Paul Hewson, possibly the most sanctimonious person on earth, has apparently decided to move his millions out of Ireland for tax reasons. Well OK, I can understand that. And it’s not like it’s the first time it’s happened. But usually when the super rich try to escape high taxing governments they don’t simultaneously demand that those governments spend more tax money. In effect Bono is telling the Irish to give up things (better roads, schools or whatever taxes go to) for stuff that makes him feel good about himself (better roads, schools or whatever in Africa) at no expense to him. Bono and the rest of them are of course free to do as they please with their money. But I can’t help wonder what he’ll spend that extra $5M lining his pockets on. Somehow I doubt he’ll put it where is rather large mouth is. Cheap talk, as it were.
But we shouldn’t be surprised. It’s not the first time Bono’s made it clear that idealism and principles are great just as long as they don’t have to apply to him. Johan put it nicely:
19:28 – YOU TOO, U2?: Some suggest that economic self-interest is the reason why people hold their views. Most of the time I find that idea much too cynical. But sometimes I have to confess that they are on to something.
Bono, U2’s lead singer, is one of the leaders of the campaign to supply the third world with drugs by dismantling the intellectual property rights of pharmaceutical companies. So is this his position on IPRs generally? Not at all. Bono is also one of the leaders of the campaign to strengthen the IPRs of (you’ve guessed it) musicians. Today, most European countries protect copyrights on sound recordings for no more than 50 years. The U2 members think that they should be allowed to “retain their copyright for at least as long as they live, and to pass it to their heirs, just like any other asset that they own.” Yes, it’s very easy to say that property if [sic] theft when you’re talking about other people’s properties.
Someone might say that there is a big difference between music and life-saving drugs. I agree. Gifted musicians would probably continue to create music even if they didn’t make much money on it. But I don’t think that anyone would continue to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into research for new drugs if they had no way of financing that investment through sales. And, even though I really like U2, I would prefer a world without “With or Without You”, “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” and “New Year’s Day” to a world without life-saving drugs.
Indeed. Though I would have written the last sentence to start “I would prefer” and end after “New Year’s Day.”
And what’s with the nicknames? Bono? The Edge? Please. I can just imagine the scene as David Evans decides he too wants a cool nickname. “Hey if you’re Bono, I’m gonna be… Um… How about Aquaman? No… The Wall! No, no…The Vertex, The Edge! Yes, that’s it, I’m The Edge! Cool, man.” As Bono walks away mumbling, “But I want to be The Edge too…”