Jun 192012
 
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I didn’t consciously realise I knew who Jimmy Carr was, such is the paucity of my knowledge of popular culture.  Carl sets this all to rights – as does, apparently, the front page of the Times today.

The story’s all about how some people live and work in Britain and quite legally pay only one percent tax.

The ins and outs or moral implications of this reality are not the object of this post today, but you might want to click on the first link above and inform yourself better.  Forewarned is forearmed, as they used to say when I was a kid.

Interesting how this tale has emerged in the same weeks we’ve had Christine Lagarde – who, incidentally, pays no tax whatsoever on her around $400,000 IMF salary – berating the Greeks for being entirely responsible for their fiscal downfall.  I was drawn to defend the Mediterranean peoples in the following way:

[...] before we talk down to the Mediterranean countries and their ilk from our supposed moral high grounds (after all, we mustn’t forget MPs’ expenses et al), let’s try and understand exactly what inputs and social norms operate in these countries compared to our own.

Paying taxes is quite one thing when you have the standard of living to grumblingly do so – or, indeed, the resources to legally avoid it; having to spend all your economically useful days caring instead for a helpless relative to the best of your ability, whilst the state stands by and offers no support for those in need after a lifetime of productive contribution, is quite another.

And that’s the business of government.  Or, at least, so it should be.  An implicit contract between young contributors and their old age; a contract which governments through the ages have kept to some greater or lesser degree; a contract which no longer seems as sacred as it once was.

No wonder increasing numbers of people try and stuff their governments’ ability to collect tax.

Today, the business of government clearly involves stuffing the people.

A couple of final questions, then, to contextualise the complexities we are beginning to have to face up to:

  1. Would you want to continue to contribute to a future Tory Party state, where business cronies of the eighteen millionaires in the Cabinet made money out of the rolling-back of public services – even as millions found themselves at the edge of financial ruin?
  2. Mightn’t you begin to think it’d be better to hide your pennies away instead of watching them disappear into the pockets of national politicians and corporate behemoths across the world?
  3. Can’t you imagine a situation whereby all the above would lead you to feel the same as Jimmy Carr?

I’m not suggesting for a moment you should do any of the above; I’m not even suggesting Mr Carr is right in what he’s allegedly done.  All I am saying is as the business of government becomes quite a different matter from yore, maybe a correct free-market response would be for the people to withdraw in some way their resource from political masters who – for some time now – have decided to take for their own enrichment far more than they hand out.

This is, after all, whether explicit or implicit, a breakdown of real contractual understandings.  We are now being asked as a nation to pay more each day for fewer and less effective public services – public services which our government is redesigning to generate private profit in evermore increasing circles of brazen disregard for minimum moralities.

Wouldn’t you, as a son or daughter of a value-maximising age, want to get more bangs for your bucks than that?

You never really know.  Perhaps one truly sad day this will all be known as the Jimmy Carr generation.


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