Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Timms: tax dodging is immoral and corrosive

Stephen Timms, Britain's financial secretary, has some welcome words:

"It is right for those who pay their fair share to resent – to see, in fact, as morally wrong – the actions of a small minority who use their resources to create a new set of rules for themselves, who think they can pay tax on a 'do it yourself' basis to rob public services of vital resources."

The moral dimension of all of this has been all but forgotten. Part of our goal is to bring morality back into these questions. It's welcome to see an influential British figure saying such things -- though we're under no illusions about the forces ranged against him.

And note something else he says

"Comparing those who sought to evade taxes with benefits cheats, he added: "They not only cheat the public purse of much needed resources, but they undermine the confidence that ordinary taxpayers have in the system. It's corrosive."

The word "corrosive" is rather like the word "corrupt" - and his way of framing this is remarkably similar to our own. Note what we said last year

"Corruption always involves narrow interests abusing the common good. It always includes insiders using guarded information operating with impunity. And it always corrodes institutions, worsens absolute poverty and inequality, and ultimately undermines faith in the rules and systems that are supposed to promote the public interest. Thus, a better basic definition of corruption would go something like this: Corruption is the abuse of public interest and the undermining of public confidence in the integrity of rules, systems and institutions that promote the public interest."

Something to remember.

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