Free Markets, Free People


Today’s tax rant – U2 and Medicare?

You might ask, what could McQ possibly find similar in an article about a U2 concert and an LA Times opinion piece about Medicare?

Well, you might be surprised.

Here are excerpts from the articles.  First the U2 concert:

U2 and its frontman Bono, known for their global poverty-fighting efforts, were accused of dodging taxes in Ireland by activists who crashed their performance at England’s Glastonbury festival.

The anti-capitalist group Art Uncut inflated a 6-metre balloon emblazoned with the message "U Pay Your Tax 2." Security guards wrestled them to the ground before deflating the balloon and taking it away. About 30 people were involved in the angry clash.


Art Uncut argues that while Bono campaigns against poverty in the developing world, his group has avoided paying Irish taxes at a time when his austerity-hit country desperately needs money.

Ireland, which has already accepted an international bailout, is suffering through deep spending cuts, tax hikes and rising unemployment as it tries to pull the debt-burdened economy back from brink of bankruptcy."


“Tax(es) nestling in the band’s bank account should be helping to keep open the hospitals, schools and libraries that are closing all over Ireland," Art Uncut member Charlie Dewar said ahead of the protest.

U2, the country’s most successful band, was heavily criticised in 2006 for moving its corporate base from Ireland to the Netherlands, where royalties on music incur virtually no tax.

Okay?  Got the gist?

Now to an article where Michael Hiltzik obviously thinks he does yeoman’s work “debunking” Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan.  Here’s his underlying premise:

One of the basic flaws of Ryan’s plan is that he folds Medicare’s long-term fiscal problem into the near-term problem of the federal deficit. But these are two very different things. As Henry Aaron of the Brookings Institution observes, the current government deficit is the result of an enormous tax cut mostly for the wealthy, of paying for two wars by credit card, of the Great Recession, and of spending to address that recession. Recovery will address at least some of that, and restoring income tax rates to pre-Bush levels would go a long way toward managing the rest.

Or tax cut, spending, recession, spending.   His solution? Tax and tax.  Seriously when he says “recovery will address at least some of that”, he’s talking about increased tax revenue.  And of course the rest of his solution is a tax increase (of course only on the “wealthy”).

Spending?  Well it’s only a problem now.  It becomes a lost word when it comes to solutions.    His tax solutions, you see, will take care of everything.  No need to cut spending.

But that’s not even the big point here.   In both the U2 story and the Hitzik op/ed, a very basic assumption is made – that the money earned by the wealthy is OWED to the rest of society simply because the rest of society has gotten itself in over its head.  And in the case of both stories, the wealthy are assumed to be “dodging” taxes by doing what is legal (and necessary) to protect what they earned.  Their property.

U2, who would prefer to use what they earn for their own priorities (fighting poverty as it turns out), are criticized for not turning it over to be spent as the protesters think it should be spent.   They actually believe they’re being cheated of their money because the band has moved to a place which doesn’t tax what they do as heavily as the country from which they originate.  There’s no other reason for the protest if that isn’t their belief, is there?

So with Hiltzik and the protesters we see variations of the same theme that is so popular on the left.  In essence it says that what you earn is really owned by all and they have every right to determine how much you keep – not you.  That, as most of us know and understand, is a foundational concept of one of the most dangerous ideologies in the world.


And, as Margaret Thatcher famously said, “the problem with socialism is you eventually run out of other people’s money”. 

That’s precisely what the “solutions” the protesters and Hiltzik put forward are attempting to stay, isn’t it?


Twitter: @McQandO