Tax avoiders like Jimmy Carr should be publicly shamed
Opinion digest: celebrity tax avoidance, the end of wind farms and the intractable eurozone crisis
EVERY weekday morning from The Week online - a daily wrap-up of the best comment and opinion articles from the morning papers and the top political bloggers. If you think we've missed a good one, please let us know. Contact us via Twitter @TheWeekUK.
PAY TAX ACCORDING TO CONSCIENCE, NOT THE LAW
DAVID AARONOVITCH ON TAX AVOIDANCE
The story of comedian Jimmy Carr's tax avoidance has caused some moral confusion, says David Aaronovitch in The Times. Part of the confusion comes from the inherent ambiguity of the terms tax avoidance and tax evasion. “Tax avoidance is merely tax evasion that is legal, and tax evasion is merely tax avoidance that is illegal”. What is legal and what isn't changes as the law changes. But the “moral confusion” also comes from the idea that it is the job of the law to tell us what is moral. But it shouldn't just be up to the law to set our ethical and moral boundaries. There needs to be something else. Ideally, Carr and other big tax avoiders should have drawn on their conscience when deciding whether to use legal tax loopholes. Failing that, a Scandinavian-style public declaration of tax returns would have seen them shamed and ridiculed. “That's the way society works. Conscience first. Shame second. Law third.”
EUROZONE PEOPLE ARE LIKE PRISONERS IN COLDITZ
SIMON JENKINS ON THE EURO CRISIS
Bailouts and austerity measures are not working, says Simon Jenkins in The Guardian. Europe is bankrupt. The "bailouts" allowed by the German authorities to Greece and Spain are not aiding those economies. “They are merely propping up the dud loans of their own and other banks.” Austerity measures are immoral and counter-productive. The important thing is to implement the defaults and the stimuli quickly. Yet who in Europe will lead us down this path? There is no political entity called Europe. Europe is a confederacy, not a sovereign authority with electorally accountable cabinet, party system and police force. Voters in France, Greece, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands are doing what they can - “But they are prisoners in Colditz, incarcerated in a citadel of a currency and monetary union with all the flexibility of granite.” Only when national governments and their banks “choose to desert the euro might they begin to escape”.
THE WINDS OF CHANGE WILL LIFT THE TORIES
BENEDICT BROGAN ON THE ENERGY BILL
The Energy Bill is good news for the Tories, says Benedict Brogan in The Daily Telegraph. Ministers are set to announce a major reduction of Renewable Obligation Certificates. It's “hardly a sentence to set the pulse racing”, but what it means is that taxpayer subsidies to the wind farm industry will be slashed, killing onshore wind farms stone dead. It will halt the march of the wind turbines across the British landscape, resolving an issue that has poisoned relations between millions of affected voters and politicians. “The politics of so-called green energy remain painfully complex.” But switching off subsidies for wind farms, and looking to alternatives such as shale gas “puts clear blue water between the Tories and the Lib Dems”. Played right, “it could put Mr Cameron on the side of a global energy revolution that promises to keep the lights on”, lower costs, and “energise his electoral prospects”. ·