Saturday, 10 December 2011

BBC Politics Show SE

I was on the last ever Politics Show this weekend discussing banker's bonuses today.

It would have been very easy to wheel out a "hang 'em  and flog em'" line full of bile and hate. A line which would have talked at length about punishing them for their sins. I tried to avoid this and consider rising inequalities, tax avoidance by the super rich and the state of the economy, but no sooner had the words "greedy" and "recklessly gambling with our economy" left my lips was I accused of wanting to punish them!

One point of contention was the rich pay proportionally more in tax. While this is broadly true for income tax, it is not true for the total tax burden and very clearly there is also significant tax avoidance by the super rich even on income. This is from Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK:

"The message from this data is unambiguous: the poorest 20% of households in the UK have both the highest overall tax burden of any quintile and the highest VAT burden."

These are the points that I wanted to make in the debate:

Inequality is rising:
  • Over the last decade the income of the richest 10% has rise by 40% while the incomes of the poorest 10% have fallen
  • Inequality is bad for everyone: increase crime, health problems, reduces social cohesion and community
  • Big bonuses for the 1% simply increase inequalities
Tax avoidance and the budget deficit:
  • Rich companies and individuals are avoiding paying up to £100bn in tax
  • Need to close tax loopholes
  • The government is trying to close the budget deficit by austerity and reducing public sector incomes
  • Austerity is hurting the majority who are not super rich and especially younger people who  cannot find work.
Paying their way:
  • Economic collapse caused by bankers gambling recklessly with our economy
  • Driven by greed and a lack of regulation by Tories and Labour
  • No bonus should exceed the salary of the lowest paid individual in the company (£10k-£15k)
  • No evidence that people will leave the county – but if they do....
  • Not worried about the super rich who refuse to pay their way, we are worried about the 1 in 8 households in the South East that are in fuel poverty.

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