.. features two old soldiers, one of whom says to the other "Young people! Our generation fought so they could be free, and now they go and do what they bloody well like."
I was reminded of this by the talk that the government, in a fit of pique, says (through the Peston mouthpiece) that it wants to tax the banks or the bankers, well the British one, or maybe those that are in Britain or something.
After all, runs the government's line to the media, we bailed out the banks, so we deserve something back. Well yes we did. We bailed them some of them out, and got something back in the form of equity at a knockdown price. We guaranteed some of their assets, and they paid us a fee. The government negotiated these deals over many months, so are they telling us they negotiated a bad deal? Indeed, can anyone trust this government if they negotiate a deal in good faith only to find that the government stitches them up by changing the law shortly afterwards?
But, protest the government, if we hadn't bailed out the banks the whole system would have collapsed and all the banks would have gone under. So this justifies taxing not only UK banks but also those that operate here. Not so, the banks that would have gone under were the ones that did go under. The other banks had their own capital cushions and would have survived, in part because they have the capacity to rebuild their capital through earnings, which is precisely what the government wants to tax.
The idea that the government want to slap a tax on foreign banks in London just because they are making a lot of money, from amongst other things, advising the government on dealing with the bailed out banks, shows that the government doesn't really have a clue. Somebody should draw a cartoon about this.