I make my way to the central Sloviansk barricade area, start filming and almost immediately heavily armed men are running toward me. I’m shoved, my camera and phone are removed, and before I know quite what’s happening, I’m being marched at gunpoint into a nearby car. My captors shout, “He’s a spy,” to concerned passersby, who then nod and look away.
In the car, the older of my two captors, wearing a full-face balaclava but clearly a thick set man perhaps in his late 30s, points a Kalashnikov at me. It soon becomes clear that being a spy is only part of my problem. He yells at me several times that I’m a “narcoman” (drug addict). We arrive at a local hospital, where my captor declares he has “captured a spy and drug addict.” I try to insist that I’m an English journalist, but he barks me down with, in Russian, “Those who want to live keep quiet.”
Entering the hospital, any hope I might have of arriving in a safe place is shattered as the doctors and nurses immediately defer to my captors and will not meet my gaze. I’m sat down, and it becomes clear that I am about to be given a drug test.
I’ve no idea why my captors think I’m an addict, my sum experience of drugs—apart from a university dabble—being a few joints in Amsterdam many years ago. The older captor tells me that if I fail the drug test, “You will be shot.” The younger captor is playing the good cop, but even he informs me that “in the Donetsk Republic, drug addicts are shot.”
So I give a urine sample and put my life in the hands of a Ukrainian drug test. MORE
Flamingos break up 99 percent of the time.
Illustrations by Robert Krulwich
So a friend had this image of Joffrey as her Facebook ‘timeline’ cover and it turned into some sort of caption contest. This by far was the winner.
I saw this post going around, and noticed people pointing out two things: a) the minimum wages are not accurate, and b) income tax may be higher in countries with higher minimum wages.
For the first point, I tried to get the most recent minimum wages, which were (in local currency): Australia - $16.37, France - €9.53, New Zealand - $14.25, United Kingdom - £6.31, Canada - $9.95, United States - $7.25, Japan - ¥664. For Canada and Japan, I picked the lowest of the various regional minimum wages.
The second point was far harder to tackle. The calculations use 40-hour weeks and a 50-week year, for someone with no spouse or children. As noted, I included charges that weren’t strictly “income tax”, but France’s Social Security Contribution was a nightmare to figure out, especially since I don’t speak French. My calculation is based on 8% of income going towards SSC, half of it being tax-deductible.
Re-calculating minimum wages didn’t change much, except that Japan’s minimum wage was now lower than in the US. Accounting for tax gave a much more surprising result: USA actually had one of the higher average tax rates out of the seven at 11.92%, more than double that of Canada (5.51%) and Japan (5.00%) which had comparable minimum wages. All this, even though USA is the only country in the group without universal healthcare.
Obviously, this still doesn’t account for factors such as cost of living and tax deductions for families, but it seems pretty clear that Americans on minimum wages are paying far too much tax for far too little income and social security.