2 years ago
You would have had to be living under a stone this past week, not to have been exposed to an ear-bashing from good old ‘Sir’ Bob Geldof, imploring you once again to download the latest version of ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ in aid of tackling the latest health scare to hit the world, the Ebola outbreak. Yes Band Aid 30 is upon us and it’s the 2014 incarnation of the charity supergroup re-uniting one more time for their thirtieth anniversary. And as I write this, the record is currently at number one in the UK, and a good sum of money has already been raised, but something just doesn’t feel right about it this time round.
I say ‘this time’, because I’m old enough to remember the first version of the song, recorded in aid of famine victims back in 1984. Back then, the idea of a charity record was relatively new and the people behind it were young and not particularly wealthy. Fast forward 30 years, and Geldof, yes our old mate Bob (net worth £32 Million according to The Sunday Times) seemed to have come out of that gig extremely wealthily. He and his band were disappearing into obscurity back in the eighties and now he’s worth a small fortune. It seems Band Aid has been more beneficial to him than any person or country the money was being raised for. But even after all that, Bob is a comparative pauper next to the other prime mover, Bono (what I particularly admire about Bono is his ability to keep a straight face telling others to reduce their global footprint as he flies round the world preaching his gospel), whose net worth is now thought to exceed £400m.
Both have made a secondary career out of haranguing both the UK government and UK public into giving more money to worthy causes, but here’s the thing that gets me ... despite their huge wealth, neither man pays any tax in the UK and both enjoy non-dom status. Do they pay tax at all – anywhere? Do they give any of their own money to charities? Well nobody really knows, but Geldof recently flew into a rage when questioned on the subject by a journalist from a National UK newspaper and suggested that simply ‘giving his time’ was a tax. I really must try that one the next time I get a brown envelope from the governing tax officials.
And I’m probably the last person to question how someone spends their own money.
I think if you’ve earned it, it’s nobody’s business but yours how you spend it (legally of course). Nor do I think you should be obliged to pay any more tax than is required by law. But… and this is a big but (no not Kim Kardashian’s, but more on her later) … it just doesn’t seem right to me that extremely wealthy individuals attempt to shame governments into giving money to worthy causes when they have decided not to contribute to the pot from which that money comes. Nor is it right that they implore ordinary folk to give the little money they have while hanging on to their own. And these two things are inextricably related.
When Geldof or Bono ask the UK government to give more money to their pet cause, they are asking you and me to give more money, just as surely as if they ask us to download their latest charity single. The government doesn’t have any money other than that which it raises from taxes. It’s only a finite pot of money, and one to which neither Geldof nor Bono contributes.
Geldof and Bono aren’t alone in this of course, and this latest campaign is typical of a society in which wealthy show business and sports personalities ‘give their time’ to persuade poor people to hand over their cash to charity… charity records… Children in Need… Comic Relief… Sports Relief… the list goes on and on. Meanwhile, those ‘giving their time’ freely, benefit financially from the valuable exposure their participation brings.
You could easily argue that it’s a win-win situation, (and I’d have some sympathy with that) but l I’ve got a much better idea. Let’s just cut out the middle man. Instead of ‘giving your time’, use that time to do what you’re good at and give your hard currency instead. One Direction (one of the main attractions on the latest single) earned £47 Million last year. Just one week of their earnings would go a long way on its own. But how much of the money being raised actually hits the ground anyway?
Even the cause is flawed this time round. Up until recently in the US more people had been married to Kim Kardashian than had been diagnosed with Ebola. And in the UK, there have been more cases of people marrying Katy Price (aka Jordan) than catching Ebola. So my argument here is that it looks like celebrities are even worse for your health than Ebola! They’re certainly more contagious. But that’s Celebrity for you isn’t it? They think they are bigger and better than the people who put them there in the first place. I personally have no interest in Celebrity culture and the hyper inflated ego’s that that adorn it, especially those of the non tax-paying preachers variety I refer to here.
This is exactly what’s wrong with this world at present. These tax dodgers and our capitalist system are the prime causes of why this world is in such a mess, and then these people who are well and truly part of it stand on their soapboxes and tell us, the little people who are the victims of it, that we should be putting our hands in our pockets, when we are the ones who are already paying our taxes and being further heavily penalised to make this whole mess right again!!
These people need to put their own money where their mouths are
and prove they are doing it for a change.
And I now ask you, did the money from the first record make any real difference anyway? If so there should now be far less starving families in far off lands needing charitable support and aid from various governments. My guess is things are now worse not better than they were all those years ago.
And then when one acts like a grown up and doesn’t take everything the media pumps out at face value, but checks out other (more verifiable) sources of information, it seems that yet again we have a well hyped up issue with the Ebola scare. This is probably infecting less people than many other diseases. And leading back to my first comment; if all the charitable money pumped into the 3rd world had been used effectively over the years, those inhabitants would by now have a much higher standard of living and therefore generally be healthier. I think this too, is not the case!
It seems that so much of the planet’s wealth has now been sucked into the hands of a relatively few elite families, celebrities and others by several dubious methods over the years and it is my opinion that these are the ones that should now be giving back to the poorest parts of the world, not us. They won’t though, because to them the more money they can retain the more power they wield to feed their greedy, selfish, egotistical lives ... and above all else, they are also the biggest hypocrites on the planet.
The time has long passed for the adults in this world to act with maturity; it’s not difficult to see through the endless scams, perpetrated by the powers that be, to suck even more of our hard earned wealth from our bank accounts. But there is so much else that needs our attention and wealth to help make changes for the better.
And finally to show it isn’t a pipe dream to believe the rich can take a greater part in things, check out a man by the name of Andrew Reynolds an ordinary guy who found a business formula that made him wealthy (Andrew Reynolds is a professional street skateboarder. He is a co-founder of Baker Skateboards and is the brand's owner; he is a part owner of Brigada Eyewear; a partner in Baker Boys Distribution, and head designer at Altamont Apparel). And what does he do? Well he spends some of that wealth by going out to a poor nation (can’t remember exactly where), where he identified a local group who were providing food for starving children and as far I know he is still sending currency to support the project... No registered charity required. No administration costs swallowing up the cash. Just honest to goodness benefits where they are needed most.
Just think, if everyone with more money than they actually needed did something like this, poverty would probably by now be a thing of the past!
Needless to say, I just checked it out and the latest charity single had sold 340,000 copies the first week at 99 pence each. Even if it eventually sells ten times that number, that probably still amounts to less than the people performing on the record would earn in a day.
So what the hell is the real point in inflicting another bloody version of that song on us BOB?
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