Thoughts mid-Atlantic

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Sometime mid-Atlantic and at what feels like late at night (about midnight with more than an hour still to go before touchdown, let alone getting through US immigration) even I have to wonder why I do things like this. There are moments when I have to ask if there isn’t an easier way to make a living. But, I have to admit, they don’t last long.

As I’ve been flying I’ve been reading a new book on the ethics of corporate taxation: new enough that I am still able to comment on the text, and maybe have a little influence. And what I find exciting is that people now want to write such books.

Just as I find it exciting that tomorrow a pile of people, from governments, NGOs, inter-governmental agencies and academia, will meet to discuss how the whole revenue raising process of governments can be made more transparent so that the acceptability of taxation as a legitimate contribution people make to the society that they live in, without their being specific reciprocal obligation from it to them, is enhanced.

Fifteen years ago I could have done neither. That’s not just because I was just a newbie on the tax campaigning block, which was itself just coming into existence. It’s more particularly because such things were rare, if they happened at all, at that time. The awareness of tax as an issue in the way it is appreciated now did not exist then.

It’s easy to be negative about the way the world is. I do my fair share of that on this blog. But I’m pretty darned grateful too. It’s been one hell of an opportunity to work on these issues.

We haven’t solved them. I make no pretence that we have. Far from it: in some areas we’re only just scratching the surface of what still needs to be done if we are to build the inclusive societies that I remain convinced now, as I was when starting out on this work, are the only basis on which we can all live in reasonable harmony with each other on this planet (some way below me at the moment). But at least we’re trying.

And let’s be clear we have made some wins. Indeed, it’s encouraging that every time I see Dan Mitchell of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity in DC he says tax justice has won every battle since 2002, and he’s not won anything since we came on the scene. But I note he’s still there, even if I don’t expect to see him over the next couple of days. That fact alone is a potent reminder that winning battles does not mean the war for tax justice is over any time soon.

And I guess that’s why I’m right here, right now, because I had the good fortune to be able to do something I really wanted to do back then, and am still at it, even if I suspect I’m going to wonder which way up I am tomorrow as the jetlag kicks in.

NB Posted after we landed