• A few words about Paul Hewson, U2 and their Tax Issues ...

    Having followed this story for some time, I, too, like many others have been perplexed and interested in the moral ramifications of this story. But here's what I've gotten from this story that most people seem to miss, or choose to not fully address:

    1. Tax avoidance is perfectly legal, it's tax evasion that is a crime, and there is a difference. We may not agree with what they are doing, but they aren't doing anything different than any other high profile artists or big corporations.

    2. Bono's time spent campaigning for the poor is worth a thousand times more than his own personal fortune in money and effect. What he and the rest of the band do with their hard earned cash is of no ones business but their own.

    3. U2 has invested millions, if not close to a billion dollars in Ireland's economy, directly, in the thirty five years that they've been making money. Ireland has benefitted greatly directly because of their Pop Statesmen campaigning with National Pride for their home country.

    4. U2 recently created a $6 Million dollar (one million dollars more than the Irish Government said they were cheated out of on 'projected tax revenue') educational endowment in Ireland for children who wish to learn music or pursue careers in music. I'm not too aware of other artists / musicians in this modern age that have done the same or anything close, even with the public knowing full well the US educational system has been grossly defunded. I haven't read too many other articles about other artists stepping up to the plate.

    5. The last time I checked, U2 are not supposed to be the lifeblood of a failing domestic economy, especially one that's been spiralling since the economic decline began. Is it no mystery that one of the biggest and consistent cash cows would eventually become outed in the press for withholding the moment the politicians needed more money?

    6. While the maistream press may seem set against U2, and specifically Bono (being the frontman and mouthpiece of the band), attacking them ad infinitum for the 'egregiousnous of tax evasion,' and continuing to report on the issue as if they were the perpatrators of some crime, it seems that bloggers en masse, back on their home Island nation, are more supportive of U2 and less supportive of the politicians as the news on the ground regarding how the majority of the money is spent is actually quite different in tone and scope as it's reported elsewhere. So, clearly, a lot of folks are just misinformed about Ireland's domestic political situation and see U2 as an easy scapegoat.

    7. As an author, a writer and a critic, I have written a fairshare of negative things about both U2 and Bono, so I've never been to Guyana with these guys and I'm far from a kool-aid drinker even though I am a fan. While it might seem easy to demonize Paul Hewson in this as a non-paying sell-out, which the man is definitely not, this is actually an issue of Domestic Irish Politics, an issue that most people would likely fail to be able to grasp the complexity of without having boots on the ground, so to speak.

    8. On a speculative point, perhaps both Bono and U2 may feel that they have paid MORE than their fair share into a tax system where they only seemingly earn less than 5% of their revenue from. Perhaps they completely disagree with the way the politicians are handling the money, which wouldn't seem far fetched if you've been following the news about DSK, the way the Euro has been handled and the IMF. Perhaps they feel those entities are inherently corrupt, and have been misspending the monies that they have happily paid them in the past, and is now inappropriate to continue to do so. Perhaps they felt it was time to base themselves elsewhere, as ethically, they they had reached a point, politically where:

    “the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part ...”  

    Yes, I always find it interesting that Mario Savio's words, uttered in 1964 must always echo when considering people's interaction with the state. Perhaps finally, out of National respect, they've kept their disagreement quiet, which they mostly have, as protesting it would incite many more to object, creating a more negative situation back home.

    Interestingly enough, I have a lot of very-conservative friends that live in all parts of the United States, and I've had many conversations about U2 and their tax issue with a few of them, in person, on the phone and also over email. All of them point them out as if they're boastful heretics who evade. People who decry U2, but then support US policies that protect ultra-lenient taxation policies of the ultra-rich, who are the real evaders, on their own soil, need to fully look inward instead looking like blatent hypocrites. It's a position that just doesn't sit amicable with each other. Do you support what you think are socialist doctrines or not?

    As a pretty politically conservative person myself, I do believe in a strong social safety net, which might seem incongruent. I just don't support a flagrant abuse of the system where everyone is entitled to some lush Roman-esque lifestyle which is just absurd and unfinanceable. I've blogged before about how Arts and Education, in the US, used to be funded by the Rockefeller's and people just like Bono, Bill Gates, Lady Gaga, Madonna, etcetera, but how today almost none of them don't contribute directly at all. It would be better if people voluntarily funded these things out of generosity, but-- where does the line stop and start where it's right or even just to expect them to, or legislate that they must, or contrive a system that forces them to unfairly?

    All I know, is that I'm not U2, Paul Hewson or Lady Gaga and I don't face any of those choices at all with my money. But the conversation is ours to be had and ours to think on. Hopefully, we do so however with a fair perspective and realize that our idol's are not immortals, so to speak, and they're (very likely) also not demons, either. Artists are supposed to make us think – not fund our, or other, Governments misdeeds or growing pains.


    Post a Comment