This article about rich Brits has been widely linked to, and I spotted it yesterday thanks to Infinite Thought (see blogroll right) and also JR who sent me the link to Lenin’s Tomb (also see blogroll right). So I can’t really add a lot to the comments of those far finer brains… Other than to say that I think it underlines what I wrote in criticism of Mr Kampfner’s piece on GQ. I know, I know… I’ve gone on and on about that… But it’s important. Our rich – that is, my rich there on yonder small island up north – are just as revolting as the rich spotted in Luanda or Rio or anywhere else you might like to choose.
I particularly like the line, Tax consultants Grant Thornton estimated that in 2006 at least 32 of the UK’s 54 billionaires paid no income tax at all. And to think of all those people who ask me, in suitably sympathetic tones, whenever I return to the UK from this southern part of Africa, ‘Ooh, but isn’t it awfully corrupt down there?’
And I really liked this one too: the law partners earned between £500,000 and £1.5m per year, putting them in the top 0.1% of earners in the UK, while the merchant bankers ranged from £150,000 up to £10m. I actually quiver when I read that. It thrills me in a way I’m not entirely able to comprehend.
And this: How much, we asked our group, would it take to put someone in the top 10% of earners? They put the figure at £162,000. In fact, in 2007 it was around £39,825, the point at which the top tax band began. Our group found it hard to believe that nine-tenths of the UK’s 32m taxpayers earned less than that. As for the poverty threshold, our lawyers and bankers fixed it at £22,000. But that sum was just under median earnings, which meant they regarded ordinary wages as poverty pay.
And I was particularly struck by this bit, here: ‘
“Providing for children” was flourished as a trump card, as if spending on offspring were automatically moral and good, regardless of how other people’s children fare.
“I work hard, I’ve got two boys and I want to provide for them.”
Just recently an Englishman working here in Johannesburg was trying to justify to me why he is now involved in high-paid and what I might call spy-work in Africa. He told me he had “no choice” because he had to put his kids “through education”, meaning private boarding school in the UK. Of course, poor luv, loathes the work he does and would much rather be a nice teacher or nice nurse or something mmm, yes, nice, you know, but he can’t afford to. And of course, like these bankers and lawyers in this article, he told me he works much harder than the rest of us. Much harder than say, all those cleaners who do night shifts across London every day…
I can’t even write intelligibly about this. I get too cross.