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article imageOp-Ed: Google — Sinner, or Saint?

By Alexander Baron     Nov 13, 2012 in Politics
London - Leading British MPs are unhappy with the taxation Google, Amazon and other big companies pay here. Perhaps they would like them to take their profits - and the wealth they create - elsewhere?
Ever heard of Google? Sure you have. What does it do for you if you live in the UK? Well, quite a lot. You can set up an e-mail account with Google totally free and communicate with friends, family, fellow travellers and total strangers around the world 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 366 days a leap year.
You can watch free videos and even publish your own on its video site, YouTube. You can...heck, we'll be here all night if you want it itemised, but you take the point. Google gives you all this for nothing. Zilch. Free. Some people pay to use it, to advertise on it, and so on, but the vast majority of us get it for nothing. So do our MPs, but guess what? They're not satisfied, not only do they want Google to give them all this for free, they want, expect, demand, Google pay for the privilege of so doing.
Here is a Select Committee of them getting rough with the CEO of Google UK.
Last year it was estimated that 77% of UK households had their own Internet connection. In practice this means that almost everyone in the UK uses the Internet regularly. Of the few who don't, most are either very young, ill, in prison, in hospital, or something like that. Of this massive user base, probably every single one of them uses Google at some time if not every week or even every day. Every single one of them can use it, and do so for free. This is wealth creation. This is what Bill Gates calls empowering consumers.
Listen to the innuendo in the above linked video: Is your tagline Do no evil? What evil is Google doing exactly? In addition to all the wealth it generates for UK consumers - at no cost to them - it has a London office which pays rent and staff salaries contributing to the local economy, though admittedly this is a drop in the ocean in comparison with the benefits it bestows upon the UK and indeed the entire world through its websites. The evil Google is doing in the eyes of MPs is that in addition to all the foregoing, and paying tax in the UK, it is not paying enough tax.
How much money does the British Government save by using Google and similar free Internet services, either collectively or as individuals? Furthermore, assuming it managed to screw more money out of this company through repressive taxation, what would it do with this money? The simple answer is give it to the banks who would use it to continue to play their stupid casino games, because it is business as usual after the crash. Chris Tame had a name for this, he called taxation, all taxation, theft.
The most extraordinary feature of this short video is not the bellicose attitude of the Committee but the sheepish behaviour of Google UK CEO Matt Brittin. Sadly this is all too typical of his kind; while banksters and their fellow travellers boast about making money (at our expense), most real businessmen and women seem almost ashamed of growing rich while benefiting society.
The real question MPs and everyone else should be asking is not why isn't Google paying more tax, but why isn't the British Government - and every other government - paying Google!
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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