Archive

Monthly Archives: June 2012

Moral arguments aside for a while, the British public (the major media publications would have you believe) are more surprised than they should be at the news of Jimmy Carr’s tax avoidance last week. I suspect this ‘outrage’, in which David Cameron has now been enjoined, is either just hypocritical (likely) or laced with insincerity (even more likely). After all, isn’t an Individual Savings Account (ISA) an aspiration of most of the middle-class in this country? Using Cameron’s moral compass, his own profession ought to be dammed and disowned following the Parliamentary expenses scandal of 2009, which was recently reignited after Baroness Warsi’s claims in May.  Excusing the pun, I think the words on everyone’s lips are it’s a bit rich coming from them. 

Of course Carr is totally within his legal (and arguably, moral) entitlement to partake in this scheme. Another reason Cameron is wrong to denounce his behaviour is because it is his own government which allowed it to happen. The law is in place to reflect a moral consciousness, and so while it may seem an obvious point, if the law permits Carr to take part in a tax avoidance scheme, he is not doing anything wrong.  Our politicians must revise the rulebook if they want to make an ethical standpoint. Somehow I feel like the British collective knows this won’t really happen; one only has to see the tax havens the Monarchy is involved in and how many of them are British jurisdictions (Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, Bermuda, etc.) The billionaires and millionaires of the country of course want to keep schemes such as the K1 and one can’t help feel it is the familiarity of Carr’s name which has spurred the lynch mob. Those who we have never heard of, perhaps earning their money through the equally morally vacant betting industry or maybe property dollars, are likely the real winners from tax avoidance. Comparatively lower earners, like Carr, are doing what countless others have since said they would do and surely, his biggest mistake was apologising. This is a point Carr could’ve have half-decently made. Resisting his usual reactionary prose, Peter Hitchens is nonetheless right when he says ‘I don’t qualify for, and so don’t use, the obvious get-outs. But am I guilty if I take out an ISA (a form of tax avoidance) or set a charitable donation against tax? Certainly not.’  Once more, as shown, hypocrisy ensues.

The moral bedrock argument – which is what the whole fuss is really about – is relevant only when discussing the ideological basis for taxation. I think it is morally right to pay tax, and the higher your earnings, the more tax you should pay. Billy Bragg makes the astute point that a comparison to tax avoiders and benefit scroungers is baseless as those avoiding tax are motivated by greed, and those taking welfare do it through a need (‘I know which side I’m on: Help the needy, not the greedy’). It must be right to disregard a consequentialist comparison between the two as the motivation and reason is the significant criteria by which to judge these two actions as moral/immoral. Carr cannot avoid being at least a schemer and naturally, avoiding these legal loopholes to get around tax is a noble path to follow. It would be refreshing to see figures such as him lead a proper and decent conduct. But David Cameron’s response of turning pink and blue is a cynical front, which we know and accept in 2012 – when really, he should’ve been turning green.

Advertisements

Part I.

“Ah mate. I had fish and chips from a chip shop for the first time ever the other day”, Josh reclined with a smirk on his face.

“Oh my god, it was so fucking rough hahaha”.

Sitting nearby was Howard, whose ears perked up as he registered the slightly ridiculing tone. In his intoxicated state, he was bemused by what he said for at least a couple of reasons. Wasn’t it just accepted in Britain that the ‘chippy’ was a staple part of the English diet, and deservedly so? Having recently transferred to the private sphere of higher education, Howard had expected to encounter the clichés of middle-class snobbery. He was instead mildly taken back by what seemed more of a proclamation of ignorance, rather than taste. Going to the chip shop had simply not occurred to sixteen year old Josh, whose exact family heritage had briefly slipped Howard’s mind (although he was sure it was some obscure Asian dynasty), and he etched the feeling in his mind: this is where the division lies. Josh’s world was one of book festivals and pseudo-hippy drapery in their three floored terrace, of day trips to London in the car, the parents uncomfortable glance at the same-sex couple and the university visits that frequented his early memories of childhood. He was going on holiday to America in three weeks. The scampi that Harold had taken to eating for lunch fluctuated in his stomach, a symbolic turning as he got up to ‘grab’ a lighter from the table.

“Ah, damn…sorry man!” He had knocked over a beer that was resting on the side. It didn’t seem to fit well with the ambience of the room. He was rather high, having smoked four or five joints over the last few hours and he couldn’t be fussed with the offending liquid. He retreated to the slouching position he had only realised was so comfortable once he left it, and watched as Joshy flicked through the channels on a type of television he could never imagine having in his own residence. His mind meandered once more until he was walking on the street, going home. Observing a man who must have been aged around fifty-five, but with a younger face and hair,  he mused on how old he would have been whilst he was crawling in the oblivion of infancy. Mid Thirties? How old that man must feel; all those days Harold had spent walking the backstreets home from Primary School, while this guy was piling on the age. The air was so quiet. He began musing on the generation the man belonged to, how they, the post-war baby-boomers were the ones who created this ‘lazy’, ineffectual generation. After all, it was them who had invented microwave pizzas and turkey-twizzler school dinners, mobile phones and big screen T.V’s, used big cars and created a globalized flurry of Disneyland Joy after the boredom of the Seventies. Anodyne seemed the right word for it, which was just what this Town had become. And it had happened to Josh.

Out of this world Harold soon burst (he never loved that name) until he was back in the room, faint daylight reaching through the cracks by the curtains. He saw the beer stain on the floor which neither had apparently bothered to clear up, and pulled a multi-coloured blanket over his toes…the room was getting cooler, and he was lying there thinking. Thinking about the salsa lessons his parents had started attending, and the chip shop incident the night before, his scampi turning once again, and a strange unnerving feeling of disconcertion that the absence of tragedy which perturbed Josh’s world, was suffocating them both.