Harry Potter and The Impulse Toward Nationalistic Solidarity

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"Harry Potter and The Impulse Toward Nationalistic Solidarity"

Complete set of the seven books of the %22Harry Potter%22 series

J.K. Rowling explains why she doesn’t move to a tax haven:

I chose to remain a domiciled taxpayer for a couple of reasons. The main one was that I wanted my children to grow up where I grew up, to have proper roots in a culture as old and magnificent as Britain’s.

….A second reason, however, was that I am indebted to the British welfare state; the very one that Mr Cameron would like to replace with charity handouts. When my life hit rock bottom, that safety net, threadbare though it had become under John Major’s Government, was there to break the fall. I cannot help feeling, therefore, that it would have been contemptible to scarper for the West Indies at the first sniff of a seven-figure royalty cheque. This, if you like, is my notion of patriotism.

I’ve seen this quoted on a number of progressive sites, but you’ve got to wonder how real the second reason really is. Suppose Rowling moved to a tax haven, hired an accountant to tell her how much money that would save her, and committed to donating the savings to Oxfam. Would that be contemptible? Would it do less good for the world? Of course it really is contemptible for multi-millionaires to take action designed to merely increase the volume of personal consumption that they get to engage in and I hardly fool myself into thinking that your average tax evader has the high-minded motive of increasing his Oxfam contributions. But the point is that purely altruistic-motivated taxpaying doesn’t make a ton of sense, a genuinely altruistic person could always find some other way to use their money to help.

So I think the first reason is really doing all the work here. Rowling has a strong self-conception as a British person with left-wing political views, her books are soaked in British identity, and it’s not as if British tax rates are pushing her into penury, so why not just live where she wants and pay the damn taxes. That makes perfect sense to me. Meanwhile, I think the rest of her piece—excoriating the Tory approach to single mothers—is excellent.

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