The Big Question: Is it time to start squeezing the rich?

The issue is not that rich need to be ‘squeezed’ – it is simply that those who have benefited most in the boom times now need to make the greatest contribution to getting the nation’s finances in order.

The UK is now one of the most unequal societies in Europe – and more unequal than at any time for at least 40 years.

  • The top tenth of the population is now 100 times more wealthy than the bottom tenth.
  • The wealthy have benefited disproportionately from the past thirty years of economic growth.  Out of each extra £100 that national income has grown, £40 has gone to the top ten percent.
  • ‘We now live in a separate economy, we live on a separate level to the vast majority of people in the country. We live in a completely different world to the people who live next door.’  (Banker quoted in Poly Toynbee’s Unjust Rewards).

Yet it is the poorest tenth of the population who are amongst the hardest hit by the Coalition’s spending cuts. Over the next 4 years, the poorest tenth will see their incomes squeezed more than any group other than wealthiest in society – and twice as much as mid to high income earners.

Why should the poorest be expected to shoulder the biggest burden?

The big accountancy firms make millions each year by advising  the wealthy how avoid paying their fair share of taxes through what is euphemistically described as ‘tax planning’ – but which is better described as tax avoidance.

On the Government’s own estimate £42 billion each year is lost through tax evasion and tax avoidance by the wealthy … £42 billion which cannot be spent on schools, hospitals, benefits, surestart centres…

“There must come a point at which the scale of the gap between the very wealthy and those at the bottom of the range of income begins to undermine the common good.  This is the point at which society starts to be run for the benefit of the rich, not for all its members.”   The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales (The Common Good, 1997)

The Christian faith is clear in relation to what David Sheppard, the late Bishop of Liverpool, described as ‘God’s Bias to the Poor.’ Those who have benefited most in the boom times now need to make the greatest contribution to getting the nation’s finances in order.

2 thoughts on “The Big Question: Is it time to start squeezing the rich?

  1. Quite so – ‘tolle divitem’ is the legitimate slogan of an overwhelming moral necessity. There are two main obstacles to substantive change:

    1) The rich are good at staying rich (fortified behind legions of lobbyists, institutionalized corruption and tax avoidance on an industrial scale)
    2) It is difficult for any of us to imagine equality (that’s another way of saying that the general population are farmed like a herd of prize cattle and that the alternative to this ‘factory farming’ is still regarded as ‘loony’ and unrealistic)

    As I sit here this morning watching the Jackdaws carrying twigs from Epping Forest across the road I remain full of hope – but it is the same hope that prevented Enclosure and gifted the forest to the people of London.

    Shalom, phil

    P.S. See you on the march later

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