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By the tax demand divided March 5, 2006

Posted by lifejacket in Treatment of the proles.

Right at the start of this post I should clarify that in general I don’t condone people evading taxes.

However I do believe that the government’s latest public ad-campaign, asking people to shop individuals whom they believe aren’t tax-registered, should be seen for what, essentially, it is: another government-sanctioned excuse to foster distrust and suspicion for your neighbour; and an encouragement for people to arbitrarily interfere in other people’s lives “for the good of the state”. Not satisfied at the unprecedented snooping powers it is already in the process of awarding to itself (for example, 24/7 vehicle tracking, a database of all children, and intended compulsory ID card data collection for every citizen), the government is now telling the population at large that it’s perfectly OK to be as nosy and intrusive as it is.

Tax-dodgers aren’t just seen as financial miscreants any more; now they’re portrayed as subversives. Faceless, fugitive people who should be turned in to the authorities at the first instance. Perhaps that’s damn right, you might think, especially if you diligently pay your own dues. However, what I’m getting at is that tax evasion is not terrorism. It’s grossly unfair on the rest of us, certainly, but it’s no more than an administrative matter. People don’t die because of someone else’s tax evasion. And tax evasion has occurred since the year dot, since the very first landowner imposed tithes on his serfs, and a few of those serfs flicked said landlord the finger and hid their produce in a barn until his tithe collectors had gone. It’s not a new thing, and it will never be eradicated. And although it doesn’t help the economy in the long run, after being a problem for every king and government for hundreds of years, tax evasion won’t suddenly bring the country to its knees next week.

So why now? Why does tax evasion, a centuries’ old problem, suddenly merit million pound ad campaigns (using our tax money, ironically) and the eager bestowal of the government’s blessing on the populace to interfere, amateur sleuth style, in everybody else’s business? Bearing in mind that amateur sleuths frequently have incorrect information, are totally untrained, and are very often wrong. And why the hell can’t the government just get on with it and deal with the problem itself? Why share out the dirty laundry with everyone else? Isn’t tax collection one of the basics in an elected government’s remit? (Although, whether the Labour Party actually has a valid electoral mandate to be in power is another matter.)

Personally, I think it is just another ugly facet of the sort of society that we are being led blindly into. Fear is the catchword of the decade: not just deliberately inculcated fear of Nanny State’s wrath, but fear of each other, fear of anyone who doesn’t conform, or is perceived not to conform. Non-conformity has always been seen as a threat by insecure establishments, whether that be usurper kings, the Church of England (viz. the persecution of Catholics and others), or a tyrant in Ancient Greece. New Labour is just another example. It has defecated in its own bed and is running scared, and the only way it believes it can save itself is to strike down anyone who doesn’t fit. We’ve already seen as much by the ejection of a heckler at its party conference. Whether your transgression is tax evasion, pursuing your love of hunting, reading names of war dead outside Downing Street or (horror of horrors!) publicly disagreeing with Labour Party policies, if you don’t conform you are a Threat and must be eliminated (and better that everyone else be terrified into thinking you’re a threat too; fear being tyranny’s weapon of choice).

Machivelli is oft quoted these days in connection to New Labour, and indeed they cling tightly to the idea that if you put your enemies (read: the British people) against each other, then you get an easier ride. Without wanting to come across as a rabid idealist, I genuinely believe we should be encouraged to communicate with each other, to build a society based on trust, respect, inclusion, and plain common-sense human honour. Instead, this government tells us to isolate, cast out, shun, abhor. To look over our shoulders and suspect that everyone around us might be someone to be isolated, cast out, shunned and abhorred.

Given the climate of fear and suspicion being deliberately fostered in this country by our own government, frankly I think tax evasion is the very last of our worries.



1. Seb - March 17, 2006

great rant! As I was saying myself last night, less eloquently and more drunkenly. Went into the toilet to have a piss, and was confronted with THREE lurid posters telling me that buying fake DVDs amounts to subsidising child-abusin’ heroin-shootin’ bunny-torturin’ three-headed alien terrorist illegal immigrants. With tentacles.

Or something like that. I was just out for a nice night and quiet relief of the pressure on my bladder!

On the subject of tax-avoidance, the contract for management of the new “take-your-biometrics” passport centres has been awarded to…. Mapeley, the offshore tax-evading company that owns HMRC’s(that’s HM Revenue and Customs!) headquarters!

It’s the usual story. Shit on the heads of those who can’t fight back, while the powerful get away with murder…

keep bloggin!

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