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Another interesting story in the Irish Times. I wouldn't be so sure about Ireland's high ranking (entrepreneurs I know would certainly disagree!), but the clusters of countries are certainly intriguing, as is the fact that developing world countries lead as good places for entrepreneurs:
The Republic has been rated one of the best countries in the world in which to start a business, level with the United States and ahead of Britain, Germany and France.
The State was placed 12th in a survey of 37 first- and second-world nations last year. One in 11 Irish adults owns or is attempting to establish a company, a study by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor found...
...Developing nations headed the rankings. Thailand was placed first, followed by India, Chile, Korea and Argentina. Iceland was the top-rated European state, trailed by Ireland, Norway and Switzerland.
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So could the rest of Europe stop complaining? From today's Irish Times [sub only]:
The Republic of Ireland's low-tax regime should act as an example to governments in other jurisdictions, according to the head of taxation policy at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Mr Jeffrey Owens, who leads the centre for tax policy and administration at the Paris-based body, said policymakers in the Republic had selected the "high road" on tax competition.
The "high road" amounts to "fierce and fair competition" while the "low road" entails competition based on secrecy and lack of transparency, Mr Owens told the Finance Dublin conference.
Competing states should realise that a low-tax rate does not mean that a Government receives less revenue, Mr Owens said. "It's a win-win situation. There is less incentive for evasion," he added.
From my perspective, the EU argument that Ireland should abandon its 10-12.5% corporate tax regime that was a cornerstone for revitalising the economy, in order to equal out competition across the EU, is perfectly ridiculous. That tax rate helped pull Ireland up from being among the bottom three nations in the EU in the 80s to having the most bullish economy today (we still have lower unemployment and slightly higher growth than the UK, according to the last figures I saw). Ireland averaged between 8-10% growth in the economy every single year for the past decade, which is why it became known as the Celtic tiger. The downturn has hit the State badly but still not as badly as much of the world (the US has lower growth rates and higher unemployment at the moment). Surely Ireland has set an example of what can be done and other EU countries should consider dropping their tax rates, too.
Not that it's all rosy over here -- far from it. We have had a government that has largely squandered boomtime revenue because it never did the root and branch pruning needed within govt and semi-state structures (and I'd argue it's taken the "low road" of secrecy as a governing method). The state, an export economy, faces serious challenges to maintain growth in the future. But upping corporate taxes and thus driving business out of the country is about as self-destructive as you could get.
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Roland Piquepaille summarises an intriguing article about a potential new physics of materials -- materials with metaphysical properties:
The creation of an unusual flat lens may finally resolve a long-running controversy about the existence of materials that have metaphysical qualities -- so-called "metamaterials" -- that transcend the laws of nature.
The lens could lead to amplified antennas, smaller cell phones and increased data storage on CD-ROMs, claims University of Toronto electrical engineering professor George Eleftheriades in the March 24th issue of Applied Physics Letters. "This is new physics," Eleftheriades told NewsFactor.
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Copyright 2003 Karlin Lillington
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