I've been on a much unaccustomed evening out. A friend of mine at work has got a new job in a different department so tonight a bunch of us went out for a meal. Then I had to nip off so that I was home in time to allow Big to go off to his DJing gig. I'm sat here watching 8 Out Of 10 Cats now, just to see how much ribbing Jimmy Carr gets.
And on that subject.... bear with me, bit of a stream of conciousness incoming.
It's not so much that I condone Jimmy Carr for investing a legal scheme to reduce his tax bill to a fraction of what it could be. It's that I recognise that no one, no one at all, would be told 'you know if you do this and this with your money you won't have to pay so much tax' and say 'oh, that's ok, I like handing over a substantial quantity of my hard-earned to the government, I want to pay more than I have to'
I get that, of course I do and the slightly disconcerting fact is that not declaring the money you've made regularly selling your old stuff on ebay is criminal, while sending your money offshore and pretending to loan it back to yourself isn't in the slightest. Working for cash and not declaring it is illegal. Paying a tradesman cash for a lower rate is facilitating an illegal act. What I'm getting at here is that it's pretty hard to find someone with high enough moral ground to properly throw stones at Jimmy Carr's glass house. Even if he chucked a few at someone else's first.
Certainly not our dear PM and Chancellor. Both millionaires and both living lifestyles that don't seem to be sustainable on their official salaries and yet both apparently not subject to the top rate of tax. I say apparently because some months ago when the issue of tax avoidance last made the news, they both muttered to that effect and made some vague assurances that they would publish their tax details to show they had nothing to hide.
Furthermore, David Cameron's father built their fortune out of offshore tax havens so for his son to stand up and decry some smug, shiny faced oik of a satirist comedian for doing exactly what the far majority of high earners in this country do. Especially if he's suddenly going to realise that and go all reticent, refusing to comment of the similar activities of other, Tory supporting, millionaires at least one of whom has just been given a OBE. We're not even going to start on about Vodafone or Goldman Sachs and how they don't even bother to invest in avoidance schemes, they just don't bloody well pay it and take the HMRC out for lunch instead.
Sometimes I look at the latest leak, the latest U-turn, the latest damn fool statement this shower have made and I wonder what they're trying to divert attention from. I wonder because I'm an optimist. In my optimism I innocently trust that our government is competent really, but cynically misdirecting us and our media like a master magician, always ensuring we're looking at the pretty girl when we should be watching for the sleight of hand. I see their story about leaving daughters in the pub and crow to myself "Ha! they simply don't want the media spotlight on this week's Leveson Inquiry evidence!" and so on.
But then I look again and I realise, no they're just a bunch of idiots without the faintest idea.