Members Highlights

Here is where members update one another with their latest news and campaigns.

The Movie Poverty, Inc. is now on Netflix!

Section: Members Highlights / WTA Blog
17 June 2016

The mutli-award winning documentary about how international development and aid is affecting third-world nations, Poverty, Inc., is now available on Netflix (as well as other platforms too – see here)!

Check out the trailer:

“I see multiple colonial governors,” says Ghanaian software entrepreneur Herman Chinery-Hesse of the international development establishment in Africa. “We are held captive by the donor community.”

The West has positioned itself as the protagonist of development, giving rise to a vast multi-billion dollar poverty industry — the business of doing good has never been better.

Yet the results have been mixed, in some cases even catastrophic, and leaders in the developing world are growing increasingly vocal in calling for change.

Drawing from over 200 interviews filmed in 20 countries, Poverty, Inc. unearths an uncomfortable side of charity we can no longer ignore.

From TOMs Shoes to international adoptions, from solar panels to U.S. agricultural subsidies, the film challenges each of us to ask the tough question: Could I be part of the problem?



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Property Rights Alliance Launch New Video

Section: Members Highlights / WTA Blog
3 June 2016 | Property Rights Alliance / USA


The Property Rights Alliance (PRA), run by Lorenzo Montanari, has launched a new video to contrast the World Health Organization’s World No Tobacco Day on May 31st. The World Health Organization advocates for plain packaging or removing logos, colors, brands, and trademarks from containers.  PRA recognizes this as an attack on intellectual property rights which are fundamental to a free economy.


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11 European Countries Object to Ireland’s Plan for Health Warnings on Alcohol Products

Section: Members Highlights / WTA Blog
3 June 2016 | Hibernian Forum / Ireland


The government going down the slippery slope in Ireland…

Eleven European countries have raised objections at EU level about Ireland’s plans for health warnings on alcohol products.

Under the Public Health Alcohol Bill, all alcoholic drinks will carry warnings as well as total alcohol and calorie content.

The legislation is currently at second stage in the Seanad where it was first introduced on Dec 17, 2015.


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Tobacco Monitoring First Step To Increased Sin Industry Scrutiny

Section: Members Highlights / WTA Blog
27 May 2016 | Hibernian Forum / Ireland


By Yaël Ossowski

Huffington Post – Business Canada – The Blog

Using the image of a puppet pulled by strings from above by a mysterious figure, the World Health Organization is pulling out all the stops in its effort to turn public opinion against the tobacco industry.

The oft-used trope is a popular one in modern conspiracy theories, that of the puppet master behind the scenes controlling world affairs — or in this case, popular opinion.

This image is part of the WHO campaign to launch “monitoring centres” in cities across the world, tasked with unmasking the tactics of the tobacco industry and its attempts to “interfere” with public health policy.

“These new units are the watchtowers of the public health movement, helping us to see the tobacco-control landscape in greater detail,” said Dr. Vera da Costa e Silva, the head of the secretariat of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

She announced the new monitoring centres in Rio de Janeiro to much pomp and circumstance at the end of March, foreshadowing the opening of dozens of more in the coming months and those that will focus on much more than just the tobacco industry.

“They will communicate with professionals at the national level, but they also have an international function in communicating with one another to create a global tapestry describing the behaviour of the tobacco industry across continents,” she proclaimed.

The Brazilian Observatory at Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (FIOCRUZ), the first of these centres, has already set its sights on the tobacco industry in the powerful developing country.

“The tobacco industry requires constant monitoring of its power and restrictive legal treatment because it brings no social or economic benefit to the country,” said Silvana Turci, a researcher at the observatory.

But the tobacco industry is not the only target.

Indeed, the scope of the first monitoring centre’s mission is being finely tuned in order to focus on the sugar and fat industries as well.

“It will also serve as a model to monitor the actions of other industries, such as processed food, alcoholic and soft drinks, considering that there are undeniable similarities between the strategies used by all these companies in order to undermine public policies,” states the observatory’s website.

The World Health Organization is ensuring this remains a top priority in its aim to monitor international public health.

“We must understand the ways in which the industry does this. How does it operate — what is its strategy and what are its tactics? How far is it willing to go? And does it operate different approaches in different parts of the world?” said Dr. da Costa e Silva.

Thus far, the monitoring centres aim to create “wiki” systems in order to track and disseminate the information gathered from their campaigns. An example was put together by the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, calling attention to the individuals and institutions “promoting a pro-tobacco agenda.”

Such efforts are being funded in order to implement the WHO Framework Convention of Tobacco Control, implemented by the Conference of the Parties held in Moscow in October 2014. It was made up of representatives from practically every country in the world, and remains closed only to participating parties and select governmental and non-governmental organizations.

The next Conference of the Parties is set to take place in New Delhi India in November 2016, where the next level of global tobacco regulation is due to be agreed upon.

The goal of the conference is to advance the “work of the WHO FCTC, thereby strengthening the global battle against the devastating consequences of tobacco use,” according to the website.

Actions taken within this forum are not subject to democratic appraisal and have generally bypassed national legislatures. At present there is no mechanism or body by which to challenge the outcomes of the Conference of the Parties’ agreement. That may be a troubling trend for democracy and the rule of law.

In the meantime, the World Health Organization will continue investing in monitoring centres to counteract the “darkness” of sin industries such as tobacco, sugar, alcohol and processed foods.

“Brazil’s observatory exists to help us better understand what the industry is doing,” added Dr. da Costa e Silva. “It’s an important link in our new global chain, and helps us see into areas that were previously covered by darkness, the darkness that the tobacco industry prefers and embraces.”

Yaël Ossowski is a Canadian journalist living in Vienna, Austria. He is currently a program director for Students For Liberty.

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Happy Tax Freedom Day New Zealand!

Section: Members Highlights / WTA Blog
27 May 2016 | Hibernian Forum / Ireland


Today is 2016 “Tax Freedom Day”. At 11:12am this morning the average New Zealanders will stop working for the government and for the first time this year begin working for themselves.

Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams, says:

“Tax Freedom Day is based on OECD figures showing that general government total outlays are now equivalent to 40.0% of the economy. That means that up until today Kiwis have effectively been working for the Government.”

“On behalf of the thousands of Kiwis who are members and supporters of the Taxpayers’ Union, we would like to wish every New Zealander a Happy Tax Freedom Day.”

New Zealand’s 2016 Tax Freedom Day is 15 days later than Australia, three days later than Canada, and later than all the years Helen Clark was Prime Minister.

More information about Tax Freedom Day is available at

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Book Recommendation: Catching Capital: The Ethics of Tax Competition by Peter Dietsch

Section: Members Highlights / WTA Blog
27 May 2016 | Hibernian Forum / Ireland


Rich people stash away trillions of dollars in tax havens like Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, or Singapore. Multinational corporations shift their profits to low-tax jurisdictions like Ireland or Panama to avoid paying tax. Recent stories in the media about Apple, Google, Starbucks, and Fiat are just the tip of the iceberg. There is hardly any multinational today that respects not just the letter but also the spirit of tax laws. All this becomes possible due to tax competition, with countries strategically designing fiscal policy to attract capital from abroad. The loopholes in national tax regimes that tax competition generates and exploits draw into question political economic life as we presently know it. They undermine the fiscal autonomy of political communities and contribute to rising inequalities in income and wealth.

Building on a careful analysis of the ethical challenges raised by a world of tax competition, this book puts forward a normative and institutional framework to regulate the practice. In short, individuals and corporations should pay tax in the jurisdictions of which they are members, where this membership can come in degrees. Moreover, the strategic tax setting of states should be limited in important ways. An International Tax Organisation (ITO) should be created to enforce the principles of tax justice.

The author defends this call for reform against two important objections. First, Dietsch refutes the suggestion that regulating tax competition is inefficient. Second, he argues that regulation of this sort, rather than representing a constraint on national sovereignty, in fact turns out to be a requirement of sovereignty in a global economy. The book closes with a series of reflections on the obligations that the beneficiaries of tax competition have towards the losers both prior to any institutional reform as well as in its aftermath.

Find it on

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