Οn contemporary capitalism’s preposterous reversal of the truth

Thanks to Mark Carrigan for posting this (based on this article in The Guardian). “This isn’t a new idea” writes Mark,”but I’ve rarely encountered it expressed so concisely:

The idea that individuals create wealth and that all governments do is come along and tax them is what Varoufakis calls “a preposterous reversal of the truth”.

“There is an amazing myth in our enterprise culture that wealth is created individually and then appropriated by the state to be distributed.

“We are conceptualising what is happening in society as if we are an archipelago of Robinson Crusoes, everybody on an island, creating our own thing individually and then a boat comes along and collects it and redistributes it. It’s not true. We are not individual producers, we produce things collectively.”

He points to an iPhone. “This machine, inside of it, contains technologies that were created collectively. Not only through collaboration but a lot of public funding. Every single technology in there was created by government grant.”

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  • Funny, but I taught myself Sweden’s language in the hope to be able to read wonderful books in the language, but also to learn about some leftist-social-democratic ways Sweden had tried and followed over quite some few decades. For example, about taxes and welfare.

    What I found – beside wonderful books in the language^^ – are more and more comments and articles, from writers, political parties, that want to get rid of the ideas of the past in Sweden. Just some weeks ago I read an article in which a writer says it would theoretically be wrong to pay taxes.
    The lady, a writer and columnist in a liberal paper of Sweden, finds it strange that people do not try to lower their taxes. She doesn’t, like so many, talk more about the slight difference if you earn nearly nothing or if you don’t know how to spend your money, ever.

    She concludes with something like: if people got their money as gross amount, and a bill how many taxes they would “lose”, they would stop saying people should pay their taxes. (She clearly seems to long for a low flat tax.) For her, like for many neo-liberals, taxes are in principle a crime.
    Now this might be just a story about the sad fact that even( as far as I can know) fair and thoughtful societies like countries in Scandinavia up to around 1995 lead to some people shouting for the contrary out of sheer principle. (“It is uncool now even if it worked not too bad”)

    But there are a lot of people thinking that way. For the writer taxes are greediness of the state… The tax authorities would overeagerly collect taxes – so that “always somebody else can pay”. She seems to find this outraging… Sadly enough she doesn’t talk about health care, which is founded upon the very idea that life would be better if all had a good health care (something that Merkel and Schäuble and Germany destroyed in parts in Greece, horribly enough.)
    Well I deeply disagree, but at least had helped her to get a small bit more money, gross amount and after taxes, by buying novels and essays from her. Until I read quite a few articles like this one. It also is striking how the press, Dagens Nyheter just like Svenska Dagbladet (the big ones there) mostly ignore the real problems of Greece since years.

    So it was a very good read, Yanis, again, to read your blog where you express quite a different view, and one describing the world better :).