Thursday, August 01, 2013

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Bruce Livesey discusses how offshoring undermines government - and how it happens with the approval of those same governments claiming we can't afford to provide for citizens:
Today, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) claims that offshore banks globally hide some (US) $5-trillion to (US) $7-trillion from tax authorities, or about 8 per cent of the world's assets under management. Moreover, an estimated (US) $11.5-trillion is being stashed in offshore accounts worldwide for one reason or another.

Now governments talk about the so-called "tax gap" -- the difference between what they could collect and do collect -- caused by the use of offshore havens. In the U.K., this estimate ranges from £50 billion to £100-billion annually. Of that, about £20-billion sits in offshore tax havens. Meanwhile, though, the CRA refuses to make an estimate of the tax gap in Canada, but it's safe to say if they did they would find it's in the many tens of billions.

The offshore tax haven issue speaks to one of the Great Lies currently promulgated by conservative, liberal and even social democratic governments: which is that governments are broke. And hence they must lay off civil servants, impose cuts and wage restraints on the public sector. And it is why governments are desperately trying to avoid the issue: after all, they've all encouraged tax evasion and avoidance by offering corporations and the wealthy lower and lower taxes and greater tax breaks over the years. Now they are reaping what they have sown.
- And Pat Atkinson recognizes the need for tax revenue to fund the social priorities we care about most.

- Meanwhile, Frances Russell suggests that rather than buying into austerity-based cautionary tales about Greece today, we should look its past as an example of an informed citizenry able to look out for its own best interests.

- Steve Horn writes about the tactics normally used by corporate spinners to try to undermine citizens' movements. Mark Taliano focuses on the psychological manipulation techniques preferred by the Harper Cons and other opponents of social goods in Canada. And Simon Enoch highlights the City of Regina's Orwellian shift in language - as at the first hint of democratic participation, any reference to the "water" aspect of wastewater treatment has apparently been declared unfit for discussion.

- Finally, those types of messages go a long way toward explaining Henry Blodget's simple depiction of U.S. inequality in four charts - pairing unprecedented profits flowing to the top with an utter lack of opportunity for the many.

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