24 May 2012

Mr. Murphy's Greenhouse Stone throwing

In my 10 months or so on Twitter, which is arguably responsible, at least in part for the paucity of posts here which I am forever seeking to rectify, I have encountered a myriad group of 'Twitterati': the Good, the learned, the Bad and the downright offensive. However, aside from a spate of so -called 'Pornbots', I have never felt it necessary to Block anyone who has cause to disagree with me. Nor have I had much cause, despite some strong words at times, to be blocked by anyone bar two Leading Tweeters, the baby-faced (and, sorry to say, Rather immature, at least in terms of his real-world experience) Owen Jones and the almost megalomaniac self-styled 'Number 1 economics blogger in the UK', the Norfolk - based former tax accountant, Richard Murphy, author of the tome 'The Courageous State', and rumoured to be one of the Leading advisors on Tax policy and overall economic outlook of the (potential) incoming Ed Miliband Administration in 2015. I think my jibe at Jones when he made a reference that with the death of North Korea's Kim Jong-il, 'Robert Mugabe's Christmas Card list was getting a bit shorter' to the effect that I'm sure he was still on it probably rankled but I know for a fact I am not the first to get the 'blocking treatment' from Murphy. This very cocksure blogger likes to boast about his advocacy of a 'Courageous State' but his courage doesn't seem to extend to allowing dissenting voices to post on his blog or indeed even follow his Twitter feed, thus rendering his credibility immediately suspect.

Arguably his most prominent and incisive critic, is Tax exile and ASI writer, Tim Worstall, disparagingly referred to on Murphy's blog as 'Tim Worstofall' (Such cutting edge humour..) who regularly blows holes in Murphy's master plan, much to the chagrin of my fellow blogger (who collaborated on the Courageous State) . Unlike Murphy, Tim operates a fairly open access policy on his blog and critical comments there don't tend to be banned or silenced, a policy I'd argue is far more courageous than Murphy's almost medieval inquisition-like 'silencing' of counter-voices.

Anyhow, ranting aside, I wouldn't normally pass comment on anything Murphy has to say, only that to anyone taking a passing interest in Global economic news of late, the situation in Greece is becoming increasingly desperate. Mired in a downward spiral of falling demand, cuts in expenditure and prisoners of a massively overvalued currency, rumours persist of people foraging through bins for food, together with reports Many businesses have folded with many more on the brink and of children being abandoned to churches due to their parents being unable to afford to feed them. With the situation in Greece being so intrinsically linked to Europe, and a perfectly titled episode of Star Trek (Plato's Stepchildren) available, a more lengthy post on Greece is surely in the offing, but what took my eye on the 'Tax Research UK' blog was this almost unbelievable piece by Murphy on how Greece can effect recovery.

A few choice examples of how misguided the man is:

'The present emphasis on export-led growth as a key solution to the Euro crisis, whilst benefiting successful economies like Germany and China, will not be enough to enable the rest of Europe to deal with its collapsing effective demand.'

Which obviously begs the question as to where the money to pay for anything is going to come from for Greece in the First instance, with other potential 'Exit nations' (Spain, Italy and Portugal waiting by the door) - But, wait, here's the answer....

'the European Central Bank (ECB) should immediately announce a Green Quantitative Easing (QE) Emergency Programme for Greece. It has been estimated that there are more than 4 million households in Greece and so its first investment should be 9 billion Euros spent on fitting free solar panels for the occupants of one million south facing roofs in Greece, and a further 4 billion Euros to train a ‘carbon army’ to install energy saving measures in all Greek homes'

And where exactly is the skilled Labour going to come from, Richard? who is going to be training them? and more importantly who is going to be controlling them? Murphy appears to be advocating, in effect that the EU continue its policy of treating Greece like some satrapy from the Middle-Ages. Arguably the most shocking incident thus far seen in Greece was 77 year old Dimitris Christoulas, who shot himself in Athens' Syntagma Square, with a strongly-worded letter condemning the austerity pursued by the 'Tsolkagolou' government - a reference I needed to look up to explain. Georgios Tsolkagolou was a Colonel in the Greek Army who signed the surrender of Greece to NSDAP forces in World War II and was tried after the war for treason. Is Murphy suggesting that another government programme imposed (or seen as being imposed) from Berlin will be acceptable to the Greek people. I cannot read Greek but those of my correspondents that can warn the language being used to describe both the former Papademos government and the EU itself by the Greek press is inflammatory and laced with references to the German Occupation of 1941 - 45.

Also, Murphy displays his profound ignorance of the EU, which for ordinary Greeks has become synonymous with a cosy coterie of Private businessmen (who, to give him credit he will condemn) and CRUCIALLY, senior Bureaucrats, both within the Greek State and at EU level (which, due to some misguided belief shared by my fellow blogger that all Public servants have a saint-like lack of self -interest and all Public expenditure is axiomatically good he won't) who have carved up the contracts and much of the resultant money that Greece has received since joining the EOK (Greek for EEC) in 1988. The money for his solar panels will simply disappear into the same well of corruption and nepotism that it has done over those intervening two decades.

'Of course, a Green New Deal is only part of the picture to regenerate Europe. Face to face caring and wider infrastructural renewal such as housing, schools, hospitals, water and sewers systems and maintaining the local road networks will provide the backbone for a labour intensive transition for most countries. The personal care can be paid for by the state, particularly once domestic and international tax dodging are tackled. With some modest state pump priming, the majority of the funding for the rest of the infrastructure programmes can be provided by pension and insurance funds and from personal savings via bonds. The secure returns that can be earned from such investments are just what such funding sources need. The local jobs and business opportunities provided will help rebuild the tax base and allow for an eventual reduction in public debt.'

Despite Murphy's insistence that tax havens are the problem, Greeks facing down the consequences of refusing to leave the euro have been piling their money OUT of the country. Even former Communist neighbour Bulgaria, itself no paragon of economic and bureaucratic virtue is seen as a relative safe haven, with huge deposits flowing in to those unable to afford to deposit in one of Richard's prime Bete noires, Switzerland (prosperous, DEMOCRATIC and with a limited state that seems to work quite nicely for them - no wonder he dislikes them so much) Again, the infrastructure projects thus far funded by the EU have been in many cases catastrophic(Visit the Parthenon if you want evidence of this), and Good luck using either Greek bureaucrats themselves or more likely, foreign 'Independent' Tax experts to chase down tax evasion, which in Greece, due to corruption is seen as a National Sport.

In short the article completely misses the point on almost every level. It show almost zero knowledge of Greece or the Greek psyche, no respect for national boundaries or Freedom of choice and overweaning arrogance characteristic both of the Man's blog and his Twitter feed (what I can discern of it since being banned) I have said that the state most like the 'Courageous State' that I can see in historical terms is the now -defunct USSR. In advocating a key rule for that unlamented behemoth's Spiritual successor, the EU, Murphy has unwittingly (or more likely unashamedly) showed his totalitarian side. Lord help us if he has any influence over an incoming Ed Miliband administration

No comments: