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Mamas and the Panama Papers

11/04/2016 13:47 | Updated 11 April 2016

So there we have it. Some men are more equal than others - in exposure to tax liability, at least. The Panama Papers have revealed just how deviously and unethically many wealthy individuals protect their assets, reduce their exposure to tax, and pay as little into or back to their communities as they can get away with.

Turns out, for these people, you must fraudulate* to accumulate. The rules do not apply to them. Tax, like lunch, is for wimps.

Well, plenty of people are unhappy about it. And rightly so. One of the issues I explore in my book, Liberating Motherhood, is universal basic income. With all the talk of the past week of one rule for the 1% and another for the rest of us, we need to start to talk about social justice, within the modern context of increasing automation and to reflect the valuable - yet unpaid - work of home, family and community.

Women overwhelmingly perform the unwaged labour (which recent ONS figures show is substantial in terms of financial worth), upon which our society freeloads. Well, time's up. The conversation about basic income must surely now be heard, and the measure be given serious attention by our politicians.

We could start by thinking about:

  • Productivity, recently, not least after the ONS's figures that "the total value of unpaid work in UK homes was estimated to be £1.019 trillion in 2014 ... That is the equivalent of 56.1% of the UK's national output, as measured by GDP", as reported by the BBC. Yet, what we do is seen by many to be worthless. We are undeserving of support or fair taxation policies. Because the only productivity which matters is 'taxable productivity'. Money makes the world go round. Or gets shifted offshore, all quiet, like. Because if you're loaded, you don't need to worry yourself about paying your fair share of tax, right?
  • Contributions to society, and how they are measured. For example, the work of parents (mothers, predominantly) in caring for their families is important work. We are raising human beings, we are investing in our families and our society. Yet, politics and economics still focuses on 'economic contribution' and the payment of tax. Unless you're minted and have a nice deal out in Panama, obviously. Because when you're wealthy and above the rules, you've contributed enough, right? Like spawning David Cameron #Piggate #ResignCameron #CurseDavidCameron.
  • Fairness. Is it fair that a family with a single earner, with a parent providing the childcare, is taxed as a collection of individuals, with no heed paid to the work of the parent at home? Is it fair that a woman has no income of her own - no safety net - because her husband earns just over the tax bracket? Is it fair that the state invests in and promotes the model of dual earners - to the extent of subsidising childcare for families earning significantly more than the single earner? When it comes to 'hard earned taxes' and all the rest, surely we need to be setting our sights on the fair taxation of the wealthy and of corporations (remember Starbucks and Amazon?), and cutting loving, caring, families, some bleeding slack.
  • Labour. Not the political party, but the graft. Work is seen as 'out there', '9 to 5' and 'for a wage'. We work for the boss, to be exploited, for - good old fashioned capitalist accumulation warning - wealth to be accumulated by the 1% to hide away offshore while the workers pay their taxes like good little economic units. Or we lose our job through automation to a robot, to create wealth by the 1% who hide it away offshore while we are forced to compete for fewer jobs, for lesser pay, in insecure working conditions. And we pay our taxes, like the good little proletariat that we are. Or we are demonised for being scroungers, or not contributing, or not being productive, or not looking hard enough for work (despite fewer jobs - see automation, above) or caring for our families.

And it all comes down to this: the time has arrived for subsistence incomes, redistribution of labour, redistribution of wealth, and social responsibility. #InvestInPeopleNotPanama #ValueCare #BasicIncome.

Because, otherwise, we are penalising care, taxing workers, imposing 'austerity' on our communities, while the 1% continue to safeguard their wealth, reduce their contributions, and laugh all the way to the beach.

*to steal, screw over, use, or lie to someone. Any fraudulent act against another.

Liberating Motherhood, Birthing the Purplestockings Movement will be published in September by Womancraft Publishing.

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