Cowboys And Farmers
“The farmers and the cowboys should be friends,” they sang in Oklahoma, even though they weren’t, and they often ended up killing each other. I guess the farmers won, in the end, and nowadays most of them have turned into companies, while the remaining cowboys are Federal marshals who make sure that the farmers hang onto their property. Nowadays we could sing: “The bosses and the governors should be friends,” although it doesn’t have quite the same resonance, and they face each other down across a court-room floor rather than a corral, and with lawyers instead of guns, but you get the picture. So this week the OECD, which for the avoidance of doubt needs to be understood as a tool of government and no friend of business, has brought out its latest fusillade of anti-business rhetoric in the shape of its Common Reporting Standard. Don’t be deceived, by the way, into believing that the CRS is going to apply only to financial institutions: that’s where they are starting, but there is every intention to apply it to larger companies, and then ever smaller ones as well. It’s no coincidence that in the same week, the EU’s Competition Commissioner has launched an attack on companies’ tax practices, hilariously pinned to the principle of the single market. It reminds me of the Russians’ Monopoly Commission, which worked assiduously in support of monopolies, in the same way that the EU Commission is now working against competition, despite its ritualistic protestations to the contrary.