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  • Writer's pictureThe YSI

Exploring Radical Thinking

A month on from the #Panamapapers and with the SNP Westminster Group releasing its alternative Queen’s Speech, SNP Youth’s Daniel McBride thinks about how we, as a Youth group and a party, can explore radical thinking.

On Friday 8thApril 2016, SNP Youth published an articleby the NEC Convenor, Rhiannon Spear, calling for radical thinking in how we reform the structures of our society after the revelations of the Panama Papers; focusing on promoting wealth redistribution, better welfare and how we, as a society, provide better state help to our needy and the vulnerable.

We all know the horrific impacts of the Tory Government’s obsession with ideological austerity from 400% increase in foodbank use since the Tories entered Government in 2010 through to thousands losing their lives from cruel benefit sanctions; from lower tax revenue caused by more and more people entering low paying work through to tax breaks for the wealthy. It has already become increasingly clear that governing for the many is not the approach taken by Tory Government.

'Right now, with the flat currency that is the Pound, every time a bank approves a loan or mortgage; it creates money out of thin air. This results in a debt-based currency'

The question must be asked how long are prepared to stay by, watching as the Tories dismantling the state and dividing society? I say no more.

By putting our heads together, we can come up with policies to make our society a better place for our people; a place of dignity; a place of compassion towards our fellow humans. So how do we go about this? Well, I want to get the discussion started with article. The ideas I hope, by reading this, others will be inspired to put on their radical thinking caps and think! Think of policies that we, as the youth wing of the third largest political party in the UK, can make into party policy. Now let’s begin!

Rhiannon’s article spoke of fallacy of trickledown economics; about how is just doesn’t work. The West has been implementing trickledown and free market policies since era of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan; and where has the gotten us? Wages have stagnated, private and national debt has risen, the financial and stock markets deregulated resulting in the 2008 financial crash spawning the recession that the UK still hasn’t recovered from.

'In order for us to make our society a fairer place, we should design a tax system that forbids tax evasion as well as some elements of tax avoidance'

Instead, what we need is what Robert Reich, former US Secretary of Labor, calls Middle Out economics. A framework which supports working and middle class individuals, after all these are the people who spend the highest proportion of their income, they are the backbone of every economy in the world! So how do we support them? One way we can do this is by increasing the amount of expendable income they have, income that isn’t used up on rent or mortgage payments or on food and utilities; extra income that will help improve their standard of living. If we can do that, then the rest of society as well as the economy will reap the benefits of increased high-street spending; increasing aggregate demand resulting in a bigger need for companies to hire to cope with the increased demand.

Now, I’m not talking about theNLW: the new minimum wage that George Osborne calls a living wage. I’m talking about a true living wage; the one the Living Wage Foundation actively campaigns for. However, it is important to remember that increasing people’s wages isn’t enough. More would need to be done so we can achieve radical wealth redistribution.

The other thing we need to look at is how money is created. Right now, with the flat currency that is the Pound, every time a bank approves a loan or mortgage; it creates money out of thin air. This results in a debt-based currency, a debt-based economy even – and the only people who benefit from this are the bankers. This brings me to a campaign called Positive Money, which seeks reform the way money is created and the way it works for society.

Another way, which is at the moment, being talked about a lot is a Universal Basic Income. I was glad that a motion for UBI was passed at the SNP’s Spring Conference however, it only commits the party to look at the trial that is going to start in Finland. As the youth wing of the SNP, we should take it upon ourselves to make sure that UBI doesn’t get pushed to the back of the minds of the party or the leadership.

Now, in order for us to make our society a fairer place, we should design a tax system that forbids tax evasion as well as some elements of tax avoidance. Not to get the two confused, tax evasion can be defined as “an illegal practice where a person, organization or corporation intentionally avoids paying his/her/its true tax liability” whereas tax avoidance is “the use of legal methods to modify an individual's financial situation in order to lower the amount of income tax owed.” An example of tax evasion would be an individual hiding part of their income by just not declaring it whereas an example of tax avoidance is using Gift Aid to increase the band at which the lower rate of tax is paid however this brings me to tax havens.

Tax havens work by allowing individuals registering wealth and assets abroad, often under a different name so it can’t be traced back; resulting in the individual not having to pay as much tax or even no tax at all. This sort of tax avoidance should be made illegal as it cheats the regular, law-abiding taxpayers.

Much of the tax havens in the world are UK administered, meaning the UK has the power to stop this yet each consecutive UK Government refuses to do so. Even as far as David Cameron trying to weaken EU efforts for more transparency of the beneficiaries of offshore trusts in tax havens as well as HMRC’s reluctance to prosecute known tax evaders; does HSBC come to mind anyone?

I hope this will help people start thinking radically about what we can do to reform the structures of our society. Get involved with the SNP Youth association in your region, start talking about what policies we can bring forward into the SNP as a whole and together we can be the start of change!

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