So are the super-rich really worth having?

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The Observer ran a story under the above title yesterday. I had the following to say in it:

Even if the super-rich deserve every penny of their bonuses, and spread their wealth around by helping charities, Richard Murphy of the Tax Justice Network says the 'rich people create jobs' argument doesn't stack up. Attracting wealthy individuals to pounce on swanky flats is not the same thing as encouraging corporations to set themselves up in the UK.

'We're not talking here about the person who lives above the shop,' Murphy says. 'Firms come to the UK because we provide quite a good place to do business; quite a good workforce - these people don't decide to place their companies next to their house.'

Instead, he says the super-rich are drawn to live in the UK - regardless of where their business is located - by its unusual 'non-domicile' tax rules, which allow foreign-born wealthy individuals to live here, but avoid paying income tax. 'They're here in no small part because they're not paying tax'.

Vince Cable, the Lib Dems' Treasury spokesman, agrees. 'These people are wealthy beyond imagining; they have vast property holdings, and make very little contribution to society.'

Murphy says he's asked the Treasury for figures on how much these non-domiciled individuals contribute to the economy, in spending, or tax contributions (VAT, for example) - but so far hasn't received any evidence.

The Observer seek to give a balanced view, but I have a suspicion they buy this argument.