In Britain, the reaction to the Panama Papers leak has been a bit weird.
Politicians have been releasing summaries of their tax returns,
all falling over each other to try and prove that they haven’t got any offshore accounts
or arguing strongly that they shouldn’t have to prove
that they don’t have any offshore accounts.
One of them said that requiring politicians to have public tax returns
was “reminiscent of the Stasi or the KGB”.
Welcome to Norway. Behind me is the Oslo tax office.
And if you want to know what a politician earns here, you can just ask them.
It’s not just politicians, though.
是每个人 在挪威 瑞典和芬兰 捐税收入每年公布
It’s everyone. Tax returns in Norway, Sweden and Finland have been public for years:
the countries differ on how much detail they provide,
and whether you need to have a good reason for asking —
but fundamentally the amount you earn is public knowledge here.
现在 在这个地方 我们可以做新闻报道
Now, at this point, we could do the news report thing,
and cut to interviews with Norwegian people on the street,
asking how they feel about this.
Or we could science it,
and look at a paper by economist Ricardo Perez-Truglia of Microsoft Research.
That paper combines two things: first, the Norwegian Monitor Survey,
which, every two years, surveys a representative sample of Norwegians
and includes questions about happiness and life satisfaction.
而第二 当需要找到某些人的纳税细节时 从
And second, when finding out someone else’s tax details went from
“you have to go here and look through a book,
“and you’ve only got three weeks in the year to do it”
to “a newspaper has published everything online and there’s a search box”.
The paper concludes that wage transparency,
that knowing whether you’re keeping up with the Joneses,
or the Johansens,
doesn’t make the populace happier overall.
Instead, it increases the happiness gap:
knowing for certain you’re being paid more than your neighbours
makes you more likely to be satisfied with your life.
Knowing for certain that you’re not doing as well? That hurts.
顺便说一句 在挪威 你也可以在网上查询人们的捐税收入
You can still look up people’s tax returns online in Norway, by the way.
But lately, you have to log in as a taxpayer yourself,
and everyone can see the records of who’s been searching for them.
That’s a whole different social game right there.
But there is another good argument for wage transparency:
that it makes for a fairer world.
There’s no strong data on that yet, not that I can find,
and it’d be extremely difficult to measure.
But there’s some good anecdotal evidence,
particularly from an engineer at Google who created a spreadsheet
where their colleagues could voluntarily share their salaries.
关于它的故事 和管理层对它有什么反应 很值得一读
The story around it, and how management reacted to that, is well worth a read.
And there’s also evidence that,
although politicians might not like it,
public disclosure of tax returns does reduce tax evasion.
So does this mean I’m about to share my tax return,
and report to the world how much I made last year?
No. Because I’m British,
because we don’t talk about money,
you might find out something you don’t want to know…
or you might hurt someone else.
So my reaction to wage transparency is the same as a lot of people’s:
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