation room window. I don’t…