The lot of the medieval peasant was not pleasant: he was
forced to labour to pay taxes to rulers who despised him, but who enjoyed a
life of idleness at his expense.
There was little he could do about it. The legal system,
controlled by the rulers, was biased against him. In some jurisdictions, he had
only one legal right – “the right of departure”: if things got too bad, he
could walk away and find another master.
The modern entrepreneur is, of course, much better off, but
we do have some things in common: we also work hard to pay taxes to rulers –
politicians and bureaucrats – who despise us, and who do not work as hard as we
do, but who enjoy a lifestyle that is often better than ours at our expense.
There is little we can do about it. The legal system,
controlled by the politicians and bureaucrats, is biased against us.
However, some of us at least also have a “right of
It is always gratifying to hear of someone exercising that
right. For example, the advertising agency WPP, fed up with the high taxes of
the UK and the bloody-minded
stupidity of the tax authorities, has just announced it is leaving Britain
So the greed of the British bureaucrats has been justly
rewarded: instead of getting a reasonable percentage of the income of a
successful company, they will get nothing.
Of course, just as many medieval peasants had no “right of
departure”, so many entrepreneurs cannot move so easily: most need to be
physically close to their customer base.
Yet those who are able to move should never forget they have
this “right of departure”, and should never hesitate to use it when taxmen get
too greedy or intrusive.
Apart from anything else, it helps the rest of us when
someone does a WPP: it cheers us all up to remember it is possible, and it
ought to remind the bureaucrats that they cannot take us for granted.