Jimmy Carr, Tax Hero

June 19, 2012

Mr Carr avoids tax. By doing so, he reveals himself to be one of those gruesome rich people who refuse to pay their proper moral share of their income into the coffers of the Treasury. You see, it turns out that the Government can legislate morality, that the laws passed by our earthly Parliament can pierce the veil betwixt our world and the eternal Forms of Taxation and render it just that Jimmy Carr pays a 50% rate on his earnings over £150,000.

This is, of course, nonsense; I do not care in the slightest what Mr Carr does with his money as long as he doesn’t break the law. There is a strong argument that the rich do not necessarily need to recover their social consciences so much as recover their commitment to social cohesion; conspicuous consumption in a time of austerity doesn’t help prevent resentment for those upon whom the cuts fall most deeply. This is largely irrelevant to Mr Carr, though – I’ve canvassed his house (he wasn’t in) and it’s nothing particularly fancy.

One thing Mr Carr is, though, is a hero. By this single act of avoiding tax, he’s exposed the danger of presuming that comedians can be relied on to provide representation of your political views in a public forum. As I’ve previously discussed, politically aggressive comedy is about consumption, rather than representation. It’s not about changing the system, but rather providing its audience with an engaging political experience. Somehow, this has been interpreted in some quarters as comedians being better at representation and political scrutiny than politicians themselves.

This was never going to be the case, and Mr Carr has heroically demonstrated why. Comedians are only accountable for being funny; they’ll only lose market share if they stop being amusing. As long as they’re funny, it doesn’t matter if they’re inaccurate, if their analysis is shallow and misleading, or indeed if they fail to engage with politics at all. Mr Carr will continue to be a successful comedian, and there’s nothing the tax morality mob can do about it. He has sacrificed his personal standing with that particular section of society in order to bring this truth to the world, and for that, he is a Tax Hero.

Of course, I’m sure all the money helped Mr Carr make this virtuous decision, but I’m confident that was a secondary consideration.



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