Apologies for the delay, but as nice as you've been to me over various threads on here, I wanted to do a little better than just repeat what I've already said, so I've been thinking.
I've been considering an extreme example to see if the law applies. Let's take the extreme example of a man who believes that all guns should be made illegal, and takes it upon himself to buy a handgun and shoot a lot of people. "That'll show them how dangerous guns are."
Even in doing so, he must first purchase a handgun and accept the fact that he's going to kill a lot of people to prove his deluded point. The horrifying act of killing, arguably the worst thing that guns can do, is something that he'll have to do in order to prove his point.
Agreed. But, when the hypocrite is well known, the hypocrisy is more likely to take center stage, at least temporarily, to the detriment of public discussion of the merits of the matter in issue. But for Buffet's notoriety, it is unlikely that either his views on the tax code or Berkshire's tax arrears would have drawn much public attention. Due to his celebrity, though, those who oppose raising tax rates on the wealthy have seized upon the latter issue to avoid the former.
I think it's inherent to celebrity status regardless. If Stephen King wasn't famous, why would he get any media time telling that he wanted to be taxed further, unless one of the political parties gave him some sudden attention?
Similarly, if Bob from down the block says that we need to have a law that bans growing red roses in your garden, and he has red roses in his garden, people will point that out even though he has no celebrity status.
Yes, actions inconsistent with one's stated beliefs are often, but not always, evidence that the beliefs are not truly held. This tends to be especially true when the beliefs concern matters of personal morality. When Senator Larry Craig was caught propositioning a man in an airport lavatory, for example, it was fair inference that his record denunciations of homosexuality were a sham (it is, of course, possible that Craig is afflicted by self-loathing, and that his opposition to homosexuality is sincere, if pathetic).
Not overly familiar, but assuming everything is as you say (not that I doubt you, but I lack faith in the media) and he was attempting to ban homosexual acts (since you can't ban homosexuality itself unless you intend to commit genocide) then his attempts to proposition another man for homosexual acts perfectly fit within this logic.
Personal behavior is a less reliable barometer of the sincerity of one's stated views, I think, when the matter in issue is choice of public policy. One's views on how society may best promote its material welfare -- for example, whether it should enact laws aimed at reducing fossil fuel consumption -- are likely to be products of fact and reason, even if faulty. Personal conduct, on the other hand, is frequently driven only by appetite. Thus, although Al Gore is diminished in my eyes by his rapacious consumption of fossil fuels, I am by no means convinced he does not believe what he has said about global warming. And, Al Gore's hypocrisy certainly furnishes no ground to reject the theory he has advocated, that burning carbon-based fuels creates greenhouse gases which will lead to an ever warmer planet, with catastrophic consequences.
Here I'm confused with regards to your comparison of Larry Craig and Al Gore. Both, in my perspective, seem to have lofty claims about what public policy should be yet cannot follow them.
Let's say that Al Gore believes what he says, that every molecule of carbon dioxide kills the planet and shortens the lifespan of humanity. Short of being a nihilist, how could such a person possibly continue to burn fossil fuels, especially at the alarming rate which he does?
People who have unprotected sex with strangers either believe that it won't cause a pregnancy or that an abortion can be had, or that they'll raise it. Maybe they don't think about it at all. People who play russian roulette similarly either want to die or believe that this time it'll be safe.
If you truly believe that actions you take can directly harm the planet on a sufficient scale as to affect billions of people, how could you possibly do it?
People are not dumb beasts, incapable of reason or suppressing their urges. People who engage in wanton sex aren't incapable of controlling themselves; they choose not to. People who try to kill themselves aren't being mentally possessed by some outside force, but want to die.
Now, a person can believe that wanton sex, suicide, or flagrant fossil fuel uses are foolish actions. The issue comes when a person both claims against those actions and indulges them him/herself.
To claim that Al Gore knows that fossil fuels are killing the planet, yet continues to use them, is to claim one of two things. You can proclaim him as a willing and knowing murderer of our planet (or attempted murderer if you don't believe in human-caused climate change), and thus a willing and knowing murderer of several billion people. Alternatively, you can proclaim him as something beneath human, incapable of understanding the consequences of his own actions even as he warns of the actions of others.
You seem to believe that there's another option. I'm sorry that I don't see it. Maybe the gun-banning shooter believes that the sacrifice of a few people in a public way is a small consequence when compared with the many other people who die? I don't believe any sane and rational person would accept that argument, and I don't believe you're saying that Al Gore is either insane or irrational.
All that said, I don't disagree that an advocate's hypocrisy provides additional cause to examine his statements closely, especially when the advocate is a politician.
I should also note that Al Gore's actions do not themselves dispute climate change, simply the belief of a man who claims to know all the facts. It is more the fact that he himself does not believe which causes relevance.
No, of course not. Corporations must pay what the law requires them to pay, just like other taxpayers. However, determination of the amount of tax due can be as much art as science. As you might imagine, the complexity of the calculation varies pretty directly with the size and diversity of the company, and honest tax experts can come up with significantly divergent answers. This is why good tax lawyers and good tax accountants -- i.e., those who know how to minimize the tax bill within the limits of law -- get big bucks.
It is management's legal responsibility to steward corporate assets for the financial benefit of the corporation's owners. The duty requires management to get good tax counsel and to take advantage of whatever lawful means there are -- loopholes, if you like -- to minimize the corporation's tax liabilities.
Whether it makes sense to tax corporate income and, if so, at what rates, and subject to what credits and deductions, are different and thorny questions, probably best left for another thread.
I agree that if loopholes and legal exploits exist, it doesn't make you a bad person to take advantage of them. If it did, then they should not legally exist.
If I stop paying my taxes for several years, I can expect to have the IRS knocking on my door. A corporation who fails to pay taxes should expect the same. In this, I see no difference between a person and a corporation.
If the system is designed so that corporations and people are able to simply avoid paying lots of money for significant periods of time, without interest accumulating for back money owed, then this should be closed. If it exists, though, I want to know about it because I want to use it.