Posts Tagged ‘Offshore Accounts’

Owen Jones Meets Critic of Neoliberal Economics, Ha-Joon Chang

August 16, 2016

Ha-Joon Chang Pic

In his series of videos on YouTube, Owen Jones, the author of Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class, goes to meet with various public figures. These include Jeremy Corbyn, Peter Hitchens and so on. In this video he talks to Ha-Joon Chang, a South Korean economics professor at Cambridge University. Chang’s interesting as he’s a critic of Neoliberalism, the free market economics that has been this country’s political dogma since the Margaret Thatcher. I put up a post a little while ago on Chang’s 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism.

The conversation begins by Chang attacking the government’s decision to cut public spending in order to shrink the debt. He says that public debt represents public demand, and if you shrink it, the economy will also shrink, and you’ll still be left with a massive debt. This is what has happened to Greece. It’s far better actually to put more money into the economy. When Jones asked him if Osborne was stupid for pursuing this policy, Chang states very clearly that Osborne did it for other reasons – to undermine and destroy the welfare state, and make the country more like America.

The two then discuss whether it really is a case of capitalism for the poor, and Socialism for the rich. The welfare net for the poor is being destroyed, but there are massive subsidies for the rich. Chang makes the point that big business demands these subsidies, but when the issue of taxation is raised, that’s an entirely voluntary matter, and they’ll start an offshore bank account to avoid paying it. He also discounts the Libertarian attitude that ‘taxation is theft’. He makes the point that wealth is socially created. The attitude that taxation is theft may have made sense in the 16th century, when most people were independent farmers, but it doesn’t apply today, when you need a whole ranges of services to create wealth. They also remark on the double standards about the issue of inequality and greed. Libertarians and neoliberals like greed, because it supposedly stimulates the economy. But as soon the poor start resenting the excessive wealth of the rich, then they denounce them for being envious. Chang states that you can’t have inequality, as it means the poor and rich aren’t living in the same world. They might inhabit the same geographical area, but it’s like one was living in the 22nd Century and the other in the 18th and 19th.

Jones makes the point that whenever anybody discusses nationalisation, they automatically go back to the 1970s and the inefficiency of the services then. Chang states that nationalisation isn’t necessarily the answer, as if something is properly regulated you can have the benefits of nationalisation without it. However, there are examples where private enterprise, or at least unregulated private enterprise doesn’t work. He compares the British and Japanese rail networks. The British rail network now consumes massive subsidies, and is the most expensive in Europe. It doesn’t work, because you can’t have a competitive system on the same piece of railway.

Jones also tackles him about the welfare state. Isn’t it true that it’s bloated, and encourages people to be lazy and feckless. Chang states that there is one aspect to that question that he does agree with. He believes the welfare state does need some reform, as it was created in the 1940s-50s. Now people are living longer, nearly 30 years after their retirement. But he says there’s little evidence that it makes people lazy, and criticises the way people have stopped talking about it as an important form of social security. He makes the point that in countries with a strong welfare state, people are much more willing to accept corporate restructuring. Such as in Sweden, for example. This is not to say they prefer it, but they are willing to accept it. In countries like America where there is little in the way of a welfare state, workers, even if not unionised, are much more resistant to change because they can lose everything.

Chang also talks about the difference between classical liberalism, democracy and neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is a return to the economic doctrines of the 18th and 19th century, when the only form of liberty that mattered was the liberty to own and use property how you wanted. Initially, liberals weren’t democrats, because they feared that democracy would limit the freedom of the property-owners to do as they wished. Neoliberalism is a return to this system, with a bit of democracy. However, the political situation is altered so that democracy does not interfere with the liberties of the propertied classes. For example, they’re in favour of an independent central banks, as then it doesn’t have to be accountable to government over interest rates and the effect that may have on society. They’re also in favour of independent regulatory authorities, as that won’t allow government to interfere with private industry either.

Lastly, Jones asks him if he believes that the system will ever change. Chang makes the point that the past several decades have seen changes that people did not believe would happen. He talks about how Maggie Thatcher 25 years ago said that there would never been Black majority rule in South Africa. If you go back fifty years, then the leaders of the African independence movements were all hunted men in British prisons. It may not happen for decades, but eventually change will come. He quotes a proverb, which says that you must be a pessimist in your head, and an optimist in your heart. Above all, you have to keep fighting, as they won’t give you anything.

Here’s the video:

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Shavanah Taj Speaking at Corbyn Rally in Merthyr Tydvil

August 11, 2016

This is another great video of a pro-Corbyn rally, this time in Merthyr Tydvil. It doesn’t show the great man himself, but instead is of a speech in support of him by Shavanah Taj from the PCS Union. She states that clearly that the Labour party is not the party of the PLP and the Labour rebels, but of the ordinary members, and says that it’s about time that the party changed to reflect this. The talks about how Corbyn has been blamed for not doing enough to stop Brexit. She then says that ‘they have called us racists’, presumably meaning people who backed the Leave campaign. She says very firmly that as a ‘woman of colour’ it’s a load of rubbish. She then goes on to attack the economic devastation of Wales, with cuts to government funding, the loss of jobs, and the savage cuts to welfare spending, which is also damaging the local economy. She makes the point that Owen Smith wants to have the Leave Referendum taken again, which she clearly views as undemocratic. But she makes the point that Smith was nowhere to be seen campaigning for the ‘Remain’ vote. She also attacks the bankers, who have stashed their money away in secret offshore accounts, but when things go wrong go crawling back to the government, demanding bail outs and further cuts for the poor, pleading that ‘we’re all in it together’ as they do. She is rightly bitterly critical of the decision of David Cameron to take a holiday during the campaign.

She also explains why her union, PCS, has come out in support of Jeremy Corbyn. She states that the union is not affiliated to the Labour party, but its general secretary has decided to support him because of all the help and support Corbyn has given them. She gives the example of a dispute the union waged over the treatment of the low paid workers at the National Museum of Wales, which the union won with Corbyn’s support. She says this happened in Carwen Jones’ backyard, but he took little interest in the dispute. She also makes it very clearly that at the current level, the minimum wage is not a living wage. She also makes the point that, when people ask what Corbyn has done, he was instrumental in making the government drop the academisation of all the schools. And he will do much more, if he becomes Prime Minister. She makes the point that after years of abuse, Jeremy Corbyn is at last returning the party to what it was, a Socialist party for Britain’s working class. She makes the point that a year ago, the party’s membership was 250,000. Now it’s 600,000. ‘You can’t tell me that they all joined because of Owen Smith!’ Corbyn is not only the popular choice of the ordinary members of the Labour party, but she is convinced that he will also be prime minister.

I sincerely wish she’s right, as another Tory victory will destroy this country completely. I don’t agree with her apparent backing of the Brexit campaign. It has massively hurt the British economy, and led to a massive rise in racism. That said, there are very many left-wing, anti-racist opponents of the European Union, such as Dennis Skinner, Robin Ramsay, the editor of Lobster, and the crew over at the American left-wing magazine, Counterpunch. They’re against the European Union because of the way neoliberal economics and the power of international capital are an intrinsic part of its political and economic structure, and have been so ever since it was established in the 1950s. The result of this has been the collapse of the Eurozone and the pillaging of the Greek economy for the profit of the big EU banks in Germany, a pillaging that has seen the Greek people themselves forced into massive poverty and social deprivation comparable to the Developing World. In this instance, it is no wonder that so many Brits voted to Leave.

I will, however, make the point that I was not one of them, and that the margin of victory so low – 52% of the vote – and the effect this is having on Britain so enormous – that I do support Smith’s campaign to have the referendum taken again. But that’s the only part of his campaign I do support.

Other than this, it’s a great speech from an inspired Labour party activist and trade unionist, which states very clearly why so many people in Wales support Corbyn against nearly four decades of neoliberalism carried out by the Tories and New Labour.

From 2013: Employment Agencies Shifting Employers’ NI Payments to Employees

April 18, 2014

This is another story from Private Eye for 1st – 1th November 2013.

Andrea Leadsom [Image: The Independent].

Andrea Leadsom, the Tories’ City Minister, who also avoids paying tax through offshore accounts.

Supply and (Tax) Demand

It isn’t only offshore payroll firms that are avoiding paying employer’s national insurance contributions for supply teachers – though these are the ones being “actively pursued” by the taxman. If MHRC looked closer to home, it would find that onshore, UK-based companies are also avoiding employer’s NI liabilities by making teachers pay them instead.

Many employment agencies insist workers are paid through umbrella companies, which process their pay and promise benefits for the country’s 40,000 plus supply teachers. But payslips and other documents seen by the Eye suggest the biggest winners are the agencies and the umbrella companies, which can save as much as £62 from a teacher’s £600 weekly wage through the NI payments loophole.

It’s all perfectly legal, but the taxman is losing millions thanks to the arrangement. but who has signed dispensation agreements with umbrella companies saying they don’t need to show receipts? Step forward, HMRC!

Private Eye has covered numerous cases of tax avoidance by the rich, which have shifted the tax burden firmly on employees and the poor. Mike over at Vox Political has blogged today on how the Coalition’s City Minister, Andrea Leadsom, has also used a offshore accounts to lessen her tax bill. This really is a government that, in the words of the notorious ‘Mayflower Madam’, believes that ‘taxes are for little people.’