Aug 212010

Now, of course I’ve read Tim Worstall on Murphy, and occasionally DK on Murphy, but until this moment I’d never read any Murphy himself. Somehow, as a result of that, I’d unconsciously been giving him the benefit of the doubt, the sort of ‘I won’t attack what I don’t know about firsthand’ kind of indifference, wherein my only thoughts containing Richard Murphy tended to centre around the effect he has on Tim.

But having had a firsthand look, I can confirm that he is a low specimen of humanity indeed. And also more than a bit foolish.

For reference, let’s take this comment by Adrian, responding to Murphy’s quite unsupported assertion that tax is the price paid for living in a democracy:

No, clearly I don’t get it.

There are lots or people who don’t pay tax because they don’t earn income. They may be supported by another adult (eg spouse, parent). They may be reliant on social security. They might even be in jail!

They are part of society and a democracy just as much as anyone else. Payment of tax is not a pre-condition of membership, and nor should it be.

Under my suggestion, participants would be behaving perfectly legally. And I am not suggesting they won’t have paid their way. If the lump sum is set to the right level, they will have done so.

I understand tax is not currently a DCF concept. But we use the concept everywhere else, including the public sector (DCF thinking is widespread on a range of issues). And the current arrangements aren’t working too well. So why can’t we stretch our imagination and use DCF here?

If my neighbour paid his tax this way, I wouldn’t know, care, or think any differently of him as a person or a member of our community. Why should I?

Adrian’s quite sensible view here is, of course, that tax and democracy are not linked, nor does he think they should be. There is a certain rhetorical danger in linking them, as we’ll see later on.

But does Murphy think through what Adrian is saying, consider his point rationally, or respond in a constructive way to this reasonable comment?

Does he fuck:

If you want to end democracy, go ahead

I suspect most who understand DCF are quite happy with that

But I, and most of those who do not appreciate DCF value society – and that’s built on democracy

You clearly don’t understand

I think it’s a form of autism

Yup, that’s right. This Adrian, for daring to disagree and fail to understand what passes for logic in Murphy’s assertion, gets called autistic for his pains. And when, further down the thread, someone calls out Murphy on this ‘silly and offensive’ remark, he responds:

No, actually serious and considered

I mean that I think this attitude is probably on the autistic spectrum

It reveals a profound lack of understanding of others, and an inability to read their responses to situations

That places it on that spectrum

A ‘serious and considered’ diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder by a non-psychologist reading an unknown person’s blog comment. Either this is a serious case of mote-and-beam, or Richard Murphy truly is a low piece of scum who sees nothing untoward in employing a mental illness as an insult to be wielded against debating opponents.

Then Murphy falls into his own rhetorical trap, the danger he was always going to face if he started linking tax to democracy. It’s a pitfall sensible Adrian was trying to guide him away from gently, but like a wildebeest racing toward a cliff, Murphy failed to look ahead:

The vote always carries the obligation to pay in my opinion

And there’s Adrian, waiting at the bottom of the cliff with point-ed sticks:

“The vote always carries the obligation to pay in my opinion”

Are you saying those who don’t pay because they don’t earn income (or make capital gains etc) shouldn’t be allowed to vote?

Or by ‘always’ do you mean ’sometimes’?

Or do you mean ‘the two concepts – tax and voting – are completely unrelated’? Whether you do either is unrelated to your right (in the case of voting) or obligation (in the case of tax) to do the other?

Please explain.

But answer came there none—
And this was scarcely odd because
Adrian ate Richard Murphy and his stupid idea for breakfast.

The end.

  17 Responses to “I’ve finally discovered Richard Murphy”

  1. He is a piece of work. It wouldn’t bother me – this is the Internet, after all – but it seems that there are some reasonably influential people who actually *listen* to the prick…

    Check out his comment policy for more hilarity.

  2. He is a piece of work. Denies things that are true because he doesn’t like them. Delete posts, blocks anyone who doesn’t agree with him. If this was his sole output it’d be so what, another blogger, but the TUC and the Labour party and NEF buy his nonsense (literally) and use it to decide policies. He’s dangerous, which is why Timmy puts in the effort.oh, he’s also a hypocrite because he arranges his own affairs to minimize tax he pays.

  3. I wouldn’t give two shits about the prick if i hadn’t heard him fucking well referenced as an authority on the fucking BBC during Newsnight so that the presenter could fling a sharply unfavourable review of Conservative fiscal policy at whichever senior party figure they happened to be interviewing. By what ridiculous criteria have they decided Richard Murphy is an authority worthy of having his opinions aired on a flagship news program? I can think of no criteria other than the fact he is hilariously left wing, statist and economically illiterate.

  4. There’s a reason why I call him a “weapons-grade cock-end”, you know!

  5. Well the autism comment is obviously indefensible…

    That said, I’m not sure I follow your logic regarding low income people who pay no tax. Because someone is exempt by law from paying taxes (based on income level) it doesn’t follow they have no theoretical obligation to do so. You might as well say a “buy one get one free” weekend event at a store entitles everyone to take a free product whenever they felt like thereafter.

    Not saying I agree with his point, just that it’s not necessarily logically inconsistent.

    • It’s not quoted in my post, but actually Murphy says earlier in the thread that residence confers the obligation to pay tax, and uses that as his justification for why immigrants, who are not permitted the vote, are still obliged to pay tax.

      But then he also says that non-resident citizens should also be obliged to pay tax, so it’s not necessarily residence that confers the obligation.

      And then, of course, in the part I do quote, he claims the vote confers the obligation to pay tax. On the one hand, this is hugely internally inconsistent, if what we’re trying to discover is what quality or nature, precisely, makes a person liable for tax (besides, obviously, having an income above a certain annual amount).

      There is also the point other commenters there make, which is that even non-democracies involve tax. So tax isn’t the price we pay for residence, or citizenship, or the vote, all of which Murphy claims at one point or another. Tax is the price we pay for governments and nation-states—on the existence of which residence, citizenship, and the vote depend. And as everywhere in the world is under the jurisdiction of some government or other, everyone in the world is under an obligation to pay tax somewhere.

      All of which means, when boiled down to realities, that Murphy clearly believes that the obligation to pay tax is conferred simply by being human. If he would only come out and say that, at least I could respect the elegant completeness of his conviction. But this crap about duty and democracy and so on is just that: crap. In Murphy’s real but unstated philosophy, tax is the modern price of existing as a human in this world. This is clearly such a fundamental aspect of his worldview that he forgets it altogether. And when people question it, I suppose to him it is the equivalent of somebody asking the rest of us why we can’t have just a little patch of sky that is green, to break up the unending monotony of blue. So of course he calls them autistic, or pointless, or insane.

      • You make a fair point, he does say the vote always carries the obligation to pay in his opinion; meaning at bare minimum he should be railing against the current set up of income tax brackets.

        I was trying to be charitable by interpreting him to say that people can have a theoretical obligation to do something if they are asked, but not be committing a moral wrong if they happen not to be asked to do it at some particular time. (i.e. jury duty)

        Reading it again though (and recognizing you’re much more familiar with him than I am) it’s possible I was too understanding… :)

  6. “Either this is a serious case of mote-and-beam, or Richard Murphy truly is a low piece of scum who sees nothing untoward in employing a mental illness as an insult to be wielded against debating opponents.”

    That’s not something that’s entirely new amongst the left, is it?

  7. “First you force him to drop the banana! Then, you eat the banana! thus disarming him.”

    “What if he’s got a bunch?”

    “Shut up.”

    I really have never understood people who simultaneously defend human rights to life, free speech, security, etc. and say this kind of nonsense about taxes–it implies freedom and prosperity are NOT, in fact, ours to enjoy but a privilege to be purchased from government. Rather hypocritical, isn’t it? You can’t go about boasting about the righteousness of democracy and yet have an inconsistency such as this. Last time I checked, freedom is not reserved for members only.

  8. “Without the state there would be no society” comment #34

    tells you all you really need to know about the man, I’d say. Authoritarian bollocks.

  9. The autism insult is one of his favourites; if you don’t understand Murphy’s “logic” then you’re autistic. Still, better than disagreeing with him – if you dare to do that then you’re not even going to get your comment published. He is an odious, patronising, illiberal little man.

  10. My first thought on reading the vote-taxation assertion by Murphy was “right, so he was actually in favour of the poll tax! Who’d have thought it?”

  11. You just have to read his comments policy to know the measure of the man. When I first came across his site, I was so annoyed, I spent the next half hour photo-shopping his smug little head so as to bury him up to his neck in excrement. This helped.

  12. “Without the state there would be no society” comment #34 tells you all you really need to know about the man, I’d say. Authoritarian bollocks.

  13. […] don’t forget you must label those who disagree with you as “autistic” and assume that they are all swivel-eyed anarchists, because it’s easier to argue against such […]

  14. Like Trooper Thompson, when I first came across him I engaged in a day long battle on his website trying to use reason and standard argument to debate with him, only becoming more and more enraged, until he declared that he had blocked me because I was a ‘small-minded right wing bigot’ etc. etc.

    I no longer waste my time on his site, but I read Tim Worstall’s blog avidly, and applaud him for having the energy and the far superior intellect to call Murphy out each and every time he utters any of his ridiculous bollox, hard as that task is made by the sheer quantity of it.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.