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Saturday, 21 March 2009

Tax the bastards or not?

I'm still in Brooklyn, but it's not snowing. Just cold. So that's my twittering out of the way.

(Do you think twittering is a good idea? I'm not sure I really want to know the deeply dull minutiae of other people's lives; and unless you're very, very clever indeed it's hard to say anything interesting very briefly.)

As a matter of fact it's hard to say anything interesting at any length - and I am often surprised at what you gentle readers will react to. Which brings me to the comments on my last outburst.

Bertrand Russell remarked that "what men seek is not knowledge, but certainty." Among my many faults is a love of the sweeping (sometimes unkind) generalisation which I later regret.

"Tax the bastards" is one that I do not regret for a minute.

I agree: retrospective legislation is bad as a rule; Gordon Brown aka The Great Bloated Toad stole half my pension and pissed it up against the wall by legislating retrospectively.

However, when something is clearly wrong I think such legislation is justified. Someone said that it is hard to define beauty, but we recognise it when we see it. In the same way, we recognise patent injustice when we see it. It is unjust that the reptiles at AIG or the Royal Bank of Scotland should walk away with millions while those they failed suffer.

In fact when I studied law there was a concept called equity, which could be celled fairness. We can see that what has happened is not fair. In just the same way - referring to pensions - I do not think it is fair that people like me who create wealth or knowledge or employment should have our pensions diluted by inflation whilst the Toad, his Toadies and the army of public servants we fund should not.

If there is one thing I would recommend to Mr. Cameron and his friends, and for that matter to the Republicans who are actually more responsible than anyone else for the current mess - it was created on their watch, under their President - it is, promise to sweep away what is clearly unfair in society.

Michel Fortin referred me to a very good piece by Perry Marshall, who is much cleverer than I am. He says you have to pay people a lot of money to get the best. Well, as my old boss Martin Sorrell was wont to say, "It's a point of view."

Sir Martin certainly is highly motivated by money. David Ogilvy was. Many of us are. But there are other things more important. W. S. Churchill was broke all his life. Gandhi was not motivated by money. if my memory serves me right(I am very old) G. Washington left office poorer than when he entered it.

Lee Iacocca, whom Perry quotes, is not - to me anyhow - a great exemplar. He did not save Chrysler. He gave it a breathing space. He did not cure them of the besetting sin that has ruined the U.S. auto industry, which is heavy reliance on discounts allied to appalling advertising.

Incidentally that is the same mistake that Dell are making with such lamentable enthusiasm.

But that is another subject.

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