Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pious Hypocrites

It's old news now, but in case you haven't heard the Irish rock band U2 has decided to move its corporate headquarters out of Ireland to avoid paying sky high taxes. For this they must be mocked:

Poor old Bono. You spend your life campaigning against poverty and injustice, and making some pretty good music along the way, and what thanks do you get?

U2 played the Glastonbury Festival in Britain for the first time last night, and their performance was briefly disrupted when a group protesting about the band’s alleged tax avoidance inflated a large balloon carrying the slogan ‘U Pay Your Tax 2′.

Of course, no conservative is going to quibble about the band’s right to take all legally-available steps to minimize their tax liability. The trouble is, such business dealings sit rather uneasily alongside Bono’s repeated calls for Western governments to send more money to developing nations, and write off outstanding debt.

From the conservative point of view, if Bono devoted his energy to encouraging private individuals and business to hand over their cash to charities, there wouldn’t be an issue here; the problem is, if governments are to send more money to Africa they need to get it from someone, and that someone is you, me and U2.

Yup. If your whole schtick is built around how the government should give more money to corrupt, socialist, third world governments headed by kleptomaniacs with Swiss bank accounts and it says right in the Bible (somewhere) that we must, then said governments are going to need tax revenue and a lot more of it. So, pay up or shut up.

Timothy Noah quotes "Mr. Justice Issue" as follows:

"Preventing the poorest of the poor from selling their products while we sing the virtues of the free market … that's a justice issue," Bono said at a prayer breakfast attended by President Bush, Jordan's King Abdullah, and various members of Congress earlier this year. Preaching this sort of thing has made Bono a perennial candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. He continued:

Holding children to ransom for the debts of their grandparents ... that's a justice issue. Withholding life-saving medicines out of deference to the Office of Patents ... that's a justice issue.

And relocating your business offshore in order to avoid paying taxes to the Republic of Ireland, where poverty is higher than in almost any other developed nation?

It seems odd to me that millionaires and billionaires who campaign for governments to spend more of other people's money on their pet projects and publicity-generating schemes don't want to pair their "fair share" of taxes in their own home countries. Surely they understand that there is a direct correlation between their redistributionist schemes and the high rate of taxes they have to pay, don't they?

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