An English Libertarian Writes ...

By Sean Gabb


John -

Sean Gabb is the leading libertarian of
England, thus one of a very small class. He
photographs badly but writes well and has access to
the media. He doesn't come across as a 'racist' to
them. Here is one of his recent writings. Worth



Issue 168
19th February 2008

Are the non-Domiciled Rich and the City Good for
by Sean Gabb

Free Life Commentary,
A Personal View from
The Director of the Libertarian Alliance
Issue Number 168
19th February 2008
Comment (1)| Trackback

Are the non-Domiciled Rich and the City
Good for England?
by Sean Gabb

On my way out of the house this morning, I was called
by a BBC researcher to discuss my opinion of
non-domiciled tax status. As my opinions were not the
ones expected, our conversation did not lead to any
broadcast. But I was rather pleased with what I said,
and I might as well spend the rest of my railway
journey writing it down.

For my readers who live abroad, I should explain that
resident foreigners in this country enjoy significant
tax privileges. I, as a British citizen resident in
the United Kingdom, pay tax on my income earned here
and elsewhere in the world. A foreigner living here,
who can persuade the authorities that his permanent
residence is outside the United Kingdom, pays tax only
on what income he earns in this country and on what
income he brings in from abroad. Whatever he earns
abroad and leaves abroad attracts no tax. That is why
so many rich people have moved to London.

This privilege is now under attack. During the past
eleven years, the British State has almost doubled in
size. The Ministers have justified this by an endless
chant of "investment in essential public services". In
truth—whether to a few white proles, or to Shopping
Coordinators for Bearded Men with HIV, or to the
various Tarquins and Jaspers who get the contracts to
redesign logos and headed paper every time a Ministry
name is changed—our tax money has gone on raising up
an army of Labour voters. So far, most of us have not
paid attention to the systematic looting required for
this. Some of it was cleverly disguised. Much of it
was enabled by an expansion of the world economy that
brought in more revenue without increases in the rates
of tax.

This may now change. If we go into recession, the
amount of tax paid will fall at current rates. At the
same time, there is no room left for imposing taxes
that will not be noticed and felt. Therefore, if the
payroll vote is to be kept on, let alone expanded, the
Government must now openly increase taxes or inflate
or both.

That is why the non-domiciled are to be hit with a
poll tax of 30,000 per year. This will not put off
the fiscal crisis. At 800 million, the sum projected
is barely a fifth of one per cent of total government
spending. Nor will it last very long. The
non-domiciled are already threatening to leave. That
means a farewell to Madonna and to Roman Abramovich.
More importantly, it means a farewell to some of the
most dynamic people in the City of London. To raise
barely enough cash to run the National Health Service
for a week, the Government is prepared to lose people
who contribute billions in employment and indirect
tax, and to damage a vast financial machine that
generates more than a third of the national income.

But when a state is hungry, every little extra can
look tasty. That it may not last beyond the next
election is not something at all likely to worry our
present set of politicians.

I think the lady from the BBC expected me to run out
of breath as I denounced the scheme. She had me listed
on her database as Director of the Libertarian
Alliance, and took it for granted that I opposed taxes
and supported the rich in general and the City of
London in particular.

Well, I did denounce the taxes. They were bad, I said,
because they stole the produce of a man's labour:
taxing is enslaving. They were bad, I added, because
they enabled government spending that, even when not
obviously wasteful or oppressive, tended to corrupt
both direct and indirect recipients.

Her problem started when I moved to the rich and all
those City people. Good riddance to the lot of them, I
said. If it needed a tax to get them out of England, I
might almost find something nice to say about taxes.

That was the end of our conversation. The BBC lady
made her excuses and rang off. I imagine she then did
a search in her database for Tory Boy Intellectual,
and was soon hearing a lecture about London as "the
Jewel in the Crown of the British Economy".

I suppose I should explain myself. There are those who
think libertarianism involves a defence of riches and
of the rich. Some libertarians seem to agree. I do
not. A libertarian is someone who wants to be left
alone, and who wants to leave others alone, and who
wants others to be left alone. People must be taken as
the owners of their bodies and of what they create in
or appropriate from the external world.

Given that all exchange and other association needs
therefore to be voluntary, we move to an endorsement
of what is called the free market. If some people do
better in life in others, so much the better for them.
If they contrive to pass on some part of their success
to their children, so much the better again.

This is not, however, an endorsement of actually
existing capitalism. A free society is not Tesco minus
the State. It is a place of small craftsmen and
farmers and traders, of artists and of unlicensed
doctors and lawyers, and of others needed if
individuals and free associations of individuals are
to live well. We cannot say much more than this about
the arrangements of a free society. But we can be sure
it would have no place for big business as it now is

Big business corporatism, I would never seek to deny,
is the best economic model humanity has known in over
a century. It does generate vast amounts of wealth,
and does ensure that much of this is distributed with
some approximation of justice. Give me a choice
between what we have and any of the state socialisms
tried or recommended since Plato, and there is no
doubt what I should choose. Nor is there any doubt,
though, that the civilised nations made a big
collective mistake around the middle of the 19th
century. A system of scientific and industrial
progress that might have grown into an unmixed
blessing was partly hobbled and made into a new
instrument of class domination by laws that allowed
firms to incorporate and that gave shareholders
limited liability for the debts of firms.

The result was a channelling of investment into firms
that would never have been trusted had investors
continued to face the risk of joint and several
liability for debt. As these firms grew to enormous
size, they monopolised or cartellised whole markets.
They accepted and often quietly called for schemes of
tax and regulation that harmed them, but harmed them
less than their smaller competitors. In Britain and
America, they demanded the underwriting by the State
of their foreign expansions.

To ask whether big business bought or were colonised
by the political class is irrelevant. All that matters
is that we live in a world where political power and
corporate wealth are possessed by different wings of
the same ruling class. It is a ruling class that
presides over whole nations of people transformed by
brainwashing and mild but continuous discipline from
human beings to human resources.

More than any other financial centre, the City of
London stands as the heart and mind of the global
corporate system. Every statistic the BBC lady was
hoping I might drool on air—that there are more
American banks in London than in New York, that German
banks employ more people in London than in Frankfurt,
that over a third of all currency conversions take
place in London, and so on and so forth—is further
condemnation for me.

Anyone who regards the City as identical with free
market liberalism is deceived or trying to deceive. It
is a place where markets clear, and where profit comes
from working out returns in fractions of one per cent.
It is one of the few places where reality and the
textbook world of perfect competition nearly merge. It
is, however, a place maintained in being by the scheme
of state-granted privilege that is limited liability.
At the very best, its activities are useful to protect
us from high taxes. But in a world of free societies,
there would be no City of London or anything like it.

A further evil of the City brings me back to the
non-domiciled rich. Whatever their immunity from
income tax, these are people who pay large amounts of
indirect tax. They hand this over without much
resistance or complaint, and they hand over large
amounts. Political quietism plus great wealth is
always dangerous to freedom. When the quiet rich are
also foreigners, or at least highly mobile, is still
worse. They will not protest at any use of their tax
money to oppress other people than themselves. The
moment their own freedom is infringed, they will
retreat to somewhere more congenial.

For all the airs and graces they try to assume, this
is what makes the non-domiciled rich different from
the old landed aristocracy. Though tiresome in their
defence of legal privilege and unearned wealth, these
latter were incidentally useful in slowing the rise of
big business corporatism. Like the rest of us, they
had nowhere to run to, and were by training and
inclination the natural leaders of resistance. Roman
Abramovich and Madonna are none of these things. They
live among us, but are in no sense with us. The same
is true for the more anonymous bankers and fund
managers who have for the past generation found this
country useful as a trading platform. The same is true
of the rich in general. Unlike the workers, who may
have little else, the rich have no country.

Just about the only very rich foreigner possessed of
any public spirit is Mohammed al-Fayed. He expresses
that spirit in what may seem an eccentric cause. But
he certainly cares something about this country. He is
also domiciled here and is subject to the same taxes
as the rest of us. Not surprisingly, he is hated and
reviled by the establishment media, and has failed to
obtain a British passport in an age when these are
handed out to any parasite who can hold his place on
the underside of a lorry.

In closing, Gordon Brown and his Ministers do not
intend to do well by us. They are traitors to us in
their external policies, and rapacious tyrants in all
their internal dealings. But their desire for short
term gain may set us on the path to a better world.
And if they are not to be thanked for this, I am not
inclined to join in the chorus of disapproval.

NB—Sean Gabb's book, Cultural Revolution, Culture
War: How Conservatives Lost England, and How to Get It
Back, can be downloaded free from You can help by
contributing to publishing and distribution costs

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