Author Topic: Unpopular Opinion: U2 Edition  (Read 1540 times)

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Offline Luzita

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Re: Unpopular Opinion: U2 Edition
« Reply #45 on: July 07, 2018, 09:13:51 AM »
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None of us have any way of knowing the degree to which Bono is a philanthropist.  By philanthropist do you mean somebody who gives so much its impossible to keep it secret and so they make their giving a public platform (like Gates and Buffet)?  At a net worth of $600 million, Bono is just not at that level.  He could easily give 20% or more of his income and remain anonymous.  It is not considered good character to brag on your own generosity.  How much does he need to give to be judged worthy of his activism?  As for the selectivism, that is clearly intentional and strategic to maximize his effectiveness.  Bono has always been straight up that he is a capitalist and pragmatic... that he’s no hippie with flowers in his hair.  He’s focused on the end, not the means.

All the rest of your comments on the band’s creative output I agree with and its irrelevant to me how big an angel Bono is.  He’s a bigger one than me.  I can’t demand more than that of my rock stars.


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It is of course true that Bono would try to be quiet about his charitable giving, as that is a Christian principle. And I’m sure the other members of U2 would as well. Though there are some donations we know about, such as to Music Generation in Ireland.


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Offline hotty375

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Re: Unpopular Opinion: U2 Edition
« Reply #46 on: July 13, 2018, 06:13:08 AM »
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I appreciate the OP's point that unpopular opinions does not necessarily mean negative opinions. So on to my own unpopular opinions (at least unpopular to some).

* U2's last couple of albums, esp. SOE, are very high quality and stack up well against the rest of their catalog.
* The 90s were not a good decade for them overall. They did create Achtung Baby, which is a great album, but the other albums they produced are not among their best.
* The criticism that U2 receives for their "tax avoidance" is not only absurd, it is harmful. U2 get bashed far more than other bands, even though they haven't done anything worse and, in fact, have done very little wrong at all.  The reason is their philanthropy and social activism. Those who get off on hating U2 for their "hypocrisy" are discouraging people with money and fame from using those resources on behalf of those who have nothing. Others in a similar position to U2 can look around and realize, "Hey, I can be a selfish pig with my money, and treat my family and associates like dirt, and it won't hurt my reputation. But I better stay the hell away from saving people dying of AIDS and starvation or I'll earn myself no end of grief!"

I totally disagree with you re your first comment, but musical taste is subjective so fair enough. But really? Stack up well- really really?

I totally disagree with you re the 90's - AB is a universally acclaimed classic album and rightfully so. Followed by the ground breaking Zoo TV tour and followed by Zooropa which was  equally successful and equally amazing. Zooropa album has some major U2 highlights- the title track, Stay ( surely one of the best ever U2 songs of all time),  Lemon. It's pretty sonically  experimental ( as were the visuals) and yeah, the latter half isn't anywhere near as good as AB but pees all over anything they have done in the last decade. Pop has some great songs on it and amazing guitar sounds, but didn't translate particularly well to the live arena. The UK end of the tour suffered badly by coinciding with Princess Diana's death which put a bit of a subdued feel to it all. But has some great songs on it nonetheless-- Mofo, Gone, Last Night on Earth, Miami but definitely not a classic U2 album. And Adam was busy putting the rock-n-roll into U2 then too--supermodels, missed gigs etc :-) I can tell you stacks of non-U2 fans gave them plenty of deference in the whole AB/ Zooropa early 90's era.

I totally disagree with you re the tax avoidance. It is not absurd at all. The U2 tax loophole can be explained as follows:
Rock bands such as U2 and the Rolling Stones take advantage of this loophole to manage royalty payments from their records and performances.
The bands license their copyright to companies that they set up in the Netherlands, which in turn license it to companies in other countries.
While the Netherlands companies receive the bands’ global royalties, they only pay tax on what is earned in the Netherlands itself, allowing the groups to cut their tax bills.
To give an example of this, pre-this, U2 Ltd paid tax of $46500 in Ireland. The next year, they paid $1.1m after the Irish govt. capped the tax relief on royalty income. 3 months later, U2 moved their tax affairs to The Netherlands

Frankly, they should be paying the  appropriate rate of corporation tax on the profits generated by the revenues in any particular country in which they 'trade' or generate income. And yes, it's not the 'rules' , but they would be setting a great example ( a Christian example, even lol)

Fair? Or sensible taxation? The rules are set by the mega-rich to benefit the mega-rich. Except Bono continually pontificates about debt relief and third world aid whilst continuing to do anything to minimise his own tax liabilities. Shopping centres in Lithuania--really? What about championing ethical investing? Adam Clayton is so rich he didn't even notice his maid stealing £400K from him until it was too late. The Edge embarks on a mission to build property on a protected beach front-- for what? To sell real estate? Larry Mullen sues his accountant because his investments lost 11m Euros. Bono has consistently called on the Irish government to do more to help developing nations. That he is doing so while at the same time doing anything he can to remove cash from the Irish tax coffers is what annoys people - in Ireland especially. There was an interview on Irish TV where Bono talked about how people need to get over any “warm, fuzzy feeling” they might have about the band. They’re a business, he insisted. It is interesting that he spoke on behalf of Ireland in their bid to get a seat on the UN Security Council . Ireland only contributes 0.4% of GDP to foreign aid, well below the target of 0.7% ( which hardly anyone does, but the UK does). Norway- one of Ireland's competitors for the seat-- contributes 1.05%. Perhaps U2 should make up the Irish shortfall--that would give them real kudos.

And forgive my cynicism, but how many people have U2 personally saved from dying of AIDs or starvation? Really? (again)

Re the tax thing...

Does that mean every band that has ever existed should get the same criticism?
Literally every band in the 70s and 80s were tax exiles.

As I said previously, three of them live here. The three of them pay taxes as residents of the country. I can understand people's noses been put out of joint over the hypocrisy but, as I asked before of someone, if your business stood to pay less tax elsewhere, would you take up that opportunity?

After all, everyone else is at it...
You are touching on the point I was trying to make. If people’s objections were truly about tax avoidance, then their criticisms should be directed towards all bands who do it, and concentrated on the worst offenders which I don’t think are U2.  The reason that U2 gets singled out is because of their philanthropy and social activism. So, truly, no good deed goes unpunished. Their critics are sending totally the wrong message.

I also wanted to ask about what you said regarding “three of them live here” by which I assume you mean Ireland. I know they all reside in other countries part of the time but I thought all four had their primary residence in Ireland. Who doesn’t?


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Re the tax thing-- the reason U2 get 'singled out' is not because of their philanthropy (what philanthropy?) and social activism but because of Bono's incessant lobbying to try and get already hugely indebted nations to give 0.7% of their GDP ( and frankly that encompasses their own residents tax dollars) to foreign aid, whilst not setting an example by doing it himself. It would be a whole lot different if U2 said 'to lead the way, we are doing it as a business'. eg the last 2  tours grossed $736m & $316m. A whopping $7.36m to foreign aid, U2?? Nah. Bono is very good at wanting to change the world, but not using much of his own money. And hectoring, preaching and evangelizing about any social issue under the sun. ( apart from the major ones that impact on most people's lives-- healthcare, freedom of movement, political corruption etc because it would lose him his celebrity access to rich and powerful people). And his own country do not even come close to his 0.7% target despite having the biggest GDP growth in the EC--not a peep from Bono on that one.

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Re living in Ireland, well, nobody knows where the individual members of the band will be domiciled for tax purposes. But you can bet your bottom dollar, they will know exactly how many days per year they can spend in Ireland if it is there ( 163/yr, or 240 over 2 yrs, BTW) and this will be a factor in planning tours etc etc. This will apply to any country they spend time in & are subject to possible taxation. And they will earn no doubt up to their tax-free allowance and the rest will be as dividends etc, and they then will be minimized by the press of a button to other companies they have interests in. Fine, that's what the mega-rich do- unfortunately, the man in the street doesn't have that option as for most mere mortals, their taxes are taken at source. That is why there is huge resentment towards Bono and his pontificating.

The reason other bands don't get the same criticism is they don't try & tell govts. what they should be doing with their citizens tax dollars! In the UK in the 70's, tax rates ranged from 83% to 98%--it's no wonder they all ran for the hills. I think it's Keith Richards autobiography where there is a story about Mick Jagger flying into UK under cover of darkness when he was dating Bianca to avoid being officially in the country to avoid any tax-collecting rule triggering. That's the way it was back then.

Bono also keeps interesting bedfellows. It's hugely ironic IMO that given a massive part of U2's success has been due to their live interaction with their audience, that he had invested in FB ( and subsequently made a fortune form it-- great investment!! ;D)- surely the worst thing to happen to society ( but again, not a peep from Bono re the data manipulation, the evidence now of a direct correlation between FB use and mental illness, FB's tax avoidance lol) , and is cosying up to Jeff Bezos of Amazon- a company who treat their workers miserably, will replace them with robots in the near future, and have contributed to the loss of interaction between people by way of decimation of high streets/ retail etc. He is a self-styled lobbyist for the biggest corporate tax-avoiders to base their HQ's in Ireland--yeah, creates some jobs but the bigger picture is they go there to minimise their tax.

"going after U2 for their "hypocrisy" (i.e., their good deeds).''-  their 'good deeds' ( and yes they exist) is NOT their hypocrisy
« Last Edit: July 13, 2018, 06:18:07 AM by hotty375 »

Offline hotty375

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Re: Unpopular Opinion: U2 Edition
« Reply #47 on: July 13, 2018, 08:14:07 AM »
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None of us have any way of knowing the degree to which Bono is a philanthropist.  By philanthropist do you mean somebody who gives so much its impossible to keep it secret and so they make their giving a public platform (like Gates and Buffet)?  At a net worth of $600 million, Bono is just not at that level.  He could easily give 20% or more of his income and remain anonymous.  It is not considered good character to brag on your own generosity.  How much does he need to give to be judged worthy of his activism?  As for the selectivism, that is clearly intentional and strategic to maximize his effectiveness.  Bono has always been straight up that he is a capitalist and pragmatic... that he’s no hippie with flowers in his hair.  He’s focused on the end, not the means.

All the rest of your comments on the band’s creative output I agree with and its irrelevant to me how big an angel Bono is.  He’s a bigger one than me.  I can’t demand more than that of my rock stars.


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It is of course true that Bono would try to be quiet about his charitable giving, as that is a Christian principle. And I’m sure the other members of U2 would as well. Though there are some donations we know about, such as to Music Generation in Ireland.


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I wasn't aware that being quiet about charitable giving was a Christian principle, but my Christianity disappeared a long time ago. But I'm sure we all agree nobody likes a blowhard irrespective of any religious connotation. On that subject though, does that apply to accepting awards for it? Bono would go to the opening of an envelope if he thought there was an award for him inside it! I'm not sure why humanitarian awards even exist- they appear to be a vehicle for rich celebs to feed their own ravenous ego's. Here is a good article from The Guardian in the UK on it--the comments are interesting too as they show the polarised opinions of people on this-- a bit like on here probably:

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Anyway, please don't take this as indiscriminate Bono-bashing. I am finding it harder and harder to reconcile my love of the band's music with their personal crusades which I find to be self-grandiosing. I agree with Rasmus above-- I thought U2 were better than that.

And please just take this as a differing opinion-- you said it was an interesting topic, which of course it is.

Offline shineinthesummernight

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Re: Unpopular Opinion: U2 Edition
« Reply #48 on: July 13, 2018, 09:54:14 PM »
The point is that no one knows how much Bono is giving away of his own money.  Prince's philanthropy came out after he died.  Bono may be giving away a lot of money, but we don't know.