Monday, August 26, 2013

Point Cook

There is a carpet of yellow flowers, and we walk a trodden path between them. It reminds me of home.

I can feel your hand, warm in mine, although the day is cool.

I have wanted to touch you, more than anything else I have wanted in this life, although that isn't much. I am a man of simple tastes, simple desires. I have only ever wanted to be free, yet no one is chaining me but myself, the lurching pedestrian jailor of myself.

When I would dance, I was aware of my feet. I never seemed to be able to forget that I was in a room shuffling my feet, no matter what I did, there they were, and I couldn't forget it. I could never let go.

In the distance I think I see birds. What else could it be there in the sky? And I realise, this is what our knowledge of the world is and always has been: just what we expect to see, everything moulded into the pattern we feel is there, has to be there.

***

I am a man adrift, like a plastic bottle on a tidal ebb. You say to me, you have arms, you could swim to shore, but I cannot feel them, the sea is cold and brutal.


But if I had arms, I would not be drowning.

***

I feel a chill. I have to go. I don't know whether I have to go or just don't want to stay.

If I was dead, and you heard about it, you'd have a moment's brief regret and move on. I am sad I never amounted to anything. I wish I could have captured joy and put it in a bottle, but there was not enough joy to colour my days. It's no one's fault but my own.

You wouldn't even miss me. I'd be a name, a vaguely remembered face, perhaps you would smile if you could remember a good thing about me.

Perhaps there is no good thing about me. I fabricate the good because I cannot feel it inside. I realise, life becomes a spiral when you do not love yourself. You look for others to fill you with the love you cannot feel and the more you want, the less you seem to be able to find, and you find less and less to love in yourself and seriously, how can you expect others to think you are anything but what you are?

***

Perhaps though -- let me leave you with this thought -- perhaps one day you will find yourself in a dusty street in a southern French town, and you will buy yourself a peach. And the juice will overflow from the first bite, dripping onto your chin, more juice than you can swallow, running in rivers from your mouth. And you will think, he would have really enjoyed this.

It will never happen. You have no interest in visiting the south of France any more. You have so many reasons not to. But if you do happen to, yes, yes I would have really enjoyed it.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Taxing business

Why do rightwingers claim that you need to cut corporation tax to create jobs?

The model they are appealing to, which is entirely incorrect, is that a corporation is like a person. If you have your tax cut, your income is higher, you can spend more on stuff, and that creates jobs. Right?

Yes, this is broadly true for people (we are ignoring that you might save the extra money because savings rates do not necessarily increase when taxes are cut). More money, more demand for stuff. Simples.

But it's not true of corporations. Their revenue is their income, but corporation tax does not tax revenue. And they do not spend the extra money on jobs. Jobs are not something a company makes. They are things that are created when a company seeks to capture surplus demand in the economy. When a company has more revenue, it does not automatically say "hmmm, better spend that money on increasing capacity". It generally says "hmmm, better give more money to our shareholders".

Because in fact companies are not being held back by not having enough money to invest. Across the industrialised world, companies are sitting on cash reserves, buying back stock and increasing dividends. They have all the money they need to increase capacity and "create jobs". What they do not have is demand for what they make or do.

It's not even really worth going into a discussion whether lower corporation tax rates correlate with lower unemployment (but they don't) or whether there's any correspondence with lower tax rates and business investment (but there isn't).

Of course there are marginal cases where increasing a company's profits a little may be the difference between its keeping or cutting a person. But businesses in which this is true are not really viable in any case.

***

Connected with that last idea, I wanted to talk briefly about minimum wage, and the notion that if you paid a living wage as minimum wage, businesses would cut jobs. Here's the thing. Yes, it's probably true that some businesses would cut staff to the bare minimum if they had to pay them well, and some businesses would cease trading. But the latter are the businesses we want to cease trading. If they are so marginal that they cannot continue to trade without paying a living wage, they are not socially useful. We don't need them. A mistake people make is to say "without these companies, there'd be no one to 'create jobs'". But no one "creates jobs". The jobs come into being as companies chase a share of demand. If this company doesn't do it, another will. This is in fact what capitalism means. I'm going to write more about this at some point, because I think it's important to understand what economies actually do and how they actually work.