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Arguments for socialism :: Banks
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Dutch historian Rutger Bregman went viral by putting the cat among the pigeons at billionaires get together Davos in Switzerland recently.
During a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum Bregman laid into billionaires for not paying tax or even discussing it at the event, he said: "It feels like I'm at a firefighters conference and no one's allowed to speak about water."
And that industry had to "stop talking about philanthropy and start talking about taxes, taxes, taxes. All the rest is bullshit in my opinion."
He has a point. The same week, Amazon announced record profits for a third year in a row reporting a profit of $3.03 billion - up from $1.86 billion on the same quarter a year earlier. Revenue grew 20% to $72.38 billion.
But despite these record profits the company only pays £1.7 million in tax in the UK, for example In 2018, through loopholes in US tax law, Amazon paid no income tax at all. During the five previous years, Amazon had an effective tax rate of just 11.4% compared to the 35% to 40% average for traditional retailers.
And Amazon is not alone. Billions of pounds and dollars in owed and unpaid tax is squirrelled away by the rich and big companies every year. But we do not agree completely with Bregman. It's not all about taxes, taxes, taxes.
Yes, we call for the reversal of all cuts to HM Revenue and Customs and for the collection of the uncollected tax, as well as a huge increase taxes on the super-rich and big business.
But we also go further. We call for the nationalisation of the banks and top 150 corporations - many of which are major tax avoiders - so we can have a democratically planned economy, under the democratic control and management of workers, which could actually start to plan production in the interests of the 99%.
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Article dated 6 February 2019
The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party
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