March 12, 2008

Celebrate Good Times? Come On!

From BBC NEWS | Politics

In a speech given Tuesday night, UK Business Secretary John Hutton struck a much-needed blow for one of Britain's fastest-growing minorities, saying:
"Rather than questioning whether high salaries are morally justified, we should celebrate the fact that people can be enormously successful in this country.…

Our overarching goal that no-one should get left behind must not become translated into a stultifying sense that no-one should be allowed to get ahead."
Hutton's words were meant to defend the 6% or so of Britons who are classified as Millionaires, and who, despite being more numerous than Britain's Black, Indian and Pakistani populations combined, are frequently subject to derogatory epithets and vicious public attacks — even in the mainstream press.

Millionaires are often taunted as being "fat cats", a term that is both insulting and inaccurate, as many hold expensive and exclusive gym memberships; a long-running and popular television show in Britain is the rhetorically demeaning Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?; and public opinion polls frequently show that almost 80% of Britons believe Millionaires can't be trusted to tell the truth. Even the British government actively discriminates against Millionaires, forcing them to pay almost twice as much in income tax as many of their non-Millionaire countrymen. In London, the situation is particularly grave: Millionaires must conduct much of their business inside a square-mile ghetto referred to euphemistically as "The City".

Perhaps the most prevalent (and vitriolic) anti-Millionaire dialogue focuses on whether the individuals should be "allowed" to be Millionaires, or whether the government should step in with a social-engineering-style scheme to make them more like "normal" people. Salarists like this claim that it is immoral to allow Millionaires to continue to exist, and it is against these bigots that Hutton's remarks were aimed. He outlined new government proposals to recognise that the presence of Millionaires in society is "natural", rather than "a perverted side-effect of primitive capitalism".

"We want more Millionaires in Britain," continued Hutton, finishing his thought with a rousing — if ungrammatical — flourish: "Not less."

The remarks are especially noteworthy coming from Hutton, a high-ranking member of Britain's Labour Party, which, historically, has been tremendously anti-Millionaire in its policies. It has consistently raised taxes on Millionaires and their businesses, as well as on goods and services that are disproportionately used by Millionaires: wine, international travel, Hummers, and so forth. (These funds are then typically "redistributed" to other groups like the sick and the illiterate, who, obviously, are incapable of appreciating them as fully as the Millionaires who earned the money in the first place.)

With any luck, then, Hutton's speech marks a turning point for British public policy, bringing the Labour government more in line with the far more capable Tory Party (who have long advocated Millionaire rights). Perhaps it is even the beginning of a new era, one in which Millionaires can live and work untrammelled by — and unconcerned with — the greedy prejudices of the rest of the country. Hutton's new plan for individuals to become "authors of their own lives" is a tangible and pragmatic solution to the problems that today face Millionaires and non-Millionaires alike. Bravo, sir.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just to add a bit of historical context, the 1970s version of the Labour Party instituted an almost 100% income tax rate on people who earned more than 20,000 pounds (around 200,000 pounds in today's money), pushing millionaires to the brink of extinction.


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