steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

Offshore Wind

Okay - I don't pretend to any expertise about economics. No, really I don't. Like most people, I apply a rough-and-ready common sense test to what I hear, calibrate my bullshitometer, use a pencil and paper to make sure my mistakes are at least within an order of magnitude of reality, and let rip. I'll read the pundits, of course, and try to make sure I read people I disagree with, but such reading is inevitably flavoured by my own prejudices Weltanschauung. So far, my feeling for what's likely to happen in the economy seems to have been at least as reliable as that of the expert consensus, but frankly that's not saying much.

So, it's with humility and a genuine thirst for knowledge that I ask - what are offshore accounts for? I don't mean, what are they for for the people who have them. Their utility as places to avoid and evade tax, to escape the law, to cultivate convenient anonymity, to sponge off other people while braying about spongers oneself, to set up money laundrettes, to consort with crooks, etc etc. - that's all obvious, and even notorious. Today's post by lamentables, galling as it is, only brings two more data to add to the leaning tower we already have. Although that post was the immediate spur for this one, I'm also prompted by an exchange I heard on Radio 4 last week - I'm afraid I can't remember which progamme - in which a talking head was explaining to the presenter why, yet again, an abuse was insoluble, because everything was being handled through an offshore account, and "There's nothing that can be done about that."

The presenter then asked, echoing my own thought: "Why not?"

The talking head must have taken this to be a rhetorical question, or at least she chose not to answer it. Which is a shame, because I'd really like to know the answer. What would actually happen if companies operating in the UK and owners of UK property were required by law to be based in a jurisdiction that facilitated the identification and accountability of said company/owner? (It would be relatively easy, I think, to identify those that did not.)

I assume the answer would be that this would cause all the soi-disant "wealth-creators" to flee our shores for ever, but since we are by definition talking about tax cheats and parasites, it's hard for my lay mind to grasp why this would be much of a loss.

Is such a reform really impossible - and if so, why? Are there deleterious consequences I just haven't seen? I'm quite prepared to believe it, but would love to have them spelt out for me. Or is it just that too many of our rulers have a personal stake in such places themselves? Any enlightenment from those with more knowledge than I would be very welcome.
Tags: current affairs, maunderings
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