I wonder….

The 2011 research workshop co-organised by the Association for Accountancy & Business Affairs and the Tax Justice Network will explore connections between debt, tax justice and human rights. The themes that might be explored within this remit are wide, potentially including issues such as how debt impacts on public finances; how tax avoidance infringes human rights; why tax revenues are more sustainable as a source of public finance than debt; and how tax system design can contribute to delivery of tangible human rights.

Other related themes are likely to emerge as the workshop programme develops.

The aim of this workshop is to bring together researchers, academics, journalists, policy staff of civil society organisations, consultants and professionals, elected politicians and/or their researchers, and government or international organisation officials to explore issues on these and related themes. The purpose of the workshop is to facilitate research through open-minded debate and discussion, and to generate ideas and proposals to inform and shape the political initiatives and campaigns already under way.

They\’ve a call for papers.

D\’ye think my as yet unwritten paper \”The other name for tax avoidance is \”obeying the law\”\” has a chance of being accepted?

Offers of papers are especially welcome and early submission is encouraged since applicants have exceeded available spaces in recent years. Any submissions will be actively considered by the organising committee which comprises:

• John Christensen (Tax Justice Network)

• Jo Marie Griesgraber (New Rules for Global Finance)

• Prem Sikka (Essex University)

• Richard Murphy (Tax Research LLP)

• Ronen Palan (Birmingham University)

• Sol Picciotto (Lancaster University)

No, I didn\’t think so either. They don\’t intend for discussion to be that open…..

15 thoughts on “I wonder….”

  1. “..how tax avoidance infringes human rights..”
    I’ve a better idea: ” How the State and its Employees infringe Human Rights, Every single day, in every single Country”. What a bunch of Fascist C**ts.

  2. “how tax avoidance infringes human rights”

    ‘Human rights’ are a fiction! Or a metaphor. In any event, ‘rights’ don’t exist outside of a particular legal system. Rights-talk is often an attempt to shut down discussion, and it is no substitute for the ordinary moral language of ‘ought’, ‘should’, ‘duty’, ‘concern’, etc, etc

  3. “Human rights” is tosh: Martin Luther King and company were on far firmer ground when they spoke of “civil rights”. Your rights are a consequence of the society of which you are part – they do not flow from your being human.

  4. dearieme: thank you!

    ukliberty: of course, the law is not a fiction(!); but ‘rights’ embedded in a legal system are simply legal rights, not “human” rights (which do not exist!) A right is a claim or entitlement held against everyone else in that society’s legal system. Any use of the term outside of that context is purely metaphorical!!!

    Hence, for example, “animal rights”…. However, animals don’t have any legal rights; so any talk of ‘animal rights’ would be better phrased in terms of our moral concern for their interests or our duties to animals (eg to kill them humanely).

    And rights-talk, here as elsewhere, simply confuses the moral and the legal spheres.

    So let’s just use ordinary moral language when talking about moral matters, rather than the spurious, pseudo-legal language of “rights”.

  5. AFAIK, I don’t get confused when talking about “human rights”, “legal rights”, “natural rights”, “inalienable rights”, etc, all of which have their own meanings given to them by philosophers and suchlike but essentially flowing from the basic principle that a person shouldn’t be interfered with unless the interference can be justified, unjust interferences being prevented and punished, some kind of legal remedy made available.

    Of course people don’t have “rights” in the sense of having an epidermis or skeleton (is that what you mean by them being a “fiction”?). But it seems to me we ought to act as if they do.

    pseudo-legal language of “rights”.

    Rights are hardly “pseudo-legal”, they are embedded in legal systems the world over and have been for centuries. I’m not sure why you find them confusing, it’s all pretty standard stuff.

  6. Oh Dear! QAre human rights a fiction? Next you would be telling us that the Jewish holocaust is a fiction because millions were lawfully murdered. Human rights belong to a much higher debate about morality, ethics and brotherhood of man, but I guess there is no point in arguing with some dimwits on this page. Do have a look at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which has been signed by all UN members as this provides a good basis for understanding the issues.

    I did not know about the conference. so thanks for publicising it Tim.

  7. Just to stick my oar in,

    A “right” is an agreed definition of the extent of human agency, from which a legal system naturally follows.

    Ayyy thenk yew.

    Anyhoo, since the TJN and their ilk do not believe in individual agency, they do not by definition believe in rights.

    And, oh my, the UN Declaration. What a jolly thing that is. My favourite is…

    Everyone has the right to education… Elementary education shall be compulsory.

    In which we find that apparently a “right” is a thing you can be forced to do under threat of punishment. lol

  8. “the Jewish holocaust is a fiction because millions were lawfully murdered.”

    An interesting point. I’ve not seen much analysis of the legal issues of the Nazi atrocities. I do know they were sticklers for paperwork and rules (the banality of evil, etc.) but they were very careful to cover their tracks too – definitely mens rea there.

    At Nuremburg the Nazis argued that they were the legally constituted government and had the right to do what they did. Didn’t stop the victor’s justice being imposed, of course (oh the irony of the Soviets being involved in a justice system).

  9. ukliberty: A legal right is an entitlement or claim embodied in a legal system. If you extend the use of the term ‘right’ beyond that, you are using the term metaphorically. In other words, outside of a legal system, rights-talk is a type of moral language that does not refer to anything, so why not use ordinary moral language? My concern is that it is not a helpful form of moral language because it leads to confusion between law and morality. The law might grant us the right to cull (say) blind redheads; but that would not make it morally acceptable to do so. Similarly, the consensus might be that we have a human ‘right’ to free shoes, and our government might give us the legal right to free shoes; but the moral and legal spheres remain separate. We can still argue whether universal shoe distribution is morally right or wrong, even though the law has been enacted and the legal right exists.

    DK: Oh dear, Godwin’s Law and the reductio ad Hitlerum! For all I know, the victims of the Holocaust may have been legally killed in terms of the Nazi legal code; but that would never, ever, make it morally right. Morality and law are separate spheres – which is why we can talk about morally good and morally bad laws.

    When I say human rights are a fiction, I ‘m not saying that morality does not exist. What I’m saying is that rights-talk (outside of a legal system) is a metaphorical, cumbersome and unhelpful form of moral language. Consider (a) ‘Cannibalism is morally wrong’ and (b) ‘We all have a human right not to be cannibalised’. (b) is confusing legal with moral terminology and refers to an entity that simply doesn’t exist. (a) is clear and concise. What not to like??

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