Until we manage to mature into a society that can depend on mutual aid and cooperatives, we have to mitigate the abysmal effects of today’s market capitalism and the supra-national power of corporations. Google, Amazon and many other international companies make billions of dollars in revenue from, say, sales in the UK, but manage to pay virtually no tax in the UK. They do this through foreign ownership — sometimes through multiple countries — and so-called management fees that the UK operation has to pay to the home corporation. It has become a regular scandal in the UK and threatens to do the same elsewhere.
Centre-right politicians have suggested that lowering corporate tax rates will encourage more companies to stay in- house as it were. That is just an excuse to make the rich richer. There is a simpler and much more efficient way.
I suggest that corporate income taxes be eliminated completely. They should be replaced by a “license to operate” fee equal to, say, 10% of revenues earned in the country no matter where the head office is based. Simple to understand, simple to manage, and, I suspect, very difficult to get around.
Country of ownership becomes immediately irrelevant, and transfers to an offshore HQ will be pointless for tax purposes. Indeed, they may well create a double taxation situation in which those transfers become taxable revenue in the home country. It also gives corporations the right to NOT operate in any particular country if they choose to forgo the revenues.
Finally, I would make this tax law bullet-proof by including a provision that, should some smart accountant or lawyer find a loophole, then that loophole is closed retroactively.
As anyone who has read the papers or seen the news in the last few years knows, banks around the world have broken numerous serious laws, have had to be bailed out with taxpayers money, and yet still pay millions of dollars to inept executives and billions more to stockholders. Many of their problems involve their connection to complex financial transactions that do nothing but make money for already-rich individuals. There has to be a better way, and there is.
I would oblige all banks to become credit unions and I would strictly limit their functionality.
Credit unions are not-for-profit institutions cooperatively owned by their members. They operate solely for the benefit of their members rather than for outside shareholders, of whom there would be none. Their senior management is elected by the members and their policies are offered up for approval at regular meetings of the membership. Senior management remuneration would require members’ approval. The billions of dollars that are currently paid out in dividends to outsiders would be used to increase services and lower costs for the members. Any surplus could be re-paid to the members or added to the credit union’s capital.
I would limit their functionality to the taking, managing and disbursement of members’ deposits, and to the issuance of personal loans (including credit cards) and personal mortgages. Any member or corporation that required business loans, corporate mortgages, investments or insurance would turn to investment companies, mortgage brokers and insurance companies designed specifically for that function.
No one would be limited in their desire to engage in stock market or other investments. But these would be handled entirely by companies separate from banks. No longer would bank depositors’ cash be at risk in the marketplace for derivatives, for example.
Competition between credit unions, if such were needed, would become a function of service and accessibility. I believe this would get us more branches on the streets and a more personalized service between member and bank. It would bring banking back to the people, to a smaller scale that we can understand and control — after all, it is our money they are using.
There are a lot of things wrong — evilly wrong — with modern consumer capitalism, and so many of them start with the idea that life and every part of it is a competition.
From the very beginning, as tiny tots, we are taught, trained, indoctrinated to compare ourselves with everyone around us. School tests, school sports, school grades are all based on comparing one child to another. “Jimmy trues hard and does his best” is apparently not good enough; there is always a “but he doesn’t keep up with the others” even if not said. Baby shows and kids’ talent shows are nothing more than expanded public versions of the same affect.
Keeping up with the Jones’s, keeping up with the Kardashians, and white supremacy are adult versions. Conspicuous consumption is a vital part of keeping score. My whole train of thought was started this afternoon by seeing a clickbait headline; “Fifteen wedding dresses that are better than Kate Middleton’s”.
On the other hand, we are all (except preening CEOs and entertainment stars) very cagey and secretive about our own pay cheques because we don’t want to be compared unfavourably with those around us. We all want more, sometimes for need, but more often it is because we want more than or at least the same as John Doe; and that is because we have been indoctrinated to think that way.
Capitalism breeds inequality which breeds envy which drives competition, most of it unproductive and wasteful. There has to be a better way.
I was interested to read this morning the complaints from Solly’s Bagels that they were having difficulty with the bureaucratic red tape involved in bringing foreign workers to BC. If it was up to me they wouldn’t ever have the option.
The Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program is a perfect example of the kind of unnecessary government intervention that distorts free markets and underpins the capitalist economy. With the negligible exception of a few highly skilled specialists, TFW exists ONLY to lower the costs of production for corporations below what the rational free market says they should be, and for no other reason.
It is both ridiculous and immoral to bring in foreign workers to perform low-wage low-skill work (flipping burgers, serving coffee or bagels, etc) that can be handled by any Canadian with a brain. Some of these employers claim that the unemployment rate is so low they cannot find local workers. Nonsense. Pay enough and workers will be there; maybe they will leave other employers to join them, but isn’t competition (for labour as well as anything else) a heavily promoted benefit of capitalism?
The Temporary Foreign Worker program exists for the sole purpose of lowering costs to corporations in order to increase profits for the few.
The hypocrisy comes because many of these same employers are far-right evangelists insistent in their demands for removing government regulation of industry — unless, of course, those regulations benefit their wallets.
I propose that the government announce a final end date for all TFW approvals, say two years, and oblige industry to work out whatever readjustments are required. Current temporary foreign workers should be given an easy path to formal immigration if that is what they want; the rest should be sent home.
[Note: I write this as we live in a world of nation states. My personal preference would be to see completely free movement of people in a world without borders and, of course, without corporations. Until that glorious day … ]
I first posted this wonderful 6-minute animation detailing the dehumanization of menial employment back in March. I think it deserves another look:
Thanks to Open Culture for the link.