Friday, April 08, 2016

Some thoughts on the Cameron offshore crisis ...

1. I remember in 1986 (?) finishing a meal in a rather splendid London fish restaurant  with an old university chum who had started a career in Merchant Banking. He - gallantly - insisted on picking up the tab. As he explained, they'd just received their bonuses. The amount was larger than what I was earning in publishing for the entire year.

That gave me pause for thought.

2. The same friend explained that working in his line of business meant that you had to maintain contacts. If, say, during an afternoon at Ascot, someone gave you a tip on a likely floatation, you were obliged to chip in or run the risk of being ostracised in the future. Thus, that bonus was a form of 'float'. It wasn't 'real' money as such.

3. Just before I moved away from the UK I remember watching a Channel 4 documentary in which they focused on City bonuses which were - already - becoming obscene. One of the finance heads confided how he was surprised how rare it was that any dealing room employee expressed thanks when being informed of their bonus - indeed, in some cases, they seemed disappointed (the amounts were six figure). Then, he continued, he thought about the amounts these individuals were moving about on a daily basis. As such, their 'reality level' concerning money had been lost. Six figures against seven, eight, nine ... well, peanuts.

Having watched the routine crucifixion by media of Cameron I'm surprised not at the tax evasion but - in true Zizek fashion - the scandal that we're scandalised. Come off it, didn't we know that such business went on?

Scandal = business as usual.

And, given the company the likes of Cameron keeps (& has kept) the amounts involved probably seem ... well, peanuts. Thirty grand? That's the kind of money you earn on the back of a bad deal. No? Whereas, for those 'other' people we're "in it together" with ... that's more than a year's salary.

Really? As Tracy Emin might say, I wouldn't get out of bed for that.

Here are a few other thoughts ...

a) perhaps after all this moral outrage & self-righteousness dies down the UK will look into the ease with which individuals can set themselves up as Companies & conveniently side-step normal tax ratings. (eg pay yourself & your spouse a salary, deduct cars & other 'expenses', reduce total profits before the taxable amount is decided ...).

b) what about the Company Car dodge?

c) & perhaps the most urgent of all ... what about ex-ministers & Prime Ministers who  profit from lucrative consultancy positions & lecture tours on retirement from office? Should not any subsequent earnings be seen as rightfully owing to the State they did their level best to ruin? Whereas ...

Think on't ...

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It seems my crystal ball was not so grubby ... ... resisting the temptation to say "told you so".