Deserving a mention – to show the unthinkable is now thinkable

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I’m not sure I buy into this by Greg Philo and in yesterday’s Guardian yet, largely because it is probably too simplistic, but it has to get a mention:

How can the sixth richest nation in the world be contemplating cuts inschool meals services and regressive forms of taxation? In the political and media commentaries on the national crisis and the need for cuts, there has been very little discussion on how much wealth there is and why "we" as a nation are apparently so poor. Actually the economy keeps growing, and we are becoming richer than we were before the financial crisis.

The total personal wealth in the UK is £9,000bn, a sum that dwarfs the national debt. It is mostly concentrated at the top, so the richest 10% own £4,000bn, with an average per household of £4m. The bottom half of our society own just 9%. The wealthiest hold the bulk of their money in property or pensions, and some in financial assets and objects such antiques and paintings.

A one-off tax of just 20% on the wealth of this group would pay the national debt and dramatically reduce the deficit, since interest payments on the debt are a large part of government spending. So that is what should be done. This tax of 20%, graduated so the very richest paid the most, would raise £800bn. A major positive for this scheme is that the tax would not have to be immediately paid. The richest 10% have only to assume liability for their small part of the debt. They can pay a low rate of interest on it and if they wish make it a charge on their property when they die. It would be akin to a student loan for the rich.

Simplistic it may be – but as evidence of the absurdity of claiming we cannot afford public services it is powerful.