Showing posts from January, 2013

Tobago Lessons

Much has been already said about the recent Tobago elections.  One view printed in the Guyanese press stood out for me.  Some believe that one of the tragic flaws of the PP election campaign and perhaps a flaw of our governance in general (both past and present) is the tendency of the leadership to surround itself with sycophants who consistently tell them only what they want to hear – at the expense of the truth.
During the heated campaign, numerous opinion polls were conducted.  In the article I read, NACTA’s Vishnu Bisram appeared to be of the view that pollsters seemed to make predictions that were favourable to those who commissioned it.  In other words, those who paid the piper called the tune. 
Examples given included a poll from a UWI Professor (a constitutional expert) who apparently conducted two polls.  Another example was from a pollster from central Trinidad commissioned by TOP, which conducted several polls.  This showed a close contest with its final poll showing TOP w…

Principles and Practice of Fairness

Last Saturday, I met up with a fellow Trini for a chat at a Starbucks here in London.  My friend and I worked in somewhat related areas so we spent time recalling just how aggressive and sometimes unethical business culture could be.  The concept of ethics, both in business and politics, is one that frequently occupies my thoughts.  When I was much younger, a cynic once told me that it was not possible to earn great wealth while maintaining one’s integrity.  I dismissed this notion at the time, but today there are moments when I find myself in danger of becoming cynical myself.   It bothers me that the cynic in me enjoys Showtime’s ‘House of Lies’.  For those who do not know, it is a series about a team of Management Consultants who have a ‘win at any cost’ work ethic and the show is based on the book ‘House of Lies: How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and then Tell You The Time’.  
Fortunately, we live in an era of great change and there are decision makers who are advocatin…

Ethics, Morals and Values

This year, my alma mater St Mary’s College, celebrates its sesquicentennial or its 150th anniversary.  The committee has been working hard on a series of events to mark this historical occasion and I am disappointed that I would not be around to participate.  The Holy Ghost Fathers (also known as Spiritans in continental Europe) have contributed immeasurably to education in Trinidad and Tobago.  Many sometimes forget that after establishing St. Mary's College in 1863, the Holy Ghost Fathers went on to establish two other Colleges, -  Fatima in 1945 and St. Anthony's in 1972
As part of the celebrations, President George Maxwell Richards addressed students of St Mary’s on issues of Ethics, Morals and Values and according to press reports, it was a most insightful lecture.  The President is said to have remarked to students that “Corruption is not new in this world, but within recent times, floodgates have opened and there are sadly, too many instances of betrayal of trust!”  He…

Hand Them Over

There is an Oliver Stone series running on Showtime.  It is called The Untold History of the United States and is required viewing material for anyone who wants to truly appreciate contemporary geopolitics.  The United States has been and continues to be powerful enough to shape the politics of the entire world.  As my High School history teacher Mr Llewellyn McIntosh used to tell us – we can never understand what is happening around us today unless we understand what has happened in the past. 
So Oliver Stone reminds us that the Second World War saw the United States’ involvement being critical to Allied Forces victory both in the European and Pacific fronts.  After the Second World War, the extent of U.S. dominance is hard to exaggerate.  The U.S. emerged as the global superpower, while American citizens enjoyed a standard of living that made them the envy of the world.  By 1945, the United States was the strongest, the richest, and—for the white majority at least—the freest nation…

FATCA FACT FINDING FORUM - Allison Christians, FATCA and International Tax Law

I’m trained in Law in the United States.  I’ve been a Professor of Tax Law in the United States for it’s now 10 years.  Before that, I practiced International Tax Law in New York. You can look up my name; google me you’ll find all kinds of little threads all over the place.
The one who takes photographs of babies, not me – different Allison.  
So, I’m a US Tax Law professor who’s now transplanted into Canada, aware of FATCA when it was passed in the HIRE Act.  And you know, the US, Congress, the Jobs Act, the HIRE Act, the Jobs Incentive Act, they are all apple-pie names, with the poison on the bottom crust, right?  They are all the same; they all act the same way.  And, so you’re never surprised. But what happens as you proceed down the path of understanding, you realize the mountain you will have to climb to understand each particular piece of legislation and you sort of delay the inevitable climb by circling around the base of the mountain.  That’s been me, circling around the bas…