Sunday, 17 July 2005

Who benefits from globalisation, actually?

Who benefits from globalisation, actually?
Who should thus pay a "solidarity" levy against poverty?

What is this "globalisation" process which has swept the world in recent years? Who benefits from it actually? And, thus, who should be asked to pay a "solidarity levy" against poverty?

For the purposes of this analysis, one assumes that to have a "tax" (direct or indirect) or a levy or an ad valorem tax imposed on an activity or the outcome (benefit) from it does not - after all - consitute "persecution" or "penalty"? Taxation, at its cornerstone, is the expression of "solidarity" between the members of a "society". Very few ideologies, if any, nowadays, argue against the "institution" of taxation, per se!

Having clarified that, let's return to the main issue. An issue which is being deliberated in the EU and other countries, following initial proposals, many months ago, by the Brasilian, French, German and other governments. An issue which was discussed, inter alia, on the basis of a working paper, at the ECOFIN EU Council last month (in the form of a discussion of a potential "solidarity levy" on airline tickets (oligatitory or voluntary)).

The main premise of who should be asked or made to pay such a levy is who benefits, mainly or the most, from globalisation! Or who contributes the lowest from his/her gains from it.

So let's start this think-through exercise (free thinking) from the top:

What is globalisation, actually? Who benefits from globalisation, actually?

Is it:

airline travel of people or
air transport of goods?
Or is it, maybe, freight transportation in general?All this, based on the assumption that globalisation is primarily about more trade of goods, thus more transport of goods. Goods, not people.

But is extra profit from this added trade, due to globalisation, not already being taxed as income tax (corporate or personal)? Why not then use this extra income tax accrued by national tax authorities in order to fund the solidarity fund? Is an extra "levy" needed?

What is more, is the trade of goods the main dimension and beneficiary from globalisation?

Is globalisation more about an enhanced mobility of capital, more than the enhancement of the transportation and trade of goods? Are investors, in stock, bond or FX (currency) markets, or venture capital, a major beneficiary of "glbalisation"? But these gains are also taxed, directly, are they not? In which countries' tax systems do they get taxed?

Maybe the preceeding approach is not the right approach ("algorithm")! Maybe the analysis should be conducted via a different alogorithm.

Is it certain companies and their owners who are accumulating the benefits from globalisation? Which companies, in terms of size, "nationality", sector, etc.?


is it certain workers? Which workers: CEOs, marketeers, logistics managers, HR professionals, sales people, IT experts, temp workers (by choice), part time workers (by choice)? Professional athletes?
is it, maybe, Media? Media professionals?
is it policy makers? Or bureaucrats? After all, they tend to flight a lot from meeting to meeting at national, EU, international bodies' meetings! Should they (or their employers, their governments) be asked to pay this levy?
Which type of benefit, which type of tax?

The main lemma to this riddle may be not who has the "potential" to benefit from something who gets taxed, but who actually makes the profits and thus has to pay the tax (or a levy).

Does anybody really gain from globalisation, per se, or does anybody actually lose, per se, from globalisation?

Does globalisation go hand in hand with free markets and liberalism?

Is globalisation inherently liberal, conservative, socialist, internationalist, progressive or reactionary?

There are conservative, socialist and liberal approaches to taxation philosophy and rationale, are they not?

So which ideological/political premise and fiscal rationale should be utilised in order to decide who should be asked to pay a solidarity levy?

By the way,

is globalisation an "ideology" or a marketing concept?
is "free marketeering" a marketing or a sales concept?
is capitalism in 2005 about monetary or human "capital"?
Finally, is globalisation an idea (or an expactation) or a reality? Are its profits realised or "theoretical"? Monetary or intellectual? Financial or political ("profits")? Personal, corporate or national?

So what is this "globalisation", after all?

Most people think it is about better mobility of capital, of production, of produced products (goods). And about the "mobility" of information, knowledge and news!

Has it, so far, been about the, mobility of workers - mobility by choice, not because of absence of alternatives -and service providers? It doesn't seem so, since most of the immigration which has been taking place in recent years seems to be driven by political and economic "need", not "want"! By conditions, not choice!

But who "wants" globalisation? Who "needs" it? Who "capitalises" on it?

After the fall of the Soviet bloc, "meta-communist" (or pure "socialist", according to some poli sci lingo) intellectualism needed an "enemy", badly! And it found such an enemy in globalisation, actually! It found a "boogie-man" to fight against, to argue against, to keep the key concepts of the (meta)socialist-communist ideology alive, after the collapse of the USSR!

Cuba, Albania and China could not serve as basis for the survival of the communist ideological basics. Communism needed to be "liberated" from a reality which was a) not such a good showcase of its rhetoric/ideology and b) had collapsed, anyway.

But, for its marketing purposes, the "meta-communist" ideological/intellectual "product" needed a name, a brand name! "Anti-globalisation" became such a useful concept, a vehicle, much more useful than anti-liberalism, at a global scale!

To be clear, I am not in any way, directly or directly, suggesting that people and organisations which are sceptical or opposed to globalisation are carriers of "meta-communist" ideological "viruses"! Also, let us not forget that "Pure Socialism" or "Communism" after all, in a democratic society, is a permitted ideology. As long as it uses democratic means (elections) to gain power and is willing to surrender power via democratic means (elections).

But in all fairness, meta-communism could be considered as ones of the major beneficiaries from globalisation. Because if globalisation did not exist, the meta-communist ideals which can be found in some of the anti-globalisation movement would have no such global ground to flurish on, would they! So?

Why not ask or at least suggest that, on a purely voluntary basis (Note: I stress the word: voluntary) some of the ideological proponents of anti-globalisation, contribute some form of solidarity "tax" for the political and mediatic "gains" they have accrued in recent years as a result of globalisation?

Why not even ask all ideological sides and parties, liberal, conservative, social-democratic, etc. to contribute to a levy, via their party members? Because in some form of another, they have "political capital" gains from globalisation or anti-globalisation!

Even better, why not ask the taxpayers of all countries to check a special box in their next tax returns, to contribute to a solidarity levy, in case they wish, on a personal basis? And have each rich country compete, with pride, in a competition on which country in the world will raise more solidarity money against poverty per capita? Why not?

Why even consider a levy on airline passengers? Are they the ones who benefit from globalisation? Under what rationale? Even a voluntary levy, checked at the airport, would not be practical! It would cause chaos in the waiting lines at airports. More congestion!

Air tranportation, in general, is expected to be burdened with more environmentally driven kerozene taxes later this year. Passenger air transportation has been a main victim of 911 and terrorism fear. The air travel of persons, the cheapest it is, the more it encourages mobility of people, or at least tourism of all nationalities and income levels, which helps bring cultures closer together! So why ask them to pay the levy? What is the rationale (fiscal and ideological)?

I re-iterate the view that to be taxed or having a levy imposed on you is not after all "persecution", is it? So it is well inline with democratic and liberal ideals, as long as there is some rationale for this taxation or levy or "contribution"!

Globalisation, what globalisation? That is not really globalisation, is it?

Globalisation? What globalisation? Is what we have in the world today "globalisation"? What we have in the world today, is, I argue, merely a latent yet knee-jerk reaction to the communist ideals and realities which saturated the world for many decades in the 20th century. Ideals and realities which found their core in the USSR and the Soviet bloc, China, Cuba and Albania, but also spread to all political spheres around the rest of the world and led to a bureaucratic or ideological "tsunami" which helped propagate an image of business, entrepreneurship, profit making as "sins". A heavily "taxable" sin! And provided the direct and indirect ideological premise for over-regulation of the mobility and relocation rights of capital, goods, workers and people in general.

I argue that the removal of all these barriers, real, regulatory and intellectual, post 1990, is not globalisation! It is, merely, democratisation and liberation from the ideological spread of communist ideals! Leading to over-taxation, over-regulation, over-suspicion towards entrepreneurship, mobility of any kind, etc.

I argue that entrepreneurship is the most frustrated for of expression, even today! The right for any human, irrespective of race, colour, class, nationality, religion, sex, wealth status, etc. is an important, yet under-evaluated, global human right! Who protects this right, the exercise of which can lead out of poverty not only he/she who exercises it, but his/her employees, as well?

Communism is history. But its propaganda premises are residual.

Of course we have to make poverty history. As well as HIV/AIDS, cancer, war, terrorism, barriers to the freedom to venture, to produce, to create, to trade, to transport and to market goods, both tangible and intellectual, around the world. And the global freedom of entrepreneurial expression!

If there is a saturation of gas emissions, of city car traffic, of trucks in the highways, of bad news in the media, let's think about a "saturation" based levy to be used to fund third world debt.

Bottom line:

Who should pay a solidarity tax? Anybody who wishes to. Solidarity is a freedom and fairness concept.

My main argument in this analysis is to suggest that both liberals and meta-communists should be, in all fairness, the first citizens to contribute. On a purely voluntary basis, that is.

Of course many freedoms produce saturation or pollution. The freedom to travel and to produce does produce fuel emissions, no question about that.

But just because the present level of emissions is causing dangers to our future, that does not mean that we should use this danger as a premise for an obligatory levy on our "road" or "flight" to more freedom from the ideals of communism into a more united world. Union without mobility is no union. No more ghettos! Travel for all must be encouraged, not asked to pay levies! Unless this levy is used to encourage travel by all!

There is no question that we should also, finally, move away from the fixations of the industrial revolution. We do need more environmentally friendly means to exercise our freedoms. Solar energy is one. ITER is another.

The world needs new ideologies.

Lastly, I argue that liberalism, conservatism, socialism, communism and co. are a "cartel" of ideological products of times past. That their consumption expiration dates have long passed.

We need new ideologies, more realistic. There is a great need, I argue, for more, much more, ideology R&D and innovation. And for policy R&D and innovation. This is the knowledge era. It must also become a wisdom era.

Let's make poverty, HIV/AIDS, cancer, diseases in general, pollution, communism, Taylorism, capitalism, liberalism, terrorism, tyranny, dictatorship, etc. History!

Let's keep the only inheritance of the past that we really need in this 21st century: Democracy!

For the rest of the burdens of centuries and decades past, let's all pay "100% inheritance tax", i.e. leave them behind. Love and democracy:These values and way of life we must preserve, around the world. Where can I go pay my Euro 10 solidarity levy for the third world? I do not need to fly to do so, do I?

Why should I pay? Am I a meta-communist or a liberal? Does it matter! I simply wish to contribute to making poverty History! Not in making air travel History!

July17, 2005