I’m a little late on this one, news-wise, but someone mentioned to me over the weekend that U2 have moved a load of their business affairs to Holland To avoid paying tax back home.
I’ve always found this kind of tax exile behaviour pretty reprehensible. You choose where you live, and render unto caesar what is caesar’s. Taxation isn’t the great evil – it is, until someone comes up with something better, the least-worst way to redistribute the wealth a little, based on the assumption that no-one makes money on their own, we’re all beholden to eachother to some extent, and if you’ve got a shitload of money, there’s zero evidence that having an even bigger shitload of money will make you happier. In fact, the misery of bitterness over how ‘unfair’ it is to be taxed is likely to make you more miserable if you’ve got loads of money.
So, when a band famed for their campaigning stance on the insidiousness of certain aspects of global finance, to do something that so clearly directs wealth away from their country of birth, of residence, of nurture seems not only fiscally suspect, but displays a scant lack of gratitude…
I just asked BDB about this via MSN, and his comment was ‘it depends what you’re planning on doing with the money’, which seems to be the american ‘compassionate conservative’ argument against higher taxation – let people earn more, and choose where to donate it.
the problem is, free markets are never free, and we’ve already got a world where charity fund-raisers are paid daft amounts of money to access all that financial goodwill that is out there. When individuals take it on themselves to do the redistribution themselves, certain hot-button charities do incredibly well, and others fall apart, regardless of how vital their work is.
The role of governments in this is to redistribute based on need, not on how effectively an advertising campaign tugs at the heartstrings. Yes, central government can be deeply inefficient, beaurocratic, non-sensical etc. etc. but it is still the least-worst option.
Within this web of life, the rich do bear some of the responsibility for the poor – neither riches nor poverty exist in a vacuum, and sharing the love benefits everyone.
So shipping your business dealings off-shore strikes me as complicity in the worst two tier-ism of globalisation. The rich end up paying a much smaller percentage of their wealth in tax than the poor, so those trying to feed their kids on one crappy McWage are struggling, while U2 and the Stones get to keep a few more million a year… yeah, that sounds like compassionate conservativism to me. What a crock.
Anyway, has anyone seen a response from the U2 camp on this? I’m certainly open to the notion that there’s a reasonable excuse for this, but I’m buggered if I can tell what it’s going to be…by