Digital Cabinet

Polevaulter Donkeyman's rants, raves musings and flame wars

Posts Tagged ‘the guardian

Agent Haddon Goes Wild for Taxes

leave a comment »

Author Mark Haddon has come out for higher income taxes on the wealthy like him:

“I’m a wealthy person. Austerity measures introduced by the coalition have caused real suffering to many people, but my comfortable life hasn’t changed in the slightest. Why have I, and people like me, been asked to contribute nothing?” Haddon told the Sunday Times he had annoyed his accountant by insisting on paying all tax that was due rather than seeking to avoid it. “I should be paying more tax,” he said.

(emphasis mine)


Mr. Haddon clarified on his blog:

also, for the record, all those on twitter and in the guardian comment columns who suggest that i simply send an extra cheque to the HMRC are missing the point. i am talking about a systemic, moral and political problem not personal feelings of guilt. and, in point of fact, i do send an extra cheque, but i send it to oxfam. some people think that’s wrong, too, but you can’t please everybody…

(emphasis mine)


Some questions for Mr. Haddon:

  1. What in your mind is the optimum marginal tax rate you should be paying?
  2. Why did you not cut a cheque to the HMRC based on your desired rate rather than paying only what was legally required?
  3. Did you take advantage of any deductions such as the personal allowance?
  4. Do you take any advantage of tax sheltered schemes such as Individual Savings Accounts, Pension Funds, National Savings Accounts, and other such devices?
  5. Would you release your tax returns (present and past) to the public?
  6. Do you take a deduction off your tax/taxable income because of your charitable contribution to Oxfam?
  7. Given that you do send an extra cheque to Oxfam (and your language makes it seem you see it as an adequate replacement for the tax you should be paying to the HMRC but don’t), if your tax rates are increased, would your contributions to Oxfam decrease? Do you think that higher tax rates would decrease contributions to charities by others?


To be charitable to Mr. Haddon there is a collective action problem here. He does not want to contribute alone to the HMRC, since his individual contribution would be minuscule given the total tax revenue. But that does not get him off the hook. His desire to pay more tax implies that the government spends wisely, so it speaks volumes that he does not trust the government enough to voluntarily give it more money, in fact he trusts Oxfam more. Is his call for higher taxes just a signal to all the “right-minded” folk that he is one of them?


And one final point. Mr. Haddon talks about the systemic, moral and political problem of low taxes and high austerity. But his solution is not to convince his fellow 1%-ers to contribute to charity to alleviate the hardships of people he claims to care about; it is to use the power flowing from the barrel of a gun, to force others to adopt his moral positions and to live as he prescribes.


The last word goes to Mr. Haddon:


P.S. Title of the post alludes to Agent Z Goes Wild, a children’s book by Mark Haddon.


Written by Polevaulter Donkeyman

August 14, 2012 at 11:58

Grauniad and Nick Cohen, Your Bias is Showing

leave a comment »

Nick Cohen of The Observer has a column up on the prosecution of Simon Walsh for the possession of extreme pornography. A quote:

Charges of possessing extreme pornography are enough to destroy any man. When the Crown Prosecution Service added the allegation that the pornography included an image of child abuse, Simon Walsh’s disgrace seemed complete. He was a barrister, a City of London alderman, a magistrate and one of Boris Johnson’s appointees on the London Fire Authority. The mention of paedophile porn, and gay porn at that, sent these venerable institutions running.

I know it is hopeless to seek to dent Boris Johnson’s self-portrait of a carefree British patriot in this moment of Olympic euphoria, but it’s all an act. In the 1930s, a journalist confronted Brendan Bracken, Churchill’s bumptious sidekick, and bellowed: “You’re phoney! Everything about you is phoney! Even your hair that looks like a wig – isn’t!” Bracken had a mop of red hair to match Johnson’s mop of blond. If Johnson were a true, plain-speaking patriot, he would have stood by Britain’s best principle that a citizen is innocent until proven guilty. But he is a phoney, and his officials fired Walsh without a second’s thought.


Given that Cohen has taken, the requisite Guardian mandated, potshots at a Tory politician, what he chooses not to mention in his column is illuminating:

  1. The law under which Walsh was prosecuted, the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, §63 was passed by a Labour controlled Parliament.
  2. The law was heavily promoted by then Labour MP Martin Salter
“No-one is stopping people doing weird stuff to each other but they would be strongly advised not to put it on the internet. At the end of the day it is all too easy for this stuff to trigger an unbalanced mind. These snuff movies and other stuff are seriously disturbing. Many police officers who have to view it as part of their job have to undergo psychological counselling. [The Act] simply plugs a hole in the law because the Obscene Publications Act is about as much use as a chocolate fireguard as far as the internet is concerned. This new law is designed to meet the challenge of the internet.”[1]

“I am absolutely thrilled this law has been passed. But most of all I am delighted for Liz. If we can reduce some peoples’ temptation to watch violent images, including rape and mutilation, then that is a good thing. It is also important we protect the women who are in these videos.”[2]


But of course, no mention of Labour or any Labour MP anywhere in the article.


Footnotes


[1] ‘Extreme’ porn proposals spark row

[2] Justice for Jane as bill becomes law