Letter from the Chairman, no 8
Stockholm March 20th 2015
Dear members and friends of the World Taxpayers Associations!
In 1972 the first UN conference on the environment was held in Stockholm. The book – “The Limit to Growth” from the “Club of Rome” became an international best seller. On the cover it is called a “report on the imminent global disaster facing mankind”. The outlook was dark – by now we should be running out of resources, more people would be starving, pollution would stop population growth. The GNP per capita in China would be about one percent of that in the US. What has happened? Population has correctly more than doubled. The share of people getting less than a full meal per day has gone from around one third of world population to about 15 %. Oil prices have collapsed because of over production. We have so much food that a lot is wasted. The living standard in many then-poor countries has increased dramatically. We know China and Korea now are economically important. Higher productivity, new methods, and the digital revolution has created a world which then one could not even dream of. Polio is almost eradicated and malaria has decreased rapidly. Should we believe today’s doom preachers more than those 43 years ago? You decide.
As a small side comment: at the UN conference in 1972, as a young man, together with an American friend, I managed to get the just retired US Secretary of the Interior Walter Hickel from Alaska, to ride in my little SAAB car to meet a large group of demonstrators. We headed to the tent camp outside the city on a discontinued airfield. Conference and UN director Maurice Strong came in his limo. The demonstrators were surprised and impressed. We talked with them in a large tent and from a stage. The only demonstration became one we also initiated – to put the pressure on stopping the killing of whales. We got them to take one of their “hippie busses,” and dress it in black like a whale and march through the city! The whaling issue became one of the main ones at the conference… My first attempt at political lobbying!
The economic outlook – a short comment
The Purchase Manager Index, PMI, is a good leading indicator. The index is declining in the US, which is worrisome, even though the growth rate is still projected at 2.5 % – similar to Sweden – and actually Spain, which is showing a good increase from a low level. The projections for China, Germany and most of the EU area are rather stagnant. France has a poor outlook with well below the general EU growth, rather a decline. We know of the Greek problems – but perhaps not of the stunning recovery of Ireland, now the fastest growing economy in the EU at around 4%. While Greece struggles, the Irish show that change is possible – as have countries like the three Baltic States and Iceland. We know of the great difficulties in the Ukraine and of course the Middle East, which quickly could change both the political and economic outlook – and which also makes people in general more careful, rather saving than spending.
News from member organizations
The Estonia Taxpayers Association reports the tax take is at 32.7%, making their tax freedom day on April 30th. In Canada the taxes amount to 43.6%, which is about European average, placing the Tax Freedom Day at June 10th. The Swedes will have to wait until July 16th, as all the taxes amount to 53.4 % of total income, including social security payments. Calculating and publishing the Tax Freedom Day is a good way to gain publicity and make the public aware of all the hidden taxes they may not be aware of. Remember to make the calculation based on an average family’s income – for comparison around the world.
Asia-Pacific Taxpayers Union meeting in Beijing postposed
The Chinese taxpayers are reorganizing so the Chinese Taxpayers Union operates independent of the Beijing Taxpayers group. The Chinese Taxpayers Union will represent associations in 32 different provinces in China.
Bjorn Tarras-Wahlberg, chairman of the Asia-Pacific Taxpayers Union, APTU just visited China and commented:
“This is a great step for the taxpayers movement in China. All of these 32 independent groups are privately financed, they also wish to include an advocacy program for the first time which is remarkable. This also means that the APTU Conference planned for this October will be postponed with the Asian group meeting at the WTA conference 2016.”
Armen Yesoyan of the Armenian NGO of Taxpayers and Businessmen’s Rights Protection ask us to visit their Facebook page to give our support in the recognition of the attempted genocide on the Armenian people in 1915. The 100 year anniversary is given special recognition April 24th. Here is the link to their Facebook page:
The Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance, invites all to attend the 3rd Annual Friedman Conference, organised by the Australian Libertarian Society and the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance.
The Conference will have over 200 attendees, not just from Australia. The conference will be held in Sydney from May 2-3, and you can find further details at https://www.taxpayers.org.au/events/friedmanconference2015.
In Finland leading up to a national election in April the Taxpayers Association of Finland last week had a hearing with the four leading candidates for Prime Minister and with representatives of the three major parties. The organization has a unique and strong standing in Finland with 238,000 members – more than 10 % of Finnish families! Their magazine, Taloustaito, is also Finland’s largest circulation magazine on business and finance.
The German Taxpayers Association has just published a 27-page booklet called “Frühjahrsputz” or “Spring Cleaning” with interesting graphics and specifics showing how the State can save some 19.6 billion €. You will find it under www.steuerzahler.de.
In the United Kingdom the Tax Payers’ Alliance has published a detailed plan on how to balance the national budget. They call for honesty in the ongoing election campaign and challenge the parties to match the savings in their spending plan with their own. Here you can get a summary: http://www.taxpayersalliance.com/taxpayers_alliance_publish_the_spending_plan
Members section of the WTA Web Page Released
We are proud to release the members section of our new website this week. We plan to have this section as a real platform for know-how and communication for all the members. The content will range from links to the home pages of other organizations, know-how on fundraising and marketing, international tax facts and reports and even photos from conferences.
We will have a very simple login at the start, but from around June 1st, it will be open to members only with individual passwords.
To log in now just use as both user and password: wta2015
And please post your organization’s activity on the member’s blog, which is only accessible with Members Access. To post your news on the members section, please go here:
Here the password is just: wta
The section is far from finished – and should always be active, growing and changing. Keep checking it to see what other groups are up to!
Seminars and training for students
You might have in your network ambitious university age students, who might benefit from an international training and educational experience. We would recommend the Atlas Leadership Academy, where it also is possible to apply for grants and scholarships. You can find the link to their program here: http://www.atlasnetwork.org/academy
There are other institutions and conferences. At the last WTA Conference in Vancouver, a group of 12 students were sponsored by Canadian industry to participate. You might keep this in mind as your network grows – we can help you with other suggestions and contacts as well.
Free Market Road Show 2015
The Austrian Economic Center, which also organizes the European Resource Bank’ s meetings, is spearheading a journey to 35 cities in six weeks, across Europe and Caucasus to carry the message of freedom and sound economy. Check their web site www.freemarket-rs.com and see if you can join in a city near you! The start is April 13th . The theme is “How to create growth” and the list of speakers is impressive!
I think many will want to read Bill Browder’s book Red Notice – A real-life political thriller about an American financier in the Wild East of Russia, the murder of his principled young tax attorney, and his dangerous mission to expose the Kremlin’s corruption. The reviews are 5-star and the story true and shocking.
PS – Do log in to your members section in www.worldtaxpayers.org – just write wta2015 as both user and password!
Chairman World Taxpayers Associations
Phone+ 46 708 15 04 95