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…

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’ …

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.…

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…

It’s all about the (zero) ratings, stupid

When it comes to morality, Value Added Tax has no claim to Kant’s categorical imperatives, nor Utilitarianism’s mission to provide the greatest happiness to the greatest number. As a regressive tax on consumption, it eats away disproportionately at the income of the poor, who spend a significantly higher proportion of their income on vatable goods…