I’m going to try and put up a piece each Sunday of interesting, longer, deeper stories I found during the week. It’s also a chance for you to share what you found this week too. Those stimulating links you wanted to share, but just didn’t fit in anywhere (no linkwhoring). This week: Greece, Watergate and Tax avoidance.
The reporting of Woodward and Bernstein on Watergate was indeed excellent, but a new book looks at debunking the myths that have grown up around it. Woodward and Bernstein weren’t the ones to nail Nixon (subpoena-wielding investigators did that), or even break the story. ‘Deep Throat’ didn’t say “follow the money”, but did turn out to be a convicted felon for illegal break-ins himself (against domestic terrorists the Weather Underground) – pardoned by Reagan though, so never had to go to jail.
The book (and website) looks a lot at the ‘Golden Age’ of journalism – which it turns out is the typical rose coloured glasses of youth. The media is not so clever or even influential as it likes to make itself out to be…
Also interesting on Watergate is a look at the women who did bring Nixon down.
What Syriza Stands for:
Syriza just failed to take power in Greece, and this article is a great look at who the fairly new party are, used to squabbling to get over the threshold, and now so close to power. Still a lot of idealism and rapidly learning practicality…
When asked what the party’s policy is on Kazakhstan, he laughs. “These issues are new for us.”
The New York Times has an interesting piece from the editor of Greek newspaper about what he sees as the failed politics of all parties in Greece that got them into their present mess. Greeks were left with a choice between fear and anger – anger at the old parties and austerity and joblessness; fear of where the rejecting austerity would lead – out of the Euro? into bankruptcy? Poverty beckons either way…
Not risking poverty, comedian Jimmy Carr joined about 1000 others in the K2 tax avoidance scheme channelling money out of Britain into Jersey and back into their own pockets. He was roundly condemned by British PM David Cameron, with the scheme labelled ‘morally repugnant’.
Jimmy Carr quickly apologised for a ‘terrible error of judgement’, but the PM’s criticism has somewhat come round on him. British Labour have been quick to point out:
“Oddly, [Cameron] did not take the opportunity to condemn as morally repugnant the tax avoidance scheme used by Conservative supporter Gary Barlow, who has given a whole new meaning to the phrase Take That.
“If he is also morally repugnant, why has he been given an OBE in the Birthday Honours?
“Why is the Prime Minister’s view of what’s dodgy in the tax system so partial? Sir Philip Green has interesting tax arrangements but far from being labelled morally repugnant in a Mexico TV studio, he has got a government review to head up,”
But still, it’s good having all sides of the political spectrum pushing against the wealthy who abuse the system. Well, almost all – you’ve got to love the Tory backbenchers…
Right on cue, the fustian Tory MP Jacob Rees Mogg, who could be the estate manager on Downton Abbey, pops up to remind us all: “We do not have a moral duty to pay more tax than the law requires.” Andy Sparrow, the Guardian’s blogger-who-never-sleeps, spotted that gem, which is precisely back to front.
Mogg would be right to say we do not have a legal duty to pay more tax than the law requires – that is the difference between tax evasion, which is fraud, and tax avoidance, which is what Jimmy Carr was doing via the K2 scheme and tax lawyers and accountants spend sad-but-lucrative careers dreaming up to stay one step ahead of HMRC.
Where Mogg misses the point, as David Cameron does not, is that we have a moral duty to look out for each other, do we not?