News Roundup

Things I read in The Guardian today:

Edward Troup, the executive chairman of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, wrote in 1999 when he was in private practice as an accountant that ‘taxation is legalised extortion.’

Scanning brains under the influence of LSD has revealed connections occurring between many areas of the brain that are normally isolated. But there is a loss of connection between the parahippocanthus and the retrosplenial cortex, breaking down a sense of individual identity.

In the past seven months there have been over 100 suicide attempts in the northern Ontario Attawapiskat community of 2,000 people. The community leaders blame the bleak poverty the community faces.

In Norway, everyone’s income and tax affairs are public and online for anyone to view.

8 thoughts on “News Roundup

  1. It’s interesting to think about all the part of our brains that are unused, and what it would be like, had we access to them.

    That place in northern Ontario, has now declared state of emergency. 11 suicide attempts last week. Seems to be contagious. Probably more to that, than just pure poverty. Hopelessness …

    Not only in Norway … in Sweden too, you can look that up. Used to be a big, thick book — like a phonebook, but now it’s online, I guess. Haven’t been there. You could also see their outstanding depts, or something like credit score. When you live in the system, you don’t tend to think much about it. I still don’t, but I met a woman in Quebec, who had worked there, and she was very upset about that concept.

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    1. I can understand the resistance to having all that information online. I guess it might depend on the culture and how connected people feel as part of one community/society. And that in turn depends on the degree of social and economic justice. I like the Nordic model. Am I looking at it with rose-tinted glasses?

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      1. When you lived in it all your life, you don’t tend to question it — not until you leave the country. Where I worked, I knew pretty much how much my coworkers were making a month … and they knew my salary. It wasn’t a problem … all that often.

        Most people file their tax return online there, these days … even from their phones. There’s an app for that 🙂

        From my standpoint, the glasses wouldn’t be rose-tinted, no …

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      2. The income and tax stuff used to be public and on print and when it was made public, the newspaper used to have stories about how much this and that rich person or celebrity made.
        It’s still public, but now it’s all online: you can look up how much money your colleague/any random person made last year, but the person in question can now see who’s looked him/her up. Using your own personal ID-number (your slave number/tax number), you’ll have to log into a website that’s run by the tax office.

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        1. Haha, so that’s how it works. How do they explain the justification for enabling people to know who has viewed their income? It’s like a standoff – ‘View my income and I will know who you are. So view my income at your peril!’

          Maybe it’s good. Maybe it makes for a less STASI society because it discourages people from checking up on others to see whether they are reporting the income from a moonlighting job.

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    2. In his book ‘Influence’, Rober Cialdini talks about suicide being contagious. He said that the news media are asked to downplay reports so as not to encourage copycats.

      If that tendency to copy is a universal human trait then I guess it goes some way to explaining what’s happening with the Attawapiskat community.

      But saying that seems almost to downgrade the reality of the situation they are said to be facing.

      I feel emotionally moved by what is happening and I think part of it is what I imagine the cultural norms of these people are.
      That may definitely be a case of rose-tinted spectacles. Or maybe not.

      I wish them all the best.

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      1. I tend to believe that. In Vaasa, Finland, they had a ‘wave’ of suicides amongst teenagers, some time in the early 90’s. In those cases, it certainly would be good if media could downplay their reporting.

        In this case, I think there are several factors at play, as hopelessness (they have nothing to do), booze, mismanagement of funds. Just saw now, a few minutes ago, on our local news, the planes flying in, with mental health workers, to try and help them out. But when you read about 6-year-olds who are considering suicide, you really start to wondering what’s going on?!

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