I’m not surprised to find 98 of the top 100 UK listed companies dealing in tax havens. You can find a bit of analysis at – http://www.golemxiv.co.uk/2011/10/the-places-and-people-who-help-barclays-minimize-its-taxes/
The standard right-wing view of such stuff is that companies need such facilities to make the money for investment in global conditions. The implication is business is a dirty business and we’d soon lose all business if we took these tools away. Over the years I listened to many arguments on strategic success without ever hearing about smuggling and tax avoidance. One competes on quality, customer satisfaction, international sourcing, splendid human resourcing, wage control, driving costs down, technology and whatever can be made into a management fad. Meanwhile your company pays corporation tax at 18% over many years when the rate is above 30% or directs your cigarettes through Cyprus or Turks and Caicos, hire private detectives to ‘analyse likely takeover victims and so on.
The eventual end-place for such real strategy is a police force of cheap Laotians paid for by drugs’ trafficking.
The argument that convinces many is that it’s a dirty world and we have to compete under the real rules. Since I played, foul play in both codes of rugby has become much more costly. England’s rugby union team now can’t win because its forwards can’t keep to the rules. Very few rugby league teams can survive an adverse penalty count. Soccer teams can’t level things up by kicking people in the air (sadly). No doubt cheating still goes on, but the rules are now enforced very strictly and video review works well.
We lack any democratic control over business. This is surely obvious (we even cheated on the gold standard when there was one). The question is what attitudes prevent us from international fair play in business. One is that we believe the current system suits us and it’s in our interests to keep the blind eye turned. I’m all right Jack.
Honesty is not the best policy unless foul play is more costly and refs are good. Are we so feeble-minded we can’t get this on an international basis? I believe most of us can think this far and then realise it’s hopeless and this is what happens to our politicians before,like Blair, they are bribed with the glittering prizes. Transparency is the answer, but the first to do it is effectively building a glass house and undressing with the lights on.