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…

Who stole the punch line?

I am rarely amused by the pronouncements of the Israeli tax authority - au contraire, they often rile me. But, last week a public ruling had the effect of diverting my mind to the comedy double acts that had their origins in America's Vaudeville and Britain's Music Halls. Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, Morecambe…

The Unsatanic Taxes

Nobody who has read Salman Rushdie’s classic ‘Midnight’s Children’ can be indifferent to the juxtaposition of India and Midnight in a phrase or sentence. So, the recent announcement that India’s new GST law (VAT by any other name would smell as sweet) would come into effect, amidst much fanfare, at midnight on July 1 was…

Near-Death Of A Salesman

I  am prejudiced against salesmen. Shop salesmen. Company salesmen. Door-to-door salesmen. You name 'em, I'm prejudiced against 'em. I am not proud of the fact and sincerely apologise to any salesman who, attracted by the pictures or vulgar colours, has found his way inadvertently to this blog only to be insulted for his troubles.  My feelings…

Tax that must not be named

Standing in the Great Hall of Hogwarts one day this summer in the company of my youngest son and half of the picture-popping population of Japan, I was the only muggle who, when asked by the Warner Brothers Studio Guide which House I would want the Sorting Hat to direct me to, did not reply Gryffindor. To my…

Birthday Bloody Birthday

One night a couple of weeks ago I met up with an old school chum and his wife visiting for the holidays. Over one of those multi-coloured salads that replaced steak and chips as the late-night staple round about the same time our hair went grey, he mentioned that, just before coming away, eighty friends had joined him for a birthday…

Tax Wars: The Authorities Strike Back

Suicide is not a laughing matter. Last week marked fifty years since American poet, Sylvia Plath, took her own life, and the benefit-of-hindsight news stories on the subject were uniformly depressing. It is interesting, therefore, that one of the most successful comedy series in television history opened each week with a song about suicide. Thirty years ago…

Far East in deep water

If the motto of the United States is "In God we trust", the motto of Australia should be "No worries". We northern hemisphere folk who, unlike our antipodean friends, have summer in the summer and winter in the winter believe that, come Christmas,  an Aussie's problems boil down to finding room for another shrimp on the barbie while his guests…

Of mice and men

When challenged by an aide as to why he had changed his mind about invading the tiny island nation of Grenada, Ronald Reagan is reported to have replied "I sat back and thought: What would John Wayne have done?" That was nearly 30 years ago and the protracted  7 week campaign was a huge military success for…

Risks of the import/export/import business

Back in the sixties when my all-time superhero,  Batman,  used to dress like he was going to a neighbourhood Halloween party, actors Adam West and Burt Ward would issue warnings to stupid children not to try any of their stunts at home. That was sound advice. While they had the full attention of the little weirdos…