Morality tales are so taxing

It’s been a taxing time for Jimmy Carr but it is a reflection of a more general hypocrisy over the poor and taxation from the left rather than a morality tale

Can we seriously call Jimmy Carr immoral?
Simon Miller
On 22 June 2012 11:17

The comedian Jimmy Carr was criticised this week by the PM over his taxation arrangements for which he has apologised for on the vehicle of the day, Twitter.

Now, Cameron didn’t go as far as renaming Carr as Wayne but he called it immoral that Carr had arranged his money in the most efficient manner that benefits himself.

Being lectured on morality by a politician is like trying to listen to an announcement on the tube at rush hour - you know there’s something being said but you cannot quite make it out and at the end of the day it bears nothing to the reality of your situation and you’re still stuck where you are.

I’m not quite sure where morality comes into taxation. Like ‘fairness’, morality should have no place in taxing. Either what someone does is legal or it’s illegal, where is the morality?

Carr, as far as we know but background briefings are hinting otherwise, used a legal arrangement to avoid paying tax.

That’s the important thing, avoid. Not evade, that’s illegal.

But a morality tale? No.

What Carr did is what many of us wish we could do - pay as little as possible to that beast called the state which never has its appetite for eating our resources sated.

Was it immoral what Carr did? No. However, he has made money criticising Barclays in particular over taxation. So, a hypocrite? Most certainly.

Hypocrisy is part and parcel of the so-called ‘left-wing’ life.  Whether it is the sainted Gedolf or pious Bono lecturing the world about poverty while arranging their finances in the most efficient way possible or a privately educated politician calling for the last grammar schools to be shut, hypocrisy abounds.

I know someone who describes himself as left-wing but arranges his business to pay the minimum possible tax but cannot see the contradiction as he rails against Vodafone and Goldman Sachs over their tax arrangements.

OK, I know that the argument goes that the Gedolfs and Bonos of this world use their positions to highlight global conditions but it is a bit like Scotland’s favorite sons demanding Scottish independence when they don’t live there

Basically, aside from that time-honoured socialist principle of getting someone else to pay, it seems to be that there are a lot of people that would dearly love to keep the status quo going.

These people are like John Cleese’s Robin Hood in the Time Bandits: “Have you met the poor? Oh you must meet them. I'm sure you'll like them. Of course they haven't got two pennies to rub together but that's because they're poor.”

Why are they getting heated up about exam and education reform? Why are they getting heated up about improving the skill sets and knowledge of children? Why are they getting uptight about the idea that people should be working where possible and that no-one should be getting benefits more than the average worker’s pay?

It is because they need them to be poor. To be dependent. To know their place.

I shouldn’t be writing this at the moment as I have Torticollis, a neck problem which typing exasperates but it has given me some time to trawl the message boards and there is one thing that keeps popping up in this Fabianistic defence of the system: capitalists hate the poor.

Yep, we do. That is to say we hate the principle of poverty. But instead of keeping the poor shackled, knowing their place in society, we want them to succeed with the skills they have. We want them off benefits and contributing to the system, not taking away from it. We want to see them grow to the best of their abilities.

A capitalist system needs consumers and producers alike. By keeping people stuck in the poverty trap, you increase the costs to the taxpayer and increase the social ills that are pervasive today. By keeping the poverty trap, you remove the chance to become a producer (through work) and a consumer (through pay). That is why we don’t like an ever-growing state, an ever-growing benefit class.

If morality has a part to play in taxation and the economy it should be this: Is it moral to take an ever-increasing share of pay to feed the beast? Is it moral that politicians are content to leave the poor stuck with no chance of improvement in self and economy? Is it moral to increase our borrowing for future generations so that this status quo continues? Is it moral that our taxes are used to continue this sickening state of affairs?

If there is a morality, it should be about the why’s and wherefores of taxation not taxation in itself, avoidance or otherwise.

Morality is for church, society, family and individual. For David Cameron to lecture about morality, well you reap what you sow, and Dave could soon find out what a pain in the neck political piety brings onto oneself.

Simon Miller is the Editor of Financial Risks Today. He tweets at @simontm71

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