The Paradise Papers and charity

Many of the people implicated in The Paradise Papers leak are notable for their charitable giving: Bono and Lord Ashcroft seem to think they are above tax but willing to donate both time and large sums of money to their own pet causes.

What the fuck?

Tax is not something you can opt out of and decide how to use your money and status better. You don’t get to choose who or what is worth your expenditure. You don’t get to ‘solve’ famine in Africa and not contribute to Government aid to a hurricane, or donate an entire wing of the IWM and not contribute to the arts, sports and museum grants that keep countless doors open. You especially don’t get to be an active political commentator, whether that’s organising protest concerts or forming part of the government, when your actions converge so wildly from those demanded by the system of government you operate in.

If you want to be a rich twat, then do. Lewis Hamilton has never pretended to be a benevolent force for good and he takes endorsement deals for anything – we know he wants to be rich, and under capitalism and the current legal system (whatever my own view on the morality of it is) that’s OK. But how the fuck do you think you can tell people that you’re doing good and valuable work to support them – whatever country they are in – if you cannot support the work that voters chose? How can you show off all the good you do when all the money you deny has actively caused crippling austerity? We the taxpayer don’t want your dirty charity money. It’s the nation’s equivalent of and off-list wedding gift: sure, that’s a nice bottle of champers, but we don’t have plates to eat off. Schools don’t want a book you chose for them, they want adequate funding. Can’t you see that? Can’t you see that everything you give as charity pushes your agenda and image above whatever moral value it is supposed to bestow? Can’t you see us scrabbling for money to pay nurses as you ‘forget’ you bought a shopping centre for over £5m?

You, the individual, do not get to chose what is of value to our nation. If we are in a situation where we require rich men’s charity bestowed upon us to fill holes in our society, it does not take a rocket scientist to work out where those gaps came from.

Just pay your fucking taxes. Everything else is extra.

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Happy World Mental Health Day

Very common, specific things give me crippling anxiety: someone rattling the toilet door whilst I’m in there, making me unsure if I should say ‘sorry, I’m in here!’ ir ignore and wait for them to go away (which they will – they want to see me pee about as much as I want them to see it). The idea of being underdressed anywhere. 

Very vague things give me anxiety: existential dread and christmas celebrations and the children I teach having to apply for jobs, and be rejected, ten years from now.

I know very clearly the difference between a phobia and a fear: I’m scared of bugs and they make me jump, but I’m so afraid of spiders that tropical plants make my chest constrict because jungles are their natural habitat, so phobic that thinking or talking or typing about spiders makes me put my feet on the chair and have to stop it before I cry.

I know how it feels to be plagued by depression: to see yourself laugh at a joke as if you’re looking at your own body do things you don’t recognise, or to be physically incapable of getting out of bed despite needing to go to work or eat something or do things that you love and want to. 

I know how difficult it is to break an tick: to make yourself step on an uneven slab, eat in a less gross and specific way, take the deep breaths that will stop you clicking and flailing. 

But I’m in a good place. I’m doing things I love, surrounded by people who push me out of my comfort zone, working in the future I want for myself. I go to events and do things I don’t want to and am learning not to give a fuck about things with no consequence.

I am empathetic and strong and enthusiastic. I have put myself in a position where there are minimal things in my life that set me off, and I recognise how good my life is right now. 

Sometimes, still, my motivation goes. I ignore things I don’t have the spoons to deal with and don’t pick them up later. I have difficulty explaining why I shouldn’t do things – from looking at the pavement when I walk to drinking at certain events – when they deserve to know the truth. I am erratic. And the things I have made and the people I care about are still here.

Happy world mental health day.