Monday, 25 February 2008

Does it take one to catch one?

The Sunday Times reports that the British tax authorities have paid a ‘whistleblower’ for the stolen bank details of wealthy Britons with deposits in Liechtenstein, “one of the world’s most secretive tax havens”. HM Revenue & Customs have apparently paid around £100,000 for information which will enable them to launch around 100 investigations, and regard this as a ‘coup’.


The same ex-bank employee [who was sacked and convicted of fraud] has ‘provoked a storm’ in Germany by selling data on 750 wealthy Germans to the country’s intelligence service for around £3.2 million, and has also offered information to tax authorities in America, Canada, Australia and France.


One wonders where he or she stashes their loot? But not much prospect, alas, of any illuminating details about Saudi princes!


This story prompted the following comment, which I reproduce by permission of the author:


“This is quite astounding. The British government has intentionally paid a known criminal (who has been convicted of his crimes) for stolen goods. Surely this means that the British government has itself committed a crime? Isn't the Blair/Brown/NuLabour government now a genuinely criminal regime?

And just look at the ramifications of this:

(1) This information is stolen goods supplied by a dishonest and convicted criminal. How can it be relied upon? It could perfectly well be made up or exaggerated for effect (i.e. in order to gain greater remuneration). The British government (as well as the German, US, and perhaps other governments) could well have been ripped off.

(2) It shows that crime pays. Why is it ok for the informant to do what he/she did, to steal private data and hand it over for money, whilst it's apparently not ok for people to do what they want with their own money? The government is attempting to operate on a particularly hypocritical moral basis here.

(3) It encourages crime on a major scale: It declares an open day for corrupt employees in government departments worldwide. The British government must be aware that this will include employees of British government departments.

(4) It puts the government's many data security breaches into context. How are we to trust that the government with our data if they so willingly buy (thus encouraging further such thefts) data and thus cause the very data security breach that they claim they are attempting to prevent. This is apparently not an honest or trustworthy government.

Some people will claim that all this is magically ok because it's 'only' the very rich who are being affected by this, but this is a false argument. It doesn't matter how rich or poor the victim of such a crime is - this is a crime, the information provided is inherently unreliable since it came from a convicted criminal and, because it is the British government who are party to this crime, it affects every British citizen, rich or poor.

Furthermore it seems to me that it is no moral crime to want to control your own money and to keep it away from the ever-more-rapacious (and now seemingly criminal) tax authorities whilst it most certainly is a crime, morally and perhaps legally, to do what the British government has done.”

Harking back to his previous post on ‘Integrity’, Anticant says “hear, hear”.

25 comments:

Jose said...

And what would happen if the normal British citizen suddenly realises that instead of keeping her/his savings in British Banks it would be safer to have them in Lichtenstein? If a desertion of money en masse left the Banks in Britain rolling their eyes in awe?

Just my imagination playing tricks on me.

Emmett said...

JOSE, My friend, you are an anarchist.../moi aussi/:

SURELY It cannot continue to elude whole populations that 'government' itself is only at bottom a form of /ganging/ -- and, when government gets all full of itself, politicians, the parasitic 'professional' classes - and, when government more-and-more does NOT deliver security and happiness and GOOD libraries and privacy and free (!) Armagnac and decent & approrpiately-servile doctors who will prescribe the morphine without loads of backchat, well...to Hell with it!

WE Can and invariably always will start 'gangs' of our own that have a little bit better idea of -- MARKETS:

THE 'Citizen' no longer exists in any case -- messrs Bush, Blare & la Brown are making sure of THAT -- but, the customers' wishes ARE divine, QED.

(I Hope the Heinie-snitch sold his paymasters a bill of goods & a tissue of the old faecal exudate!)

anticant said...

'Anarchy' is the most misused term in the political lexicon. Even the Oxford Concise defines it as "absence of government; disorder; confusion". Properly understood [by me and Humpty Dumpty] it is SELF-government - which calls for a great deal of internal discipline. A society of self-governing anarchists would not be a chaotic, violent, bomb-throwing place; it would be peaceful and essentially benign, with an irreducible minimum of external controls and the bossy 'Nanny state' relegated to history.

Maybe this is an impracticable libertarian dream, but without self-discipline no society, however over-governed, will flourish. It's true that you can't buck the market - Prohibition conclusively demonstrated that - but surely the market can be influenced by the cultivation of greater discernment and better taste than the present-day media and advertisers' pandering to the debauched passions of the masses.

When William Blake said that the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom, I don't think he anticipated that so many would abandon the destination and be content to pitch their tents on the roadside.

A bit off subject, but I do wonder who actually owns my money - me, the banks, or the government?

Emmett said...

ABSOLUTELY Top-flight, Aunty, you got the bit down perfectly about the indispenable self-discipline, what these pet Sufis of mine mean by 'regeneration', I think. It's what makes libertarian plolicy simply unworkable, or anyway impossible:

'When William Blake said that the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom, I don't think he anticipated that so many would abandon the destination and be content to pitch their tents on the roadside....'

"AIN'T It the God-damn truth, the DUMB sonsofbitches!" (says my old neighbour Judson, on reading this over my shoulder tonight, whilst we listen to tangoes on-line on FM Tango Rosario, from Argentina's Capital FM 95.9....

AS To 'the' money, it's purely a fictionn of pixilx and electrons, so the more phoney accounts -- again on-line -- a chap can get away with opening, well, there you have it -- Credit Card City!

ANY Of you mob ever read H P Lovecraft?

AND, Jose, where can I read up more on the Anarchist Brigades in the 1936-9 civil war, in Spain?

Emmett said...

AS To 'the' money, it's purely a fictionn of pixilx and elcetrons....

TRANSLATION On a boozy night at the keyboard:

AS To 'the' money it's purely a (so far, so good!) fiction of pixils and electrons....

(LIKE The old russian madame said to Judson one night, in the whorehouse in Pearl Harbor early in '42: "It ain't the vodka, it's the God-damn STEPPES!")

anticant said...

The classic account of how the democratic Left in the Spanish Civil War was sabotaged by the Stalinist communist faction is George Orwell's "Homage to Catalonia". James Joll's "The Anarchists" has a detailed chapter on Spain.

The practical flaw in anarchism is its idealistic assumption that in an anarchist society, everyone will be honest. Would that it were so!

anticant said...

Orwell’s summing-up of the Spanish Civil War is: “The hatred which the Spanish Republic excited in millionaires, dukes, cardinals, play-boys, Blimps, and whatnot would in itself be enough to show one how the land lay. In essence it was a class war. If it had been won, the cause of the common people everywhere would have been strengthened. It was lost, and the dividend-drawers all over the world rubbed their hands. That was the real issue; all else was froth on its surface.”

He adds: “The most baffling thing in the Spanish war was the behaviour of the great powers….In 1936 it was clear to everyone that if Britain would only help the Spanish government, even to the extent of a few million pounds’ worth of arms, Franco would collapse and German strategy would be severely dislocated. By that time one did not need to be a clairvoyant to foresee that war between Britain and Germany was coming….Yet in the most mean, cowardly, hypocritical way the British ruling class did all they could to hand Spain over to Franco and the Nazis....Whether the British ruling class are wicked or merely stupid is one of the most difficult questions of our `time, and at certain moments a very important question….

“When one thinks of all the people who support or have supported Fascism, one stands amazed at their diversity. What a crew! Thinks of a programme which at any rate for a while could bring Hitler, Pétain, Montagu Norman, Pavelitch, William Randolph Hearst, Streicher, Buchman, Ezra Pound, Juan March, Cocteau, Thyssen, Father Coughlin, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Arnold Lunn, Antonescu, Spengler, Beverley Nichols, Lady Houston, and Marinetti all into the same boat! But the clue is really very simple. They are all people with something to lose, or people who long for a hierarchical society and dread the prospect of a world of free and equal human beings. Behind all the ballyhoo that is talked about ‘godless’ Russia and the ‘materialism’ of the working class lies the simple intention of those with money or privileges to cling to them.”

He could have added Prescott Bush to that list!

zola a social thing said...

Thank god you did not include any POSTMODERN artists in your list !

Richard W. Symonds said...

"America's Orwell" - Chomsky - has much to say about Anarchism (& the Spanish Civil War)...and he described himself in this way - 1978 :

"PERHAPS I AM A LIBERAL IN THAT SENSE - BUT I THINK IT LEADS ME NOW TO BE A KIND OF ANARCHIST SOCIALIST" *

I'm still trying to work out what he means by this !

*Source : "Men of Ideas" by Bryan Magee - BBC (1978) - Page 223

anticant said...

Postmodern artists? Are there any?

Jose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jose said...

This is a site, Emmett, which may interest you.

http://flag.blackened.net/liberty/spain.html

During Franco's rule the word anarchist became derogatory in Spanish, as was rojo (red) referring Communists. Anarchist, Communist and Satanist were synonyms.

Jose said...

Spanish_Anarchism

Seems I could at last place the site correctly

Jose said...

And what I learnt many years ago was that the civil war, the cause of which was attributed to the assassination of the Right Wing politician Calvo Sotelo, was in reality a bill on President Azana's table raising taxes on the rich in a very effective way.

Perhaps this is the reason why countries as Britain covertly supported the National Rising.

Emmett said...

OLD Churchill, alas, 'tis said was pro-Franco to begin with -- the emotional hierarchism again....

AUNTY, Jose, thanks for the references -- oddly, I've not so much as read /Catalonia/, although I know of it of course....

anticant said...

Gerald Brenan's "The Spanish Labyrinth" is still one of the best accounts in English of the Civil War and its origins. He was a member of the Bloomsbury Group see:

http://www.mantex.co.uk/ou/a319/brenan.htm

anticant said...

"During Franco's rule the word anarchist became derogatory in Spanish, as was rojo (red) referring Communists. Anarchist, Communist and Satanist were synonyms."

This prompts me to embark upon a post about the use - and misuse - of political labels. No deadline promised!

Richard W. Symonds said...

If you are going to do something on "political labels", AC - which I will impatiently look forward to - re-read Orwell's "What is Fascism?" :

http://www.orwell.ru/library/articles/As_I_Please/english/efasc

Emmett said...

WHAT Is 'NuLabour'? (Har..!)

anticant said...

It was Chamberlain, not "Old Churchill", who was pro-Franco. As Churchill's official biographer, Martin Gilbert, makes clear, Churchill consistently advocated strict Anglo-French neutrality - and if possible generally agreed European neutrality - in the Spanish Civil War, because he wanted to keep both the Germans and the Russians out of Spain. He didn't want the Communists to win, but by 1939 was deploring Franco's forthcoming victory, pointing out "the illusions and misconceptions which had made 'well-to-do society' so prejudiced in Franco's favour, and saw with foreboding what this might mean for England."

Emmett said...

CHAMBERLAIN And Lord Irwin, you mean, and that deteastable little /Times/ publisher...but, still, in 1936 I believe that Wm. Manchester is quite clear, to wit that Old Churchill was more anti-communist than anything else; and, that his growing appreciation of the hitler-danger was because of the acute menace to, precisely, England (actually, WC did have a lot to do with fostering this 'Britain' flummery, too). Maybe we need to let the /pp/ of Mr Roy Jenkins settle this one -- except my copy has disappeared in amongst the twenty-some thousands of books laying around here (I /think/ I know where the bastard is, but I ain't for sure!) Anyway, they are like cats, they /lie/ about -- underfoot, too! -- and don't just 'lay'!

anticant said...

Churchill was certainly 'more anti-communist than anything else' until the mid-1930s - and with good reason. But come the war, even he flattered himself that he could get along with 'Uncle Joe', although his stance towards our Russian 'allies' was far more realistic than that of Roosevelt, who fatuously allowed himself to be bamboozled at Teheran and Yalta by Stalin's empty promises to allow 'democracy' in Eastern Europe.

I know FDR was a sick man by then, but he does bear a heavy responsibility for the Iron Curtain division of Europe, and the ensuing Cold War.

pela68 said...

This is kind of spooky. I just read of the Swedish ministry of taxes doing the same thing- paying off criminals to steal insider information from a bank in Lichtenstein.

http://sydsvenskan.se/opinion/huvudledare/article304206.ece (Swedish only)

What the heck is going on?

Jose said...

Who knows? Perhaps laws will be changed, ethics to be reconsidered, and the criminals today won't be criminals any longer tomorrow. The whole system turning upside down.

Emmett said...

That's the way it is already, in my good old Republican Party!