Ioulia Fenton

Graphics: How Corporations Get Out of Paying Taxes

Everyone knows that corporations dodge taxes. If a regulation loop hole exists, they are likely to try and exploit it, inventing a new practice, tool or mechanism for the purpose, with a new, jargon-laden name that gives it an air of legitimacy. Whereas much past evasion of taxes would happen in the corporation’s own country, with the rapid globalization of businesses over the last few decades it now spreads across nations and continents. For example, a huge relatively new field of transfer pricing has mushroomed within the financial accounting realm, with whole teams, even departments, charged with it. What does it mean? In the most basic terms, a parent company sells or trades to its own subsidiary in a different country some goods, services or labor, often at an obscenely low or high price, in order to move income or expenditure of their balance sheet around to make them fit into lower tax brackets and less regulated jurisdictions. In essence, it transfers the price somewhere else that reduces its tax liability, hence the name transfer pricing. All of this is done “for tax purposes,” with tax professionals involved engaging in what they call “tax planning,” evidenced by the fact that transfer pricing is often and increasingly an offshoot of tax departments in companies and accounting firms. Translated, it means legal tax dodging. Read this useful summary by the Tax Justice Network for a closer look.

This is of course but just one example and understanding what fully occurs behind closed doors can be clouded by the terminology. Today, Development Roast brings you an infographic published by The Online MBA that attempts to explain exactly How Corporations Get Out of Paying Taxes in more visual terms. Read More »

99 Percent Democracy: Inspiration from the Developing World

It has been roughly a year since a new catchphrase flooded the front pages of mainstream, social and activist media: “We are the 99 percent.” It came from a wider recognition of the long-established truth that a small percentage of the population in most societies hangs on to an overwhelming majority of wealth and power. It is also a recognition that it is the 99 percent that are asked to pay a disproportionate part of the price for the effects of our collective actions: to bail out the banks and not the failing health services; to pick up the environmental tab and pay through the nose for an increasingly worthless education; to waste their lives sitting on the unemployment list, instead of contributing to society. “We are the 99 percent” is the slogan of a new generation of the disgruntled, jobless youth in the West. “We are the 99 percent” is the demonstration chant of occupiers from Wall Street to St Paul’s, from Cairo to Cape Town. “We are the 99 percent” is  still on everybody’s lips. At the heart of the matter? Democracy. Read More »

Be The Change You Want To See: From Environmental Depression to Inspired Action in Six Books

I tend to get pretty down after reading many economic, international development and environmental books—factual, fiction or otherwise. If you do not know what I mean, I highly recommend reading Daniel Quinn’s 1992 novel Ishmael. Set up as a conversation between a teacher and student, where the former happens to be a hyper-intelligent, talking gorilla, the book slowly takes the reader through environmental philosophy on how we have managed to get ourselves into the present day environmental mess. Read More »

Culture or Law? What counts more in social-environmental change?

Last night I tagged along to a dinner in Bangkok where I met a couple of executives of Thailand’s national energy company. Needless to say that, as someone with environmentalist proclivities, I was deeply interested in their ‘insider’ views of the industry, as I have learnt from experience that these can be revealing. Although, like taking a ring road bypass to dodge rush hour city traffic, all questions of the environmental impacts of such processes as fracking were skillfully avoided, several things struck me as the conversation turned to the company’s ambitions in the United States.

Fracking is a process of hydraulic fracturing that uses up to 300 tons of chemicals and injects large amounts of explosives and water to crack rock and release natural gases from deep wells. It presents an opportunity to get at previously untouchable gas and every oil and gas explorer wants a piece of the pie. However, according to the executives, the confidence with which the non-renewable industry operates is somewhat geographically determined. Read More »

Five Types of Rainforest Ecosystem Services that Nourish People and Planet

According to Conservation International‘s 2009 book, The Wealth of Nature, ecosystems support and regulate all natural processes on earth, while contributing to cultural, social, and economic benefits to human communities. These have become known as ecosystem services and, according to the Rainforest Conservation Fund (RCF), they would cost trillions of dollars per year if human beings had to provide them for themselves. Here are just five types of many of the ecosystem services provided to people and planet by the world’s rainforests: Read More »

Five Games and Apps to Change the World

Whether it is family Trivia Pursuit at Christmas, Words with Friends on the android phone, or Second Life on a P.C., everyone likes to play games. They are challenging, fun, and constitute a healthy source of friendly competition. However, as Jane McGonigal, an American game designer, argued in her TED talk, they can also make a better world.

Today, Development Roast* highlights five games and applications that are more than mere entertainment, but serve to educate and deeply involve its players in global food, agriculture, and sustainability issues: Read More »

Why Technology Deserves a Prominent Place in Post MDGs Development

Yesterday my grandfather turned 83. There he is in the picture below. The incredible half century gap between the before and after nostalgic snaps are shot next to his lifelong toy and companion: His Morse Code radio.

According the International Amateur Radio Union, more than two million amateur radio lovers just like my grandpa surf the radio waves in search of making connections with others all around the world. I am constantly reminded of the global popularity of this as a pastime when the conversation between us always and inevitably turns to his radio activities and latest certificates he gained. Read More »

Book Roast: The Cartoon Introduction to Economics

“What’s the difference between a recession and a depression,” asks a member of the public. “A recession is when you lose your job; a depression is when I lose mine,” replies an economist.

This is just one of numerous little jokettes that colour the pages of The Cartoon Introduction to Economics—a brilliant must-have for any student or teacher of economics or, indeed, anyone else interested in getting to know or simply recapping on the basics of a field that is currently positioned at the center of local, national and global decision-making. Read More »

Fresh Moves: A Mobile Solution to Chicago’s Food Deserts

Sheelah Muhammad* is the co-founder of Fresh Moves—a project working for food justice in Chicago’s poorest areas. The organization employs five people from the communities in which they operate—prioritizing difficult-to-employ individuals who struggle to find work elsewhere—to bring fresh fruit and vegetables to communities that lack greengrocers or other sources of healthy food options.

“It is not just about food, it is about empowerment,” said the co-founder about Fresh Moves. Muhammad co-launched the initiative with activists Jeff Pinzino and Steven Casey as a direct response to the 2006 Mari Gallagher Report, which examined the health impact of food deserts in the city of Chicago. According to the document, food deserts are “neighborhoods with no or distant grocery stores but an abundance of fast food restaurants and other retail outlets offering little or no nutritious food.”   Read More »

Book Roast: Ecoliterate—A Book Of Inspiration for Practical Action

One of the hardest things to do for anyone interested in issues of environmental sustainability is to translate ideas and complaints into practical, positive, change-making action. For those who try to teach the next generation of environmental and social leaders in schools, in communities, or even online, this is even more important—merely talking about problems is likely to inspire only the students’ depression and frustration at lack of solutions. Luckily, Ecoliterate, a new book by psychologist Daniel Goleman and Lisa Bennett and Zenobia Barlow of the Center of Ecoliteracy—an organization that supports and advances education for sustainable living—is a deep well of ideas for those seeking inspiration.

Read More »


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