Re: More Bono bashing (never enough IMO) - final word from me!
Oct 14, 2010, 13:01
The Sea Cat wrote:
Well, in my view a third is only a third. The full amount is the point here. The fact that he/they threatened to leave Eire if this was rectified was disgraceful egotism and double standards in my opinion. As for U2 behaving like any other corporation, I think that speaks volumes in itself, especially from a self appointed moral pulpit. As a resident of Ireland, he is liable for personal income tax.
Yes, but the point remains that the vast majority of his income is derived outside Ireland (which is why U2 are permitted to shift some of their holdings offshore). As for "moral pulpit". He takes to one of those -- often in a very irritating manner -- when engaged in his philanthropic work, but U2 is not a philanthropic organisation. It's not even just a band anymore; it's a company in the music business.
And personally, I despair when I hear people demand that companies act more ethically. Because it displays a fundamental failure to understand the capitalist system dominating our planet. And so long as that misunderstanding is widespread (and it is), it near-guarantees nothing will change.
Commercial organisations -- whether that's U2's holding company, an oil company or a company that makes children's toys -- are institutions built to a "for-profit" template. They are guided by legal rules and cultural mores that are pretty inflexible. So long as we expect companies to act as though they are not companies, we are waiting for a dawn that will never break. It's as pointless as expecting oil companies to voluntarily move "beyond" petroleum.
What needs to happen is the rules need to be rewritten. The cultural expectations of "companies" should change radically so that they have a legal obligation to act ethically first; while the profit-motive is relegated to a footnote. It's a far bigger change than expecting companies to act a bit more nicely (which is what we demand of U2 when we insist they pay tax in Ireland), but it's also the only one that'll make a real difference.
Other cultures are structured that way... with the needs of society -- and the world of which it is part -- being the primary aim of action, with personal enrichment ignored, or even frowned upon.
But that's not what we've got, sadly. We structure things differently. So U2 just does what every other company in that position is doing (When I worked in the USA, part of my taxes were paid there. Same as when I worked in Germany and elsewhere; I didn't have any choice in that matter -- the company I was working for handled all that stuff, obviously. Every company that can avail of offshore tax rules, will do so.)
So I just can't get mad at Bono; however insufferable he may come across in interviews; because yes, in the commercial arena he's following corrupt rules, like everyone else. But his activity outside the commercial arena goes above and beyond almost everyone else (not just in real terms, but in proportional terms).
Which is why I find it weird that other artists who have reached similar commercial levels don't come in for anything like the criticism that Bono does, despite being involved in little or no philanthropic work. I'm not saying they should be -- I could certainly do more, so I'm not one to preach -- but it's strange that the people who do get involved in trying to help others get the most crap.
Do they make us feel guilty at an unconscious level? Or is it that we're willing to actively minimise their efforts and try to trivialise them, just because we find them irritating on the telly?