[WARNING: The following article contains images that some people may (and should) find disturbing. If you don’t want to see fairly graphic images then stop reading now or scroll down with a soft touch]
David Cameron has described Jimmy Carr as “Morally wrong” for allegedly paying as low as 1% on his income taxes thanks to a scheme known as K2, advised by his accountant as perfectly legal and used by celebrities on both the left and the right.
But he’s not not behaving unethically, in fact, morally, he’s in the right.
To explain why, I will be asking you to stick with me through a seemingly unrelated tangent but, if we’re lucky, it will tie up in the end.
The following earnings are made up for the sake of simplicity but the logic holds true whether you scale up or down:
To begin let’s suppose Jimmy Carr is a model tax-payer and let’s say he earns £1,000,000 gross profit in the 2012 tax year. Without any exemptions and filing purely as an individual he would expect to pay close to 50% directly to the Inland Revenue. At that rate he is handing over approximately £500,000 to David Cameron’s government.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways that £500,000 will be spent once the government has its (apparently righteous) hands on it:
At least £44,000 of this half a million will go towards “Defence”. The quandry for the informed and ethical man (but not the amoral/immoral) when pondering this contribution, however, is that “Defense” is really just a euphemism for Offense. Still etched in the memories of anybody who takes a passing interest in politics (regardless of which side of the fence they fall) is that spark of defiance in February of 2003 when almost a million people marched through London in protest against the proposal to wage war against Iraq. They chanted “No more war!” They screamed the justification was immoral. Some even cried for people they had never met, guessing before the fact just how horrific the consequences could be. They were right.
According to the work done by the invaluable Iraq Body Count (a website which has been around for almost ten years and is a beautiful example of a genuinely essential public service being provided freely on the market and funded entirely from the voluntary donations of private individuals and institutions) there have been, as of June 2012, between 107,015 and 116,909 confirmed civilian deaths from violence since the invasion began. The important thing to remember is that the IBC only records civilian deaths; non combatants. Completely innocent people… And although the UK had officially withdrawn the bulk of their troops by 2009, the government, the soldiers and all those who supported the occupation have a share of that blood on their hands.
The saying goes that a single death is a tragedy, but a million deaths is a statistic. There is more to this oft-repeated quote than meets the eye. There is a logic to the vague apathy that most of us feel upon hearing a statement like “107,000 civilians dead”. As humans we evolved in tribes of maybe a few hundred people at an absolute maximum. To grieve, in that environment, for somebody you’ve known, for somebody whose face you can visualise and remember, is as natural as life itself. When we hear a story about a brutal stabbing we have an instantly visceral response. We can imagine witnessing the event; worse, we can imagine being the person attacked. The moral outrage is immediate, the feelings personal. But try thinking about what it means that 107,000 innocent people have been killed? It’s easy to think about it logically and say “that’s wrong”, not so easy to feel it emotionally and without feeling it emotionally it’s easy to forget just how horrific that statistic is.
So with that in mind, I’m going to try to help you visualise what 107,015 innocent deaths looks like.
The following quote is from a 2009 article in The Independent titled “Iraq air raids hit mostly women and children.”
Analysis carried out for the research group Iraq Body Count (IBC) found that 39 per cent of those killed in air raids by the US-led coalition were children and 46 per cent were women. Fatalities caused by mortars, used by American and Iraqi government forces as well as insurgents, were 42 per cent children and 44 per cent women.
The implication here is quite staggering. Innocent people are being killed in numbers far greater than “enemy combatants”. This isn’t just collateral damage, it’s the majority of the “damage”.
Finding any kind of news report with pictures of any of these 107,015 is surprisingly difficult. Try picking some names at random from the IBC’s database and Googling them. If the papers mention them at all it’s two inches of column without a picture. The vast majority won’t get that. This isn’t a conspiracy theory I’m asking you to believe, you can try this yourself.
This is a picture of the body of Lamiamh Ali being prepared at an Iraq Mosque. She was six years old when a coalition cluster-bomb exploded outside her home killing her and her two of her siblings.
To all the people out there who love life, let me ask you this: would you trade your welfare cheques to bring back this little girl’s life? Would you give up your government pension so her little brother could play football again? Would you say NO to your “free” NHS healthcare if you could bring her back? Would you? It’s a serious question. Think about it. Perhaps you’re not sure yet but next time you hear a fucking scumbag on Newsnight say “Tax-dodgers are simply not paying their fair share” remember that he has weighed it up and not only has he decided her life is worth wasting but he’s also happy enough about his position that he will vocally and stridently condemn people’s who disagree. This is what Cameron has done to Jimmy Carr. But I digress…
So far I’ve shown you a single picture to try to get you to feel something; something that clutches your moral compass tightly until it remembers it can ache. Something than means more than the six digits 107,015.
It’s hard to conceptualise that many deaths as anything more than trivia, but nothing worth doing is easy. As you look at the following image keep in mind, as the scale increases, that every single victim has a story just like that of young Lamiamh Ali. Every single person had a family who mourned for them. Every. Single. One. Take it all in. Really take it in, with your whole heart.
1) The state will not stop waging war on its own volition. Governments always and forever use war to expand their power and transfer money from you to them, no matter how long they’ll spend in hell for it.
2) You cannot use Democracy to stop war. We saw how much the government cares about popular opinion when they ignored the UK’s clear message that they did not want to enter into this war and instead they went with what they wanted to do instead. Democracy will not save you.
3) A large percentage of any tax you pay to the government will go directly to adding more dots to the graphic. More and more and more and more dots until the blood spilled is equal only to the hate still boiling in the hearts of new enemies who didn’t even know they hated us until our government killed their children on our behalf with our money.
The only way things will ever change is if people start praising tax-evasion as the heroic act it is. If everybody has the guts to do it the state would wither away over night. I don’t have the guts. Most people, quite understandably, don’t. Why? Because the state–as 107,015 lost souls can’t testify–is fucking scary.
When you hear about a person who takes extra steps to minimise the money that is extorted from the state your only thought should be “that’s great news.”
I’m angry enough to start drawing lines. If you’ve read and comprehended this full text and you are still willing to concur with David Cameron that Jimmy Carr is “morally wrong” for what he did then quite frankly I’m going to start making moral pronouncements too. You dish it out, you better be able to take it. Eat this:
ANYBODY WHO CHAMPIONS THE PAYMENT OF TAX IS DIRECTLY COMPLICIT IN THE BRUTAL MURDER AND BODILY DISFIGUREMENT OF TENS OF THOUSANDS OF INNNOCENT WOMEN AND CHILDREN.
YOU ARE COMPLICIT.
SHAME ON YOU.
And for those of you with a heart and a brain, who know and have always known that wars of aggression are as wrong as pre-meditated murder, let me address that nagging fear I suspect you have. That fear that stops you embracing tax-evasion and everything it implies:
You are conflicted because although the pictures make you feel bad, the state hand-outs of all kinds make you feel good. Well I’m going to be brutally honest for one final time. You need to grab hold of your inner courage and shake it until it wakes up. This is the truth:
107,015 deaths are not worth anything the government can hand out. There is no hospital the state can build, no school they can fund, no single-mother they can support that makes up for mass murder.
Nothing justifies it.
But here’s some good news: absent The State we would actually have better welfare, cheaper and cleaner hospitals, perhaps most importantly we would have better education and with that a generation of children raised in a world which didn’t force them into the kinds of unnatural internal conflicts that plague adults today.
All you need, and I really mean this, is the philosophy of liberty and your soul will be clear. You’ll feel lighter of spirit and you’ll love yourself for finally having the courage to embrace what’s right. Forget about being jealous of rich Jimmy Carr and his “unfair” tax breaks. Jimmy Carr is not important. What’s important is what you believe and why you believe it. Don’t settle for less:
Finally, to Jimmy Carr, who has since publicly apologised for his “terrible error of judgement” I have this to say: we know why you did it. We know you’re not really sorry and your apology was given for one simple reason: the state is a terrifying and violent institution. An institution so bereft of ethics you wonder if they would literally torture you for fun if only they could figure out how to tax you at the same time. On the 11’O Clock show I’ve seen you do some very stupid political segments which, in the eyes of many, have made you appear a hypocrite after the news of your off-shore accounting… and in some ways, you are. But it’s not the tax-evasion you need to apologise for but rather for going on TV and pushing status quo big-government solutions wrapped in humour which misleads the less-informed. For that you actually should feel some guilt but it’s not too late to use your powers for good and, who knows, you might just create a legacy for yourself that’s more than just “Oh he told jokes and was a greedy tax-dodger.” You have a chance to take a stand. Explain why the government doesn’t deserve a penny from yours or anybody else’s wallet; explain that you will continue to do everything in your power to minimise what is extorted from you because it is morally RIGHT. Do that and you could bring together the libertarians, the anti-war left and people who like dick jokes in a beautiful trifecta of glory, the likes of which you’ve never known before. Don’t appeal to people’s stupidity. Raise them up. I like you and I know you’ve got it in you if you want to do it.