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Philosophers and tax

The inequities of the tax system can be overcome, writes Chris Horner in his Hegel-inspired piece for Spectre. 

 

"The key  is to build on people’s justified sense of outrage at goings on at e.g. the banks, to push back against the Me First ideology that’s been dominant since the neoliberal surge in the 1980s. It’s a question of working for  change in the ethical substance of our society by drawing on the the norms of justice and fairness that already exist there.  This is desirable and practicable, and the basis for it already exists in the anger at the unfairness we see all around us. What is seen as acceptable can change. Struggles against sexism, racism and abuse of all kinds have made progress, although that progress can never be taken for granted.  Law, here, will not be enough unless the sense of what is intolerable is made manifest, if necessary by direct action by groups like UK Uncut It doesn’t happen overnight, but it can be done. Think of the changes we’ve seen on Green issues, child abuse,racial and sexual discrimination, homophobia,  hate speech, passive smoking and so on. The fact that that very large numbers of people already feel a sense of outrage at the existence of food-banks in a rich country, obscenely large bonuses paid to bankers, people being denied housing, zero contracts,  corporate tax dodging and escalating inequality is  a sign that that the ethical sense can be a source of radical change – if we mobilise and fight for it. Ensuring that such changes move in an enlightened way, promoting freedom rather than oppressing it, is what progressive political and social action should be all about."

 

I particularly like what he writes about tax avoidance.  

 

 "We sometimes hear people arguing that it is hypocritical to complain about ‘off shore’ tax havens, or other legal dodges like redefining one’s employees as self employed (to avoid paying national insurance) since most people will do analogous things if they can. Isn’t investing in a tax free ISA or similar the same thing? or buying something duty-free? Major tax evaders and avoiders make much of this, but they are being quite disingenuous here. Tax avoidance is bending the rules in order to avoid tax parliament intended you to pay. An ISA, in contrast , has been set up with the express intention of encouraging people to save. You aren’t going against the spirit of the thing if you put your money there; you are if you invent a clever instrument for avoiding the tax parliament expected you to pay."

 

 

 

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$125 million speech makers

Of Note: Clips