BoM November 2017

Joy of TaxIn The Joy of Tax, tax campaigner Richard Murphy challenges almost every idea you have about tax. For him, tax is fundamentally about the ideas that shape the sort of society we want to live in, not technicalities. His intention is to demonstrate that there is indeed a joy in tax, and by embracing it we can create a fairer society and change the world for the better.

Tax has been a feature of human society for a very long time. Almost no one gives tax a good press even though, as Richard Murphy argues, it has been fundamental to the development of democracy the world over.
Whilst we may not like tax very much, in contrast it is clear that we really do like the public services which governments provide. So much so, in fact, that for most of the last 300 years, people have been more than happy for governments to run deficits by spending more than they raise in taxation.

2008 apparently changed all that. The issues of debt, deficits, cuts and austerity have dominated the political agenda ever since. Virtually every aspect of the government’s finances and how to rearrange them in the forlorn hope of balancing the books has been discussed in great detail. Despite that, there has been almost no real discussion during this period about what tax is for and how it contributes to the creation of the society we aspire to.


  1. Trevor Jones -

    The Debt Management Office allows donations to reduce the national debt.

    See here:

    I am suspicious of those who claim to want more tax but don’t donate.

    It gives the impression they want others to pay more – but they aren’t willing to pay more themselves, despite having the opportunity to do so.

    1. Peter May -

      Thank you very much for highlighting that “Public spirited members of the public” can donate to reduce the national debt…
      I’m sure Mr Osborne has given lots ….

  2. Richard Murphy -

    Thanks Sean



  3. Graham -

    “Brexit will give the UK more freedom to implement radical policies”


  4. Sean Danaher -

    I’m no expert but at present for example the Government can’t lend directly to itself under EU rules but can do so by indirect QE. Some Lexit people look at the bright side of leaving the EU. I can’t say I feel very optimistic Jonathan Lis’s Twitter thread yesterday rings true. A few highlights:

    4/ Behind the scenes, also evidence that UK has reneged on guarantees for citizens that it initially signalled it would make. Really bad.

    10/ EU fears May, when rebuffed in Dec through her intransigence, will retreat to comforting insanity of Redwood/Mogg Brexit utopia. BAD.

    13/ EU unsure whether civil servants not telling ministers truth, or if ministers just aren’t listening- but UK incompetence is mystifying

    22/ EU also fears Gov won’t walk away, but just let clock tick – a no-deal by accident or incapacity. Followed by ‘bloody unreasonable EU’.

    And for Northern Ireland a particular worry of mine

    29/ Only… Northern Ireland is ruined, because off-shelf EEA agreement excludes agriculture. Which means full WTO tariffs. No ifs, no buts.

    1. Ian Stevenson -

      I think the EU rules limiting the power of governments to borrow were enthusiastically promoted by British governments rather than being imposed by those pesky Continentals.

  5. Noel Scoper -

    In order to be open and transparent, perhaps it should be reminded that Richard Murphy is a director or Progressive Pulse Limited and a 50% guarantor of the company to a whole £1. Given he has 2 BoMs as well as in the “suggested reading”, it would appear a bit smelly otherwise.

    1. Sean Danaher -

      Noel, thanks. You are absolutely correct. Richard’s position is however very non executive and he played only a small part in the choice of the the November Book of the Month or indeed the “suggested reading.” The editorial team (Richard was not on it and had only a minor part in the correspondence) looked at about 1/2 a dozen book as possibilities for the November BoM and the “Joy of Tax” was chosen on merit and without Richard’s knowledge.

      For complete transparency one of the books we considered was Eve Pool’s “Capatalism’s Toxic assumptions” which Peter May suggested, but no one on the editorial team had read. We contacted Richard to see if he had read it, who replied “I have to admit I have never found much to agree with in what she has written, But I have not read this latest book and so she may have improved”. We decided to reserve judgement and moved Eve’s book back to a possibility for future months. The video looked promising (link below) and we may indeed choose it as BoM but only after someone on the team has read it.

      1. The Meissen Bison -

        Sean – that’s a splendid and revelatory reply which will be treasured by all of Richard Murphy’s many adherents. Happy reading!

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