ArticlePDF Available

‘Build a wall’. ‘Tax a shed’. ‘Fix a debt limit’. The constructive and destructive potential of populist anti-statism and ‘naïve’ statism

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

Populist surges, movements and parties often center around radically simplifying policy proposals, sometimes anti-statist in intent (e.g. fix a limit to state borrowing in cash terms), and at other times pushing naïve statist solutions (e.g. build a giant wall to keep out migrants; or tax companies activities in a given shed, not their profits). Most liberal political science condemns the crudity and often unrestrained vigor of populist ‘solutions’. But on occasion they can have value in counteracting the increasing complexities that elites often build into public policies. Two case studies show populist pressure for simplification working effectively in one instance - the ‘tax shaming’ campaign against multi-nationals avoiding corporation taxes; and engendering only disorder in another instance – the effort to enforce national debt limits in nominal terms in the USA.
Content may be subject to copyright.
A preview of the PDF is not available
... A third substantive category focuses on groups' tactics and strategies including where organizations choose to lobby, how they do so, and the constraints they face. Many cite Walker in reference to interest groups' choices of lobbying venues, including organizations' lobbying of bureaucratic agencies (Boehmke 2018) and engagements with state and federal courts through lawsuits (Andrews and Jowers 2018;Dunleavy 2018) or the filing of amicus curiae briefs (Kane 2018). Walker's work with Gais is central to Lee et al.'s (2018) discussion of how government funding for social services affects organizational formation and relationships with bureaucratic agencies. ...
Article
Full-text available
Jack Walker’s Mobilizing Interest Groups in America (1991) was groundbreaking both in terms of its theoretical and methodological contributions to political science and the unfortunate and challenging circumstances surrounding its publication. An enterprising group of co-authors and graduate students shared Walker’s comprehensive study of Washington D.C. interest groups with the public to positive critical and scholarly reception. According to Google Scholar, as of January 2021 the book has been cited more than 1400 times since its original publication in 1991. However, the question of how current scholars use the text remains open. Through an analysis of recent research, this review demonstrates how contemporary interest group scholarship incorporates Mobilizing Interest Groups in America. Although Walker’s work remains relevant across a range of subfields, most scholarly references are cursory or focus on methodological differences, leaving room for deeper engagement with Walker’s theories and conclusions. His findings regarding the role of patrons and inside/outside lobbying strategies particularly merit reexamination given changes in lobbying context (e.g., online mobilization). This review covers authors’ depth of engagement with Walker, the substantive focus of their citations, and areas for future research.
Article
This paper examines corporate tax evasion from both a financial and governance perspective: one, the impact of tax evasion on a multinational (MNC)'s financial performance and secondly, whether corporate governance levels affect the probability of the multinational committing tax evasion. We specifically address: (i) whether MNCs suffer any adverse short and long-term effects on their financial performance following news that the firm in question has committed, or is suspected of committing, tax evasion and (ii) whether firm and country level governance has any influence on the likelihood of MNCs evading tax. In the short-term, we find that share prices drop in the event window around the announcement date. Further, we find evidence that multinationals do not suffer long-term reputational damage from tax evasion (unless there is repeated media follow-up); leaving no impact on firm profitability or value. We also find that a small number of firm level governance, tax-efficiency based governance and country governance measures have a significant relationship with an MNC's likelihood to commit tax evasion.
Article
In the years following the global financial crisis, the tax affairs of celebrities began to receive significant critical attention in the UK press. ‘Tax shaming’ has been welcomed as a significant weapon in the fight for tax justice: it is argued that in lieu of the government action needed to close loopholes in tax law, the threat of public condemnation serves to deter would-be tax avoiders. Focusing on news stories about celebrity tax avoiders, this article complicates this prevailing view of tax shaming. Drawing on cultural studies and cultural economy approaches, I argue that commentators have overlooked the forms of identification that tax shaming stories afford. Through a discussion of the discursive figure of the beleaguered ‘taxpayer’ in neoliberal culture, I propose that celebrity tax shaming consolidates identification with this subject position, deepening anti-tax sentiment. Stories that ostensibly ‘shame’ celebrities also support identification with the figure of the tax avoider, perpetuating fantasies of avoidance, evasion and escape. The article concludes that tax shaming contributes to the formation of emergent taxation imaginaries, animating politically salient conceptions of the ‘taxpayer’ and of avoidance that tend to promote logics of tax efficiency and minimization.
Article
This paper evaluates the naming and shaming of large corporations and concludes that such a response is unhelpful and counterproductive. The author argues that the only effective response to tax planning schemes is to enact effective laws that capture the income sought to be taxed. Without the media, naming and shaming would not be effective. Naming and shaming campaigns appear to be a (deliberate?) misconception of the tax laws. 'Avoidance' is given an indeterminate and open-ended meaning. The media is not sufficiently versed in the tax laws to make an expert judgement of avoidance. It is not their role to punish extra-curially without any legal basis for assigning blame/guilt.
Article
This article represents one of the few systematic comparisons of left-wing populism with other populisms. Focussing on the manifestos of six British parties in 1999–2015, the findings confirm that left-wing populists are more socio-economically focussed, more inclusionary but less populist than right-wing populists. The article makes four main substantive contributions. First, empirically, it shows that the much-touted populist Zeitgeist in the United Kingdom barely exists. Second, methodologically, it provides a nuanced disaggregated populism scale that has advantages over existing methods because it can effectively distinguish populist from non-populist parties and analyse degrees of populism. Third, theoretically, it shows that host ideology is more important than populism per se in explaining differences between left and right populisms. Fourth is a broader theoretical point: what is often called ‘thin’ or ‘mainstream’ populism’ is not populism but demoticism (closeness to ordinary people). Therefore, analysts should not label parties ‘populist’ just because their rhetoric is demotic.
Article
Corporate tax avoidance (CTA) has become a high profile issue despite being a complex area of accounting practice. One reason for this has been the civil society campaign opposing tax avoidance. The paper provides a case study of one key civil society actor: the Tax Justice Network (TJN). Existing accounting analysis offers little to explain how some accounting issues acquire political attention and media coverage. To address this, the concept of political salience is introduced into accounting analysis – understood as the creation of focal points in campaigns – to consider how the TJN contributed to the political profile of CTA.