Tag Archives: oxfam

A global democracy is the only solution to our economic crisis

We are living through a democratic as well as economic crisis. This crisis has resulted in Oxfam today reporting that the richest 85 people in the world have the same wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion.

This is not a sign of system that just needs tweaking but of one that has gone very very wrong. These failings are a sign of a democratic deficit as much as our economic one.

If global economic policy was set with the will of the majority in mind would we see 3.5 billion people holding the same wealth as 85? Of course not.

These symptoms only exist due to a democratic failing.

We need, now more than ever, a global democracy that can keep up with the times – the global commerce, the international wars, and of course, global inequality.

Our current global governance is a joke – The World Bank, the UN and IMF (to give just 3 examples) have consistently failed. Why? Because the powerful minority have never entrusted true democratic principles into global governance.

The UN Security Council, to give just one example, gives 5 of its nation state members a veto. Can you imagine a national parliament that gave 5 of its 200 or so members a permanent veto?

Ask yourself the question (as part of the global 5% elite who has access to a computer) – do you feel empowered to influence any of these bodies, the UN, the IMF or the World Bank? Assuming not, then imagine how a rural farmer in Thailand or a street cleaner in Kenya must feel.

We are collectively devoid of democracy. Only by building a true democracy we can we begin to show the failings of our current system.

This is why I so strongly believe that we need a world parliament. One citizen, one vote.

Such a radical suggestion has radical consequences – the good people of China would have 1.3 billion votes while the good people of the UK would have around 70 million.

But that’s fine. That’s democracy.

The people who are currently struggling to make ends meet might vote for a huge wave of fossil fuel sponsored energy generation to kick start failing economies but future generations lives at risk through runaway climate change. But that’s the risk of democracy.

Even with these dangers, I find it hard to believe that we could do much worse than we currently are:

  • Billions trapped in poverty
  • Millions killed by the hands of other men
  • Billions going hungry
  • Climate change threatening not just future generations but centuries to come.

With this sort of track record isn’t it time we at least tried to implement a true democracy?

Suggested further reading:

George Monbiot’s book ‘Manifesto for a new world order’.

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Filed under Climate Change, Politics

I am off to drink cider and roll around in some mud for a while – can that be political?

We are not just having a dig at Bono - shame!

That’s right ladies and gents – I am off to deepest darkest Glastonbury to drink cider and roll around in mud for a few days. Glastonbury is without doubt one of the best music festivals in the world (putting aside my gripes about this year’s “headliners”).

Yet, there is no real rest for this particular political blogger. Glastonbury is also unique for the amount of awareness raising it does for a number of causes that are close to my heart including, Oxfam, Wateraid and Greenpeace.

This year however, the festival is going one better. There is a grass roots movement happening organised by Art Uncut which aims to highlight the tax dodging of Bono and U2 (who are headlining the festival…As I said, no comment on the choice of headliners). Art uncut explains Bono’s situation as follows:

Before 2006 U2 Ltd, which deals with U2’s royalties payments, was registered in Ireland, the band’s native country, for tax purposes. At the time, Ireland had an astonishing policy of allowing artists to pay zero tax on royalties. In 2006, quite sensibly one might think, the Irish government decided to cap the income which can be subject to this exemption at 250,000 Euros per annum. Following this change in the law, U2 Ltd decided to move their tax affairs to Holland in order to pay less tax.

As such, they are dedicating a whole weekend of protesting to this situation including a high-profile protest at the gig itself. I look forward to seeing what will unfold. They insist that this is not just “having a dig” at Bono (which is a shame because I think that’s a pretty good reason in itself) but to raise awareness of the ethics of taxation. Christian Aid estimates that poor countries receive $160 billion less because of tax dodging. The Art Uncut movement make a full explanation of the problem here.

Glastonbury will defiantly provide incredible entertainment, from the mighty Gas Light Anthem, to the beautiful Laura Marling to the not so beautiful (but still lovely) Mark Thomas. It will also however, put ideas and causes to the forefront of people’s minds.

Whether or not people remember them after a few glasses of West Country cider though remains to be seen.

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Filed under Music, Politics