Monday 27th April
Well, this is, for me at least, becoming an annual moment of despair. The Sunday Times, the paper of the rich or aspiring or admiring of the rich and powerful if ever there was one, publishes each year their “rich list.” In an age of ever increasing food-banks and world poverty that very term “rich list” is so ‘nineties’, so smug and insensitive. Some commentators have heralded the fact that the number and wealth of the countries billionaires has double in the last five years as a source of pride, in both the success of our economy and the last Government. I would come to exactly the opposite conclusion – it is the failure of that Government to re-distribute wealth or to tax fairly these already rich people that is a source of shame for us as a country (remember the smug look on Osborne’s face when he reduced the top rate of tax by 5p in the pound).
Because money is not an infinite commodity; people get richer as a result of other people becoming poorer. The Tories will point to the trickle down factor, and yes these rich people will eat in Michelin starred restaurants and some of their tips (but not all by any means – remember I work in the industry) may trickle down to those on the minimum wage. There is, it is true in London a whole service industry pandering to the whims of the super-rich which does employ quite a lot of people. However if the wealth were re-distributed a bit, and no-one at the coming election is advocating really hurting them, then many more people would have money in their pockets to spend, so employing even more people.
But even economics aside, can anyone really be pleased with a society in which the super rich double their wealth in five years, and the Government is sanctioning people (that is –withholding their benefits for two weeks) when they are ten minutes late for an appointment. I suppose they see that as one way of reducing the benefits bill.