This is my first venture into eBooks. Please spread the word and enjoy your reading.
The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights is an aspirational document formulated in 1948 and often held as the standard for good behaviour – how we should treat each other. Whilst the articles are often cherry-picked to emphasise an individual’s right to self interest, it is rare for anyone to refer to Article 29 which implies responsibility to a community or society at large.
Article 29 states:
(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
As the population of the planet approaches 8 billion by 2025, we need to be aware that this document was formulated when the population was about a quarter of this projection, and the rationale was based to a large extent on the writings of The Enlightenment when the population was well less than 1 billion. Does context have an influence on what might be considered to be right or wrong behaviour?
In democratic societies, if the majority feel significantly disadvantaged while seeing 1% of the people controlling most wealth, power and advantage, then that is surely a recipe for a cultural change in thinking about moral responsibility. Revolutions in the past have happened when ruling groups did not listen to the disquiet of the majority. (cf French revolution, Russian revolution.)
In a globalised world, surely there is a need for a global approach to reducing the exponential growth of population, the plundering of natural resources and a culture of amassing financial fortunes at the expense of others. Rather, we should be building toward sustainable models of economic growth and an international legal framework which, as in Article 29 (2), limits individual rights proportionate to the general welfare of all people on the planet. Yes? No?
Catching Legends, The Chess Board, Searching for Siobhan and The Run are all available from the Rams Skull Press, Brassall, Queensland. Check out their new website at www.ramsskullpress.com . My books are under Fiction.
More details of the books on my website in the Novels section.
If you live in Brisbane, The Chess Board and Searching for Siobhan are on the shelves of the Brisbane City Council Libraries or you can place a hold online and, for 80 cents, it will be delivered to your local library.
If you live elsewhere, contact your local bookseller or library. If the book is not on their shelves, ask them to order it for you. Booksellers, libraries and their contractors can approach Rams Skull Press for trade wholesale rates so that they can sell to you at RRP, still with their margin. Rams Skull Press send books all over Australia and overseas.
If all else fails, contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Robin Hood took from the rich and gave to the poor. It became the stuff of legend, books and movies. But it was a reaction to the taxation tactics of King John and the Sheriff of Nottingham. Robin was just trying to be equitable – to help people who were being treated unfairly and had no power to resist. King John made himself so disliked by his own barons that they revolted and forced him to accept the Magna Carta – which was a guarantee that even kings had to abide by the law, that no-one could lose liberty without fair trial and that property couldn’t be taken away randomly or unjustly.
Some of the principles, distilled from Magna Carta, have become part of national constitutions and common law over the centuries. It is about the right to life, liberty and fairness before the law. It also led eventually to representative government to develop the laws (Chapter 14, Magna Carta) rather than it be by the divine right of kings or the church. Although, in Britain, it took a civil war and the execution of a king to finally establish what has evolved into the current Houses of Parliament and a democratic process.
Governments need to collect revenue to pay for community services. Equity suggests that tax contribution should be pro rata – both in the capacity to pay and in the benefit received from doing business in the community. That there should be no taxation without representation was derived from a Magna Carta principle. We are represented by our politicians – who may be influenced by people expressing their opinions; lobbying.
The bald arithmetic of revenue collection would suggest that our country’s taxation planners should start with a blank sheet – no tax-free concessions – and add up the grand total of personal and corporate tax. Essentially, if income is made in this country, then the correct rate of taxation is to be paid in this country. The lawmakers make the laws. We elect them to parliament. The rationale for many of the tax concessions comes from lobbying decades ago. Are those rationales still applicable? Given Australia’s extensive history of tax avoidance and loophole ridden tax legislation(quote, VI, section 4, 228), do governments have the social capital to take such a dramatic challenge to the people? Justify your tax-free status with the pub test, for starters
Without concessions, incentive payments, lurks and perks, the country might well have much more revenue than its liabilities for services. (Do the sums, yourself.) Only then, should the planners consider if any concessions are appropriate. Perhaps, the historical tax breaks might no longer be deemed worthy – such exemptions as for global corporations, parliamentary allowances, charities, churches, schools, farmers, miners, superannuation interest, negative gearing, all capital gains etc. Surely the question at least needs to be asked and the cases justified, in the current context. Tax minimisation has become its own industry. The more concessions that are given, the more scope there is for inequity and rorting – because those who have the means will engage in orchestrated lobbying. Without the lobbying of vested interests – it is just arithmetic! Don’t complicate it! Remember Robin Hood and Magna Carta. Just because that is the way it has been, doesn’t mean that is the way it must always be.