This is my first ever blog post, so I’m going to keep it brief. I hope. Not quite as brief as 140 characters – I love Twitter, what I find out there and the people I ‘meet’ and interact with, but just occasionally I have an idea that won’t compress into 140 characters, or I read something that merits longer comment. Or occasionally have my own complementary ideas about.
One such post is John McDonnell MP’s (@johnmcdonnellmp on Twitter in case you want to follow) excellent ‘Radical Alternative to Austerity’.
You can read it in full here: http://paulrooke10.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/the-radical-alternative-to-austerity-by-john-mcdonnell-mp/
but the key points are:
– a wealth tax on the richest 10%,
– a Robin Hood tax on financial transactions,
– a Land Value tax,
– the restoration of progressive income tax of 60% on incomes above £100,000
– and a clamp down on the tax evasion and avoidance that is costing us £95 billion a year
Coalition politicians would have a heart attack at the mere idea. Today’s Sunday Telegraph front page details David Cameron’s ‘radical’ plan to promote growth which is really not radical at all – just ‘same old, same old’ Tory aspirations to make life harder for ordinary people so that corporations and unimaginably wealthy individuals can get even more unimaginably wealthy. I’ll probably write more on that later. But the ideas above, which would genuinely move us toward a more just, more sustainable society, are far beyond his wit or nerve.
Now, I have my own idea or two that I think might be worth considering in addition to John’s excellent points, and which I think counter the inevitable, dreary Tory counter-argument that their rich mates and companies will simply up sticks and move to a less-taxed environment if we dare to expect them to do the decent thing:
1) Introduce laws that any company that wants to operate in the UK market has to operate a base here and pay full UK tax – tax calculated on a massively-simplified, no loophole basis as a straightforward percentage of its profit.
2) Tighten regulations on accounting procedures so that profit is properly reported for tax.
3) Introduce a new law that any company found evading (since legal avoidance is no longer an option under the simplified accounting and tax rules) tax will be fined double the evaded amount – and still be liable for the original tax. Companies can’t be trusted to stay honest by the standards of honesty ordinary people in this country are expected to maintain, it’s against their ‘shareholder-first’ nature – so they need ‘help’ to stay on the straight & narrow.
Too radical? Certainly more radical than many people are used to thinking about. But I think completely in touch with how ordinary people will feel when they’re not being misdirected by clever propaganda and double-speak.
‘But companies will just go elsewhere’. Actually, no. Companies are many things, but in general they’re not stupid. They behave the way they behave because they’re allowed to get away with it. They dodge taxes, offshore services to places where they can pay peanuts etc because we allow it. Or rather our government-that-we-didn’t-really-elect does. But companies can’t stand the idea of an unexploited opportunity.
The UK offers a market for their products & services of 60-odd million people. Companies will know that if they don’t operate here and make the profits that can be made here, then somebody else will. And if the cost of doing so is to be honest about the way they operate and pay tax, and the risk of penalties if they don’t, then they’ll bite the bullet and do it. And if they don’t, other companies will, or people will set up companies to take advantage of the opportunity.
The so-called elite of the world are terrified that people will wake up and realise that such things are not only possible, but better than the way things operate now. Look at Cameron’s attempts to hector François Hollande and the rest of Europe into seeing things his way because they’re starting to move left and realise austerity is not just not the only way, but deeply counter-productive. So let’s make it happen, and scare the pants off them.
Now, I’ve run on long enough for a first attempt. But it may just be that reading this has you hopeful that there is a better way and even madder about the way the UK government is behaving. Below is a link to a petition that has been started to call for a no-confidence motion against this government in the House of Commons, to put them on the spot at the very least, and hopefully to remove them well before their term expires in 2015, so they don’t have even more time to ruin the country we love and great institutions like the NHS. Please sign it and publicise it to your friends, too:
Welcome back any time!