Belfast Telegraph

Monday 15 September 2014

If we're all in it together, then why are the rich getting off free?

Turned on the radio the other day and thought I was listening to the BBC archives. A union boss was talking about "the working man and woman" and a posh Tory was sneering at everything he said.

It could have been lifted straight out of the mid 1970s. I was half expecting to look up and see my Ma in her apron, standing at our back door, calling in me for m'tea, it was that nostalgic.

The sad thing is, we are heading back in time, but not just to the 1970s. According to experts, we're facing an economic crisis similar to the 1930s, if we don't wise up and change course now.

The head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde (not exactly a red flag-waving Commie) and the outgoing head of the Financial Services Authority Lord Turner (another individual not known for his Left leanings) are both saying that the current policy of austerity and spending cuts isn't working. And not only is it not working, it's going to make things much, much worse. What's the government's response? Let's go after benefit cheats and make grown-up children live with their parents.

Hold on a minute. Is this about saving money to cut the country's deficit? Well then why go after the loose change and ignore the huge wad of cash that's sitting in front of us?

Simply by forcing companies and individuals who currently avoid paying tax, to pay up, the government would raise at least £25 BILLION! That's more than 20 times the amount lost in benefit fraud alone!

They keep saying "we're all in this together". Really? The actual statistics about wealth in the UK are staggering. Total personal wealth in the country is estimated at £9,000bn. Of that, nearly half, ie £4,000bn , is owned by the richest 10%, while the bottom half of our society own just 9%.

No, this isn't some crackpot African dictatorship I'm describing, this is us.

The government is like a harassed mother raiding the kids' piggy banks for coppers to pay the rent while her husband drives a flash car and refuses to give her a penny. All in it together?! Don't make me laugh! It's reckoned that a one-off tax of just 20% on the wealth of the top 10% would pay off the national debt and dramatically reduce the deficit. This tax of 20%, graduated so the very richest paid the most, would raise £800bn.

What are they waiting for? Aren't you sick of being patronised by this government telling us that it's up to us to make things right and then frogmarching us into further disaster with more cuts and no growth?

If they seriously want to cut the deficit, why aren't they even mentioning this obvious solution that's right in front of their noses? If we're all in this together, let's see everyone bear their share.

A 20% tax on someone whose wealth is counted in the hundreds of millions will still leave them with an obscene amount of money. Never mind Labour, it's us, people, who need to show the solution. Come out and let your voice be heard this Saturday in Belfast at one of a whole day of rallies across the UK. I'm not a union representative, I'm someone who feels entitled to have a say about how my world works. You're entitled too. Use it.

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