Category Archives: corruption

A filthy, degraded country

England, Dalrymple points out to an interviewer, is a corrupt country. Not in the way that, for instance, Italy is corrupt, but morally and intellectually corrupt, which is worse. The educational system has been ruined, there are large social problems (of which public drunkenness is an example), and the country is the dirtiest in Europe — Britishers routinely fling rubbish out of car windows to pollute the beautiful countryside, for instance. There has been a cultural revolution in the country, making it quite the opposite of what it once was.

He who would rule us

Who would have heard of Jean-Claude Juncker had he remained a corrupt, utterly mediocre former prime minister of Luxembourg?

The failing unitary European state

Dalrymple notes that the European Union is

  • corrupt
  • bureaucratic
  • cumbersome
  • archaic
  • inhibitory of enterprise
  • economically dysfunctional
  • undemocratic

He points out that

its two most recent major innovations, the single currency and free movement across borders, have been disasters for many of its members.

Britain’s bogus charities

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 08.53.05When you give money to a large charity, writes Dalrymple,

you are not so much being generous as voluntarily paying more tax, for many charities are de facto subcontractors to the State. The government is usually by far the largest single donor.

Therefore you should remember that

he who pays the piper calls the tune.

Such charities, Dalrymple points out, are

misrepresenting themselves to the public.

It is not only financial corruption that you should fear, he says,

but even more the moral corruption of which this dishonesty is an example.

For the European élite, high tax is an intrinsic good

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Not a happy ending

Every country, Dalrymple points out, ought to

use the means at its disposal to solve its own problems that arise from history and culture.

Yet a large part of the so-called European project is the plan for a

fiscal straitjacket, accompanied by transfer payments from one country to another.

Glancing at the newspaper the Monde, Dalrymple comes across an article on the subject of la tentation du paradis fiscal that carries the heading

Après le Brexit, le Royaume-Uni fait le choix des charmes dangereux du dumping fiscal

This is a reference to an idea floated in some parts of the UK government that corporate tax might be cut to 15%. ‘Fiscal dumping’ here means

levying a tax rate on corporate profits lower than that of other nations.

Some people, Dalrymple ventures,

might call this competition.

The Monde‘s use of the term ‘fiscal dumping’ is telling, says Dalrymple, about

the dirigiste European political élite mindset. They cannot say a priori what rate is ‘correct’, but terming a 15% corporate tax rate ‘dumping’ implies that there is a correct rate.

The implication is that national differences in tax rates are inherently wrong, and that the tax rate ought to be high, even if a lower rate results in a higher take.

One might think that the main attraction of high tax rates is the distress they cause to those who pay them.

Dalrymple explains that the belief in a ‘correct’ tax rate

can only mean a belief in the uniformity of tax rates in Europe, and in overruling each individual country’s preferences and needs. Uniformity implies the need for a centralised authority over which there could never be the slightest democratic oversight. There is no European people to elect a European government, and never will be.

Official tax rates and effective tax rates may differ.

A system of concessions, exceptions, and bribery is likely to flourish where rates are high and it is worth avoiding and evading tax. A corrupt or flexible polity with a high tax rate may impose less tax in reality than an honest one with a low tax rate.

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A bogus charity

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Many proud Oxfam employees are richly supported. Indeed they are comparatively very highly paid. The ‘charity’ states that this is owing to the need to ‘attract, motivate and retain highly skilled and committed executives’

By far the largest donor to Oxfam Australia, notes Dalrymple, is

the Australian government, which contributed slightly more than 26% of its total income — almost enough to cover the nearly 29% of its income it expended on raising funds.

It spent $3m last year on

long-service leave of its senior employees. We learn that remuneration for ‘key management personnel’ (number unspecified) rose by 16% between 2014 and 2015, from $821,000 to $952,000. (The head of Oxfam UK is paid somewhat over $200,000 a year.) No explanation for the rise is offered.

Properous employees

Explaining why remuneration is so relatively lavish at what is supposed to be a charity, Oxfam states:

The performance of the Group depends upon the quality and commitment of its senior management. To prosper, the Group must attract, motivate and retain highly skilled and committed executives.

A State-dependent racket that exists for its staff

Dalrymple comes across an advertisement for a job at Oxfam. The ‘charity’ indicates certain selection criteria:

  • experience in defining use cases and business rules and processes with a strong engagement of customer groups
  • experience in successfully mapping and documenting business and technical requirements, process diagrams, scenarios, and test plans based on conversations with the technical team and customers

The successful candidate will be paid $75,783 plus superannuation and

access to generous NFP tax concessions (specifically, a salary packaging scheme offering up to $18,450 of your salary tax-free).

Could this, asks Dalrymple, be

tax avoidance? Surely not. I may be behind the times, but Oxfam doesn’t sound much like charity to me, more like a government-subsidised scheme for those who work in it.

A continent limping towards the abyss

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 23.36.42Dalrymple points out that ‘ever closer union’

resuscitates old national stereotypes and antagonisms and increases the likelihood of real conflict.

He notes that politicians and bureaucrats,

like all people with bad habits, are infinitely inventive when it comes to rationalising the European Project, though they’re inventive in nothing else.

  • Without the Union, they say, there would be no peace; when it’s pointed out that the Union is the consequence of peace, not its cause, they say that no small country can survive on its own.
  • When it is pointed out that Singapore, Switzerland, and Norway seem to have no difficulties in that regard, they say that pan-European regulations create economies of scale that promote productive efficiency.
  • When it is pointed out that European productivity lags behind the rest of the world’s, they say that European social protections are more generous than anywhere else.
  • If it is then noted that long-term unemployment rates in Europe are higher than elsewhere, another apology follows.

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 08.42.50The fact is that for European politicians and bureaucrats,

the European Project is like God — good by definition, which means that they have subsequently to work out a theodicy to explain, or explain away, its manifest and manifold deficiencies.

The personal interests of European politicians and bureaucrats,

with their grossly inflated, tax-free salaries, are perfectly obvious. For politicians who have fallen out of favour at home, or grown bored with the political process, Brussels acts as a vast and luxurious retirement home, with the additional gratification of the retention of power.

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 23.41.11The name of a man such as Herman Van Rompuy,

whose charisma makes Hillary Clinton look like Mata Hari, would, without the existence of the European Union, have reached most of the continent’s newspapers only if he had paid for a classified advertisement in them.

Corporate interests,

ever anxious to suppress competition, approve of European Union regulations because they render next to impossible the entry of competitors into any market in which they already enjoy a dominant position, while also allowing them to extend their domination into new markets. That is why the CAC 40 (the French bourse benchmark) will have more or less the same names 100 years hence.

Dalrymple reminds us of the European Union’s role in corroding civil society.

Suppose you have an association for the protection of hedgehogs. The European Union then offers your association money to expand its activities, which of course it accepts. The Union then proposes a measure allegedly for the protection of hedgehogs, but actually intended to promote a large agrarian or industrial interest over a small one, first asking the association’s opinion about the proposed measure. Naturally, your association supports the Union because it has become dependent on the Union’s subsidy. The Union then claims that it enjoys the support of those who want to protect hedgehogs.

The best description of this process is

fascist corporatism, which so far lacks the paramilitary and repressive paraphernalia of real fascism. But as the European economic crisis mounts, that distinction could vanish.

One should not mistake the dullness of Eurocrats

for lack of ambition, or the lack of flamboyance for the presence of scruple. History can repeat itself.

Dalrymple says that whenever he reads the French press on the subject of the European crisis,

I’m struck by how little questions of freedom, political legitimacy, separation of powers, representative government, or the rule of law feature, even in articles by academic political philosophers. For them, the problem is mainly technical: that of finding a solution that will preserve the status quo (there is no such solution, but intelligent people searched for the philosopher’s stone for centuries).

As for the British political class,

it is composed largely of careerists,

and in the world of the Eurocrats,

ignoring arguments is the highest form of refutation.

Terribly, frighteningly sincere

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 09.00.03Who would have thought, writes Dalrymple,

that a ridiculous little house painter could have become the leader of the best-educated nation in Europe? Why, then, should an absurd, intellectually limited, puritanical ideologue not become Prime Minister of one of the most ill-educated nations in Europe?

Jeremy Corbyn’s landslide victory in the election for the leadership of Britain’s Labour party

shows how little the political class knows even of its own parties’ activist membership, let alone of the country as a whole.

If you dislike Hamas and Hezbollah, Corbyn

is not going to change his opinion or stance merely to canvass or capture your vote. He is sincere, terribly and frighteningly sincere.

He gets some things right, for example in the matter of High Speed 2, the railway to be built between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. This is

so patently an unnecessary, uneconomic, ecologically destructive, vastly expensive and regressive project (regressive in the tax sense, a subsidy both to the companies that will build it and to the passengers who will use it, for it will never pay for itself), that almost everyone suspects large-scale corruption.

Corbyn’s

ruling passion is political self-righteousness.

This is

refreshing in a way, for many people are tired of the patently ersatz or carefully crafted presentation of most other prominent politicians, who seem not to be able to utter a word or appear in public for a moment without having first sought the opinion of focus groups. The next election haunts them like a Doppelgänger, and mostly being of infirm principle or opinion, they live in a state of constant anxiety not to offend.

Corbyn is

  • a wearer of sandals
  • a supporter of Palestinian terrorists
  • a supporter of Irish republican terrorists
  • vegetarian
  • a teetotaller
  • pacifist (except where foreign terrorists are concerned)
  • an abolitionist (concerning the British monarchy)

He is not intrinsically unelectable.

It would take only a few disasters, whether the government was responsible for them or not, for the electorate to conclude that anything, even Mr Corbyn, was better than it. People tend to vote against rather than for someone. The resentment to which Mr Corbyn’s socialism appeals, already quite widespread, could spread yet further if there were a deepening of Britain’s economic problems.

All the qualities of Neville Chamberlain except his fundamental decency

Dalrymple on Jack Straw, denouncer of the Jyllands-Posten Mohammed cartoons

Dalrymple on Jack Straw, denouncer of the Jyllands-Posten Mohammed cartoons

Villainous company hath been the spoil of me

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 08.10.43In Henry IV, Part 1 (act 1, scene 2), Falstaff accuses Prince Henry thus:

O, thou hast damnable iteration and art indeed able to corrupt a saint. Thou hast done much harm upon me, Hal; God forgive thee for it! Before I knew thee, Hal, I knew nothing; and now am I, if a man should speak truly, little better than one of the wicked. I must give over this life, and I will give it over: by the Lord, and I do not, I am a villain: I’ll be damned for never a king’s son in Christendom.

Such rationalisations, writes Dalrymple,

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 08.15.52have particular resonance for me because I have heard them a thousand times from my patients (I would not stoop to such rationalisations, of course).

In the prison where Dalrymple works,

practically every heroin-addicted prisoner whom I ask for the reason that he started to take the drug replies: ‘I fell in with the wrong crowd.’ They say this with every appearance of sincerity, but at the same time they know it to be nonsense.

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 08.17.52They laugh when Dalrymple says to them

how strange it is that, though I have met many who have fallen in with the wrong crowd, I have never met any member of the wrong crowd itself.

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