Brass Tax

High-profile personalities and organisations – among them Premier League football clubs – have been slated for partaking in the furlough scheme. They can, apparently, afford to pay their own way out of the current crisis.

Now, hang on a minute, let’s get down to the brass tacks.

But first, a disclaimer. This isn’t about the distribution of wealth in society or who should generally pay more or less tax. It’s about nefarious propaganda and distraction. It’s about spite and petty vendettas.

The Government chose to cut off the oxygen supply to organisations. Why should wealthy stakeholders then foot the bill? If they feel they can or should, then that’s a personal decision. But it’s not a moral one, nor is it an obligation. You could contend that with its rash, blind leap of faith into lockdown, the Government’s mouth wrote cheques that its strategic nous couldn’t cash.

What you’re now seeing are black arts attempts to muddy the waters. If newspapers are reporting celebrity apathy and purported greed, they’re zoning out from scrutiny of our national leadership. Moreover, those with an axe to grind are throwing out a few hand grenades on a false pretext and out of jealousy. Every little helps.

Why are footballers being pushed to take pay cuts and high-profile stars being railroaded into buttressing business from their personal pocket? Our elected administration should be covering it. All of it.

Boris and his pals made a decision that they should underwrite. End of. So why wouldn’t commercial enterprises who are being scuppered through no fault of their own avail themselves of available funding? It’s got nothing to do with whether they could afford to stump up themselves, but about fairness. A victim of crime might be able to afford to be ripped off, but that doesn’t detract from the case for the prosecution.

We all pay our dues in the form of tax and National Insurance – buckets of it. All ostensibly to support the administration of the nation and its services. This coronavirus strategy is one aspect of this. So, why the hoo-ha?

But a word about taxes – they aren’t about morality. They’re about law and obligation. There’s no rhyme or reason to it other than to claw in as much as possible. It’s unforgiving and cuts no slack. It will see you go under even if it doesn’t need the money you owe. There’s no methodology that states that x will always be taxed, and y will not. And even if a tax starts out as such, it gets twisted. Look at VAT and the original premise of ‘luxuries only‘. That soon got ransacked.

Looking at the surpluses the Government can whistle up when it feels it need to, there’s plenty sloshing around. Consider the rest of the bust fund, and there’s a whole load of debt that we’ll be repaying for generations. The largest peacetime national debt since 1945. Guess who’s going to shoulder that? Most of them haven’t even been born yet.

With tax, all the rhetoric about ‘everyone paying their fair share’ is as rouge as the reddest red herring. It’s a trick to disarm resentful taxpayers so they feel more upstanding (and more compliant) and a ploy to set citizen against citizen. It all has one goal – to boost revenues.

Many of the negative stories you’ll be hearing about wealthy stars are smokescreens, put out by those who are either seeking distraction or who believe the rhetoric. For other shamers, it’s about using the biggest available stick with which to whack people they simply don’t like or to further alternative agendas. A fortuitous pretext for dishing out a big beating.

But back to the Government and its sense of obligation. They’re offering very little charity. 90% of the aid is loan-based. You’ve got to pay it back, with interest, and in the context of a shot economy. That means over longer time and at a greater price.

Loan sharks offer readies at extortionate rates, and the practice is illegal. How would you define snaring whole sectors of society into obligatory borrowing and long-term debt where you make profit on an industrial scale?

That’s called current Government policy.

Don’t take your eye off the ball. The Government is looking to get from A to B, and many will crash and burn. Whether the pie is cut differently in future, it matters little to them. So far, they’ve ballsed it up, but the deck is being re-shuffled, re-stacked, and they’ll end up milking it. It’s a marathon not a sprint.

But be clear: this is all a government choice. Whether you believe that the rich should pay more or less tax, this virus situation is not the vehicle for that wrangle. Conflate the arguments, and you’ll end up blaming the wrong people. That’s precisely what some are shooting for.

We’re not all in this together, but we are all in it.

When the time comes to point the finger, let’s make sure it’s at the right people.

unsplash-logoJess Bailey

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