Oxfam is a British registered charity – a little like a 501c3 company here. So, in choosing a political color for them, I am not using the American choice of colors, where red represents Republicans. In Britain, the color red is clearly associated with one type of political position – left-wing socialism.
Oxfam has a name and a reputation in Britain. Their reputation is that of looking after the poor. In the past, they have done a considerable amount of good. At the time of the 1984 famine in Ethiopia, whatever their faults may have been, Oxfam were certainly instrumental in persuading a lot of individual British people to donate large sums of money for relief efforts. That is what charitable trusts are supposed to do. But in recent years, Oxfam have developed a political ideology which is actually at odds with its former reputation for encouraging public acts of kindness. It has now become a campaigner for socialist political action – the sort of action, paradoxically, which harms and discourages public donations, and hurts the very third-world economies, which Oxfam claims to support. It should also be noted that I have had cause to criticize Oxfam's policies before – most notably their anti-semitic policies.
Let’s analyze, for example, their recent campaign, to try to seek a so-called “Tax Dodgers’ Bill”.
We recently revealed that, unless things change, the richest 1% will own more than the rest of the world combined – by 2016. If we're going to Even It Up, we've got to make some changes. Big changes.
This statement has been made with the assumption that it is wrong for 1% to own more than the other 99%. But this is by no means certain. If that 1% own what they have, because they have earned it, then there is nothing immoral with that position. And this would appear to be the assumption of Oxfam, because their next statement is:
And it starts with tax.
If “it starts with tax”, then we must be referring to sums that have been earned. So there is an assumption behind the statement that tax is, of necessity, a good thing.
But what is tax for? Tax is to raise revenue for a central government. And what is that central government to do with that revenue? It is to protect its citizens and administer justice. There is nothing else mandated for a central government to do. Therefore, there is no reason for a tax to be levied, if it is designed to raise more than what us required for defense or the administration of justice – whatever citizens perceive those values to be.
Together we can end corporate tax dodging
Right now, big companies can dodge billions in taxes. Meanwhile, the world's poorest countries lose out on funds that could pay for vital services like education and healthcare – crucial in tackling extreme poverty. We miss out on billions right here in the UK too.
The first sentence of this last section uses the word “dodge” emotively. Oxfam, itself, admits that what is happening is not illegal. Therefore, taxes cannot be said to have been “dodged”. What has happened is that companies have ensured that they are not overpaying tax. This would seem to me to be good stewardship; yet Oxfam assumes that this is an immoral act.
Then Oxfam comments “the world’s poorest countries lose out on funds that could pay for vital services like education and healthcare”. There are at least three wrong assumptions in this sentence. First, there is the assumption that education and healthcare should be paid for by the Government. As neither of these services constitutes defense or justice, there is, in fact, no such mandate. Indeed, the Bible mandates that education should be the preserve of the parent, not the government. As for healthcare, it has to be noted that this is a service which must be financed. Someone has to pay for the hospitals. But the assumption that the bill should be presented to the taxpayer is false. There are other ways for both these services to be financed. Second, it is assumed that poor countries will also pay for these services from central government. But, again, this is not the case. Indeed, it is more effective if these services are directly resourced by those giving aid to such peoples. There was a time when organizations like Oxfam would be happy to pay for education. Now, they seem to see their role as being that of campaigners for higher taxes, rather than facilitators of service. Third, there is an implication that the funds for poor countries can come only from taxes. This is not the case, and, in fact, it can be demonstrated that this is the least reliable and least satisfactory source. A better source of finance for poor companies actually comes directly from many of these large companies, and the rich people who operate them, many of whom have philanthropic tendencies.
With a general election coming up, there's an opportunity to create real change. That's why we've joined a coalition of organisations calling on all UK political parties to introduce a Tax Dodging Bill within 100 days of the election that:
- Makes it harder for big companies to dodge UK taxes and ensure they're not getting unfair tax breaks
- Ensures UK tax rules don't encourage big companies to avoid tax in developing countries
- Makes the UK tax regime more transparent and tougher on tax dodging
Let's end corporate tax dodging.
With my criticisms above, I would note that, if any UK political party were actually to adopt Oxfam’s ideas presented here, that would automatically disqualify them from receiving my vote in the General Election.
To paraphrase one of Oxfam’s former slogans; let’s make socialism history.