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MPs should be on double taxation

We were told in the middle of last week that 9 out of 10 Kenyans think our members of parliament should pay taxes on all their income. I was stunned by this finding; I did not know what to think.

Are you trying to tell me that 10 per cent of us actually think MPS SHOULD NOT pay taxes? Who are these people, and what’s wrong with them? Do they have a full set of marbles in the upstairs cupboard? I think the pollsters should ‘toboa’ all: were they conducting part of their survey in mental homes? Were they asking children in nursery school what they think of taxation without representation? Did they conduct the questioning in Swedish? Did they mistakenly include all 200 parliamentarians in a sample of 2,000?

Those are the only things that could explain that finding. It is not possible that one full person out of every ten imagines that MPs should be exempt from tax. That point of view is too retarded to be possible. We are surely all more educated and more sensible than that. Or are we?

I only ask since the same MPs were all voted in by us. We screened them, filtered them, vetted them and then voted for them to represent us. So if this is the best we could do, it is time to ask ourselves what we think we’re doing with our country and our lives.

There is an old adage: don’t listen to what people SAY; just watch what they DO. People are capable of the most flowery, sweet-sounding words. They can promise the earth, with the moon as a bonus gift. They can say they will clean up the country, and fight corruption, and host the Olympics, and build Africa’s Singapore right here by 2030. None of that matters. What matters is what they do.

So the issue of MPs paying or not paying tax has given us the best early opportunity we need to see exactly what we elected. We thought we were voting for change, for young firebrands, for people who cared about the plight of their followers.

Now we know exactly who we voted for. They have just told us.

There is no earthly reason for MPs not to pay tax, and no heavenly one either. The only reasons that are put forward are spawned in hell. These include: MPs have many responsibilities; MPs are special people; MPs work too hard; MPs have many dependants; MPs are too big to pay tax.

I don’t have to go through all those with you again. I did so in June this year, when this issue first reared its ugly head. Suffice it to say that for the leadership they display; for the work that they do; for the contribution they make to the nation: our MPs should be on double taxation.

It seems they are too obtuse to realise the position they’re in. This issue is not going to go away. There are no grey areas, no shades of reasoning, no nuanced arguments to be made. It is simple: we all pay tax, and we all have to. Taxation only works when everyone pays. Paying tax annoys the hell out of everyone, particularly when that tax is used to hire charlatans. And the annoyance turns to rage when taxpayers find out that some people are somehow exempt.

It doesn’t wash. If one person is pardoned from paying, so must all the other millions be. Taxation is an all-or-nothing game. Either we’re all in it, or none of us are. If the Queen of England pays her taxes like everyone else, then there is no case whatsoever left for our desperadoes here to make.

And so, the media will be on it, 24-7. Columnist after columnist will berate the MPs. Civil society will rise up to publicise the names and photographs of those who refuse to pay. Ordinary wananchi are talking about leading protests. And let the MPs pay heed: the corporate world is just as angry. What would happen if the top 20 taxpaying corporations suddenly decided to not pay their dues, until MPs cough up what they owe to the state? Parliamentarians, is this a fight you really think you’re going to win? Kenyans may not unite on many things, but we are united on this one.

And finally, back to wananchi. So, your elected representatives have shown you their mettle. Why did you vote them in? When educated people of integrity and substance bother to stand for election, why do they invariably come bottom of the results slip? What kind of death-wish do the people of this nation have, to consistently and repeatedly make the wrong choices?

Why do you all idolise an Obama a few thousand miles away, when you would never dream of voting for a Barack right here? So, voters and taxpayers: you made your bed this way; now enjoy the sleepless nights.

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