Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Morality and Politicians

Please note: I am not the Devil

Ahhh, I love the smell of rank hypocrisy in the mornings. Today’s moron of choice is Treasury Minister David Gauke, who has this to say on the notion of paying for work cash in hand:
"Getting a discount with your plumber by paying cash in hand is something that is a big cost to the Revenue and means others have to pay more in tax.

"I think it is morally wrong. It is illegal for the plumber but it is pretty implicit in those circumstances that there is a reason why there is a discount for cash. That is a large part of the hidden economy.”
So there we have it. If you have ever paid for something cash in hand, you are morally wrong. You shit, you.

Of course, it is perfectly ok to pay someone nothing in return for working for you, as Gauke’s advert for an intern proves. So here we have the warped morality of a Treasury Minister – cash in hand, bad. Not paying people at all, a-ok. Still, I guess there is a certain logic to this. If he is paying his intern the square root of fuck all, then they can’t avoid tax. On the grounds that they can’t pay any because they aren’t earning anything.

For what it is worth, I have no problem with the notion of paying for work cash in hand or with the idea of unpaid interns. When it comes to the latter, well, if you are dumb enough to go work for an MP for free, then good luck to you. As for the former, well, I have no issue with tax avoidance – for me, it is like harm avoidance; it may not always be possible, but that certainly won’t stop me from doing it wherever and whenever I can. After all, if it truly was a problem then Gauke and his odious ilk would surely legislate against it. Just like they do against every other bastard thing that does not entirely float their boat.

But these reflections are tangential to the main point, which is that politicians no longer (if they ever did) have the credibility to tell me how I should live from a moral perspective. They are mired in hypocrisy, cowardly compromise, intellectual vacuity, constant mendacity and stunning ineptitude. The very best a modern day politician can claim for in this country is a certain level of competence; anything more is ambitious to the point of stupid. And until we have a political class that is actually prepared to step out of the long shadow cast by that deceitful, dangerous fool Tony Blair and come to the table with their own sound, well-argued convictions, then you’ll have to forgive me, but I have no time for lectures in morality from those who ultimately serve no-one other than themselves.

UPDATE: Guido has more here. And here. And here. Clearly, this man is a cunt on a cosmic scale and just wading through the myriad hypocrises that surround him has made me want to go and have a wash. With bleach.


Suboptimal Planet said...

"I have no issue with tax avoidance – for me, it is like harm avoidance"

I agree that tax avoidance is commendable, but we're supposing that the plumber here is practising tax evasion, aren't we?

Rothbard would say that that's morally justified as well, and I half agree with him, but we shouldn't conflate the two.

As for the person paying the plumber in cash, they're neither evading nor avoiding tax. What the plumber does is his business (perhaps he just doesn't like bank charges).

With my tinfoil hat on, I reckon Gauke's comments are part of a campaign to abolish cash so that the government can lock down our liquid assets at the touch of a button.

The Nameless Libertarian said...

Sure, the plumber might be taking the cash in hand to evade tax, to avoid it or maybe because, as you say, he doesn't like bank charges. Now it might be possible to construct an argument that at least the first course of action is morally wrong. But there is the implicit assmuption here that everyone who takes cash in hand is doing it to evade the tax man.

I guess one of the things that really pisses me off about this sort of pronouncement is the implicit certainty of knowledge that Guake purports to have. Implicit in his argument is the assumption that he has divined the motives of all people who take cash in hand - a palpably stupid position as soon as one stops to think about it. But he goes from that palpably stupid position to one where he is making sweeping more judgments about the people he is employed to serve. And that's what makes him, if you pardon my French, a total cunt.

Barman said...

And that's what makes him, if you pardon my French, a total cunt.


Fantastic post!

Resigned to the inevitable said...

Great post

Over at Guido he lays out the full, sickening, hypocrisy: avoided stamp duty, wife at firm that advises tax lawyers , and Gauke himself working at a tax law firm - and we all know how tax lawyers earn their money

Suboptimal Planet said...

Your French is pardoned, Nameless Libertarian. Well said.

Old Codger said...

"The very best a modern day politician can claim for in this country is a certain level of competence"

These days most seem to be totally incompetent so few can claim the above. I doubt Gauke is among them.

Anonymous said...

They need to update the OED so when you look up Hypocrite there is a picture of this asshat and a short explanation..

Anonymous said...

This guy is a wet fart and it's disturbing that someone who has so much dirty history had the gall to point fingers. What a twat.

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