Wednesday, December 09, 2009

“Little Drummer Boy,” Ray Charles

Ray Charles sings one of my favorite versions of “Little Drummer Boy"--complete with slide guitar, brass, and a really great vibe.

You know you love it.

None of which explains why our friends in Britain are imposing a 50% special tax on bankers’ bonuses. What irritates most about this (and do read the comments at the linked article) is the raw popularity of this kind of move. Class warfare like this is neither good business (in trying to punish these people, it fairly encourages work-arounds to maintain the pay schedule and avoid the extra taxes--achieving precisely neither of the stated goals) nor is it good ethics (it is not simply unfair, but injurious that a person face confiscatory and capricious taxes of this nature simply because of his or her chosen field).

The British government on Wednesday said banks would pay a one-time, 50% tax on bonuses worth more than 25,000 pounds ($40,700) in an effort to encourage banks to rebuild their capital bases and continue lending to individuals and businesses.

David Wessel reports on results from a panel dissussion on international regulation, along with Sir Andrew Crockett, Dame Clara Furse and Fichard Gnodde at the Future of Finance conference.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling delivered the blow in his annual pre-budget report, which also laid out the government’s plans to cut the deficit over the next four years.

Darling said he was giving banks, which have all benefited directly or indirectly from massive government aid, a choice.

“They can use their profits to build up their capital base. But if they insist on paying substantial rewards, I am determined to claw money back for the taxpayer,” he said.

You won’t see too many people crying for those bankers; the portrait of the banker is the fat cat who profits on the labors of the little people, so who cares about them? The principle is worth supporting, though: no citizen should live in fear of an arbitrary tax being levied against them because they chose the wrong job.

What do I know, though? I’m just some marketing guy who trusts that the government won’t come along and crush me with new taxes, regulations, and fees for such whimsical reasons. Which might just be another way of saying “sucker.”


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