Wanted! For dodging tax justice

A note from the editor

David Ransom

No-one enjoys paying taxes. So it’s not entirely surprising that conventional wisdom has taken the easy option and declared that the only good tax is a cut one. Less familiar is the way this became a ‘tax consensus’ imposed worldwide, much like the neoliberal Washington Consensus itself, with disastrous long-term consequences. For the time being, we’re still getting crunched by the consensus that is the real cause, even as its brokers cast aside what principles they ever had and blackmail taxpayers into bailing them out. Questions will have to be answered, and sooner rather than later, about what sort of taxes are now being paid by what sort of people to what sort of purpose, and these are explored in some detail in the main theme, which begins on page 4.

Those who rely on the corporate media will not be fully aware, either, that a small island in the Caribbean has aspirations to become a ‘humanitarian superpower’. The extraordinary story of the 30,000 Cuban doctors who are propping up healthcare services around the world is told first hand-hand on page 34. If you share the Washington Consensus, you will dismiss this as political propaganda. If you think healthcare matters, there are plenty of useful lessons to be learned from the Cubans.

Another example worth following can be found in the innovative campaign to prevent oil from destroying the much more precious Yasuní biosphere reserve in Ecuador. This was the focus of our July magazine and is the subject of our Yasuní Green Gold book of photographs, which is launched in October. The NI co-operative has decided to back the campaign in whatever way we usefully can. Our own limited resources are, of course, as nothing compared with what you, our many thousands of active subscribers and readers around the world, can achieve if you join in at this critical moment, which you can do quite easily by visiting www.newint.org/yasuni. In any event, we’ll keep you posted online and in future editions of this magazine.

David Ransom for the New Internationalist co-operative.
www.newint.org

Keynote article.

The man from Attac, a group campaigning for global taxes, engages with the flag of Liechtenstein, a notorious tax haven.

REUTERS / Christian Hartmann

Tax justice and the global fiddle

David Ransom listens to the false notes being played by an orchestra of financial instruments. Top dodgers: Bono, Rupert Murdoch.

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Private equity tycoon Guy Hands, head of the troubled entertainment group EMI, must have reckoned he was finally on to a sure-fire winner. For every dollar he invested in a film called Crust – about a two-metre-long shrimp – he expected to recover $1.40 in tax relief. He apparently anticipated a similar return from Nine Dead Gay Guys and other guaranteed box-office flops, in the tradition immortalized by the film The Producers. But the tax office refused to pay up....




Features.

The Turmoil, registered in George Town, Cayman Islands, moored outside Citigroup’s office in Dublin, 9 June 2008.

Can pay.. won't pay!

How John Christensen made a banker hide his head in his hands in the tax haven of Jersey. Top dodgers: Leona Helmsley, The Prince of Liechtenstein

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Tax Injustice – the facts

The measure of just tax is the ability to pay. The world’s tax system today is unjust, shifting the burden from rich to poor – and failing altogether to address the green agenda. Here are the facts and figures.

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People join hands outside UN building in Bangkok to commemorate International Day for Eradication of Poverty.

Tax the richest: why are we waiting?

As the UN goes in search of more funds to eliminate poverty, David Hillman reckons he knows where they’re hiding. Top dodger: Tesco

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Peter the Great trims a taxpayer’s beard in a contemporary Russian cartoon.

A short history of TAXATION

A history of the eternal fate of taxation: to be the abused or abusive means towards noble or ignoble ends, never quite able to escape its association with extortion and war.

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A supporter of Germany’s Green Party reacts to first exit polls of German general elections in Berlin.

Why ecotaxes may not be the answer

Tax will, sooner or later, have to follow the environmental agenda. Nicola Liebert reports on mixed experiences so far, even in Germany. Top dodger: The British Monarchy

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Rebels with a cause

Popular rebellion has often accompanied oppressive taxation. Almost all the protests were against taxes that ignored the ability to pay. Here are just a few examples.

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Queer India

Nick Harvey explains the background on gay rights – and then talks to lesbian activists about a cause that is beginning to catch fire.

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A happy couple from the fantastically successful first Gay and Lesbian Pride March in Bengaluru (Bangalore) on 29 June 2008.

The Fire Inside

Women who love women still leads to suicide pacts in India, often burning themselves to death. But in the wake of a groundbreaking film, lesbians are asserting themselves more – and seeing some encouraging signs of change, as Nick Harvey reports.

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Blog.

More on the meltdown

More on the meltdown

We're all struggling day by day to make sense of the mayhem in the markets - neoconservative governments discovering the virtues of nationalization, speculators' bubbles finally bursting, doom-mongers who have been predicting the collapse of capitalism for decades suddenly worrying about their own pensions and mortgages when it arrives…

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Gort and Klaatu

Marc Roberts’ intergalactic health & safety inspectors Gort and Klaatu make their début.

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Read more blogs...

Currents.

Their guns will not conquer

Their guns will not conquer

The Karen fight ethnic cleansing in Burma with economic development

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Breathing again

Breathing again

Aboriginal sea rights a landmark victory

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Princess and President

Princess and President

Despite the country being hit by Typhoon Fengshen, Filipino President Arroyo arranged a 10-day trip to the US for herself and at least 59 of her loyal congress members, at a reported cost of 66 million pesos ($1.42 million)!

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In tents activity

In tents activity

Campaigners take to the canvas to show solidarity

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Funding cuts threaten lives in Kenya

Funding cuts threaten lives in Kenya

Human skulls and decomposing bodies dug up in Kenya’s Rift Valley Province show signs of torture.

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Pull down St. Paul’s!

Pull down St. Paul’s!

British aid agency ActionAid recently put in an application to demolish London’s famed St Paul’s Cathedral.

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Regulars.

Aida Muluneh

Circus antics captured by Ethiopian photographer Aida Muluneh.

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Interview with Martha Lucía Micher Camarena

Martha Lucía Micher Camarena has been battling to defend women’s rights in Mexico for decades – and last year she achieved two landmark victories.

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Timor, Cuba - and the making of a medical superpower

Timor, Cuba - and the making of a medical superpower

Every year Cuba, a Majority World country of only 10 million people, sends more than 30,000 volunteer medical workers to 93 countries around the world. Surgeon Katherine Edyvane recounts the little-told story from first-hand experience.

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Tanzania

Tanzania is home to the highest point in Africa as well as to Olduvai Gorge, where some of the oldest human remains have been found. It also contains most of the Serengeti region, which hosts a dazzling array of animal, bird and plant life.

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Living theatre

Patience is running thin and tempers are flaring in Maria Golia’s apartment block.

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Bang your head

Bang your head

A US defence contractor is claiming to have developed a technology that allows sounds to be beamed directly into people's heads.

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Big Bad World - Garden of Eden

Polyp discovers oil in the Garden of Eden.

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Gazprom headquarters in Moscow

Gazprom

Russia’s massive energy company Gazprom plans to be the biggest corporation in the world by 2014 – and who would bet against it?

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Film, Book & Music Reviews.

Linha de Passe

An outstanding realistic drama that shows these people’s ordinariness, strengths and weaknesses, and never idealizes or diminishes them.

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Hear, O Israel: A Prayer Ceremony in Jazz

17-year-old rabbi’s son – and fledgling composer – Joseph Klein lured one of the greatest names in jazz (Herbie Hancock) to join in performing a jazz prayer ceremony.

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The Riddle of Qaf

The Riddle of Qaf is crammed with allusions to classical literature and cod-scientific theories and it makes free (and unapologetic) use of myths and legends.

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Alexandra

What war does to people’s humanity and how, without trust, touch and intimacy, we’re lost.

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Big Blue Ball

Peter Gabriel threw open the doors of his Real World studios in rural England and invited an enormous bunch of musicians – Sinead O’Connor, Marta Sebestyen, Papa Wemba, Guo Yue are just a few of them – to come and jam.

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The Rebels' Hour

Lieve Joris's spellbinding account of the recent ill-starred history of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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From A to X: A Story in Letters

A heartrending love-story and a searing indictment of authoritarianism in all its forms.

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