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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

European Ruling against Apple and Ireland Vindicates Brexit

The European Union has shown itself to be a compulsory tax cartel.

Taxation is bad enough: two consenting parties arrange a mutually-beneficial exchange, and an interloping third party demands a cut.

What compounded injustice then for a fourth party to enter the scene: a super-state/super-bandit who insists that the shakedown wasn’t big enough. No, the victim must hand over more to the lesser thief, even against the recipient’s will and in spite of his protest!

Thou Shalt Not… Not Steal

Ireland must join the rest of the Union in bleeding the private sector dry.

That is what happened today when the European Commission slapped Apple Inc. with a $14.5 billion bill for back taxes, ruling that Ireland had violated European Union rules by taxing the tech company at too low a rate.

But the Irish government doesn’t want the money! It had promised the low rates decades ago to entice Apple to set up and keep shop in Ireland, bringing the struggling country desperately needed jobs and economic growth. Irish officials are worried that if they renege on that deal, they will risk driving off the geese that lay the golden eggs: Apple, and other businesses as well.

But no, insists the European super-state: sustainably prudent parasitism is not an option. The Irish government must join the rest of the Union in recklessly bleeding its private sector hosts dry until the whole system collapses under its own dead weight.

The Grass Really Is Greener

This underscores why it was wise for the British to vote to leave the EU, why it makes sense that the post-Brexit UK economy is on the uptick, and why it would be smart for Ireland, or any other EU country, to exit as well. The EU is an impediment to liberalization.

Among other things, the European Union is a compulsory tax cartel.

As I argued when Brexit passed, super-states facilitate international policy “harmonization.” What this means is that, within the super-state, the subject has no escape from onerous laws, like the regulations that stream out of the EU bureaucracy. But with political decentralization, individuals and businesses can “vote with their feet” for less burdensome regimes. Under this threat of “exit,” governments are incentivized to liberalize in order to compete for taxpayer feet.

The Irish government had intended to afford more economic freedom to one of the most innovative, consumer-empowering companies in the world in a bid to get Apple to “vote with its feet” for the Emerald Isle. Brussels cannot tolerate that. If Ireland gets away with it, other countries might be impelled to offer similar low-tax promises to tech firms to keep their own tech industries competitive. Such competition could spread to corporate tax rates in general. To keep taxes high and Eurocrats well paid, such competition must be nipped in the bud.

Among other things, the European Union is a compulsory tax cartel.


Ireland won its independence from a predatory, impoverishing foreign rule in the past. May it do so again. “Irexit” could be the next domino leading to the complete dissolution of the EU.

The inventiveness and entrepreneurship of the people at Apple have made dazzling contributions to our lives. Helping to dissolve the European Union may end up being their crowning achievement.

Photo Credit: Vytautas Kielaitis /

  • Dan Sanchez is an essayist, editor, and educator. His primary topics are liberty, economics, and educational philosophy. He is the Director of Content at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) and the editor-in-chief of He created the Hazlitt Project at FEE, launched the Mises Academy at the Mises Institute, and taught writing for Praxis. He has written hundreds of essays for venues including (see his author archive),,, and The Objective Standard. Follow him on Twitter and Substack.