The affluent are blessed in their champions. They have a myriad of commentators fighting their corner. In the Sunday Independent Colm McCarthy, discussing the benefits or otherwise of a third tax rate on high incomes, stated:
‘In order to raise meaningful amounts, it (the threshold to enter the third rate of tax) cannot be pitched at a level much higher than the €100,000 indicated, but that pulls into the high-tax bracket many people who do not consider themselves exceptionally well-off.’
€100,000 not exceptionally well-off? Ok, maybe, but they certainly are ‘well-off’; very well-off. In fact, they are in the top 3 percent of income earners in the state. If these high-earners don’t consider themselves exceptionally well-off, what would they think if they were part of the 50 percent of income taxpayers who earn below €29,000 a year? Or the 25 percent of the population who live in official deprivation.
These kinds of comments are part of the don’t-tax-high-earners-too-much-because-then-they-will-leave-in-a-tax-huff argument. Thomas Molly, writing in the same newspaper, puts it this way when discussing the wealth tax:
‘Any other sort of wealth tax is likely to bring in very little money as the cash moves overseas at warp speed but is guaranteed to scare away many of the people who create wealth and jobs in our society.’
Ah, tax flight – the phenomenon whereby high taxation causes people to leave the jurisdiction. How valid is this? Not very. The US is a good place to study. Individual states can set their own income and wealth taxes in addition to Federal taxes. And moving from one state to the next is not nearly as challenging as moving from one EU country to the next. So what happens when states like Maryland or New Jersey or Oregon raised taxes on the highest income groups? This study – ‘Tax Flight is a Myth’– found:
‘Attacks on sorely-needed increases in state tax revenues often include the unproven claim that tax hikes will drive large numbers of households — particularly the most affluent — to other states. The same claim also is used to justify new tax cuts. Compelling evidence shows that this claim is false. The effects of tax increases on migration are, at most, small — so small that states that raise income taxes on the most affluent households can be assured of a substantial net gain in revenue.’
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They say history repeats itself if its lessons are not learned. The truth of this saying is entirely apparent when one looks at the current events being played out in the arid deserts of northern Mali, an impoverished North African country and former French colony. It is fitting then that the bombs now raining down on north Malian towns are being dropped from French Air Force planes, and the troops now landing on the ground in the country bear the French flag on their sleeves, the flag that only a few decades ago dominated this region of Africa.
The narrative in the western media is the usual nauseating one: the French troops are intervening in Mali’s ongoing civil conflict to defeat yet another spectre of Islamist terrorism and oppression, and bring democracy and freedom to its long suffering people. One instantly recalls shades of the Afghanistan campaign that began in 2001 – and the parallels are not accidental. The current conflict in Mali, and the recent French intervention, has its roots relatively far back in the history of imperialism’s power games in the world’s poorest regions.
The ‘War on Terror’ declared by the United States and its allies at the start of the millennium has followed the same basic pattern since its inception: a country displeases the US imperialists, or refuses to submit to their will, or has one or other natural resource required for their plans. The populations of the west are then treated to long-running news stories, documentaries, and newspaper editorials extolling the evils of said country / regime / stereotyped dictator; a sort of ‘softening up period’, mentally preparing the people of the imperialist countries for the coming war to be waged on the ‘enemies of freedom’. Then, the imperialist militaries have been shown to take two main courses of action, depending on the strategic position of their targets: they either obliterate them with brute force (Afghanistan, Iraq) or they foment internal unrest, arm domestic opposition militants and extremist groups (usually Islamist in nature, given the current main theatre of operations), and attempt by subversion and subterfuge to destroy their target from within, using local proxies to do their bidding. This latter method has in fact proven to be the more effective, both for preserving imperialist military strength and for making such interventions acceptable to the population at home. Let us look at some examples.
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When Jean-Marie Le Clézio gave a press conference in Paris last week upon his being named the 2008 Nobel Literature laureate, he answered one question – that was submitted by both French and British journalists:…
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Dear me, the Guardian, like a dear but cantankerous old friend, continues to exasperate much as one loves it. It remains, along with the FT, the best of the English newspapers (my relative unfamiliarity with…
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Long endowed with a potent resonance for French people, the year 1968 has, at this point, 40 years on, morphed into a brand. In spite of the tumultuous occurrences elsewhere in the world that year,…
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