“Everybody is analyzing policies…as if policies could make any real difference. What really matters is culture,” said an Irish friend yesterday.
“Look, Italy has the same policies in the north as in the south. But they are like two separate countries. In the north, the Italians work hard…like Germans…and they’re rich. In the south, they don’t work. They live on government assistance. And they’re poor. It doesn’t matter what the policies are. It will always be that way.
“And that’s why the Argentines are the way they are. They are mostly Italian…and mostly from the south of Italy.
“And look at the Greeks. They’ve always been this way. They always default on their debt. Ever since they had debt. Well…I should say in modern times. Who knows what really happened in the age of Pericles. They were different people back then. But now they’re Greeks. And Greeks hide their wealth…don’t pay their taxes… and default on their debts.”
The Wall Street Journal brings confirmation:
Greeks Hide Tens of Billions From Tax Man
If Greece’s government was as adept as its banks at figuring out what its citizens earn, the world might be a very different place.
That Greeks have a penchant for evading taxes isn’t exactly news — when tax collectors started comparing swimming-pool ownership with incomes, wealthy Greeks camouflaged their pools. And because hidden income is hidden, figuring the size of the tax dodge is difficult.
Armed with data from one of Greece’s ten largest banks, economists Nikolaos Artavanis, Adair Morse and Margarita Tsoutsoura recently set themselves to the task. The banks, with tens of thousands of customers across the country, provided loan and credit-card application and performance data. That not only gave the economists access to self-reported incomes, but also allowed them to infer the banks’ estimates of true incomes — which are likely closer to the mark.
The economists’ conservatively estimate that in 2009 some €28 billion in income went unreported. Taxed at 40%, that equates to €11.2 billion — nearly a third of Greece’s budget deficit.
Why hasn’t Greece done more to stop tax evasion? The economists were also able to identify the top tax-evading occupations — doctors and engineers ranked highest — and found they were heavily represented in Parliament.
“The Germans are hard-working and disciplined,” our friend continued. “As far as I can tell, they’ve always been hard working and disciplined. That’s why they’re so scary. When they set out to do something they do it.
“Everybody thinks the Germans are also sensible people. And they are now…sensible and nice. But they’re not always sensible. They can have the craziest ideas you ever heard. That’s the trouble. They pursue their crazy ideas with the same discipline and hard work they use now to make BMWs. That’s what WWII was all about.
“And look at the US. Same laws for everyone. Same policies. Same schools. Same jobs. At least in theory. But very different outcomes. Depends on culture. Asians work hard and send their children to medical school. But there are a lot of groups in America who are very poor…and very ignorant…
“Yeah…the voters…” said an American voice. “I know all about culture. I grew up in Cumberland, Maryland…you know, where that woman who was torturing prisoners in Iraq came from. Well, it was no surprise. Those people who live up in the hills and hollows…we’re right next to West Virginia…well, they’ve got a culture that is really different. You don’t see it. Because the people look more or less like everyone else. But it’s a different world.
“Did you see the movie, ‘Winter’s Bone’? It’s like that. These are people who’ve always been a little outside the law… They’re outlaws. Poor. They used to be moonshiners. Now they’ve got meth labs.”
“And aren’t they of Irish origin…?”
“No…they’re Scotch-Irish…” protested our Irish friend. “Very different culture. They’re the descendants of Cromwell’s troops who conquered Ireland…and murdered much of the population. Brutes, they were. Then, they emigrated to America. But not to the fertile tidewater area. In the colonial era, that was where the English were. That’s where you still find those nice Anglican churches. The Scotch-Irish are Presbyterians. They went to the frontier. They were the tough pioneers and frontiersmen. They weren’t afraid of the Indians, I guess. Probably, the Indians were more afraid of them. They were always good soldiers. I think they are still the backbone of the US army.
“It’s culture that really matters…not monetary policy.”
“But what about the Irish?” we wanted to know. “How do they fit into the culture picture?”
“Oh…that’s hard to say. Take him out of Ireland and an Irishman can do amazing things. They are leading entertainers, economists, politicians, artists, academics… We’re great talkers, you know, great salesmen. But here in Ireland, we look at each other…and we know we are all full of sh*t.”
Bill Bonnerfor The Daily Reckoning
Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success and garnered camaraderie in numerous communities and industries. A man of many talents, his entrepreneurial savvy, unique writings, philanthropic undertakings, and preservationist activities have all been recognized and awarded by some of America's most respected authorities. Along with Addison Wiggin, his friend and colleague, Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. Both works have been critically acclaimed internationally. With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance. Since 1999, Bill has been a daily contributor and the driving force behind The Daily Reckoning. Dice Have No Memory: Big Bets & Bad Economics from Paris to the Pampas, the newest book from Bill Bonner, is the definitive compendium of Bill's daily reckonings from more than a decade: 1999-2010.
If they look a bit harder they might notice a correlation
between 40% income taxes plus 23% VAT and tax
It is neither culture nor monetary policy that really matters.What really matters is belief.The majority of the population of the world do not really know what they believe.How then will it be possible for them to act upon their beliefs.
They know what to believe: Someone
else should pay.
Greece should try to make it a patriotic thing to pay taxes. Set it us as Greece against the world.
“We Greeks need to pay our taxes to show the world we can”
“We greeks need to pay the national debt owed to Europe and then never borrow from them again.” “It’s a matter of national pride, we are better than this”
Not only has money become fiat but so have beliefs.They pop out of thin air.Talk about real beliefs like; do unto others as you’d expect others do unto you.Talk about a belief in heaven or hell. These are real beliefs that really matter. They don’t come out of thin air nor do they begin or end there.
Shawn, vous êtes un imbécile.
J’ai un pont pour vous vendre à New York.
I can’t blame the Greeks for wanting to keep their own property. These looter governments are everywhere.
Bill B. Bonner said
Shawn, vous êtes un imbécile.
The Brooklyn Bridge?
Read American Nations from Colin Woodward. Very instructive. Yankeedom tries to make the world a better place, read more government intervention, while Deep South wants less government, read less taxes. The Tidewater, Greater Appalachia, New Netherland and Midland nations are caught in the middle. Culture explains a lot.
Bill B .Bonner could you or anyone else please translate for me .Thank you.
Borealis,Culture explains a lot not everything.
There would probably be less need for laws where the culture of the citizens is the same and even less where they have the same beliefs: they would all be politically correct!
culture does explain a lot, but as reeyaz said, not everything …
there have been a few real life experiments over time to prove just that …
e.g. East Germans probably had a lot in common culturally – hard working, disciplined etc. – with the West Germans …
still, after 20 years, they came out quite differently …
Talk about a belief in heaven or hell. These are real beliefs that really matter. They don’t come out of thin air nor do they begin or end there.
Then WHERE are heaven and hell if not in thin air? They are not tangible places?
Uncivilized peoples used to believe in numerous spirit and animal gods. Civilized and intelligent people know there is only one God in the sky.
DEBT MEANS SURPLUS EXISTS
Only surplus can be loaned out.
The existence of debt means someone had surplus to lend.
Surplus is good, ergo debt is good.
No rich society has ever existed without some people having surplus and lending that to others at interest.
Low interest rates prove there is much surplus to be loaned.
When you've got a room full of 200 oil insiders scratching their heads at current high prices, something's gotta give.
For most investors, it’s weird to think of stocks as their go-to investing option.
The petropoly has bills to pay and setting the price of oil was a simple way to balance their budgets.
Investors don’t seem to care that what's propping up their investments is what will ultimately destroy them: government monetary policy.
For the next decade the energy revolution will be likely confined to the US, displaying the robustness of American entrepreneurship.
Why the Sage of Baltimore’s commentary persists through America’s changing times.
After attending Platt’s oil conference in London I want to relay two important themes you need to know.