As ever, the problem with Richard Murphy is that he has no knowledge of the subject under discussion


This is just a lovely example of what's so wrong with the various pronouncements of Richard Murphy, the confused soul behind Corbynomics:

And this opens up the space for him to suggest a wealth tax, in his imaginary budget. “It was inconceivable in the past. But as a result of the work that the Tax Justice Network has done opening up the world’s secrecy jurisdictions, now if people move their assets offshore, we can find them again.” He has other specific proposals – a tax to replace national insurance, which was designed around jobs that don’t exist any more, and “we would need to explore new taxes for the 21st century, which are largely untried. A progressive consumption tax, so people with very few transactions would have very low tax. We have to discourage conspicuous consumption, which is eating up our planet.”

He's just entirely unaware of all the other stuff that people have been thinking about economics and tax. The progressive consumption tax for example: it's generally thought of as a very good idea indeed. But not because it would reduce consumption, as he seems to assume. Rather, because it would make the future richer: that is, it would over time encourage more consumption.

The essential insight behind it is that investment increases the future size of the economy, consumption might provide that short term boost to demand, but investment is what really grows economies. And we also know that if you tax something then you get less of it: thus the progressive consumption tax aims to not tax investment, capital, or the returns to either.

What really happens is that anyones' savings end up inside a giant ISA or IRA style vehicle. Any additions to savings are not taxed in any manner. Any returns to such savings or investments that are reinvested are not taxed. Any income which is consumed, or any drawing down of savings which is then consumed (or, obviously, returns to capital which are then consumed) are taxed in much the same manner that income tax works now, at rising, progressive, rates.

The observant will note that this is not compatible with a wealth tax. Even the half awake will note that the effect of such a system is to not tax wealth. In fact, the entire point is to not tax wealth, but to allow it to roll up while invested so as to increase the wealth and income of the future society: and thus to increase the consumption opportunities of that future.

And this is the basic problem with all of Murphy's ideas. Other people too have thought about these various points and problems. And Murphy's entirely unaware, startlingly ignorant in fact, of the evidence found, logic used and conclusions reached by those others. Turning on the free money tree of Peoples' QE is monetisation of government spending and we know how that turns out. Capital allowances are in the tax system for good reason: because we tax businesses on their profits, not their turnover. A certain amount of both tax avoidance and tax evasion are going to be there simply because a society without either will have no liberty. And the point and purpose of a progressive consumption tax is so that we do not tax wealth, rather than that we do: and it is to make the future richer, encouraging more future consumption too.

It is this that really grates. Not just that we disagree with Murphy's assumptions and between dislike and abhor his suggestions, but that he proceeds without noting that tens of thousands of very clever people have ploughed these same furrows over the centuries. And he's simply flat out ignorant of the truths they have uncovered.