Monday, June 25, 2012

Tax Man


Let me tell you how it will be,
There’s one for you, nineteen for me,
‘Cause I’m the Taxman,
Yeah, I’m the Taxman.
Should five per cent appear too small,
Be thankful I don’t take it all.

(If you drive a car ), I’ll tax the street,
(If you try to sit ), I’ll tax your seat,
(If you get too cold ), I’ll tax the heat,
(If you take a walk ), I’ll tax your feet.

Don’t ask me what I want it for
(Haha! Mister Wilson!)
If you don’t want to pay some more
(Haha! Mister Heath!),

Now my advice for those who die, 
Declare the pennies on your eyes, 
‘Cause I’m the Taxman,
Yeah, I’m the Taxman.
And you’re working for no-one but me,

(Harrison- 1966)

I was listening to Revolver again yesterday and once again, it occurred to me what masters of their craft The Beatles were. Not only were they way ahead of their contemporaries musically, at a time when the opposition were still exploring basic 12-bar 3 chord rock&roll, but they were also engaging their listeners lyrically on a plane somewhat above the average R&R commentary of the time, with some telling insights.

And of course George threw his toys out of the cot in 1966, what with Harold Wilson's Labour Government taking 95% of their earnings, at a time when The Beatles finally started to earn some real money. Small wonder then, this song. However I'm interested to note an almost visionary quality in some of the lyric. 

Taxing the street? Toll roads of course
Tax the heat? Energy/Carbon taxes!
I'm not too sure yet about taxing your seat and taxing your feet, but I'm confident that governments everywhere will soon dream up a means of doing exactly this.

Certainly bridge tolls in the UK are very old, however I'm unsure as to whether roads were actively tolled - the M6 being the only new toll road. Anyway, I don't think there was any mention of energy taxes in 1966, so  this qualifies as visionary! I'm kinda wondering if maybe the chancellor of the exchequer didn't take his lead from the Beatles in dreaming up a few new taxes.... 

And on George Harrison's solo tour of Japan in 1991 "If you're overweight I'll tax your fat".

Now there's a thought! Just what the world needs. I gather Britain is getting as chubby and lard-assed as the US with their shoddy eating and sedentary lifestyles these days. Imagine a compulsory annual medical assessment (which each person would have to pay for, of course) where one's weight was computed against frame and height, and each kilo over the "ideal" was progressively taxed! Would bring in a lot of money, and as a spinoff we'd have a large number of people losing some ugly fat. The rationale of course would be a  "consumption tax" to disincentivise excess food consumption (particularly meat, since vegetables are virtually impossible as a means to gain weight substantially).   

The only negative(!) would be that these folk would find their health improving - which is bad for Big Pharmaceuticals, the Mega Food industry with its "Factory Farms" and the medical profession. I guess for that reason there may never be a "fat tax" - too much unintended pressure on Big Business (pun intended).

And as for the pennies on one's eyes, of course estate duties are a well-entrenched tradition. The last person who gets a bite out of you before you go, is the taxman. 

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