As predicted, more and more people are squawking about the widening gap between rich and poor.
Warren Buffett is in the news, decrying the fact that rich people pay so little in taxes in the United States. He’d like to see them pay more.
Rich people pay most of the taxes in the United States, it is true, but not all of them pay as high a percentage of their incomes as those less rich than them.
Here at Markets and Money headquarters we’ve never met a tax cut we didn’t like, but we understand Mr Buffett’s point. Like the rest of the levellers, he has his own idea of what is “fair” and he wants to see it become the law of the land.
Meanwhile, in our own magazine, MoneyWeek, published here in London, our friend Simon Nixon argues that Britain needs to reform its tax laws so that the rich pay more. What sticks in Simon’s craw is the loophole that allows rich foreigners to pay tax only on the portion of their income earned in Britain. Here, we are unequivocally agin’ it…that is to say, against the reform Simon wants. We’re hoping to benefit from Britain’s tax haven status ourselves some day.
And from South Africa we hear the crackly old voice of Desmond Tutu warning on the “gulf between rich and poor.” In Africa, as on the other continents, the rich are getting richer; the poor, relatively or absolutely, are getting poorer. South Africans crossed the Red Sea in their struggle against apartheid, said the former archbishop, but they still haven’t reached the Promised Land. Most people “are still languishing in the wilderness.”
There is something odd…even paradoxical…about all the whining. Money isn’t everything, Tutu must know. The Christian faith holds that it is even a dangerous thing. Jesus was penniless his whole life…the foundation of the whole faith is that we should follow his example.
Would Jesus work for a hedge fund? Darned if we know. But if there is a sure route to Heaven, we doubt that it necessarily passes either through the financial industry or through the redistribution of wealth.
Markets and Money