Monday, September 14, 2009

Bail out the tax havens? No thanks.

It is time for us, the people, to draw a line in the sand on which the British economy is built.

The Guardian reports that Britain may be forced to bail out the Crown Dependency tax havens which include the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Gibraltar, the Turks and Caicos islands and the British Virgin Islands.

The tax havens drain £25 billion out of the British economy each year through tax avoidance. They are exposed to huge losses from hedge funds and other financial fantasy constructions.

Jersey is predicting a budget deficit of £100 million. The Cayman Islands want a loan of £287 from the British people.

Meanwhile the bankers are wallowing in yet more bonuses and ever higher pay.

I have argued elsewhere that the bonus culture follows from the doctrine of individual responsibility, and that therefore the likes of "Sir" Fred Goodwin should be made bankrupt for deciding to expose RBS to toxic assets worth billions of pounds - £20 billion in the case of his non-due diligence decision to buy AMRO. The advantage of this is that those toxins would be annihilated by his bankruptcy.

The Brown Government has bailed out the banks, thus (arguably) saving us from a Great Depression, but has chickened out of a radical restructuring of the banking system. The argument is that if we regulated our banking system, the bankers would up sticks and go elsewhere, leaving the City at a competitive disadvantage. What the pundits in the corporate media fail to point out is that the Anglo-Saxon variety of free-market capitalism is in fact the market leader in unrestrained greed. Merkel and Sarkozy are calling for more financial regulation, and even Obama is more aggressive than Gordon in his approach.

So it is time for us, the people, to let them know that enough is enough. But how? The idea is simple: we just collect pledges for acts of mass civil disobedience (Monday morning strikes, or witholding of a proportion of our taxes) if the Treasury bails out the tax havens without plugging the £25 billion per annum hole that they represent to us, the taxpayers.

The idea is simple, but the implementation of the idea is daunting. We need a campaign to launch and publicise the idea. Could the Green Party draw together a coalition of NGOs to this end?

It would need a bit of work. We need thorough research into the options. What would be the consequence of letting the tax havens go to the wall? What would be the consequences of bailing them out on condition that they lose their tax haven status?

It's not rocket science, but it does need resources. Is the political will there?

Maybe, maybe not. Let's find out.

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