More Rock Star Duplicity

I have written before about our celebrity shams who preach one thing but do another. There are plenty of examples of the Hollywood set, the rock culture crowd, media elites, airhead celebrities, and TV personalities who preach their leftwing gospel, yet time and again live a quite different lifestyle.

Consider for example Avatar film maker James Cameron. He has told people they must sacrifice and cut down on their fancy lifestyles so that we can save the planet. Gotta watch out for all those nasty CO2 emissions. But what he doesn’t tell us is how he is living it up, complete with:

-3 houses in Malibu (24,000 sq ft in total – 10 times the average U.S. home),
-a 100-acre ranch in Santa Barbara,
-a JetRanger helicopter,
-three Harleys,
-a Corvette,
-a Ducati,
-a Ford GT,
-a collection of dirt bikes,
-a yacht,
-a Humvee firetruck,
-a fleet of submarines…

But hey, what’s a little extravagance when you’re on a mission to save the world. There are plenty of other Hollywood celebs and bigwigs who love preaching to us peons about how we all gotta do our bit to stop global warming, and to resist the greed of nasty American capitalism – but all the while they are soaking in their millions, and living it up big time.

A more recent example is uber rock star Bono. He and his band U2 have just come to Australia, and they are not doing anything by half measures. By their own estimates, this will be the most expensive rock extravaganza ever. Big bickies will be spent on this concert tour, with no expense spared. And they positively gloat about this.

Here is how one media report covers the story: “U2’S 360 Degrees tour, the most expensive rock spectacle ever, is here. The tour, with a daily running cost of $850,000, arrived on six 747 jets to be assembled by a crew of 130. ‘You compare a tour by the number of trucks they use,’ production manager Jake Berry said. ‘The Rolling Stones ran 46 trucks. We are running 55. This is the biggest.’ The centrepiece of 360 is a so-called claw, an imposing bug-like structure that houses 200 tonnes of light, sound and video magic.”

The article continues, “In terms of box office receipts, 360 is doing very well. It took $123 million to be the highest grossing tour of 2009. A back injury flattened the band’s lead singer, Bono, and tour profits, for most of this year. 360 resumed in August with sellout dates across Europe. US dates are scheduled next year.

“U2’s manager, Paul McGuinness, confirmed the $850,000 daily running cost of 360. ‘That’s the overhead cost of being out here whether we play or not,’ McGuinness said. ‘It’s important we play regularly. There is a discipline involved. ‘Even though we’re spending a lot of money, we’re making a lot of money.’ McGuinness knows 360 is a new model for stadium rock. ‘We’ve always done landmark productions, or so we think,’ he said. ‘Being able to play in the round, in stadiums, is the holy grail’.”

An earlier article on the band reported what a successful business this is: “Bono’s empire encompasses real estate, private-equity investments, a hotel, a clothing line and a chain of restaurants. Along with fellow band members, he also owns a stake in 15 companies and trusts, including concert-booking agencies, record production firms and trusts that are mostly registered in Ireland. U2 was one of the first successful bands in the world to have obtained all rights to its own music.”

And seeking to avoid paying taxes seems to be part of all this: “Richard Murphy, a Downham Market, U.K.-based adviser to the Tax Justice Network, an international lobbying group … points to the band’s decision to move its music publishing company to the Netherlands from Ireland in June 2006 in order to minimize taxes. The move came six months before Ireland ended an exemption on musicians’ royalty income, which is generally untaxed in the Netherlands.

“‘This is somebody who’s exceptionally rich taking the opportunity to shift his tax burden to somebody else, but then asking governments around the world to spend that tax take in the way that he would like,’ Murphy says. U2’s move to the Netherlands is wrong, says Dick Molenaar, senior partner at All Arts Tax Advisers, a Rotterdam-based tax consulting firm for artists and musicians. ‘Everybody needs to pay his fair share of taxation to the government, and therefore we have roads and education and everything,’ he says. During the 1990s, U2 used nonexecutive directors who were resident in an offshore tax haven to limit the amount paid by the four band members.”

Now I have nothing against fancy rock concerts as such. I used to dig rock concerts back in my more wild days, and enjoyed watching the Grateful Dead or the Jefferson Airplane or Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. I must say tickets were a bit cheaper back then.

And legitimate tax minimisation schemes are not necessarily problematic either. But what I do find a bit off putting is when these filthy rich aging rockers lecture the rest of us about our responsibilities to save the world. It always seems a bit hypocritical for these superstars to tell us to sacrifice so we can save the planet or some poor African child, while they are living the really good life.

So how much polluting emissions will these six 747s be putting out? And couldn’t all that money to provide 55 trucks and all the rest be used a bit more wisely if these guys are so worried about helping the poor? I have often said that if Bono simply sold his collection of designer sun glasses, he could probably help feed a few African villages for a year or two.

But hey, it’s his life – he can do what he wants. But a bit less preaching would be nice. Especially if he insists on living like King Tut.

[997 words]

14 Replies to “More Rock Star Duplicity”

  1. The important rule, which I try to live by, is to never, ever let my own (hard earned) cash find its way back to these locusts; money (like thoughts, as Paul says) should be devoted only to those things that are truthful, just, good, honest, beautiful and wholesome. I know some of this is impossible (since the government spends our taxes on promoting homosexuality, abortion, etc.), but over that bit which I have control, there, I’m very careful …
    John Thomas, UK

  2. Hi Bill,

    U2 didn’t pay a visit to my city (Adelaide) this time. But when they did back in 2006, while I know Bono loves doing this sort of thing throughout the years, the band stopped two thirds in the show for Bono to give a ‘sermon’ for the organization Making Poverty History. I know from reading, that I think some members of the group would like these to be shorter. Now I have been to plenty of rock concerts and never before or since had I been given a talk from the lead singer on his fans making donations. I think this ‘sermon’ went for 10 minutes! Hey, as Christians, helping the poor both here and oversea’s is something we must all try and do. Even if it is volunteering. But musicians are there to entertain, not give sermons and asking people to text in, as Bono asked them to do, so they can have their names on one of the gigantic screens I found annoying. U2 and their limiting of paying of tax is nothing new. I heard in their Australian tour of ’06 they made 50 million dollars. I stand to be corrected. I was thinking to my self at the time that I hope that they gave 10 million of that away.

    Now I know that Bono has for more than 20 years been the poverty of Africa. he has been going to these countries, I think though Bob Geldof since 1987. Bono is meant to believe in Christ and being peoples awareness is not a bad thing in it’s self. But I don’t, for some reason really like it when he tells our governments to give money away. It should be up to the individual. Now I don’t and have no right to know how much money they donate each year. I assume Bono is true to his Catholic faith, we all have our shortcomings and no matter what we do, we can never be perfect before God. I just think that that it is pretty bad that people who pay $100-$150 for tickets are to give when Bono and many others are more wealthy than the Barons, rich land lords and the highly successful Capitalists the Bolsheviks disposed of in the Russian Revolution in November 1917.

    Carl Strehlow

  3. Doesn’t it make one sick?!!! What an “example” they are. Knowing that there are also pastors who recommend U2 to their youth in church, is so wrong. Surely, blindness has come on this generation.Thank you for exposing this!
    Evangeline Rykes

  4. ‘Money,’ the love of it, the root of all evil. Bill, thanks for this data.
    Stan Fishley

  5. In a similar vein, it’s laughable to compare the lifestyles of Greens supporters with their projected image and preaching. At my polling booth on Saturday there was a slightly dishevelled Green dressed in an anorak handing out how-to-vote cards. When the polling booth closed, I was surprised to discover that he had not rode his bike or used public transport, but drove a large late model Volvo – with ski racks on the roof!

    Mansel Rogerson

  6. Put it in comparison though. How much of his millions does he give away? I knew a christian once who was criticised for earning a million+ dollars!! But he gave 1/2 of his income away to the poor and neady each year. How many of us are prepared to give 1/2 of what we earn? 500,000 left seems like an awful lot… but remember he just gave away 500,000!!!!
    Ali Murphy 🙂

  7. I like U2. They make good music.

    Now, Bono may be a Christian and as such people may expect more… well more… from him, but who are we to judge him for the decisions he makes about his money unless they run contrary to what he preaches. He sees his fame and position as a tool to raise awareness, and he uses that awareness to promote some good things – and to be honest, given that governments have never in history been so big, bloated or interested in spending money on non-core items (our hospitals, roads and infrastructure still suffer even though the West is taxed on average 40%), taking advantage of legal tax minimisation seems to be a good idea to me, especially if you’d rather have your money actually do some good (ie. combating disease and poverty: fresh water pumps, free vaccinations, and micro-loans, bibles to china, instead of supporting heroine injecting rooms, abortion clinics, aid payments to propagate abortion overseas, billions of $ in handouts to company directors who have squandered the wealth of the populace)

    But, I’ve gotta agree that he and other celebs need to lead more by example and do less preaching, and then their words would actually carry weight.

    I am surprised not to see Al Gore mentioned – I think he’s got to go down in history as the most self-interested duplicitous preacher of environmental hogwash ever – all the while consuming more resources than half of Long Island!

    Garth Penglase

  8. Bill

    “And legitimate tax minimisation schemes are not necessarily problematic either.”

    Now you need to define “legitimate” 🙂

    Seriously, though, the basic proposition on which “legitimate minimisation” rests is that a taxpayer is not obliged to arrange his financial affairs so as to give the tax revenue authority more than they are legally entitled to extract.

    However, the sin of greed interferes with this, so that we twist the concept around from “NOT maximising tax” to permit “extensive minimising of tax”.

    This is why we have a GST/VAT/expenditure tax – the only way to “minimise” that tax is to minimise the spending on which it is calculated.

    Oh what a tangled web we weave…” and all that.

    John Angelico

  9. I’ve always been wary of Bono for the simple reason that he is so adored by the world. Jesus basically made it clear that if we follow Him the world would hate us. He smacks of counterfeit morality and spirituality. As Carl above points out, “But I don’t, for some reason really like it when he tells our governments to give money away. It should be up to the individual”
    Yes, in God’s world, the giving is up to the individual and the church. When a government takes money from you by legislation and without your say so and distributes it where they please, this has nothing to do with Biblical Christianity. It’s an institution of man trying to do the work of the church and failing miserably. Satan’s kingdom rules by force where God’s kingdom flows from heart choices. No wonder Africa is no better off now than it was twenty years ago when the west started paying billions of dollars in aid. If Bono is so keen for money to go to Africa, why doesn’t he ‘sell all that he has and give it to the poor’ as Jesus told the rich young man? Let’s see if he would call himself a Christian if he were told to do that.
    Dee Graf

  10. Thanks Dee

    Yes quite right. I can think of other popular religious lefties who seem to be adored by the world, even here in Australia. The MSM gives them a good run, simply because their worldview is almost identical to that of the secular left. The world always loves its own, but those who will stand solidly for Christ and His Kingdom will always be hated by the world.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  11. Better tell the 5 people that I know who have just spent $100-$150 for standing room tickets to these concerts to make sure they have their credit cards ready when Bono ( what a ridiculous name!!!!!!! ) starts a- preachin’…..

    Dianne McMahon

  12. The Irish government has not supported heroin injecting rooms, abortion clinics or made aid payments to propagate abortion overseas so that could not be the reason that Bono avoids paying tax in Ireland. The Irish still maintain more Christian principles than the Dutch government which does support all of the above.
    Gene Swan

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