I'm not a fan of David Cameron, the United Kingdom's Prime Minister.
Even though he belongs to the Conservative Party that produced the great Margaret Thatcher, Cameron seems to be a bit of guilt-ridden statist with his finger always in the air to see which way the wind is blowing. The policy results are not pretty.
- Cameron has undermined the U.K.'s system of personal retirement accounts.
- Cameron is giving taxpayer money to statist environmental groups.
- Cameron has increased the capital gains tax.
- Cameron is increasing the burden of government spending.
Now I have another reason to dislike Cameron. He just condemned a comedian for legally seeking to minimize the amount of his income that is seized - and then wasted - by the U.K. government. Here are some of the details from The Telegraph.
Prime Minister David Cameron today branded the tax arrangement of comedian Jimmy Carr "morally wrong" after it emerged he was using a scheme which allows the wealthy to pay as little as one per cent of their income. ...Speaking at the G20 summit the Prime Minister told ITV News: "I think some of these schemes - and I think particularly of the Jimmy Carr scheme - I have had time to read about and I just think this is completely wrong. "People work hard, they pay their taxes, they save up to go to one of his shows. They buy the tickets. He is taking the money from those tickets and he, as far as I can see, is putting all of that into some very dodgy tax avoiding schemes. ...some of these schemes we have seen are quite frankly morally wrong." ...Lawyers for the comedian have...categorically denied any wrongdoing, saying the scheme had been disclosed to the relevant authorities in line with the law. ...Chancellor George Osborne has claimed he was left “shocked” after finding the extent to which multi-millionaires were exploiting tax loopholes and vowed to take “action”.
div I have no idea whether the specific "tax avoiding scheme" used by Carr is good tax policy (protecting against double taxation, for instance) or bad policy (such as a loophole that creates favoritism for a specific behavior), but that's not the point of this post.
Instead, this is a moral question about whether people have some sort of obligation to pay extra tax, merely to get some sort of pat on the head from politicians. The same politicians, by the way, that squander the money on varying vote-buying schemes that undermine prosperity and create dependency.
I'd be willing to condemn Carr if I found out he's some sort of statist who wants higher taxes for everybody else, but then (like John Kerry) takes steps to minimize his personal tax bill.
But I'd be condemning Carr for hypocrisy, not criticizing the idea of tax avoidance.
The United Kingdom has become a bloated welfare state (with horribly depressing implications, as you can read here and here). If people want to be moral, they should strive to pay the least amount possible to this corrupt and wasteful enterprise. The United States is not quite as bad (yet), but the same principle applies.
Politicians, needless to say, will violently disagree with this ethical viewpoint. So we can all expect more taxes, higher taxes, and additional draconian enforcement measures.
The only good news is that the Laffer Curve will prevent these greedy thugs from collecting nearly as much money as they think.
P.S. To get an idea of how the Conservative Party has declined, compare Cameron's statist rhetoric to Margaret Thatcher's comments that "there is no such thing as public money."