What price financial secrecy, when God knows our innermost thoughts? – a guest post by Andy Crow

At the risk of cross-referencing within the echo chamber, Richard Murphy on his Tax Research UK blog responds to suggestions that reordering the terms of financial secrecy jurisdictions is liable to promote a rash of kidnappings affecting wealthy individuals.

The squealing of the piggies is loud and plaintive.

‘What about our privacy?’ they cry.

OK, what about your privacy? How much privacy do you want? Privacy is relative and negotiable. What’s it worth?

At bottom there seems little justification for hiding money offshore except to avoid paying tax in the region where Corporate profits are taken. This is tantamount to theft from the population which supports the corporation; and through limited liability provisions picks up the tab when it fails. The costs of large corporate failure are not easy to quantify because the fallout in terms of lost employment and misappropriated pension guarantees are not easily calculated and go on for years. This wrecks lives and is unpriceable. Limited liability absolves corporations of the responsibility even to try to assess a price. That is a very expensive ‘get out of jail free’ card. That we pay corporate executives and board members eye-watering remuneration for not accepting these responsibilities is another story for another day.

Would-be ‘free-marketeers’ cannot thrive without the social infrastructure that government provides. This includes educating the workforce, taking care of health and welfare, ensuring there is a transport network and housing for the workforce and quite a few etceteras – not least protection through the courts and police of the spoils and trappings of the wealthy. And the not so wealthy too, but those with most to lose should pay in proportion.

The myth of the ‘self-made man’ is just that: Entirely mythical.

So what’s God got to do with it? Quite a lot in so far as ‘He’ isn’t there any longer. To my way of thinking gods were always a construct of man, and not the other way round as the various scriptures would have us believe. A collective belief in the all-seeing, all knowing and omnipresent god was an assurance that we were all being watched and that the price we paid for ‘keeping an eye on our neighbours’ lest they cheat, was that we had to accept we were also in ‘his’ sights.

It’s a good trick if it works. But it allows no privacy for the faithful.
Take a personified god out of the reckoning and we have to make our own human arrangements for supervision of our neighbours and that means we accept they have the right to see what we are up to as well.

To protect the interests of the wealthy and the owners of property and other assets I have to suffer almost constant video surveillance in most public arenas. And these people think I don’t care what iniquities they get up to ?

No chance! Certainly not while I’m paying for it. And paying twice at least.

Bleat-on piggies. My heart bleeds.


  1. Peter May -

    Agree entirely – the priveleged think they should pay no price whatsoever for that privilege, but ignore the consequences for anyone else.
    And by far the easiest way to stop kidnapping is to stop any ostentatious display of wealth.

  2. Donald Liverpool -

    “I have to suffer almost constant video surveillance in most public arenas” Oh you poor thing, but the people watching those cameras and entitled to access them are not the public.
    You’ve overlooked the main part of the changes, which is that the registers are available already to tax authorities and law enforcement, but after the changes they will be available to any Tom, Dick or Harry without any requirement to go through some sort of appropriate channel.
    Find yourself a better analogy.

    1. Samuel Johnson -

      The UK authorities make no effort to determine which company directors are legitimate or to in any other way oversee the veracity of submissions made to Companies House. They are under-resourced and the idea that they have they resources to address malfeasance enabled via offshore companies with concealed ownership is a joke. The default should be complete transparency.

    2. Andy Crow -

      It’s not for myself that I need a better analogy, Donald, but I can see you would need a different one to be convinced.

      I’ve been thoroughly brainwashed to believe that the sort of surveillance state favoured on the other side of the Berlin Wall was to be despised and feared.

      It seems that when the wall came down the East and West simply exchanged their worst practices. For their surveillance state we gave the East unfettered and destructive capitalism at its worst.

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