WOOHOO! Now there are two of us. Stop worry about the financial crisis, world: another enthusiastic taxpayer has been found. Two down, only seven billion to go.
After a recent speech by US President Barack Obama, a nerdy guy put up his hand and asked: “Would you please raise my taxes?”
He got a big laugh and a round of applause.
Reporters grabbed the guy afterwards. Doug Edwards explained that he was a Google staffer who had retired early with plenty of money.
Regular readers may recall that this columnist got a flurry of amazed letters when my neighbor offered to get me into a scheme to legally avoid paying taxes, and I rebuffed her, telling that I liked paying taxes. (If my wife is reading this, please note that “rebuffing” female neighbors does not violate any marriage vows, although having said that, I had better re-check the ten commandments to make absolutely sure.)
A colleague once commented on the size of the government hospital close to my home and I said: “Yes, it cost billions, but there’s an amazing team of financiers behind it—including yours truly.” He was mightily impressed, not realizing that every taxpayer can say the same thing.
On the downside, he now makes me pay for drinks every time we go out, so that was a gross strategic error on my part.
A few days ago, a reader emailed me a quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes, a US judge who should be dubbed the spiritual founder of the Happy Taxpayers movement. He said: “I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization.” Deep.
Wait. I’m hitting the pause button on my frontal lobe. Someone just read the paragraphs above over my shoulder and shook his head. “Accountants make a living helping people avoid taxes. They’ll burn your house to the ground.”
I told him that there was no way accountants would burn my house to the ground. “They have interns to do that sort of thing,” I said.
The Economist magazine once calculated that my one-time employer Rupert Murdoch managed in one particular period to legally avoid paying enough cash to finance seven hospitals or 300 primary schools. I felt really sorry for him. Imagine if you had enough spare cash to pay for all that AND YOU CHOSE NOT TO DO IT. Poor guy.
Having said that, News Corp does pay some tax. In contrast, some billionaires earn unimaginably huge sums of money, and hide the lot, paying no taxes at all. But I’m not going to let them upset my equilibrium. I refuse to pass judgment on these people, other to say that they are bottom-feeding scum who should DIE DIE DIE.
Now if anyone from the Inland Revenue Service is reading this, you can make the number of happy taxpayers grow from two of us (me and Doug) to a larger number quite easily, I reckon.
Just send us thank you notes when we pay our taxes. Mine could say: “Cheers, mate, you just financed two and a half bricks in the hospital’s new basement toilet. We really appreciate it.”
Filled with pride, I might even bring my friends around to have a look.
ON ANOTHER SUBJECT…
Greedy heart-less stock trader Alessio Rastani told the BBC that he loved crashes that destroyed economies because they were profitable for his hedge fund investments. “I go to bed every night, I dream of another recession,” he gloated.
BBC interviewers were stunned by his callousness.
Several readers sent me the clip of his TV interview, which got more than two million hits over the past couple of months.
It was interesting to look at the comments. People basically divided into two camps, one believing that the Mr. Rastani was the true, revolting face of the financial industry, and the other believing pretty much the same thing, but not seeing any problem with that.
His repulsiveness gave him his 15 minutes of fame and he got a spot on CNN and a book contract with John Wiley. This seemed to be one of those “the bad guy sometimes wins” stories that makes life depressing.
Until the UK Daily Telegraph set one of its investigative reporters on him. They investigated Mr Rastani’s home and his company holdings and learned that he lives in a relatively cheap house owned by his girlfriend, and the company he runs has big debts.
In other words, he is a phony.
We are living in a dangerous age where completely nobodies can win fame without actually achieving anything worthwhile at all.
Yeah, tempting, isn’t it?
Rusty said: “They may mean ‘snacks’ but on paradise isle, anything is possible.”
Have a great weekend. Jam over and out.