Imagine being Jimmy Carr right now, your face plastered all over the nation's media as public enemy number one, revealed as the latest in a rogue's gallery of greedy bastards who'd employed a tax avoidance scheme to ensure his tax burden was lighter than a fly's wing.
As in a production line they've floated in and out of the public eye over the past few years: Sir (no more) Fred Goodwin (former CEO at RBS); Sir Philip Green (Arcadia) , Stephen Hester (current CEO at RBS), assorted politicians caught fiddling their expenses; Bob Diamond (CEO at Barclays); bankers in general; and now comedian Jimmy Carr, with Gary Barlow of Take That bringing up the rear as next in line among the nation's super rich to be visited with the media equivalent of a public flagellation.
Tax avoidance has become the new litmus test of morality when it comes to the rich. With the poor morality doesn't come into it, at least not according to German philosopher Ludwig Feurerbach, who once averred that 'where the material necessities of life are absent, then moral necessity is absent'. Fair enough.
But when it comes to those who make more money than they know what to do with, the gloves are off and rightly so. Think about it. In a time of deep recession, when more and more people up and down the country are plunged into financial insecurity, unemployment, and penury, the mere thought of a primped and preened celebrity going out of his or her way to avoid paying the same amount of tax as a dinner lady or a binman is enough to turn you into a Bolshevik.
Making Carr's case even worse is David Cameron popping up to declare it 'morally wrong'. That the prime minister felt emboldened enough to make this pronouncement without the whiff of irony merely goes to show that hypocrisy stalks the land. He after all happens to be the son of a City of London stockbroker who made his fortune, and his son's inheritance, via a series of offshore investment funds during the Thatcher years.
Perhaps amid all of the excitement of the G20 in Mexico, during which he in turn insulted Argentina's prime minister over the ongoing Falkland Islands dispute, engaged in more empty rhetoric over the eurozone crisis, and engaged in the ritual sucking up to the President of the United States which every British prime minister is expected to, he quite forgot who he was and where he came from for a brief period. Or maybe he really does believe that his rise to the highest political office in the land is down to merit and merit alone.
Or maybe it's more prosaic than that. Maybe to David Cameron and his chancellor, his Old Etonian chum Gideon Osborne, not all taxdodgers are the same.
Whatever it is, we now have a prime minister who thinks that it is morally wrong for 'certain' rich people to avoid paying tax and morally right to slash public spending, throw thousands onto the dole, and cut benefits for the disabled.
Nice one Dave.Suggest a correction