The libertarian right is fond of telling us that it’s cruel to tax the rich. Well, no it isn’t. If you earn more, you pay more tax. That’s just the way it is. It’s been that way since I started working 30 odd years ago and it hasn’t really changed. Of course, if you happen to be rich or a ‘wealth creator’ as this government describes those with large piles of cash, then you should be permitted to do all in your power to avoid paying tax.
This tweet from Alain de Botton sums it up beautifully,
Civic duty. If only. Those two words are noticeably absent from the Right’s vocabulary. Instead, what we hear is how the rich are somehow being ‘oppressed’ by those in low to average income brackets. It’s a Randian absurdity to be sure. The idea of responsibility is one that the British Right tend to insist from those at the bottom, but the richest in our society also need to take responsibility on a civic level. But they don’t; they don’t think they have to. The rich may use the road network, for example, but none of them want to pay for its upkeep.
In order to claim that they’re being fair, many on the Right propose the notion of the flat tax. This method of taxation means that each person will pay the same amount of tax regardless of their income or, presumably, the lack of it. The fatal flaw of the flat tax notion was best illustrated, albeit unwittingly, by Nicholas Ridley, chief architect of Britain’s industrial demise and principal designer of the Poll Tax, who once asked the question, “Why should a duke pay more than a dustman”? “Because he fucking can”, we replied. Logic? Not from this bunch.
There is nothing cruel about expecting those with vast incomes to pay more in tax. If you live in a nation-state (and to be honest, I wish I didn’t), then you must expect to pay something towards to upkeep of the country’s infrastructure. If, on the other hand, you don’t want to live in a nation-state and prefer to live in a place where there are no pubic services or infrastructure, then you can always go and live there. No one’s stopping you. If you’re that wealthy, then you can even pay for a private army to protect you. You can buy your own island if you so desire. But while you’re in this country, you’re going to have to accept the fact that you have to pay tax. Those of us at the bottom of the income ladder aren’t here to prop you up.