20 The State Of Business

“The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose to obtain the largest amount of feathers, with the least possible amount of hissing.”

Jean-Baptiste Colbert,
treasurer to Louis XIV.

Looks at the considerable effect of the state upon how we run our business enterprises.

  • Taxation has many negative spin-offs beyond the simple draining of capital resources from the economy. These include its encouragement of short term thinking; the moving of resources offshore; the brain drain of talented minds devoting themselves to saving taxes, or living abroad to avoid them; the considerable add-on cost to all goods and services.
  • The state made possible the Limited Liability company concept. Prior to this companies, or the people who owned them, were liable for the consequences of their activities. Knowing that you can lose their shirts tends to keep your eye on the ball. Now they can just call in the receivers and drive home with clean hands and full pockets.
  • We consider all those government schemes that fail in their objectives, consuming vast sums of our money in the course of it. The nuclear power industry and the Common Agricultural Policy are discussed.
  • The effect of relentless regulation is studied. In business from the age of 19, the author points out that were the fork invented today it would not be permitted. We have natural standards, such as the one Heinz set for baked beans, Bic for disposable lighters or Apple for personal computers. They work, and are flexible too.
  • False legitimacy given by the state begets so-called business enterprises that would never occur in a freely operating business climate. We see how the uninsurable nuclear industry would not exist, nor the arms industry nor artificial fertilizers.
  • Most state legislation channels us into a corporate world where the small start-up gets harder and harder. How our natural enterprise is stifled by all the above and more.

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