Tax Havens

Christian Reierman, writing for Spiegel Online, thinks tax havens are bad.

He began with the usual false premise, itself as usual unspoken: that Government is owed the money earned by private citizens or their privately owned enterprises, or that Government is somehow otherwise entitled to it.  His proximate vehicle is the Paradise Papers and their exposure of how widespread is the use of tax havens—entirely legal tax havens, mind you—by international businesses.

The German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung leaked a vasty number of documents—the so-called Paradise Papers—that exposed

how the rich and super-rich, international stars and companies try to avoid paying taxes in their home countries. It is a game for the wealthy.

The horror—people with money try to protect their wealth from grasping governments.  This time, they’re trying to protect the gains of the businesses they run:

The players are usually multinational corporations seeking to shrink their tax bill using convoluted structures. Tech-giant Apple once again stands accused of skullduggery, as does sporting-goods producer Nike. The accomplices are also largely the same. The deals in question invariably involve tax havens such as the Bermuda Islands, British dependencies such as the Isle of Man or Jersey, and European member states like the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Ireland.

Notice that: nothing here is illegal.  No skullduggery is present.  These business owners just are supposed to voluntarily give up what governments demand, simply because governments demand it on that false theory that the businesses’ prosperity belongs first to Government.

Here’s the game given away; here’s Reierman’s telltale question:

[W]hy are EU member states still allowed to cheat their partners within the bloc out of tax revenues?

There’s no cheating going on, of course.  It isn’t Government’s money.  And there’s nothing wrong with nations competing with each other for businesses and the employment that businesses bring–including competing on tax rates.  Full stop.

As always, the right answer is not to hold back the rich, to punish the successful with high taxes, or to cap the ability of individuals to be successful by restricting them to the performance of the weaker.  The right answer is to lower taxes all around and thereby leave more money in the pockets of the earners—including the poor.  The right answer also includes restricting government spending, which crowds out private spending by artificially increasing overall demand; which increases prices with its non-economic, inflated demand; which devalues the money left in the hands of the earner—particularly harming the poor.

The right answer begins with the clear recognition and admission of whose money is involved here.

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