Monday, September 21, 2015

Forgiving Shamelessly Strong Whiteanters

“I make it a practice to avoid hating anyone. If someone’s been guilty of despicable actions, especially toward me, I try to forget him. I used to follow a practice—somewhat contrived, I admit—to write the man’s name on a piece of scrap paper, drop it into the lowest drawer of my desk, and say to myself: ‘That finishes the incident, and so far as I’m concerned, that fellow.’ The drawer became over the years a sort of private wastebasket for crumbled-up spite and discarded personalities.”
~ Dwight Eisenhower, At Ease: Stories I Tell to Friends

Joseph Epstein states, “The world’s greatest biography was composed by a depressive, a heavy drinker, an inconstant husband and a neglectful father who suffered at least 17 bouts of gonorrhea.” That biography is filled with quotations like this: “Depend upon it, that if a man talks of his misfortunes, there is something in them that is not disagreeable to him.”
 “The Irish are a very fair people—they never speak well of one another.” 

And this: “You have to be able to laugh at yourself first, because you might be the problem, not everybody else.”
Once, work was a major source of friendships. We took our families to company picnics and invited our colleagues over for dinner. Now, work is a more transactional place. We go to the office to be efficient, not to form bonds. We have plenty of productive conversations but fewer meaningful relationships.
In 1985, about half of Americans said they had a close friend at work; by 2004, this was true for only 30 percent. ...
We may start companies with our friends, but we don’t become friends with our co-workers. "We are not only 'bowling alone,'" Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor at Stanford, observes, "we are increasingly ‘working alone.’ ”

When Niccolò Machiavelli wrote, five hundred years ago, that "there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things – for the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order", he wasn't referring specifically to tax reform.  Australia's tax system is like swiss cheese

NY Times:  Our Declining Friendships With Our Co-Workers: Bad For Us, Bad For Our Employers

Quit 3Inside Higher Ed, Public Good-byesLike most breakups, those between higher education and the academics who choose to leave it typically happen quietly. But as in romance, sometimes these breakups become very public affairs -- usually when an academic decides to reflect on the decision in a blog or other medium. The genre, called “quit lit,” has been around for several years, at least according to social media. And it’s enjoying a resurgence of sorts, thanks to some recent high-profile Dear John letters.

Sydney v NY Young people and the cost of home

Sydney v NY traffic
Sydney v NY air pollution
NSW v NY cigar of polution

From Farewells to Welcome to the Tax Prof blogosphere, Tracey M. Roberts(UC-Hastings) and Taxonomer: Tax, Terra, and Taxonomies: Seeing the Forests and the Trees.  From her inaugural post:
The goals of this blog are (1) to share research on tax and the environment, (2) to share information about how to make teaching and learning easier, and (3) to promote systems-thinking. 

Before the May election Labour promised that it would undertake a review of HMRC if it was returned to power.  It wasn’t, of course, but I’m pleased to note that the issue has not gone away. As Economia magazine ( the mouthpiece of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) has reported  in the last few days:
Labour may have to wait five years before undertaking its review into the culture and practices of HMRC, but others have taken up the cudgels for immediate action, as Paul Golden discoversThe range of  those requesting a serious review is surprisingly wide, and welcome.  

As Economia note of my own opinion on the matter:
HMRC’s management structure is wrong, resources are inappropriately focused, there is insufficient accountability and it is an embarrassment that permanent secretaries are being called before the Public Accounts Committee because there is no one else to hold them to account.
That is the view of Tax Research UK director Richard Murphy, who says a thorough review of the governance of HMRC is required and that it is “absurd” that HMRC’s board is made up of representatives from the large business community and its advisers “who between them represent about 700 tax payers when there are 31m income tax payers in the UK.” He continues: “It is also absurd that parliament has almost no resources available to it to scrutinise HMRC. Margaret Hodge may have done well, but it was despite the NAO and not because of it – indeed, the NAO fought long and hard to deny information on HMRC to the PAC. That is wholly unacceptable and must change, which is why I suggest there should be an Office for Tax Responsibility reporting straight to the PAC that can properly audit HMRC and tax policy.”
Murphy adds that any review should look at the resourcing of HMRC and should have representation from beyond big business and the tax profession. If government cannot be persuaded to implement a review, employers’ groups, professional bodies and trade unions should work together, he says.
He accepts that funding would be an issue, but says a relatively limited number of people producing a report on a timely basis could have a significant impact on taxation in the UK during the next 10 to 20 years.
Review of HMRC  

... I end up thinking that the people who don’t see Ferrante’s genius are those who can’t face her uncomfortable truths: that women’s friendships are as much about hatred as love; that our projections determine our stories as much as does any fact; that we carry our origins, indelibly, to our graves. To imbue fiction with the undiluted energy of life — to make of it not just words upon a page but a visceral force — is the greatest artistic achievement, worth more than any pretty sentences: Ferrante has done this, if not perfectly, then with a rare brilliance...
Lions aka Singhs: Walking like Kenyan wild cats 2015