Channel 4 News have just spent some time grilling me about Bono’s financial matters. As if I would know! As if it is anyone’s business. Today of course it is everybody’s business as some clever group of artistic agitators intend to do some stunt at Glastonbury to shame Bono by suggesting how much tax he has avoided by moving the band’s publishing company out of Ireland where the tax was high. Perfectly legal but, say the begrudgers, could their recession hit homeland not do with some of that tax.
I have a myriad of answers to the protestors, the most important of which I dealt with in the article featured below; silencing one of the sharpest social justice voices of our time! Idiocy! My other answers are based around what I know of the financial dealings of U2. This was a band who should have left Ireland when they signed their first record deal; everybody else did. U2, however, made a decision to contribute to their own country. They set up their homes, spent their money, set up businesses, helped out other peoples’ businesses and paid their taxes. Though publishing royalties were tax free for a time, all other taxes were way above the UK or America. They decided to pay the higher taxes! It would be interesting to know who has paid more tax in Ireland than U2. Yet, they who’ve paid perhaps the most are being accused of evasion.
Then there is their charity giving. I am aware of various charitable contributions of U2. I couldn’t put those in my book Walk On; The Spiritual Journey Of U2 because they were never made public. Bono has a policy that comes from his Biblically shaped worldview that charitable giving should not be done for all to see; Jesus said that the right hand shouldn’t know what the left hand is doing! U2 were once offered £25,000,000 for the use of a song in a car commercial. They said the temptation was to give it to charity but they would then have to have declared that they had given it to charity! They take their giving seriously.
A television series once looked at the way wealthy celebrities squandered their millions. After the U2 episode the anchor man looked the camera in the eye and confessed they could find nothing but admiration for how U2 handle their finances. This is the band under the protests. The guys who have tried to be more accountable and the guy who has used his wealth to challenge the world’s social injustice become the objects of cheap stunts! Catch yourselves on!