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…

Apple bites back

In Plato’s Republic, Socrates is presented with the cynical argument that the appearance of justice is more important than the reality of it, an idea taken up two millennia later by Machiavelli in The Prince. The General Court of the European Union’s rejection yesterday of the EU Commission’s claim that Ireland had given illegal state…

Two roads diverged…

For the last three and a half months I have felt like the protagonist in Monty Python’s ‘The Day Nothing Happened’. As the real world has been fighting to keep its COVID-19 head above water, the tax world has been treading water. A recent Israeli court case that surfaced last week, however, jolted the rose-tinted…