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“Centrism”, opposition : Apple Tax issue redux. August 31, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Pearse Doherty put it particularly well when he noted the following:

Mr Doherty argued the Government should “reach out” and collect the €13 billion as soon as possible.
“There is also an irony when we see an Irish Government challenging the EU Commission over this while we have memories of how they bowed down to the same commission during the period of austerity,” he said.
He said the net effect was that Apple paid an effective tax rate of 0.05 per cent on its global profits.

Interesting. In addition to SP and PBP, the SDs, GP are also saying the ruling should not be appealed.

The framing too is not uninteresting. Take Pat Leahy in the IT today. He writes:

The cacophony of demands to grab the cash and spend it was entirely predictable.
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett raged that the”entire political establishment have colluded over many years with Apple in an act of economic treason to rob the Irish public of €13 billion or more in desperately needed cash for public housing, the health service and other vital public services.”


Sinn Féin has been waiting with some relish for the EU verdict and leaped into action. “Give us back our money,” demanded MEP Matt Carthy. For good measure, Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty also called for a public inquiry into Apple’s tax arrangements.
The best can be said of all this is that at least the people doing it know its just political grandstanding. Well, this is one of the luxuries of Opposition.

But hold on. Boyd Barrett is absolutely correct. And it should be a cause for anger. Doherty is absolutely correct too to call for a public inquiry. Leahy though is dismissive even as he then writes;

For all that, even a cursory reading of the commission’s findings demonstrate that it is clear that Apple – like other multinationals presumably – has constructed a series of contrived structures designed to pay as little tax as possible. All the tech giant’s platitudes about paying the tax it owes are simply public relations guff. They are not meant to be taken seriously except by the gullible. The point at issue is not whether Apple has these structures, it is whether they constituted illegal State aid or not. That will now be decided in the European courts.

What does Leahy expect politicians to do in light of that? And there’s a sense of having his cake and eating it too for earlier he wrote:

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has long since said the Government would appeal an adverse finding by the commission on Apple’s tax arrangements. That was one thing when everyone thought the bill would be a few hundred million, or – at most – a few billion euro.

And just on that, why so dismissive of a ‘few billion euro’? We’ve had budgets where a ‘few billion euro’ would make a considerable difference. Leahy at the SBP and many others were quite clear about the negative impacts as they saw it of increasing taxation or expenditure.

Educative to see how rapidly matters change.

And this is educative too.

The furious debate thrown up by the decision exposes again one of the principal fault lines of Irish politics – between the (roughly) two-thirds of voters who vote for mainstream, centrist parties and Independents, who feel they have a stake in the country and its prosperity on the one hand, and those who vote for parties of the radical left, anti-establishment Independents and Sinn Féin on the other, who feel the State often conspires against them, and that politics ignores those like them. Political debate is between these two sides; but political and electoral competition is more usually within them.

Does Leahy genuinely believe that the critique put forward by SF, PBP, the SDs, GP etc isn’t shared more widely? Does he think that ‘centrism’ will lead to a supine acceptance of what is a frankly disgraceful situation, one which it has taken – of all entities, the EU Commission to point up to an Irish government and establishment and its outliers who, as we see here, put forward a remarkably cynical view of the world and of the way they should and do operate within it?

For it appears Leahy in a way feels it appropriate to understate the importance of what this represents, almost but not quite a ‘nothing to see here folks’ line.

Doherty couldn’t have put it better when we read Leahy’s analysis. Clearly taxation is fine when levied on citizens where all are expected to pay in full but quite a different matter when levied on multinational corporations. Where now one wonders the earnest articles which we’ve been subjected to on how withdrawing from the water charges would undermine the authority of the state to impose its writ up the citizenry. How the government loses ‘moral authority’ not doing so. Etcetera. Etcetera.


1. fergal - August 31, 2016

Imagine citizens paying only 5 euros income tax for every 20,000 earned? Citizens would be able to employ their own cooks, cleaners, gardeners, chauffeurs, childminders to beat the band- we’d have no public services….but fuck it, who cares- it’s all about the jobs, isn’t it?

Liked by 1 person

2. roddy - August 31, 2016

I often wondered what “having a stake in the country” actually means.Does my ownership of 13 acres of bogland put me in the “staker” category?!


WorldbyStorm - August 31, 2016



fergal - August 31, 2016

Roddy-depends on the quality of your bog- you’re definitely a staker! And not a stater..


3. sonofstan - August 31, 2016

Boxer Moran is all about protecting the vulnerable:

“Independent Alliance TD Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran tonight indicated that he would support an appeal, telling the Westmeath Independent: “We have got to show that if multinational companies come in here, if they get into difficulty, we are here to protect them.”

Sure aren’ they almost like asylum seekers, they come here with nothing….

Liked by 2 people

WorldbyStorm - August 31, 2016



gendjinn - September 1, 2016

Is this an episode of Yes Minister? Because it seems the civil service knobbled him.


4. Ed - August 31, 2016

The adjectives there are a beauty. The left parties aren’t just left, they’re radical; their opponents aren’t right at all, not even centre right, just centrist; and we get ‘mainstream’ as well on case there’s any doubt who we should be supporting

Liked by 3 people

gendjinn - September 1, 2016

You’d probably like Lakoff if you haven’t read him already.


5. benmadigan - August 31, 2016

Ireland – take the money and run – that you should be so lucky!!!!

if it makes you feel any better/relieved/salves your neo-lib conscience, consider it compensation for loss of the north as it is swallowed up by Brexiting UK which insists on the usual Unionist majoritarian position

” the group also had a long discussion on their commitment to the devolved nations of the UK, promising to “make sure Brexit works for all”. However, they made clear that it would be the UK government’s decision to establish the terms of Britain’s EU exit and when it would begin”



6. Tomboktu - August 31, 2016

A lost appeal to the EU court would create a most interesting scenario.

Apple has already told the USA government that it would move its $200bn back ‘onshore’ until the tax USA tax laws are changed. To have not one but two major economies having tax regimes that Apple don’t like…

And then there’s the Irish situation. Obviously RTÉ, the Irish Times, the Irish Independent, Sunday Business Post, and so on, would be slobbering over the implications for whoever is Taoiseach and whoever is Finance Minister at the time that the case finishes, but the real problem would be for the permanent economic government in the Department of Finance, who would be denied their simple and simplistic model and might be forced to think about real economic growth and development, instead of the pretend version they play with now. A question that would (will?) arise is whether the Department of Jobs etc. could rise above a domestic economic policy grounded in not so much SMEs as tiny Es like niche immigrant hairdressers* funded by whatever the latest version of the local enterprise board is and some flash-in-the-pan internet technology that the funding civil servant doesn’t understand but which they know must be good because it’s a campus company.

*Can’t find it now, but a few years ago I came across an evaluation of the effectiveness of the LEBs at supporting women entrepreneurs. Despite efforts to support more women set up small businesses, they still didn’t succeed in any great numbers, and succeeded far less than men. The evaluation noticed that during business preparation, LEBs were less critical of the business plans and projections of women, with the result that more enterprises with low chances of success were funded by LEBs, such as in hairdressing or cafes. (The key criticism was that LEBs failed a gender test by failing to provide training that challenged women wanting to set up a business to identify realistic opportunities that would lead to viable businesses and instead the LEBs measured their ‘success’ by the number of women they put through support programmes. In the evaluation world, they measured ‘output’ and not ‘impact’.)


WorldbyStorm - August 31, 2016

That’s intriguing what you suggest as a scenario in your first paragraphs but I’m even more curious about that study you reference. You don’t have a link re female entrepreneurship.


ivorthorne - September 1, 2016

This sounds interesting. It’s one of those examples that supports the claim that what gets measured gets done.

These women were effectively the LEBs’ own ladas.


7. Starkadder - September 1, 2016

We can’t allow the politicos to let Apple off the hook. We need demonstrations, mass protests, strikes…. “No representations without


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