Well, here’s something you don’t see [ever] in corporate media: a review of tax measures in the USA since the crash in 2008 that have succeeded in increasing taxes on the rich. And it turns out, tax increases that are regressive [sales taxes, etc.] or include the non-rich, seemed to fail quite a bit.
Housing, easy to get into, if people care. Occupy Madison in Wisconsin has come up with an innovative first step of a solution [see below].
These 96 square foot homes are no long term solution, at all. But if you’re struggling to get some stability in your life and you’re homeless, it’s that much harder. Just having a roof over your head can give you warmth and a good night sleep to help you be more capable of doing everything else you need to improve your life.
It’s a crisp, foggy November Saturday morning in the south side of the city. Seventeen people sit in the large open area at the back end of an organic fair trade coffee shop run by a workers’ co-op inspired by the Mondragon movement in Spain. Meet-ups like this are quite common in this shop.
The male and female co-facilitators move briskly through the agenda with the help of the nodding volunteer maintaining the speakers list. There are sporadic jazz-hand gestures, common from the Occupy Movement, as well as a strict yet comfortable group norm of only one person speaking at a time, and succinctly, because of the elaborately carved talking stick that moves around the room.
PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is thankfully becoming less stigmatized due to increased awareness, but like most mental health issues, there stigma that prevents open discussion about mental health is profound. But I recall 2-3 decades ago it was far worse.
There are a few PTSD events that have come up recently that are related to Canada’s shameful neglect and mistreatment of Canadian Forces personnel and veterans suffering from PTSD.
If I need to single-handedly reboot the Occupy Movement for this one, I’ll do it, I tell ya [emphasis is mine]:
A month ago, I had a conversation with Deb Hutton, wife of PC leader Tim Hudak, who said the chances of the Conservatives picking up any of the five seats up for grabs on byelection night were pretty remote.
“They’re all Liberal seats,” she said. “It’s summer time when our most loyal supporters are away at the cottage. We’re obviously going to give it our best, but….” Her voice trailed off and expectations were set appropriately low.
The most loyal Ontario Conservative Party members generally are at their cottages. They have cottages. So do lots of the middle class? But really, not so much. If you own a cottage, you own a vacation property. That’s not so middle class.
Let’s not forget that the 1% and perhaps some in the top 5% or so who can afford cottages make up the loyal Conservative Party supporters. I expect that tracks well for other provinces and federally.
When people who can’t afford cottages are speaking well of Conservatives, remind them that they, as the 1% [or nearby’s or wannabe’s] do not speak for you or the vast majority who rent, rent precariously, rent inadequate housing, or own something precariously.
I have this rose-coloured, nostalgic dream of history. Once upon a time we emerged from feudalism with a democratic revolution. All were equal. Well, most.
But the hope of democracy was to rid the world of the despot rule of aristocracy. But then we got corporations. Many of the aristocratic elite ended up entrenching their power through these fake humans. And we still have the aristocrats today. And for centuries, the rest of the elite have wielded power through corporations.
So this year when data was leaked with information about who is using tax havens, governments lined up to do nothing to stop it. Governments are compradors who serve the elite. They are in no rush to go after cash socked away in tax havens, even if it means eroding the capacity of governments to do the work of government.
US$11.5 TRILLION are socked away in tax havens.
And that’s no accident. The elites do not like governments. They include regulations that box in the elites and attempt to distribute their wealth through taxes in order to serve the people. Like some kind of democracy. Or something.
But as you will read below, you will see a few features of the feudalism we currently live in:
The Conservative Party and the elites want to get rid of governments to the extent that they can, which is why they go out of their way to reduce possibilities of increasing revenue.
Stashing money in tax-free zones is the elite’s nest egg.
Canada is foregoing billions of dollars in tax revenue by not pursuing taxing this hidden money.
Tax evasion is illegal, unless the government does not pursue your evasion, which is the norm for corporations.
All I know is that if I got a job and tried to set up a corporations in an off-shore tax haven, I wouldn’t be able to convince my employer to pay my corporation instead of me. Humans with SINs need to pay taxes.
But if I decided to not work for anyone as an employee, I could create a corporation registered in an off-shore tax haven. Then if I could contract out my work so an organization hires my corporation to do work, I could conceivably not have to pay tax if I work my accounting correctly. Donating money to the federal Conservative Party may help discourage CRA from pursuing the wealth I could sock away in a tax haven.
And I’d have to go back and check to see if the Liberal Party in government was any good at tracking down offshore stashed cash. But considering what kind of an offshore expert Paul Martin is, I’d doubt their record is any better.
And where does this leave us?
Well, firstly, we need to remember that class war is alive and well. There is a collection of rich elites who are really running things by influencing/being governing parties and by being untouchable. And the rest of us are serfs.
Secondly, the goals of the Occupy Movement were bang on. And they still exist.
Thirdly, when you see a politician speaking and acting strongly to support democracy instead of neglecting the elites, support them. But you’ll hear a lot of crickets.
Fourthly, expect more decadent, despotic behaviour from the elites. They seem to get off on it.
Earlier this year, 2.5 million files and 120,000 companies and trusts who use offshore tax havens was revealed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) that caused an international furor. What also became apparent when this list was revealed was, that like the Lagarde list, governments had access to this information for years and were not doing anything to hunt down these funds. In fact, the Harper government has eschewed all efforts to pursue this money, while at the same time laying off 3,000 tax collectors at the CRA this budget year.
“The offshore system is the secret underpinning for the political and financial power of Wall Street today. It is the fortified refuge of big finance,” Nicholas Shaxson, author of Treasure Islands, a 2011 book on offshore tax havens, has said. And he is quite right.
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.
The best part of the Teamster Local 213 rally in Richmond on Saturday was the humanity: the stage was largely filled with Teamsters telling their stories, showing everyone how this 10 week lockout is affecting them as people, and the “humanity” that IKEA markets itself with around the world.
IKEA made $3.85 billion in profits in 2011. Its founder is worth $52 billion. In the past, the company has prided itself on a family atmosphere, but now they want to break the union in Richmond, BC, then they’ll likely go after the union at their Montreal store, then continue with union-busting in the United States.
You can read about the lockout here and here, then enjoy the human side of the global anti-worker agenda of the 1% in the 3 videos below.
Then, make sure you email IKEA Canada [for your email subject, choose “How us Improve (complaints)”] and phone your local IKEA at 1-866-866-4532 to let them know you are boycotting IKEA until they stop trying to break their unions in Richmond and everywhere. My email to IKEA is at the bottom. Feel free to plagiarize it in any way you like!
People Before Profits
Concessionary bargaining is ridiculous, which is what IKEA is after. They want newly hired employees to make less than current employees for doing the same work. They want to restrict access to benefits and contract out work.
This is simply greed: the global 1% not happy with almost $4 billion in profit in 2011. IKEA says they care about their workers, but it’s now profit before people.
When the RCMP monitor protests with video cameras and photos from vantage points up high, it is not that surprising. Watching IKEA’s security forces monitor the perimeter, and videotape and photograph the rally on Saturday, however, was a special new kind of corporate surveillance.
The IKEA “Family”: We Are the Many
Mark, one of the many, shares IKEA’s human principles, and how they are being perverted by corporate greed.
Theresa, shares her wisdom on gratitude and community and relationships.
Kenji, a new IKEA worker, on what solidarity looks like.
Victor, speaks about how new part-time workers can see their weekly hours can drift below 5 to zero
My Boycott Email to IKEA
I can’t remember how many thousands of dollars I’ve spent at IKEA in my life. It’s lots.
But now, for 10 weeks you’ve been locking out your workers. You want to reduce wages and benefits and contract out work.
Ikea made $3.85 billion in 2011. I’m pretty sure your greed is showing.
I will not shop at IKEA until you take all the concessions off the table and settle with your Teamsters local.
And this means I won’t shop at IKEA Coquitlam and I’m working to convince my friends and neighbours to boycott IKEA until you stop trying to pad your multi-billion dollar profit on the backs of your workers.
Get over yourselves and stop trying to break your union.
De-Spinning the Political and Re-Spinning it for Social, Economic and Political Justice