Saturday, 1 September 2012

Wealth tax and the chorus of cretins

The Deputy Prime Minister's thoughts on demonstrating that there is indeed a chasm between the Tories and the remainder of the population caused predictable drooling from the lunatic right.  This is probably a good thing.  Clegg is finally waking up to the fact that the 2010 election resulted in an outcome that did not mandate the continuation of Blair's trickle-up economic policies, nor the perpetuation of crony capitalism.  It's too late, but at least some of the salient points are getting an airing.

There are a number of Tories re-emerging who I had thought might have already shuffled off their mortal coils, going the same way as any residual brain-stem activity.  To hear the puffing of the backwoods, never-weres or never-should-have-beens, exemplified by that moral paragon Tim Yeo, you would have thought that Clegg had turned into a latter-day Pol Pot, pillaging through the divinely-bestowed aristocracy, in suggesting that "we're all in this together" might be more than windy rhetoric from a man whose rodentine credentials are far closer to the hamster than the domestic mouse.

Within the cocoon of Tory idiocy, the "wealth creator" dyspeptically running his finger under the words in the Daily Telegraph on his way from Haslemere to Waterloo (and they're always males) sees any suggestion that the tax base should extend to assets as equivalent to introducing a guillotine outside the Bank of England.  Their world-view is that acquisition through exploitation, inherited wealth and tax evasion is a symbol of entitled entrepreneurship, demonstrating their superiority to the mortals whose labour, taxes and oppression feather-bed their existence.

As an old Liberal, I have always been in favour of taxing land - it has much less possibility of fleeing abroad or fiddling its accounting rules, and it is a scarce resource that should be managed in the interests of the wider community.  A wealth tax, particularly based around asset holdings in excess of a reasonably-large sum of capital, would go some way to addressing this, as well as potentially capping the asset-price inflation that the Tories are peddling as a substitute for economic revival (why pump money into the housing market if not to subsidise buy-to-let parasites?), and would at least provide some symbolic resonance that the current fiscal crisis is country-wide.

Instead, we have this myth that the "wealth creator" is a privileged being.  Somebody who creates work for others, or adds to the store of wider happiness, is someone who is worthwhile.  Yet most of these are parasites, semi-literate recyclers of received wisdom that they do not have the faculties to evaluate or challenge.  If you were to replace the average City type with a monkey connected to a keyboard with a William Hill account the monkey would probably outperform them, and be more pleasurable both as a social companion and in terms of personal hygiene.  Creating wealth is only worthwhile if it benefits the wider community, not just the nominal asset values of a clique whose moral worth is the reciprocal of their bank balance.

This is a flip side of the moronic reliance on microeconomic policy to provide a recovery which I mused upon recently, and indicative of the true nature of much contemporary Toryism - a reflexive, selfish and grasping approach with no societal or economic obligations.  Clegg, tapping into something that even Labour have balked from (for tactical advantage, I hope, rather than a perpetuation of the Blair sycophancy), may be onto something - the inequality and the arrogance are the Achilles heel of the contemporary Tory party.


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