The other side

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Evey now and again one has a duty to present the other side of the picture. Given it's this blogs birthday I thought I should let the Center for Freedom and Prosperity have a look in. Dan Mitchell of that center for misinformation has an article in this week's Business and Finance magazine in Ireland. Unfortunately I can find no web link. The best the Center can offer is a link to some extraordinary claims on its web site.

I'll take the liberty though of reproducing the conclusions form Mitchell's article. I'm sure he won't mind:

Tax havens, wherever they are based, promote good fiscal policy and protect human rights. The anti-tax competition campaigns of international bureaucracies, by contrast, are based on bad economics and dubious morals. If high-tax nations want to reduce tax evasion, they should fix their tax systems. Thanks to tax competition, this process already is under way, but many politicians from high-tax governments - particularly in Europe - are fighting to preserve their uncompetitive welfare states. The narrow and selfish agenda of these politicians should not be allowed to undermine the valuable role of tax havens in the global economy.

This is true if:

1) Good fiscal policy is little or no tax;

2) Human rights revolve around privacy of financial data, and nothing else;

3) The promotion of economic well-being by reducing inequality is bad economics and dubious morally;

4) Welfare states are bad;

5) Caring for others is selfish.

Perhaps the last point makes the issue clearest. Dan Mitchell makes sense so long as everything of worth is worthless. No doubt Dan Mitchell knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. Which does, I guess, make him an economist. But it does not make him someone worth listening to. His arguments are, thankfully, treated with the contempt they deserve everywhere, including on the Hill ion Washington DC.

But I will agree with him on one thing - many countries do need to fix their tax systems. But not for the reasons he gives, or in the way he imagines.