It’s been 10 years since the Financial Crash of 2008 took place; an incident of such seismic proportions, that it rocked the global financial system down to the core. 10 years on, the common person is still suffering the aftermath through failed austerity programmes, massive cuts to public spending, wage stagnation and rising poverty levels. Europe is at a crisis and this is because of the neoliberal orthodoxy and failed perception that deregulation will promote the failed notion of ‘trickle-down Reaganomics.’
The recent bombshell exposé of the Panama/Paradise Papers have only gone on to affirm that the mega-rich and wealthy corporations and individuals cannot be trusted to regulate themselves. The grotesque levels of wealth funnelling and tax avoidance is not only immoral, but also enormously damaging to global economies. Whilst calls for regulation from Socialist parties are often labelled as ‘anti-business’ and ‘anti-aspiration’ – this is incredibly untrue. The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation & Development) and the International Monetary Fund have also stressed that equality in society has a direct correlation on efficiency. The PES parties are not against wealth creation and company profits, but rather they believe that Governments should play their part and work closely with businesses to create a working order where those who work the hardest to allow these businesses to thrive, are fairly compensated for their services.
For too long, businesses have felt completely at ease with exploiting the labour force through low pay, zero-hour contracts, unpaid internships and other schemes which under the guise of providing ‘experience and opportunity’ exploit the workers. Furthermore, these companies find it completely morally acceptable to funnel those profits out of the countries they earn them in; to Tax-havens around the world, purely to minimise their tax contributions.
We are very fortunate to be seeing a change in the political tide; we’ve seen a progressive anti-austerity government get elected in Portugal with Antonio Costa, we’ve also seen Pedro Sanchez and the Spanish Socialists recently take government; and in the UK, Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party are knocking on the footsteps of Downing Street … The time is perfect for S&D parties to create a joint European new economic order for the Ages. One which is fit for purpose in the new world, where we see new economic challenges emerging through digital economies and crypto-currencies. What we really need now, is the introduction of Europe-wide Public share registers so that Tax authorities across Europe can hold to account those who misuse the system.
The way we change European Policy and tackle tax-avoidance head-on internationally, is to lead by example. We can’t, and will not, wait for others. We must tell the world “look at us and follow our lead.” This has gone on for too long, and as a result of waiting for someone else to start the charge; European states have potentially lost billions, and that will continue until the issue is addressed!
And not every business is an evil, tax-dodging and labour-exploiting leech. However, the actions of the immoral few severely harm public perceptions of all businesses. The ones who play by the rules and pay their fair share are being hit the hardest, and we must break the cycle of rewarding malpractice; whether that be tax evasion or bankers’ bonuses. Only then can we win back the public’s trust!