But there is, apparently, such a thing as a Free Ride, and there is a whole section of society who are after one. Can you guess which one?
No, it’s not benefit scroungers, or immigrants (illegal or otherwise), or the disabled. It’s the rich.
I was pointed to an article in Forbes the other day (no, I’m not providing the link, that’ll only boost their page impressions and make them think people like the page) that made my blood boil. It said it was time for the 99% to give something back. That is, the 99% of the population who work their arses off every day for 45 years (if they’re lucky) in return for a few hundred pounds a week and a poverty-line pension, should pay something to the 1% who are already rich enough that they don’t need to work ever, in gratitude for being allowed to work.
What utter bollocks! When you read it like that, it’s like the Four Yorkshiremen sketch – they each try to outdo each other with how horrible their poverty-stricken childhoods were, and the last one ends up saying that he had to get up two hours before he went to bed, ate a breakfast of cold gravel, then go and work 28 hours a day at t’ mill and pay t’ mill owner for t’ privilege of working there.
The idea being posited in Forbes (the magazine for the rich, about the rich, who publish a list of the 100 richest people in the world every year) is in this instance being floated by an American (who else?), based on a philosophy espoused by the largely-ridiculed Ayn Rand. The bones of the idea is that an inventor invents something. A businessman sets up a business to make the invention. He hires an engineer to build a factory and design machines to build the invention. The factory needs a manager, and floor bosses to run it, and the machines need workers to operate them. With me so far? Good. It goes on to say that because the inventor invented something that was thought good enough to be bought and made by a businessman, then it has huge value, and the inventor has huge worth, and should be paid accordingly. The businessman, because he saw the value of the invention, but couldn’t come up with it himself, is only slightly less worthy, and should be paid accordingly. The engineer is a bit less worthy, because he has the practical know-how to get the invention made, at the whim of the businessman, and should be paid accordingly. The factory manager is less worthy still, because he is merely facilitating the production of the invention, he’s not doing anything creative with it, and should be paid accordingly. The floor bosses are barely worthy at all, all they do is keep the workers working to produce the invention, and should be paid accordingly. The workers are worthless, because all they do is operate machines that make copies of this oh-so-valuable-and-worthy invention, and should be paid accordingly.
I’ll wait until you’ve finished throwing up.
Given that the columnist who perpetrated the article goes on to say that the workers should then subsidise a tax-free life for the inventor and the businessman (and possibly the engineer), the article is effectively advocating indentured labour (at best) or slavery.
There is an old statistic that 7% of the population own 84% of the wealth. That statistic is nearly 50 years old now, and the best figures I can find from recent years are that 10% of the population own 45% of the wealth, and 50% of the population do not own 90% of the wealth. I’d say that’s a bit of an improvement, if those statistics are actually measuring the same things as each other and the 7:84 one. But it’s still bloody inequitable.
Y’know, I reckon the Forbes article has it right, only backwards. It’s not time for the 99% of the population to start “paying back” to the 1% – it will never be time for that, ever. It is time for the 99% of the wealth to start paying back to the 1% of the wealth. In Britain alone, there a millions of people living below the poverty line. There are more now than there were four years ago (after the economy collapsed, but before the current government came to power). Hell, there are more people in poverty now than there were six months after the current government came to power! The current government, by the way, is enacting dozens of policies that make the rich richer and the poor poorer, and those policies would be much more unbalanced in favour of the rich without the moderating influence of the Lib-Dems. I’m not saying the Lib-Dems are doing good, I am saying without them the Tories would have already returned this country to the state it was in in 1929.
So, yes, make the 99% of the wealth pay, tax the rich! Make everyone with an income of more than, say, a quarter of a million a year pay 10% of that income, no mater how that money gets into their possession – shares, bonuses, golden handshakes, salary, whatever. According to some figures, that would clear the national debt in five years, and isn’t that what the current government wants to do? Here’s an idea – instead of decreasing the wealth of those with (collectively) less than 10% of the country’s wealth, and using it to increase the wealth of those who collectively own 45% of the country’s wealth, why not decrease the wealth of those with (collectively) 45% of the country’s wealth in order to pay off the national debt? That way, once the debt is paid off, you can keep taxing the rich, and because you no longer have interest payments on £8,000,000,000 to pay, you can increase the wealth of those who currently, between them, have less than 10% of the country’s wealth.
I should probably have lunch now. Yes, I will have paid for it.
I have since come across this which provides more up-to-date statistics for the USA. I imagine it’s fairly similar for the UK.