From the you must be out of your freaking mind file comes this gem from England. Boris Johnson thinks that the upper rich are a put upon bullied minority and that they deserve our thanks and gratitude.
He is not talking about any old wealthy individual but “people who have so much money they can fly by private jet, and who have gin palaces moored in Puerto Banus, and who give their kids McLaren supercars for their 18th birthdays and scour the pages of the FT’s “How to Spend It” magazine for jewel-encrusted Cartier collars for their dogs.”
Presuming that we are talking about the top 1% of the United Kingdom’s population we are talking about a small group that controls an estimated quarter of the country’s wealth. This level of inequality is near the top of the world’s list although well short of the United States’ equivalent estimate of 40%.
Johnson goes on:
[T]he latest data suggest that we should be offering them humble and hearty thanks. It is through their restless concupiscent energy and sheer wealth-creating dynamism that we pay for an ever-growing proportion of public services. The top one per cent of earners now pay 29.8 per cent of all the income tax and National Insurance received by the Treasury. In 1979 – when Labour had a top marginal rate of 83 per cent tax after Denis Healey had earlier vowed to squeeze the rich until the pips squeaked – the top one per cent paid only 11 per cent of income tax. Now, the top 0.1 per cent – about 29,000 people – pay an amazing 14.1 per cent of all taxes.
Nor, of course, is that the end of their contribution to the wider good. These types of people are always the first target of the charity fund-raisers, whether they are looking for a new church roof or a children’s cancer ward. These are the people who put bread on the tables of families who – if the rich didn’t invest in supercars and employ eau de cologne-dabbers – might otherwise find themselves without a breadwinner. And yet they are brow-beaten and bullied and threatened with new taxes, by everyone from the Archbishop of Canterbury to Nick Clegg.
Of course the fact that the uber wealthy pay so much tax, if true, is only because their share of the country’s income is so extraordinarily large. And if reports of a twenty trillion pound transfer of wealth to tax havens are even half true then the English wealthy’s tax largesse is much smaller than it should be.
Johnson is of course expressing a world view that the uber wealthy should be lauded and thanked for their parsimonious sharing of the world’s wealth with the rest of us, that support for the poor and for our health system should be voluntary and that workers should be thankful for what they are given.
He also thinks that their wealth is a recognition of their innate skills and worth as human beings and not the consequence of an economic order that is in bad shape. And he shows his preference for a feudal system when he advocates that the top ten taxpayers should be given automatic knighthoods.
Johnson’s comments have been met by an array of responses but perhaps the clearest response came from student activists People’s Assembly Against Austerity from King’s College, London who said “Boris Johnson has suggested that the super rich are an oppressed minority. These people just don’t get it, do they?”