A Simpol take on “BBC Any Questions“ – 14/1/2011

The Democratisation of Information, The Tax Burden, and The “Businessocracy” We Live in

Last week’s “Any Questions” focussed on the use of “Wikipedia” and the closure of libraries across the U.K., amongst others. Most of us believe that the cuts are a purely national problem, and can only be solved at a national level. In this article I will explain the how the cuts are a global problem and can only be solved globally through implementing simultaneous policies. “Wikipedia” and the internet are a vital route to this goal since they allow people to come together, spread information which is otherwise not attainable, and to come up with plans.

One of the questions raised – which is similar in nature to the question discussed in the previous “Any Questions” blog – was whether or not the panel used “Wikipedia”, considering that it was its 10th birthday on the 15th of January.

It is unlikely that someone who has access to the internet has never used “Wikipedia” in order to quickly access information. In today’s society which depends on speed and efficiency, we have become very reliant on “Wikipedia”. It is a quicker and cheaper way to access information than via encyclopaedias or library books.

The internet has brought a vast amount of information to so many people in a short amount of time. In addition to this, any individual can spread their opinions through this medium, making it completely democratised. “Wikipedia” is a good example, demonstrating how things have changed over the past years. The development of the internet and “Wikipedia” has strongly impacted the relationship between the people and the media. More recently, with the development of “WikiLeaks”, the relationship between the people and the government has increasingly deteriorated. The internet provides power to the people.

This is exactly what Simpol is about – giving the power back to individuals so that they can come together to choose which policies are appropriate and letting MPs know that only politicians who sign the Simpol “Pledge” will receive votes.

Of course, the internet also has downsides, but what must be looked at is whether these downsides actually outweigh the benefits. It was mentioned by the panel of last week’s program that the internet – and especially Wikipedia – can contain inaccurate information due to the fact that anyone can edit entries. However, due to the large amount of context available it is highly unlikely that most of it is spammed. In addition to this it is equally possible for the mainstream media to be factually inaccurate. I believe that the mainstream media may even be more inaccurate than information on the web. Mainstream media is often filled with adverts and reprinted press releases, and we cannot be sure that newspaper employees fact check their articles. Moreover, “WikiLeaks” has demonstrated that the mainstream media leaves out a large amount of crucial information.

The benefits of “Wikipedia” therefore far outweigh its downsides.

Wikipedia is open-source and strongly supports the democratisation of fact collection and dissemination, handing the power back to the individuals. Simpol is strongly in favour of this since it allows simultaneous policies to be developed and implemented and to bring people together to educate each other and make a change.

Another question raised, was whether or not the potential closure of so many libraries across the country should be a cause for regret.

The closure of libraries, which I believe to be a vital part of the community, is clearly not the only cause for regret since there are going to be many more cuts which will affect our daily community life, well being, and education.

What people need to realise is that the U.K. cuts are not a national problem, but rather a global problem which can only be solved globally. Since businesses can avoid paying taxes by moving somewhere else, individuals are left with a large amount of taxes to be paid. But because the government does not want to lose votes, they do not want to increase the tax burden for individuals. It is exactly this which is leading to cuts in the public sector and privatisation of public sectors (e.g. the NHS).

This indicates that we are actually not living in a democracy but rather in a government which is governed by the power of corporations.

The only way to solve the problem of taxation and the resulting public funding cuts is to implement a policy to increase taxes globally in a simultaneous way. Only in this way will there be no excuse for corporations to move to more ‘tax friendly’ countries. In this way the tax burden will be transferred from individuals back to the corporations, bringing public funding back to a sufficient level.

The issue of corporations being able to move to another country when there is a threat of money loss indicates how governments are actually powerless and have no other choice but to put the burden of taxation onto individuals and to cut funding.

As a Simpol adopter I thus believe that we, the individuals, need to come together to solve these seemingly national but actually global problems. Through adopting Simpol, and letting your MP know that you are only voting for them if they sign the Simpol “Pledge”, the power is given back to the people. Only in this way can we live in a true democracy which provides us with the public facilities which we require and deserve.

“Wikipedia” and the internet are part of the means to attain this goal. Without these it would not be as easy for people with the same ideas to come together to inform themselves; to spread and find vital information which is often not attainable from the mainstream media. Also, the internet will make it faster to allow people who want to adopt Simpol to do so on the website and to inform their MPs about it electronically.






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