This week the Labour Party made a manifesto pledge to abolish the scandalous ‘Non-Dom’ rule, which allows wealthy individuals to avoid paying tax on their foreign earnings, while the rest of us ordinary mortals have to pay all our tax in full. This rule is long-overdue for abolition, as it means that certain people who live here permanently (and in some cases were born here), can enjoy all the benefits and privileges residency in this country brings, but none-the-less dodge tax by shifting their cash abroad and stating that at some unspecified point in the future they intend to leave the country.* (The list of people benefiting from ‘Non-Dom’ status is quite shocking, and includes the Governor of the Bank of England and the chief execs of 3 of the 4 big high street banks.*)
The Labour announcement produced the predictable cries and squeals from the well-off, who now face the prospect of being slightly less well-off. However it also threw up some well-worn arguments about the generation of wealth, which are often deployed by those defending Free Market Capitalism. Namely:
1. If the wealthy are taxed too much they’ll all flee abroad, taking their money and talent with them, leaving us all destitute.
2. We need to attract wealthy foreigners to this country as without them our economy will collapse.
Both these arguments are utterly ridiculous, but show the extent to which Free Market Capitalist thinking has entered our consciousness, and brainwashed large sectors of the population.
Firstly, it is nonsensical to believe that this country needs foreign money in order to thrive. The people of this country have a long and proud history of success, and have for centuries succeeded in generating wealth through their own talent, effort and hard work. To now suggest that we need wealthy foreigners to guide us is to somehow suggest we’ve all suddenly become useless, lazy and incompetent.
Secondly, the idea that a few ‘talented’ people are the ones who generate all the wealth is also complete rubbish. The wealth of this country is generated by the combined efforts of every man, woman and child who contributes their labours to the general good and well-being. To suggest otherwise is to dismiss the priceless contributions so many of us make. And even though it may be true that we need bright brains to drive industry, technology or become entrepreneurs, this country has never been short of such talented people, and if a few of them do up-sticks and leave there are plenty more to take their place. In fact, personally speaking, if a few selfish individuals do put their own personal wealth ahead of any care for the society they live in, then I don’t want them here anyway.
Two more points it’s worth bearing in mind. This argument about ‘Talent’ forgets to mention that it was our ‘Talented’ bankers who led us into the financial crash of 2008. So ‘Talented’, but apparently they never saw that coming (or maybe they did but were too busy filling their boots to care). And many corporate disasters have been overseen by management who afterwards claimed the business was too big or complicated for them to fully understand what was going on. Again, talented? Or just enjoying the privileges and good fortune of being part of the wealthy elite.
Finally, in recent years the massive influx of foreign money has been a huge contributor to the increase in house prices, and consequently rents. That may have benefited property owners, but for the majority of the population all it’s done is lead to increased hardship, and in the case of central London, a form of social cleansing.
This argument that we somehow ‘need’ the rich is a complete lie put about by, not surprisingly, the rich (and those they’ve brainwashed) to justify them increasing their wealth while the rest of us are forced to suffer endless Austerity.
* Non-Dom fully explained: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-32216346