Friday, November 19, 2010

Tax: it separates us from tortoises, cauliflowers and monkeys

The BBC programme Desert Island Disks has an episode looking at the Ian McMillan, the poet-in-residence for the English National Opera (and for UK Trade & Investment.) McMillan was born in the middle English former coal mining town of Barnsley, whose last mine closed down in 1994. It is a lovely interview, most pleasant to listen to if you have plenty of time on your hands. About 29 minutes into the programme, shortly after a brief interlude listening to the music of Captain Beefheart, McMillan mentions the fact that one of his children now works in a call centre. Things are changing, he notes.
"We are trying to reinvent ourselves in Barnsley. Because the reason [the mining industry] that we were there, that the population is there has been taken away. And you have to re-invent yourself.
Looking back, he said, there was good and bad.
"You don't want to remember the terrible conditions, the wages, and being forced to work down there . . . but what is good is that sense of community.
And on the subject of community:
The trouble is that they have convinced us all that we don't want to pay tax. That interests me. I love paying tax. I think that paying tax is what separates us from tortoises and grapefruit. Tax does separate us from monkeys. Because we pay tax to help the ones who aren't as fortunate as us. I am sounding like an old ranting fool.
One for our quotations page. It is a measure of how far we have fallen that he feels the need to say that last sentence. The time has come to reclaim our culture, our way of thinking about ourselves and our fellow citizens. Hat tip: Tax Research.


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