Paul Murphy TD gave another interview to the media regarding Irish Water. His arguments are well rehearsed. He likes to say that an ill-defined group of ‘others’ should have to pay for water. He’s particularly fond of suggesting a financial transaction tax (aka a Tobin Tax) should be imposed, he wants higher corporation tax (just as our competitors both in the UK and the US are suggesting cutting theirs) and of course another favourite of his is to tax ‘wealth’ (a conveniently vague concept aimed at the equally vague group known as ‘the wealthy’).
Today was not a good day for Murphy to be repeating these puerile arguments, as today was the day that the first big UK firm, the blue chip investment thoroughbred The Prudential, said it was looking at moving part of its operation from Britain to Ireland as a direct consequence of the Brexit vote. Also today, the Irish Times said that Pinsent Masons, a law firm with British roots back to 1769, is reportedly looking for Dublin offices for some of its 2,500 plus employees.
Like it or not, this is how commerce acts in real life. Business, capital and people have the freedom to move worldwide and to move quickly – and that’s exactly what’s happening in post-Brexit Britain. If the five hundred million plus non-UK Europeans is their market they can move, and are moving, lock, stock and even a bit of a barrel to somewhere like Dublin, almost overnight, so their business complies with EU requirements.
Deputy Murphy could do worse than try to understand the anti-business taxes that ISME members have to contend with. If Mr. Murphy wants a fairer society, as we all do, the best way is to make sure that each person has the chance of a job or of running their own businesses. Higher taxes – corporation tax, Tobin Taxes, tariffs, personal taxes – drive people and business to where business is easiest done and where taxes are lower. High taxes kill business and a dead business doesn’t employ anyone.
If this was football, and not the far more serious world of business, this is how Coach ISME would read the gameplay. Impose a Tobin Tax (a tiny, tiny tax on every financial transaction) in Ireland and ways would be found to route those same transactions (computer based of course) into the UK (and away from the EU). In football parlance it’s Britain 1 – Ireland 0 and we’ve only just kicked off. Move on to higher corporation tax here and lower taxes in the UK…as we approach half time it’s already 2-0 to the UK. Murphy wants a wealth tax on the wealthy? It’s a lofty ideal. But what constitutes wealthy and where do the wealthy actually live? This is not an Irish problem; it’s a global problem as shown by the Panama Papers. Wealth can and is moved on the press of a digital button. It’s the UK 3 and Ireland 0.
It’s looking like it’s all over…and it is now… as the money for ‘the money’ for Irish Water – another tax - will have to come from the people who use it. This is what the ecologically minded say it should be, the so called ‘user pays’ principle.
4 nil down and we haven’t got to half time. Phenomenal, all own goals.