The Selfish Isles

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I note that Nick Shaxson has re-christened the Channel Islands the Selfish Isles on the TJN blog, and ne'er was a name so well chosen.

I'm afraid there's another Selfish Isles story from this weekend to illustrate the point, this time from the Guernsey Evening Post, the partner to Jersey's Evening Post. Peter Body, the editor of Business Brief, a monthly full colour magazine with a readership of approximately 13,000 in the islands (and coincidentally published by the same company as both the JEP and GEP) wrote the offending piece. Try to read it if you can - although you'll have difficulty. This man clearly cannot craft an argument in return for his pay. But then no doubt he is not employed for his limited ability to write English but rather more for his equally obvious economic illiteracy and his being blatantly ill-informed. How else could he assert:

It had been apparent for many years that Jersey and Guernsey were dangerously reliant on direct taxes (you only had to make the comparison with the Isle of Man).

Internationally, there was also a trend away from taxing income to taxing consumption. This trend is now even more obvious because consumption taxes are fairer and more efficient.

For the sake of the record let's make clear:

1) The Isle of Man does not enjoy the benefits of indirect taxation. It enjoys the benefit of being subsidised by the UK to the tune of £270 million a year. That's not a tax system. That's aid.

2) Consumption taxes are not fairer. Far from it. They always and without exception charge the poorest in any society proportionately more than they do the best off - and I have proved that this will be the case in Jersey in work I did in 2005. I'll send it to him if he wants. But the real question is how is that fair? Fair to whom? The richest in the Selfish Isles with whom he he is concerned most, I presume. No other answer is plausible.

3) As for efficiency - if it's so efficient why has just about the whole local business community in Jersey (as opposed to the financial services industry) been up in arms about it, I wonder?

This article is not only almost incomprehensible as a piece of writing, it shows one over-riding trait, which is straightforward lack of willing to act logically. But that's a characteristic well known in the financial services industry. On a broader scale it's why we have things like the sub-prime crisis. So perhaps I shouldn't be surprised. But it doesn't stop me being angry that the result is cost inflicted on those least able to bear it. Because the imposition of that cost is clearly what Mr Body wants. And I'm happy to argue against that, for as long as I can.