Nick Clegg wants to tax the rich out of the country

Nick has come up with an amazingly stupid idea. But then we consider the source and stop being amazed.

Not only does Nick want to push through his ‘mansion tax’, designed to punish those people who have the temerity to live in nice houses, but he now wants them to pay an extra ‘rich tax’. Temporarily of course, don’t get him wrong, but then we know that taxes are always about as temporary as death.

Nick went to decent schools, so he must be reasonably numerate. But one wonders if he has done the sums in this instance.

I don’t know whom he includes in the rich category, but let’s assume for the sake of argument that he means millionaires. The UK has about 600,000 of them, those blood suckers who, according to the philosophy Nick espouses, or rather feels in his viscera, have exploited and stolen their way to wealth.

The idea of punishing them for their sharp practices certainly has much appeal, and if some non-exploitative doctors or inventors also get the chop in the process, well, it’s their hard luck. But putting the aesthetics of the matter aside for a second, let’s consider the practicalities. Will making the leeches cough up this ‘temporary’ tax really solve any problems?

The greatest problem the British economy has is Nick and his like-minded redistributors. It’s thanks to their unceasing efforts that we’ve run up a public debt in excess of a trillion pounds. That’s a rather large amount any way you look at it, but I suggest we consider it in purely arithmetic terms.

A trillion divided by the number of British millionaires yields the sum of £1.6 million and change. Now most asset millionaires don’t make anywhere near this amount in a year. For most it would take 10 years at least to gross that amount in total income. Asking them nicely to pay as much as that in extra tax would give them a good laugh or, depending on their cardiac health, a heart attack. In either case, no extra income will swell the Exchequer coffers.

Some richer millionaires would have to take up the slack and pay not £1.6 million but possibly £1.6 billion – on top of the taxes they are paying already. The cynic in me can’t help thinking that those fortunate individuals aren’t going to get down on their hands and knees, take their punishment and keep saying, ‘Thank you, sir, can I please have another.’ And the realist in me can absolutely guarantee that they’ll just up their sticks and go to some place where the likes of Nick are kept outside ranting distance of government.

If his bright idea is acted upon, the Exchequer will lose not just the extortionate amount Nick proposes to squeeze out of the ‘rich’, but indeed the considerable taxes they are paying already. This ought to be clear to a chap with an expensive education, as I’m sure it’s clear to Nick. But he and his party comrade Vince don’t really think that robbing the rich will help the poor, or indeed the economy at large. They don’t care a flying buck about the poor or the economy. What they want to do is send what Vince once aptly called ‘an important message’.

And what message would that be? That rather than rewarding success we want to punish it. That we don’t want anyone to succeed beyond a very modest level. That those who’ve become a success anyway should go and be successful somewhere else.

The effect on the economy will be nothing short of disastrous, but what does Nick care? He knows that envy, the sixth cardinal sin, drives many voters to support parties that make anti-rich noises. Aquinas explained how this works: ‘Charity rejoices in our neighbour’s good, while envy grieves over it’.

It’s to the envious, lazy, stupid and mean that Nick, Vince and their parteigenossen send their subversive messages. But, on the rebound, the noises also reach the industrious, enterprising and daring. These people don’t need an interpreter to understand the real meaning, and translate it into a call to action: Run with what’s left of your money, while you still have any money left.

The trouble is that such people don’t just make money for themselves. They also create wealth for others. And that’s precisely the burr under Nick’s blanket: God forbid more people will be able to take care of themselves without relying on the state’s largesse. Such people will have no reason whatsoever to vote for mentally and emotionally challenged politicians like Nick. And every reason not to.

 

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