They make us laugh, when we feel miserable, they make us feel a little better about what is happening to us, when they poke fun at politicians. They invariably try to make out that they are just like us – sharing our concerns and experiences.
Yet behind this ’mask’ top comedians, like other high-paid elites in business, sport and commerce have been finally revealed as laughing all the way to their off-shore banks.
Leaving aside for the moment the obviously excessive levels of pay they are allowed to squeeze out of our TV licence fees or venue tickets, the total immorality of these elite entertainers is revealed as being on the same level as bankers, hedge-fund owners and big-business.
The total loss of tax by tax avoidance to the UK state treasury is estimated to be £7 billion annually. This figure alone demonstrates that there is no pressing need to institute austerity measures, which invariably hit the low-paid and unwaged.
Instead of austerity for the masses, any government sincere about fair play within the capitalist system, would ensure the first line of attack would be the tax-dodgers and avoiders among these super-rich exploiters of the system. However, this is unlikely since many of the political elite are themselves involved in such practices.
Not only do politicians creatively fiddle their expenses as they have in the past, but with the help of specialists, they also creatively adjust their tax liability to the lowest possible amount. This has been a long-term untouched scandal since at least the end of the Second World War.
If we consider rationally how important to society the different skills people have, we are in for a sobering surprise. Are elite comedians, footballers, actors, politicians, bankers etc., any more important to a healthy society than refuse collectors, plumbers, electricians, teachers, social workers and other relatively low-paid workers?
Of course not! Yet the pay differentials between these two groups are astronomical. Capitalism, not only rips people off by rewarding the economic parasitism of the capital-owning class, but also overly rewards the social parasitism of some forms of ‘entertaining’ non-productive of labour. The capitalist system is admittedly in fundamental crisis, yet the powers that be continue to protect the system as it currently is.
Among the bankrupt political class there is very little recognition that in the absence of another world war, radical changes are necessary – financially, economically and ecologically to stabilise the capitalist economic system. There is absolutely no recognition that revolutionary post-capitalist changes are vitally necessary to make our economic and social life become fit for purpose in the 21st century and beyond.
Meanwhile, the comedians in parliament, the comedians on TV and the comedians running the banks are indeed having a laugh at our expense. As the crisis deepens and people are forced to fight back let us hope that it is the working and oppressed classes who have the last laugh.
Roy Ratcliffe. (June 2012.) [Also at www.critical-mass.net]