Time to even it up
It is in our power to shape a world where everyone lives a meaningful and fulfilling life. We can make an economy that prioritises people’s happiness. Our economy is like a railway network – it is built to take people to particular places.
Right now, we have an economy that prioritises profit over people, and places wealth in the hands of a small few. We can change this. Together, we can build the economic and social tracks that get everyone to where they need to go, and leave no-one behind.
At Oxfam we work to lay down the tracks that make it possible for all people to arrive at a meaningful and abundant life. These tracks are the laws and policies that shape the journeys people take through their lives – both in New Zealand and across the world. When these tracks are not there, or broken, people struggle to get food on the table for their families, can’t see a nurse when they are sick, or can’t get a job simply because of who they are.
We refuse to accept this situation. We devote our energy to making sure tracks are in place to get everyone to a place where they can flourish. You can join us.
Is inequality a problem?
Yes. People and organisations that study inequality, like Oxfam, see that globally a small number of individuals are accumulating wealth that they will simply never benefit from. At the same time, world hunger is rising for the first time in years.
Inequality is a lop-sided society where some people have far more than they need, while others struggle to get through the day.
This isn’t right. None of us likes to be left behind or watch somebody else forgotten on the sidelines.
At the most fundamental level, inequality is about human rights. As long as some people are being left behind, it means that their human rights are being denied.
Inequality hurts us and our societies. We know that inequality erodes trust, fuels crime, makes us unhappy, and undermines economic growth. Inequality also acts as a brake on our work to end poverty.
Can we create a world where no-one is left behind?
The good news is, together we can fix this. We know what the policy tracks are that can prevent and reduce inequality. All we need to do now is get people in governments and corporations to make the decisions to lay down these tracks, to make sure every individual can enjoy a fulfilling life, no matter where they live.
There are three types of tracks that need to be in place: progressive social spending on health, education and social protection; progressive tax systems; and labour rights that protect all workers, including women.
Oxfam assesses governments across the world on the state of these policy tracks. You can see this here. This shows us where the tracks are smooth and where there are broken ones that need fixing. Then we get to work to tell people in power to fix them and how.
What Oxfam is doing to even things up
International Development Cooperation
As New Zealanders, we believe in justice and compassion. We want everyone to have the opportunity to thrive. That’s why we support our government giving some of our taxes to help countries that are poor to provide for their people.
And up until 2015 these efforts across the world made great strides, getting millions of people out of extreme poverty. But recently this has stalled, and still over half of humanity suffer poverty’s indignity every day.
Despite our differences, we share a responsibility to make sure everyone has a decent standard of living and the same chances in life. This is what our overseas development assistance – or aid – is for.
But our aid is only as good as the policies that shape it. Oxfam works to make sure our overseas aid is spent to help people who endure poverty and are being left behind, including through focusing on getting the right policy tracks in place for social spending, labour rights, and taxation.
Our collective resources – taxes
We all want safe communities where our kids can play, clean rivers and oceans, decent roads and public transport, thriving communities, and the health, skills and knowledge to enjoy meaningful work. We need nurses in health clinics, teachers in schools, police on our streets, rubbish collected, and the right policies to protect us at work. These are the things that we collectively contribute to through our taxes. Governments around the world use tax to invest in the big-ticket items that none of us can get on our own.
In countries that are poor, corporate taxation is a very important source of government income. Because the tracks that our economy runs along wind all over the world, big global companies use the breaks and bumps in the international tax rules to shirk their responsibilities and avoid paying their fair share in tax to poor governments. In fact, multinational corporations are now paying less tax than before the 2008 financial crisis, and they continue to shift up to 40 percent of their foreign profits to shadowy tax havens so they can avoid contributing where they should. This isn’t right.
To mend the tracks we work with our people in government, people in corporations, and our colleagues across the world, to get tax rules that make sure wealthy individuals and corporations make their fair contribution to help people be safe, healthy, well-educated and in meaningful work, no matter where they live.
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