John Low argues against the Polly Toynbee attack on tax relief for charity donation:
Culture and the arts enrich our lives and society, but the government is not able to cover the full cost alone.
I’d argue that culture and the arts aren’t suitable things for the state to ever involve themselves in, frankly.
And if millionaires want to subsidise it, fine! It is, after all, their money…
Whatever the argument in principle, this is no time to damage charities. At a time when public funding is being cut back, shouldn’t we all be grateful if a wealthy donor steps in to fund a development in cancer treatment because he or she has a personal commitment to that cause?
Hey, you’d think so, wouldn’t you?
But you see, to the socialists, choice (your choice, that is – not theirs) is dangerous, choice is divisive.
You see, if you spend your hard-earned on cancer patients or animals, you are depriving immigrants or gay rights groups of their fair share of your money. Who are you to choose what to spend it on?
Government is so much better equipped to do that, you see. It has access to all those lobby groups and conferences and international meetings, so it can get a handle on what’s really important.
You’re just likely to give money to a charity because it helped your relative or friend, or you recognise how it can change the lives of the genuinely unfortunate, or something…
Which brings me to Stephen King’s taxation diatribe in the ‘Guardian’:
King himself currently pays taxes of around 28% on his income, and at a recent rally in Florida wondered publicly why he was not paying a higher rate of 50%. You’re unhappy about it? “Cut a check and shut up,” was the response from his listeners, the author writes …
Your fans have spoken, Stephen! Are they wrong to have their own opinions on the matter?
Oh. Clearly they are.
America’s national responsibilities, such as education and health care, cannot be taken on by the “charitable one per centers”, writes King. “That annoying responsibility stuff comes from three words that are anathema to the Tea Partiers: United American citizenry,” he says.
“And hey, why don’t we get real about this? Most rich folks paying 28% do not give out another 28% of their income to charity. Most rich folks like to keep their dough.”
How awful of them! One might ask why they’d put in all the time and effort to earn it otherwise…
…the novelist says this “doesn’t go far enough [because] charity from the rich can’t fix global warming or lower the price of gasoline by one single red penny”.
And the government can..?
But despite this the rich, he believes, are “hallowed” in America.
Well, yes. Because (unlike in England, where we seem to have a national ‘envy’ issue with the successful) the US is founded on the belief that if you work hard, that can be you, too.
But for King, this is an erroneous belief.
You didn’t get where you were because of your own hard work and sweat – you got there because you were lucky enough to be born an American, and so you owe it to other people who were also born Americans to pony up the money to…
Wait. What? That’s not one of your better plots, is it?
What is it that prevents the second set of Americans from becoming rich, then?
That you were fortunate enough to be born in a country where upward mobility is possible (a subject upon which Barack Obama can speak with the authority of experience), but where the channels making such upward mobility possible are being increasingly clogged. That it’s not fair to ask the middle class to assume a disproportionate amount of the tax burden.
The middle class studied hard, worked, sacrificed and saved. Surely it’s only fair they should support those who didn’t?
Whose America – hell, whose reality – is King writing about here?
King says it is a “practical necessity and a moral imperative” that “those who have received much must be obligated to pay … in the same proportion”, or the “first real ripples of discontent” seen in the Occupy protests “will just be the beginning”.
Oh, Steve! That’s hardly your most frightening concept, is it? It’s not like Occupy have been such a galloping success, is it?
I’ll continue to read your novels; you are, after all, one of the greatest popular authors of the 21st century, which a grasp of character and scene-setting that can’t be equalled. But when it comes to politics, it seems you have feet of clay.