New Internationalist

Letters

Issue 111

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[image, unknown] LETTERS

[image, unknown] PEACE TAX[image, unknown]

Cartoon by R. K. Laxman. Diverting military money
The Peace Tax Campaign hopes to establish the right of the individual to decide whether his taxes are used for military purposes. The aim is to divert taxes to other, peaceful purposes, not to withhold them.

Your correspondent Mr. Schneider (NI No. 108) is concerned that success in this campaign could establish a similar right to divert taxes from education, welfare or foreign aid, should the taxpayer so wish.

The two cases are not similar. The right to conscientious objection to military service was established in Britain in 1916 and one of the arguments of the Peace Tax Campaign is that the present taxation system effectively removes part of this right from the taxpayer.

No such objection to education or foreign aid is recognised and so it would not be reasonable to extend the argument to these uses of taxes.

I hope that many New Internationalist readers would wish their taxes to be used for more positive purposes than armaments.

Jennifer Zarek
Surbiton
Surrey
UK

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Conscientious taxation
[image, unknown] Any country which respects the individual's freedom of conscience sufficiently to allow Conscientious Objectors to reject military service must see that a conscientious objection to paying for armaments is only a logical extension of the former. Indeed, nuclear warfare needs a great deal of money and very few men.

To refuse use of one's taxes for a purpose one regards as utterly evil is a matter of conscience which a democratic government should respect. The same could hardly be claimed for any of the other purposes for which taxes are required. One might disagree with policies, but one could hardly brand any of them as utterly immoral.

Ilse Bell
Bungay
Suffolk
UK

The Editor replies: Many readers have written to us in this vein. The Peace Tax Corporation address is 26 Thurlow Rd, Leicester LEZ lYE, U.K. See also NI No. 106, page 4.

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Protect in June and survive
The letter of R. Rymer on disarmament (NI No. 107) is timely and apt. It is by our acquiescence and expressions of helplessness that we play into the hands of those who would escalate the mindless stockpiling of arms.

A special UN Session on disarmament, convened over five weeks in 1978, produced agreement between leaders of 123 Member States 'to abandon the use of force in international relations and to seek security in disarmament. The ending of the arms race and the achievement of real disarmament are tasks of primary importance and urgency'.

In view of the lack of response since then and indeed the increased escalation of recent months, the UN has planned another Special Session in June of this year. Millions will take to the streets around the globe to voice their anger that a perilous knife-edge existence continues to threaten our future. We have not inherited this earth from our forefathers, we have borrowed it from our children. I urge all readers to add their voices to the world-wide outcry in June.

Rick Sarre
Adelaide
Australia

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[image, unknown] TAKING A STAND[image, unknown]

Racism in the media
It's high time the NI devoted more space and energy to attacking racist attitudes in its countries of publication. Fat chance of reshaping attitudes to the Third World when your fellow journalists in the Western press are so hell-bent on perpetrating racist myths in their own societies.

Take, for example, an article appearing in the London Guardian today (March 27) reporting on research carried out by the Dept. of Social Work Studies at Newcastle University among 400 seven-year olds. The research purports to prove that seven year olds are not keen on making friends with children of other races and is apparently based entirely on children's answers to questions about whom they like to mix with.

As a Headmaster, I have rarely come across such poisonous claptrap. Seven-year-olds in my experience are anxious to please, and are likely to supply the kind of answers they deduce adults want to hear, not what they really feel. What they say, normally based on 'playing safe' is observably different from what they do.

If such a parody of reality has to be reported, it should have been relegated to the ignominy of Pseuds Corner, not given the respectability of fact by 'straight' reporting or sensationalised by the heading 'How race divides the classroom'.

Come on, NI - waging monthly war on press bigotry like this must be part of your brief in future, and as Private Eye has found, ridicule not indignation is the most powerful weapon.

L. Clark
Bucks
UK

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NI’s one true faith
I have just received my subscription to the NI in the same spirit as I might buy a raffle ticket in a good cause - I don't object to the course, but I can't help disliking the way it is presented.

I must confess to being more challenged by the Guardian to consider the state of my fellow man or face up to some of the not so pleasant implications of my Western world-view, because it has the courage and wisdom, to present a range of viewpoints while the NI has firmly opted for the 'one true faith'. Consequently, the best of your articles become tainted with the flavour of propaganda.

In the issue on Sri Lanka (NI No. 105), for instance, the commendable interview with the President is distorted by the editorial intrusion 'See "Life after Liptons" on page 18 of this issue' which implies that we shouldn't be too quick to accept the President's word on this issue. But when we look up the article as instructed, the President's point is not answered so much as evaded in emotionally loaded phrases - 'such comparisons are fatuous and dangerously divisive'.

My renewed subscription is really a 'donation' for I doubt if I shall continue reading this magazine while it tends to tell me how to think, rather than provide me with the information to aid my own thinking.

John Beasley
Aurukuw
Queensland
Australia

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Not 'plain barmy' charity?
It is plain common sense, not 'plain barmy', that independent schools should enjoy the benefits of charitable status.

Mr Knight from Guernsey in your February edition (NI No. 108) is plainly unaware that since 1601 education itself - irrespective of whether poor scholars are being educated or not - has been regarded as a charitable purpose.

As a result many benefactors have been encouraged to give gifts to schools and colleges to the great benefit of thousands of children. The independent schools, which are not run for profit, and save England and Wales £500 million pounds a year, are fully entitled to the benefits of such status.

To suggest otherwise is to allow party politics to dictate the terms of charitable status.

Tim Devlin, Director
Independent Schools Information Service
London
UK

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A job for Keith

In NI No. 107, Keith Wood described his fruitless offer to voluntary agencies of his services as a qualified mechanic in the Third World.

Instead of offering to repair the vehicles himself, could he not become a mechanical engineering teacher, training local people? I notice V.S.O. is requesting science teachers.

Mary Jane Richards
Bath
UK

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Save the dolphin too
[image, unknown] This enquiry is connected with my deep concern with cetaceans (i.e. whales and dolphins) and the effect on them of multinational companies operating in Japan.

The Taiyo Corporation was deeply involved with the pirate whaler The Sierra.

The killing of dolphins at Iki is particularly horrifying. A few weeks ago, because of the approach of the conservationist ship Sea Shepherd II, the Japanese Government promised to stop killing dolphins at Iki. But on 17 March it was announced by a BBC foreign correspondent that the fishermen at Iki had decided to start the killing again, in spite of the promise from their Government.

If it were possible to connect the company that is involved in the dolphin meat industry with a company that is known and operates in the West, then it might be possible to exercise pressure on them in the form of boycotting their goods, whether cars, televisions, cameras or whatever.

I found your article ‘Distant Lures’ (page 26, July 1981 — on Japanese companies activities in the water around the Pacific Islands) extremely relevant.

I do find your magazine especially stimulating and revealing: it covers important subjects ignored by the rest of the media

Malcolm H Espley
Tattenhall
Chester
UK

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Violating the babymilk code
In NI No. 102, you asked for notification of violations of the WHO/UNICEF Code, aiming to control babyfood marketing.

In Pakistan, Ostermilk, Meiji and P.7.F are advertised on television; also Glaxo advertise babyfoods like Farex, so that poor people buy these things instead of using good local foods.

Dr Gillian Burton
Islamabad
Pakistan

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