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“…so we just had to read more when we saw this news intro on page-one of today’s Irish Times: “U2 singer Bono says he was ’stung’ and ‘hurt’ by criticism of the band moving part of its business to the Netherlands to lessen its tax burden.
Oh, Bono, dear Bono. Is that a tear I see in your eye, behind the wraparound shades? No, maybe not. As the interview with Bono in the newspaper demonstrates yet again, this is indeed a man entirely without shame. And also not too well endowed in the smarts department. His main excuse — all the other corporate entities were doing it — is a childish abdication of moral responsibility. And as another excuse he adds, “I can’t speak up without betraying my relationship with the band — i.e. maybe this wasn’t really my idea but I’ve got to stick with my greedy pals. Well, that’s just low.
But let’s allow Bono to speak for himself. Tax avoidance, he says, is how Ireland got rich:
I can understand how people outside the country wouldn’t understand how Ireland got to its prosperity, but everybody in Ireland knows that there are some very clever people in the Government and in the Revenue who created a financial architecture that prospered the entire nation — it was a way of attracting people to this country who wouldn’t normally do business here. And the financial services brought billions of dollars every year directly to the exchequer.
There’s at least half-truth in what he’s saying: helping rich foreign companies avoid taxes was indeed part of the story of the Celtic Tiger. But Bono is leaving out the moral of the story, something else that “everybody in Ireland knows”: now that this get-rich-quick scheme has collapsed, Ireland is getting poor as precipitously quickly as any country in the developed world. So Bono is justifying U2’s tax-avoidance by comparing it to the Irish ‘financial architecture’ that is now justly regarded as a national scandal, part of what brought more than 100,000 people on to Dublin’s streets to protest last weekend. Oops.”
Oh my, terms like “limousine liberal” do come to mind. It’s easy to call for backing of the struggling poor, until one is asked to pay for it. Apparently it’s easier to pitch pennies to your hobby-horse charities and steal dollars (or in this case Irish punts), all the while calling other folks shameless tightwads for not contributing a school in Africa [maybe 'cos this one in Dublin still needs a bit of work?].
Let’s end off with a joke: Why is the Irish unit of currency called a punt? Because it rhymes with “bank manager”.
Postscript 3/19/09: read here about Bono’s many corporate and (bloodthirsty) political ties.