It's worth starting this piece with an admission I'm going to take the liberty of making on behalf of most of this country, myself included.
When weighing up our ethics with how we choose to spend our money, the vast majority of us are either a) Hypocrites, b) Ignorant or c) Lazy. Or maybe you're in the thinly-populated d) category. One of the small percentage who buy food at overpriced farmers' markets rather than supermarkets; bank with either an Islamic bank, Co-op, or have all your money stashed away in a shoebox under your bed; ride a bike; excrete into a toilet of wood shavings (shavings must be supplied from sustainable trees); breed your own chickens; till your own fields; wash your clothes in a dolly and tub; and brush your teeth with sliced Aloe Vera leaves.
And these are just examples. Once you've carefully trodden through the minefield of avoiding everything that makes you an evil human being, you look up only to see the field stretching all the way to the horizon, where a cold, hungry and miserable wreck of a being is huddled up in a cave, scared to break wind for fear of accelerating the Earth's demise.
But let's not be too hard on ourselves.
Most of us are aware that it's better to shop at an independent shop rather than Tesco, and if the two are standing next to each other, we'll pick the former. However, if we're on our way home from work in this razor-cold winter and there's a Tesco Express conveniently located on the way (which, sadly, there always is), we'll go there rather than seek the long-suffering farm shop. If you manage to rise above this behaviour, then I salute you, and believe it's people with your mindsets who should run this country's parliamentary constituencies (just for fun, have a run at police commissioner as well).
However, the evolving tax avoidance scandal surrounding Amazon has finally put us in a position where it's inexcusable to sit back and do nothing, considering that all the action that's really required of us is to sit back, and perhaps be forced to click our mouse buttons several more times than we'd normally like to.
Steps have been taken. Recently, George Osborne took the – frankly meek - step of investing some £77m more into HMRC to combat tax avoidance, and John Lewis have attributed their recent strong sales partly to a customer backlash against Amazon. Despite this, there are millions of us who continue to shop from the cunning retailer. Now unless you’re genuinely ignorant, this is the kind of criminal laziness that should have you hung, drawn and quartered for crimes against your country.
There's no denying that, for all its brilliance, the internet has made us lazy. Where once people would sit down with a quill and ink pot, dedicating hours to writing then sending a letter, now we find it laborious to reply to a relative's email. Incredibly, Amazon has managed to make us even lazier within the Land of Indolence that is the internet. By offering us competitive prices, one-click buying and speedy deliveries with their 'Prime' service, Amazon make every extra typed word or click of the mouse feel like a task of Sisyphean proportions.
Thanks to advances in internet speeds and technology, we're slipping into an ever-deepening rabbit hole of lethargy. Everything in the world should be a click or two away, and every website should load up within four seconds. If these conditions aren't met, we want our money back for those wasted seconds.
But if all we need to do to avoid a gross tax injustice occurring is browse a few extra websites that perhaps don't offer quite as intuitive an experience as Amazon, or which make us sign up to their newsletter, or even those sites which waste a good 20 seconds of our precious lives by making us look for those account activation emails, then perhaps we're willing to take those few extra clicks.
I know you’re thinking that those clicks could be better spent stalking an ex-girlfriend on Facebook, or looking at captioned pictures of cats with hats, or dogs with shades, or beavers with stilettos, but on balance the effort-reward ratio here (the reward being the eventual tax return of millions of pounds) couldn’t be any more generous.
Here’s a chance where the laziest among us don't even need to stand up to be counted. We don't need to firebomb Tesco or go defecate on the steps at the Bank of England. The chance to force the world's largest online retailer to pay up in these tough times like the rest of us is just a few clicks away (sorry, no Amazon-style One-Click deal), and Christmas is the perfect time to make an impact.
If we find this smallest of shifts in our shopping habits too hard to make, then it'll be an embarrassing indicator that we've succumbed to apathy, and that any remaining notion of people power in this country has all but withered away.
- More about:
- Amazon (Company)
- Bank Of England