15 November 2017
Hi MLE,A trove of leaked documents published last week by the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) have confirmed how the world’s ultra-rich become richer by exploiting tax shelters.Nike’s European headquarters is based in the Netherlands. In 2006 the Dutch government granted the brand a new tax deal that allowed it to open a subsidiary in Bermuda (which is of course a shell company). This subsidiary owns Nike’s intangible design assets – like its logo and trademarks – for all markets outside of the United States. Since it is based in Bermuda, which is a tax-free country, Nike is not taxed at all on the billions in revenue these licensing fees generate.But this was not enough. In 2014, Nike found a way to successfully exploit a Dutch tax law from 1830 called a “commanditaire vennootschap” (CV), or limited partnership, which lets multinational corporations skirt taxes in the Netherlands and abroad, too.Thanks to its corporate restructuring, Nike’s tax global rate dropped from 34.9% in 2007 to 13.2% this year.Other leaked documents show how other multinationals like Uber are doing the same thing. The UK is losing out on much-needed tax dollars from Uber. Yet another reason why I don’t want them in this country.
Speak next week!
10 November 2017
Hey the MLE,
Was walking through one of the world's top graffiti spots, Shoreditch, and thought I'd take some photos for you. There's always something different, the walls seems to be changing by the second. Of course the medium goes beyond spray paint to silk screens, sculptures, stencils on wallpaper, framed photographs, etc etc etc.
Have a nice weekend!
29 January 2016
Hi the MLE,
Remember that summer in New York when we discovered that someone had upholstered a random tree trunk at the side of the road?
It makes me inexplicably happy when someone takes something bland, boring or just commonplace and makes it into something special, for some reason. At the Calgary Airport, those random places where you park your luggage trolley all have photographs of the luggage trolley itself. Which is unexpected and interesting and makes people notice these ordinary objects that are otherwise overlooked.
Now, the airport could have easily made a bit of money putting ads here, or they could have slapped in its logo with some instructions or something more predictable. But no, we have these photos instead. And it makes me very happy.
And it gives me an idea… I’m looking for something to hang over the sofa in the living room. Perhaps it could be a photo of the sofa, with a photo of the sofa itself on the wall?
1 April 2015
Today, we are very lucky to have a guest post from our Senior Intern, Daniel Pearson! Here he recounts his observations of the recent massive explosion of serviced office spaces aimed specifically at those working in the creative industries:
(Where do) We Work?
Over the past 30 years here in the UK the world of work has changed beyond recognition. It is far less secure. The old certainties of a ‘job for life’ followed by a decent pension have been replaced by a world where extreme job insecurity is the norm. We do not expect to work for the same company for ever, and many of us even expect to change careers.
Out of this uncertainty, alternative models of employment have flourished. Many hundreds of thousands of people now choose to work as freelancers / as self-employed / or entrepreneurs in industries where permanent employment was once the norm. In return for the greater insecurity, workers take enhanced flexibility, and enjoy a greater sense of control over their lives and careers. Many chose to work from home, away from what they perceive as dull or stuffy corporate environments.
In recent weeks, I have become aware of a new breed of business, offering high-touch rented office space to budding freelancers and entrepreneurs. These places are very curious to me, because inside they seem designed to create the very strong feeling of being employed by a large corporation, but for people who have chosen not to work in corporations. As such, they and those who work in them, are a complete mystery to me.
Consider, for example “We Work” (wework.com). Inside these serviced offices, everything from mugs to complimentary mouthwash is branded with the creepy mantra that ‘We’ – those who work and hence belong there – ‘love our work’. This is ‘alpha plus’ corporate. The reception desk feels similar to a financial institution. One of the work rooms is even named ‘Better Together’, hinting at a ‘togetherness’ that – in an office full of largely self employed people – isn’t really there. Being in this office is clearly supposed to make me feel that I am employed by a corporation based there – even though in fact it employes no one. Consider www.deskcamping.com. This site, heavily targetted at ‘Creatives’ (many of whom would not readily admit to wanting aspects of the corporate world), advertises office / studio space, which it helpfully assesses with frothy icons that denote the ‘office vibe’. Several offices advertise they have ‘Planters’, who turn out to be no more than people who sit at the same desk every day. Many also have ‘regular work drinks’, as well as ‘Brewers’, which turns out to be people who drink tea and coffee together. Some have even witnessed the odd office romance. In short, just like any old corporate office.
So, why do some – and judging from the explosion of these services, so many - people who are self employed want to spend their time in a corporate environment – and pay for the pleasure?
These serviced offices with their heavy corporate feel targeted at the self employed are really rather sinister. With all their branded mouthwash, standardised mugs and empty insinuations of togetherness, I think they are trying to lull their occupants into thinking that they work in a more stable working world, where there is greater certainty than there is. And they charge a hefty premium for the illusion. (Wouldn't it be odd if students, having handed over their £9k annual tuition fee, wanted to attend a university that did its best to pretend it was free?).
I work in a large corporation, and inside my offices the posters, the TV screens and even the mugs reinforce that I in some way belong there. While many of my colleagues and I tolerate this (albeit in return for a salary), and strive to have greater choice and control over where and when we work, all over the city, it seems thousands of freelancers, self employed workers and creative entrepreneurs are seeking a greater corporate experience, and are even willing to pay for it.
Do increasing numbers of creatives, entrepreneurs and the self employed somehow - just a little bit - crave the unfashionable certainties of office life? Perhaps they do - just as more office bound workers such as myself are left cold by the thought of ‘planters’, ‘brewers’, branded mouthwash and inspirationally named meeting rooms, and want nothing more than to work from where and when we want.
Wherever you work tomorrow, I wish you well.
Daniel PearsonPosted in: random
10 October 2014
Happy Friday MLE!
Sometimes on a Friday, if I have time, I'll waste it following random links on the internet for longer than I probably should. I have to admit, I still like checking in on the Photoshop Disasters site. Maybe this is because I just can't seem to get bored of how the media warps reality. I love to scrutinize news stories and how they are being spun, trying to catch out the actual motives driving them. I love to imagine myself in the meeting room getting briefed for an ad campaign, so I can see what the client is hoping to achieve. I love to analyse which techniques a film is using to pull at my emotions. Yes, this makes me a very annoying person. And I annoy myself because I often can't seem to just listen to CNN or enjoy a Hollywood film for what it is.
Anyway, check out good old Nicki Minaj above (I really like her music btw). The first thing you may notice is how the Nicki brand has undergone a brand refresh so that the product has more muscles and more expensive clothes and so on... All standard procedure because the more attractive the product, the more it will sell, blah blah blah, boring. But what is unusual is to catch a massive brand's mistake in it's smoke and mirrors work. And it is a reminder that even Getty Images' photos are all glossed over (where this photo was found), particularly when they feature a precious big brand. I just can't get bored of this! Why??
Update: some people have asked what is wrong with the photo. If you look at where her leg meets her body (weird) then compare it to where the leg meets the body of the woman behind her (normal) then you can see it.