‘Only the little people pay taxes,’ said the late American billionaire Leona Helmsley in 1983, who ironically spent jail time for tax evasion. Since then, there is little doubt that elaborate tax evasion methods have become more complicated and seemingly less regulated for the super rich and corporations.
Now thankfully the population, at least in the UK, have had enough. US coffee corporation Starbucks has been copping public protests after paying ’no corporation tax in the UK for the past three years,’ The Guardian reports. Along with Amazon and Google, they were accused by a committee of British MPs of an ‘immoral’ use of secretive jurisdictions, royalties and complex company structures to avoid paying tax on British profits.
What’s wrong with paying taxes? Let’s be real: government is a type of socialism. We pay taxes because we all use roads and hospitals. It’s considered part of the social contract, a theory that originated during the Age of Enlightenment and in part addresses the authority of the state over the individual. Clearly society suffers when rich individuals and corporations aren’t taxed at comparable rates to an ‘ordinary’ individual.
And fewer taxes for the rich fits neatly into the idiotic narrow conservative views peddled by simpletons such as Hockey and Abbott – ie ‘investment will suffer’. There is no evidence to that claim and is simply a scare tactic by the greedy. Also the social contract is not talked about by politicans because by and large they are are failing at it.
Greek philosopher Plato is reputed to have said, ‘When there is an income tax, the just man will pay more and the unjust less on the same amount of income.’
Given that sound logic, stimulating or reviving economies couldn’t be simpler: make super-rich corporations pay more tax by closing the loopholes. Change in the short term here is unlikely of course because the Liberal, Nationals and Labor parties – along with mainstream media – know who their masters are.
Since Australia swapped riding the sheep’s back for coal trucks, enormous PR budgets and legislation became necessary to protect resource extraction revenue and quell dissent. Indeed it takes mass collective hypnosis to convince ourselves that the planet should continue to be polluted with fossil fuels when renewable technology is available.
An interesting hiccup in that unevolved narrative was activist Jonathan Moylan’s prank on the NSW coal industry last week; governments and corporations appear confounded and have yet to figure out what to do about his actions.
He faked a press release from ANZ to highlight the bank’s complicity and investment in destroying the Leard State Forest, west of Armidale, for mining profits. The result was it temporarily wiped $314 million off Whitehaven Coal shares, which is an ANZ investment.
While the government was quick to seize his computer and mobile phone, why haven’t charges been laid? It’s because legal precedent is yet to be established on such activity, Crikey’s Sally Whyte reports.
‘According to Associate Professor Keturah Whitford at the Australian National University’s College of Business and Economics, Moylan could be charged under Section 1041E [of the Corporations Act 2001], but could also face civil action from stakeholders under Section 1041H of the [Corporations] Act. There isn’t an Australian precedent to foreshadow the likelihood of conviction or possible sentences. Whitford says it’s “hard to predict sentencing, but the extent of damage including losses to investors would be taken into account and the fact that he wasn’t personally profiting”.’
Moylan’s inventive media activism is somewhat similar to that of the Yes Men, who use parody and satire to highlight psychopathic corporate behaviour. In the long term, the fossil fuel industry will lose the battle against renewables simply because renewable energy provides a means of production. It’s a simple economic premise not even relevant to environmental destruction.
And in case this all sounds too whacky, James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, said in 2008: ‘CEOs of fossil-energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of long-term consequences of continued business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature.’
Well said, can’t wait, bring it on.