Posted by | September 28, 2012 14:51 | Filed under: Top Stories

By Yashwanth Manjunath

With JK Rowling just releasing a new book she’s back in the spotlight, and some comments she made in the past about high taxes are receiving renewed attention. Back in 2010 Rowling was asked by a reporter for The London Times why as the wealthiest woman in England she continues to live there and give half of her income to the British government. This was her response:

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; to be citizens, with everything that implies, of a real country, not free-floating ex-pats, living in the limbo of some tax haven and associating only with the children of similarly greedy tax exiles.

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.

After seeing those comments I realized she may just be the perfect foil to Mitt Romney. Both of them are now fabulously wealthy individuals with more money than a human being could possibly spend in one lifetime, yet their paths to that wealth, and their reactions once attaining it, could not have been more different.

Back in 1995 JK Rowling was a single mother living off of social security and writing in cafes because they were one of the only places she could get her daughter Jessica to fall asleep. If she were in America she would have been one of those”47 percenters” Romney denigrated as lazy victims unwilling to take personal responsibility. But instead of perpetually leeching off the government teat, she used the British safety net to turn her life around and become the most financially successful author ever. And now because of her continued willingness to give back to the system that gave her a hand-up, there will be others just like her going forward. It should come as no surprise that Rowling is a staunch Labor Party supporter (England’s version of the Democratic Party in America), and one of their largest donors.

Mitt Romney, on the other hand, was given a free education at the top universities, and a large trust fund by his wealthy father to dip into when things became “hard”. He is the definition of privileged. To be fair, he used that privilege to become significantly more wealthy than his father ever was. But Romney did so by firing people and “harvesting” companies for profit, while Rowling made her fortune by inspiring an entire generation of children to read. And unlike Rowling who feels a deep gratitude and patriotism towards the country that helped her become who she is today, Romney is a hoarder who would rather shelter his money in tax havens like Bermuda, Switzerland, and the Cayman Islands.

Rarely do you see two people more diametrically opposed to one another, but neither one of them is “right” or “wrong” per se. This is one of those purely idealogical questions a person needs to ask themselves. If you agree with Mitt Romney’s approach, you’re a conservative and you should vote for him in November. If you agree with Rowling, you’re a liberal.

 

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