Tag: Adam Smith

Mario Vargas Llosa: Thatcher’s revolution

Wednesday, 7 March, 2018 0 Comments

“Mario Vargas Llosa is in good form.” That’s a good sentence. And it’s used to introduce readers of EL PAÍS SEMANAL to the Peruvian Nobel Laureate, whose latest book, La llamada de la tribu (The Call of the Tribe), has just been published. It’s an argument in favour of liberal thought and the writer makes his case by quoting seven authors: Adam Smith, José Ortega y Gasset, Friedrich von Hayek, Karl Popper, Raymond Aron, Isaiah Berlin and Jean-François Revel.

This being the eve of International Women’s Day, the sisterhood will be quick to point out the absence of women in that list but it should be noted that the interviewer here is Maite Rico and a woman, Margaret Thatcher, had a major influence on the political evolution of Mario Vargas Llosa. Snippet:

Q. The picture you paint of Margaret Thatcher as a brave, cultured woman of deep liberal convictions, contrasts starkly with the image we have of her.

A. That’s an absolutely unjust caricature. When I arrived in England, it was a decadent country — a country with freedom but whose mettle was being snuffed out gradually by the Labour Party’s economic nationalism. Margaret Thatcher’s revolution woke Britain up. They were tough times; finishing with the sinecure of the trade unions, creating a competent free-market society, and defending democracy with conviction while facing up to socialism, China, the USSR — the cruelest dictatorships in history. They were decisive years for me because I started to read Hayek and Popper, both authors quoted by Thatcher. She said that The Open Society and Its Enemies would be a crucial book for the 20th Century. The contribution of Thatcher and Ronald Reagan to the culture of freedom, finishing with the Soviet Union —the biggest challenge democratic culture had ever had — is a reality that is unfortunately portrayed in a media influenced by a campaign from the left whose achievements are few.

When he’s right, he’s right. And he’s right.

Mario Vargas Llosa


Ireland, Apple and the three-comma club

Thursday, 1 September, 2016 0 Comments

Definition via the Silicon Valley Dictionary: “Three commas to imply a billion dollars as $1,000,000,000 has 3 commas. To be in the three commas club is to be a billionaire.” In the wild, as it were, the term was spotted last month in the Wall Street Journal in an article by Veronica Dagher titled “The Rich Get Richer as Billionaires Increase in Number.” Here’s the usage: “For most billionaires, however, it takes more than an inheritance to join the so-called three-comma club.”

The three-comma club and the meaning of membership made a memorable appearance in the HBO series Silicon Valley, Season Two, Episode Seven:

And now, Ireland and its three-comma Apple tax windfall. Most countries don’t tax non-residents so there’s a constant enticement for states like Panama to offer a low-tax environment and attract the world’s richest people. Similarly, Ireland lures the world’s biggest corporations by having lower taxes than other EU countries and Switzerland tempts wealthy people with a negotiated annual tax payment. So, unless there’s a global wealth tax collected by a world government, rich bastards will keep getting richer. After all, the rich can afford the best financial advisors and thus earn a higher return on investment than non-rich people. But life’s not fair, so taxation utopianism remains an illusion. For Ireland, this means back to basics.

“The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities.” — Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations