Friday, 18 May 2012

Dissolution of the Rich

Mark Steel had this bombshell in his latest article: “In the UK, the national debt is equivalent to the sum the richest 1,000 have become richer by in the past four years.” Independent 16/5/12. Were they to return to their levels of 2008 these people would still be rich. They are incredibly wealthy. They are also very cunning and spend a lot of time and money getting the best tax advice. As a consequence they pay a considerably lower rate of tax than many of their staff. And this includes the lowest paid. 
Tax avoidance and the use of offshore bank accounts are de rigeur among our elite. It has spread to the next layer down. Public servants have taken to declaring themselves to be ‘companies’ thereby significantly reducing the amount of tax they pay. This needs tackling - and quickly.
In the early 16th century there was a similar elite group who stood outside the common herd. In those days it was the monasteries and religious orders who had acquired vast wealth and lands. As the ProtestantReformation gathered pace across the continent these elites came under attack. As Wikipedia has it, “there was the added element of mass discontent against ecclesiastical power and wealth among common people and the lower levels of clergy and civil society.” 
Henry the 8th came up with a novel wheeze.  J.J. Scarisbrick remarked in his biography of Henry VIII:  ‘Suffice it to say that English monasticism was a huge and urgent problem; that radical action, though of precisely what kind was another matter, was both necessary and inevitable, and that a purge of the religious orders was probably regarded as the most obvious task of the new regime’ 
His solution was to dissolve the monasteries and grab their assets for the Crown. 
Substitute ‘wealthy elite’ for ‘English monasticism’ and the road ahead becomes clearer. A purge on the wealthy. 
One suggestion is for the richest 1000 to have a windfall tax on their recent wealth. Simple to apply and could be sold as ‘We are all in this together,” a mantra that has been heard less and less from the ConDem government. 
As most of the Cabinet form part of the elite this will not happen. 
Another solution, even more unlikely, is to launch dawn raids and take as many of the very wealthy  as possible into ‘protective custody’ while their tax affairs are scrutinised. Any discovered avoidance and skullduggery would result in confiscation of equivalent assets followed by show trials pour encourage les autres. Estimates vary, but the £120bn raised would go a long way to sorting out the current mess ( caused by the selfsame wealthy.....!) 
Henry would have approved.

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