new Internationalist OCTOBER Issue 416
No-one enjoys paying taxes. So it’s not entirely surprising that conventional wisdom has taken the easy option and declared that the only good tax is a cut one. Less familiar is the way this became a ‘tax consensus’ imposed worldwide, much like the neoliberal Washington Consensus itself, with disastrous long-term consequences. For the time being, we’re still getting crunched by the consensus that is the real cause, even as its brokers cast aside what principles they ever had and blackmail taxpayers into bailing them out. Questions will have to be answered, and sooner rather than later, about what sort of taxes are now being paid by what sort of people to what sort of purpose, and these are explored in some detail in the main theme, which begins on page 4. Those who rely on the corporate media will not be fully aware, either, that a small island in the Caribbean has aspirations to become a ‘humanitarian superpower’. The extraordinary story of the 30,000 Cuban doctors who are propping up healthcare services around the world is told first hand-hand on page 34. If you share the Washington Consensus, you will dismiss this as political propaganda. If you think healthcare matters, there are plenty of useful lessons to be learned from the Cubans. Another example worth following can be found on page 38, where
we keep you updated on the innovative campaign to prevent oil from destroying the much more precious Yasuníí biosphere reserve in Ecuador. This was the focus of our July magazine and is the subject of our Yasuníí Green Gold book of photographs, which is launched in October. The NI co-operative has decided to back the campaign in whatever way we usefully can. Our own limited resources are, of course, as nothing compared with what you, our many thousands of active subscribers and readers around the world, can achieve if you join in at this critical moment, which you can do quite easily by visiting www.newint.org/ yasuni. In any event, we’ll keep you posted online and in future editions of this magazine.
David Ransom for the New Internationalist Co-operative
Vote for your favourite to win the NI Award for 'Most Artful Tax Dodger' from our shortlist of dodgers at www.newint.org/taxjustice
4 Tax justice and the global fiddle David Ransom listens to the false notes being played by an orchestra of financial instruments. Top dodgers: Bono, Rupert Murdoch
14 Tax the richest: why are we waiting? As the UN goes in search of more funds to eliminate poverty, David Hillman reckons he knows where they’re hiding. Top dodger: Tesco
16 a short history of taxation
18 Why ecotaxes may not be the answer Tax will, sooner or later, have to follow the environmental agenda. Nicola Liebert reports on mixed experiences so far, even in Germany. Top dodger: The British Monarchy
20 Rebels with a cause Where there’s a tax there’s a revolt.
9 Can pay... won’t pay! How John Christensen made a banker hide his head in his hands in the tax haven of Jersey. Top dodgers: Leona Helmsley, The Prince of Liechtenstein
12 TaX INJuSTICe – THe FaCTS
21 SPeCIal FeaTuRe
REUT ERS / STR ingE R
Queer India... The wildly erotic imagery on India’s temples hints at a history of sexual freedom; so too does traditional acceptance of transgenders (hijras). But the reality for Indian gays and lesbians has been very different – at least until the last few years. Nick Harvey explains the background on gay rights – and then talks to lesbian activists about a cause that is beginning to catch fire.
JAYANTA SHAW / REUTERS
2 Letters Plastic recycling does not exist; why humanure is the toiletary way forward; jail babies in Peru. PLUS: Letter from Cairo – Patience is running thin and tempers are flaring in Maria Golia’s apartment block.
25 Currents Australian Aborigines win sea rights; Burma’s Karen fight back in the longest war; new worldwide campaign on Darfur. PLUS NEW moNthLy CARtooN StRIP: Marc Roberts’ intergalactic health & safety inspectors Gort and Klaatu make their déébut.
28 Big Bad World Polyp discovers oil in the Garden of Eden. PLUS: NI Prize Crossword
29 Worldbeaters Russia’s massive energy company Gazprom plans to be the biggest corporation in the world by 2014 – and who would bet against it?
30 Mixed Media Win a CD in our music competition; a five-star film from Brazil – and a four-star one from Russia about the war in Chechnya; books include John Berger’s wonderful new novel.
32 Southern Exposure Circus antics captured by Ethiopian photographer Aida Muluneh. 33 Making Waves Martha Lucíía Micher Camarena has been battling to defend women’s rights in mexico for decades – and last year she achieved two landmark victories.
34 Essay: Timor, Cuba – and the making of a medical superpower
36 Country Profile: Tanzania
Front cover photos: Four at top all Reuters (from left to right) Bono, Queen Elizabeth, Rupert Murdoch, Leona Helmsley. Bottom: Nick Harvey. Magazine design: Alan Hughes. Cover design: Alan Hughes and Ian Nixon. All monetary values are expressed in US dollars unless otherwise noted.