You've no doubt heard that Mitt Romney has finally (sort of) produced his tax returns. Well, I say, 'no doubt' - but you could well have missed the news, being
buried released, as it was, on Friday afternoon, aka during the 'Friday News Dump'. The return revealed that multi-millionaire Romney paid just 14% in tax.
But what you might have missed is that back in January of this year Romney said:
"I pay all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more."
And in July, in the midst of pressure which led up to last week's revelation, he restated this position:
"I don't pay more than are legally due - and frankly if I had paid more than are legally due, I don't think I'd be qualified to become president. I'd think people would want me to follow the law and pay only what the tax code requires."
Really, Mr Romney. Really.
Well, I don't know about you, dear reader, but I'm inclined to think that a man who pays only what is legally due is rather less qualified to become president. Because such a man appears to be solely looking after himself and lacking in both compassion for others and a sense of duty to society as a whole.
This defence - that as long as one is behaving within the law, everything's morally fine - was, of course, the one cited by Jimmy Carr and his supporters when it was revealed that he'd used the K2 tax avoidance scheme. In fact, according to The Times, Carr actually said:
"I pay what I have to and not a penny more."
Which is odd - because it's not like Carr to steal other people's jokes.
I don't care if paying 14% on an income of $13m or keeping your money in offshore accounts is legal, it doesn't mean it's moral or beyond reprehension. But hey, what do I know?! Because clearly it's the law which provides Mitt Romney with his moral framework.
Which presumably means we can look forward to all the following morally-dodgy-but-perfectly-legal events taking place if Mr Romney becomes president of the United States. In fact, to use his defence, if he didn't do them, we don't think he'd be qualified to become president:
Four Entirely Legal, And Thus Perfectly Acceptable, Things Mitt Romney Could Do In Office
Call in sick when he's not really ill
Morally reprehensible because it involves lying - BUT NOT ILLEGAL.
Cheat on his wife
Immoral? Almost certainly. Illegal? No, siree!
Lie to the American public
Not illegal as far as we know, unless he does it under oath. In which case, he just needs to talk like a lawyer.
Call a police officer a 'pleb'
Again, frowned upon - but ironically, the police officer in question can't arrest you for saying it. Well, not if you're a middle-class, middle-aged man. If you're an 18 year-old lad, it's quite a different matter.