Saturday, 3 September 2016

When multinationals control governments

It goes without saying that taxation is important to any government - as without taxes coming in no government would be able to function. If we didnt pay tax there would be no public health services, no free education and no welfare benefits for the poor. Basically society would return to victorian times when a privileged idle elite lived in the lap of luxury while tens of millions lived in squalor and abject poverty. That's why as a socialist i never gripe about paying taxes as there's no question that in a capitalist society taxation can be a very progressive tool if used properly. 

So you would think the Irish government would be doing cartwheels at the decision of the EU commission to instruct the mega rich multinational company Apple to pay the irish 11 billion in unpaid taxes - 11 billion amounting to almost the entire annual budget of the republic of ireland. The Irish government could no doubt do a lot of good with that 11 billion - like abolishing the water charges imposed by Irish Water or address the fact that almost a third of Ireland's population lives in a state of 'enforced deprivation'

Indeed levels of poverty in Ireland have reached such shocking proportions in recent times that even the Archbishop of Dublin has called for a 'revolutionary campaign' against poverty

Astonishingly however Enda Kenny's government is joining Apple in appealing against the EU commission's ruling. Reading between the lines it seems that the ruling Fine Gael administration is afraid Apple - and maybe other multi nationals - will up sticks and leave ireland and move to somewhere where legally paying tax isnt a problem (and we can be sure there have been 'off the record' briefings from Apple to the Irish government to that effect).

For years successive irish government's have pursued a policy of adopting the lowest levels of corporation tax in europe in a bid to make Ireland an attractive place for mega rich multi and trans national companies to 'come and do business'. But as we see with this case multi national companies will still do all they can to avoid paying even the low levels of tax they are legally obliged too. We've seen the same thing in the UK with companies like Starbucks and Amazon making the headlines, indeed as this report makes clear multi nationals are trying to get away with not paying tax right across europe

The EU isnt perfect but at least it has tried to impose some controls on powerful super rich multinationals and make them nominally accountable - and this is one of the reasons why the political right in the UK  hate the EU so much.The likes of Nigel Farage - and former Thatcherite Chancellor Nigel Lawson - think rich and powerful companies and indviduals should be able to behave how they like and be free from any constraints on how they treat their workers or what level of taxes they should pay.

No surprise to learn then that the self styled scourge of 'elites and the establishment' Nigel Farage is backing Apple in its bid to get away with paying the taxes it owes to Ireland 


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