Tag Archives: wealth

Peston’s children

Between the stories of lunatic Islamists on the rampage all across the world and John Noakes going missing in Majorca – unrelated as far as I can tell – a significant news event has snuck quietly between the gaps with virtually no fanfare. A whole country, and a famous one at that, has been banned.

Greece is done, finished, no longer allowed to exist. If I were hilarious I’d make some reference to the Monty Python parrot sketch at this point, but I’m not hilarious. A country that has done a fair amount for the advancement of humanity has been told by a selection of economists that it must now shutter up its tavernas and quit that stupid bloody dancing, because they’re all now to be scattered to the four corners of Europe and their lands shared between Bulgaria, Turkey and, controversially, Chad.

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The Humanity Tax

I sincerely hope I never have to take out a payday loan. The theory behind them is sound enough – if you need to pay a bill or two before your next pay cheque comes in, go to a company with a name that makes debt sound fun and exciting and they’ll give you what seems like free cash at the time but turns out to cost you so much it makes your eyes water like a kick to the cock.

But being in a position to have to take out such a loan must be horrible. Not being able to afford such luxuries as food and toilet paper cannot be the route to contentment. Handy, then, that the government have just made it harder for people who can’t afford to repay such a loan from getting one. People who can’t afford to eat are now going to find it harder to scrape enough together for a box of eight No Frills fish fingers with breadcrumbs that make you cough up blood.

There are people in the world who are really, really fucking skint, absolutely potless, wearing clothes made almost entirely of boracic lint. Some, no doubt, are living well beyond their means, unable to resist spaffing money they don’t have on whatever shiny new treat the TV and their peers demand they own RIGHT FUCKING NOW. The vast majority of people with little money, though, are not in that boat. They don’t have enough money because a small section of people have decided they need it a lot more. They need their second billion more than you need your second tenner.

You know who they are – ‘the 1%’ as they are popularly termed. There’s one over there driving a yacht bigger than the village your uncle used to enjoy living in peacefully before he froze to death last winter. There’s a woman on the television explaining why she should keep her enormous bonus despite the company she runs having directly contributed to the physical and mental abuse of patients at the care home they manage in a brutally lucrative outsourcing arrangement. Oh look, here comes a man wearing a tie-clip and a very big grin, who last night used a £50 note to light a ciger. He needs another £50 to replace that one a lot more than you need it for a ‘grab bag’ of Cheese & Onion.

People tend to accept that this is the way of things. Politicians piss about with tiny taxes on bankers’ bonuses and ruling out miniscule levies on financial transactions. Well, no more. It’s time to introduce the Humanity Tax.

Here’s the detail: you’re allowed to keep a certain amount of money in the various accounts you have in parts of the world famous for nothing but banking, like Turks & Caicos, wherever the hell that is. Everything above the upper limit goes into a big fund that will be shared among a vast number of charities, many of which will be devoted to such rascally schemes as housing the homeless. If you dip below the maximum amount you’re allowed you can earn your way back up to it, but anything beyond that maximum limit will be taxed at an entirely fair level of 100%.

The rich need new golf clubs sometimes, I understand that. So we’ll set the level at…let’s say £500 million. Honestly, I struggle to see what anyone could possibly hope to do with half a billion pounds but I accept that there are people who want to go to the Moon, and that it probably won’t be free. It’s claimed that if you stop people from earning staggering amounts of money they’ll simply stop trying, and entrepreneurship and innovation will just end. What’s the point in making life better for people if you can’t make yourself filthy rich out of it? I think you could argue in response that £500m is probably enough for a healthy supply of logs for your suitably opulent Chesney’s fireplace.

The second aspect of my Humanity Tax involves inheritance. In short, there won’t be any. When you die, everything you have earned up to that point is put into the same charity pot, along with all your savings and everything you own. I’m not a monster; if you have offspring living in a property you own at the time of your clog-popping they’ll be allowed to keep that property, but they have to pay back the value of that property over a number of years, when they earn enough, like tuition fees. The holiday home in the Seychelles that you visit once a leap year that stays empty the rest of the time? We’re sorry to hear you’re dead, but that’ll be ours thanks.

The argument is no longer ‘Why shouldn’t I be allowed to pass my wealth onto my children?’ but ‘Why the hell should my children be gifted wealth they’ve done nothing to earn?’ Little Rupert shouldn’t have his nest feathered simply because Adrian Fortescue-Smythe bent Samantha the secretary over his leather-topped desk in a rash moment of unprotected madness 14 years ago and she ignored his entreaties to have it dealt with.

If you have a serious argument against these two strands of the Humanity Tax I would very much like to hear it. You may believe that people work hard for their money and it shouldn’t simply be given gratis to workshy scroungers who’ve failed to pull themselves up by the bootstraps. I would counter with the obvious truth that boots that normal people can afford don’t have fucking straps and you need to stop being such a greedy, heartless cunt and accept that you have been allowed to make so much money – more than half a billion, remember – thanks to the help or acquiescence of a great many people along the way. Perhaps the woman who cleans your toilet shouldn’t have to live on tins of beans and sausages while she wipes away your Foie Gras-flecked fecal matter from the underside of the seat.

While I understand that these new rules may come as a shock to Petra and Tamara Ecclestone I honestly think they’ll come to adore their newfound status as cross-eyed angels of benevolence. All those people who regularly make that heinous Forbes list of disgracefully rich bastards will realise that money is not meant to be stockpiled and hoarded, but shared to make the world a less angry place. And when someone rich dies, it’ll become something to be celebrated with fireworks that would put New Year in Sydney to shame.

So not everything has to change.