Friday, 16 November 2012

Tax evasion: a moral duty.

The comedian Jimmy Carr, and several other celebrities, have made headlines for tax evasion. What they have been doing is actually perfectly legal, but the state is predictably outraged at not getting its fair share of their earnings and will soon close that loophole.
Earlier, Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, criticised those who use tax avoidance loopholes as the “moral equivalent of benefits cheats”.
Well, of course the state would say that. The state thinks it owns everything, and just leases it to the citizens subjects, out of the goodness of its autocratic heart.

Are the two morally equivalent? At a first glance, maybe. Both Jimmy Carr and the benefits cheat earn their income by giving a convincing performance. Carr has to be funny enough to convince people to part with their money for the chance to watch him and be entertained. For the benefits cheat, the rewards are lower, but he nevertheless must convince some soulless bureaucrat that he is injured and unable to work.

The difference is in where the state enters the arrangement. While they both earn their income by giving a good performance, Carr's fans part with their money willingly, and they know what they're going to get. It's an honest transaction. The state only enters the picture once this transaction has taken place, to demand a cut even though it has in no way contributed to Carr's earnings.

For the benefits cheat, the state doesn't enter the scene after the voluntary transaction; the transaction is with the state, and is involuntary, since it relies on deception. The soulless bureaucrat, for whom the benefits cheat performs, would not part with public money if the benefits cheat was being honest.

Private money (like the sum total of Carr's earnings, given to him voluntarily by his fans) becomes public money when the state decides. Taxation is the state's primary source of income. That being so, public money consists almost entirely of the earnings of private citizens that has been expropriated from them. At the very least, the state should not demand too much, and should be careful about how the money is subsequently used.

The benefits cheat is immoral, because he claims part of the earnings of other people, redistributed through the state. Jimmy Carr is not immoral, because all the money he earns is his own; his fans have willingly parted with it. That's how they chose to spend it. The moral difference between Jimmy Carr and the benefits cheat is that Jimmy Carr doesn't stick a gun to your head and force you to open your wallet. He promises to make you laugh, and then it's your decision to pay him or not.

The benefits cheat doesn't stick a gun to your head and rob you either, but that's because the state does it on his behalf.

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My father, the old Trot, is apoplectic about the rich avoiding the taxman (never mind that they earned their fortunes; the rich are our enemies! He is silent on the subject of welfare scroungers). He is too old and set in his ways to even comprehend my Nozickian libertarianism, but I try anyway.

"So you'd like to make a gift to this government, would you?"

I've got you now, I think to myself. It's a Conservative administration, and he hates Tories! How will he resolve the cognitive dissonance? A moment passes, then he sputters:

"... if they keep emptying my bins, and repairing the roads, then yes, I'm happy to pay my fair share of tax!"

And launching foreign invasions and spying on us; those sound like great uses for public money too. Never mind that the crappy public services the state does provide would cost far less in a free market than what we pay in tax now. The market is anathema to all the stupid illusions he so angrily believes in, even as it provides him all the comforts he presently enjoys.

I don't bother saying any of this. I know from experience that it just makes him angrier. What's the deal with that, leftists? Whenever I discuss these issues I am as unshakeable as a mountain. Sure, I'm as prone to cynicism and hyperbole as anyone, but I don't bawl and frown and spray flecks of spit when challenged. Getting all excited doesn't show that you're passionate, it shows that you're defensive. You've pinned your argument to the hope that you can shut down discussion by out-shouting your opponent.

I doubt Jimmy Carr has much use for public services. Why would he? The NHS is a corporatist piece of shit with mediocre provision, so what incentive would he have to not have private healthcare? So what does it matter if he's not paying for public services, since he's not using them?

And before you tell me that, maybe if people like Carr paid all their taxes, the NHS wouldn't be such a piece of shit - bear in mind that the NHS is the fifth largest employer in the world, up there with McDonalds, Walmart, and the People's Liberation Army of China. It's absurdly overfunded for a nation of 65 million. No other civilized country has a public healthcare system so gargantuan.

The state wastes most of our money on bureaucracy, community organizing, foreign wars, foreign aid, propagandist media, frivolous expenses, and illiberal surveillance policies. And they have the fucking nerve to criticize someone for finding a way to legally withhold the income he has earned through his own talent and hard work?

Fuck the state. I declare it the moral duty of taxpayers to commit tax evasion, wherever they have the opportunity. Starve the leeches!

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It's unfortunate that since I wrote the above, Jimmy Carr has apologized for making "a terrible error of judgement." The hell he did! He knew exactly what he was doing, and is only sorry now that the slow-minded public are backlashing. His future career as an entertainer depends on the credibility of the groveling performance he is now required to give, so I can't really blame him.

David Gauke, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, speaking on the Today programme, reiterated the government's line about the immorality of tax evasion, particularly when wealthy people do it while so many people on middle incomes are struggling. The irony being that people on middle incomes are struggling because they pay too much in tax.

- Mojo

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