Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Dodgy tax discussion dodged

Tim Blair is certainly an impressive blogger and advocate for the right. He is a lucid writer and an amusing satirist. However, he is certainly not above pulling a few rhetorical tricks to win an argument. Note his seamless Moving the Goalposts in his post Packer Attackers in defence of Kerry Packer's tax record:

Lots of squealing from the left… about Kerry Packer minimising his taxes. …But they’re wrong about Packer. In fact, he paid far too much. If anything, Packer was overly generous—every year he and his companies paid millions more than they needed to. Over his career, Packer possibly paid billions more than was strictly required... In wages. [Emphasis in original.]
Thus he has ignored whether or not Packer did minimise his taxes, and moved the topic of the "debate" to Packer's overall generosity (in wages, and as you'll see below, charitable donations). I do not know whether Packer paid enough taxes or "dodged" them with clever accountancy; but if the accusation from "the Left" is about Packer's tax, then that's where the argument should stay (if you're bothered with arguing). Being generous with one's money does not mean one should, therefore, be excused from paying (the correct) tax. (In saying this, I neither know, nor really care, whether Packer did "minimise" his taxes, and even if he did, as long as it's legit, then it's legit.)

In arguing Packer's case, in terms of his generosity, Blair continues his goalpost movement and raises the level of his attack on "the Left" by Impugning their Motives:

This is a concept the left struggles with; they’d prefer a businessman hand over his money to a government—any government, even a government they oppose—than directly to people (many thousands of people, in Packer’s case) attempting to earn a living. And then there’s Packer’s estimated $150 million given to charities; the left would presumably be happier if all of that had instead been delivered to the government, so that ... well, so that whatever. It’s not important.
Except the left wouldn’t be happier. They’d still despise Packer because he was rich. They’re simple like that; simple and hateful…
Whilst there may be some truth in what he says, when it comes to whether Packer minimised his taxes or not, the motives behind the Packer detractors pointing this out are irrelevant. (The most obvious argument in Packer's favour - one he used of course - who doesn't want to minimise their taxes?).
Ps. Blair shows skills a False Positioning too.