Where the Cheats Have No Shame

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To celebrate the release of new U2 fluff, here is Harry Browne’s take on Bono.

Entries have already been pouring in to the ‘rewrite a U2 song’ competition in honour of the group’s Irish tax-exile status, as described here on Counterpunch by Eamonn McCann. ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ has been recast as ‘Where the Cheats Have No Shame’, ‘Angel of Harlem’ as ‘Arrangement in Holland’ — and those are just the entries from my house.

But CounterPunchers are rarely less than fair, so we just had to read more when we saw this news intro on page-one of today’s Irish Times: “U2 singer Bono says he was ‘stung’ and ‘hurt’ by criticism of the band moving part of its business to the Netherlands to lessen its tax burden.”

Oh, Bono, dear Bono. Is that a tear I see in your eye, behind the wraparound shades? No, maybe not. As the interview with Bono in the newspaper demonstrates yet again, this is indeed a man entirely without shame. And also not too well endowed in the smarts department. His main excuse — all the other corporate entities were doing it — is a childish abdication of moral responsibility. And as another excuse he adds, “I can’t speak up without betraying my relationship with the band” — i.e. maybe this wasn’t really my idea but I’ve got to stick with my greedy pals. Well, that’s just low.

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‘Make Bono Pay Tax’

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The Solution to Ireland’s Austerity Plan by Eamonn McCann. I had attended a McCann talk once — the man is a real force of nature.

The most eye-catching placard on a 120,000-strong march in Dublin last Saturday against the Irish government’s austerity response to the tottering of the capitalist system was held aloft by a scrawny teenager with the look of a music-lover about him, reading “Make Bono Pay Tax.”

The march, organised by the Irish Congress of Trades Unions, was protesting against measures including a pay freeze plus a one percent wage levy on all public sector workers, education cut-backs which will mean, for example, the closure of special needs classes in primary schools, and much else along the same screw-the-workers, neo-liberal lines.

The cut-backs and attacks on public sector workers come against the background of a banking scandal which, proportionately, dwarfs the crimes of the bankster class in the US. Rummaging through the rubble of Anglo Irish Bank which collapsed at the end of 2008 and was nationalized in January, investigators discovered that the bank’s founder and boss Sean Fitzpatrick was secretly in hock to his own bank to the tune of €87 million, which he had shifted into Irish Life and Permanent on the day before the annual audit and shifted back again the day afterwards. Fitzpatrick—“Seanie” to both Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowan and his predecessor Bertie Ahern—had performed this manoeuvre with sums of around €80 million every year for the past seven years.

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