Turning the right wing argument against tax rises for most able to pay on its head

There are many reasons for why the right-wing defense against rising taxes for the wealthiest and most able in order to fund progressive measures is just plain wrong. However, I want to focus on a specific reason which doesn’t get a lot of thought.

Mark Field’s blog on Conservative Home, called “Raising Capital Gains Tax risks stifling aspiration and self-reliance”, is rather symbolic of this type of right-wing justification. His specific argument is that taxing those most able will stifle aspiration and self reliance. However, a fundamental question never asked is, what about the aspiration of the most vulnerable who suffer from the wide-ranging public spending cuts? What about the effects on people’s self-reliance due to thousands of jobs being lost, practically forcing them onto benefits? Where is the respect for these people?

Why is it that those who are most likely to have the resources and means to purist aspirational targets and have high levels of self-reliance (not completely, as everyone is reliant on someone else to some extent – obviously the wealthiest are reliant on the tax payer giving them some nice giveaways) are always the ones who use this sort of argument in their defense when the pressure of a fairer redistributive system comes about? Furthermore, desire for the reintroduction of taper relief illustrate the truly regressive nature of his comments – taper relief is something that may be brought in next weeks budget to soften any rise in CGT (even though this rise looks as though it will be modest to say the least) – Left Foot Forward have a good blog about the regressive impact these measures would have.

So when you read Clegg, arguing for a better future for children:

“We are going to pay down Britain’s budget deficit so we don’t condemn them to years of higher interest rates, poorer public services and fewer jobs. “

You can’t help but say, that is exactly the opposite to what they are doing, especially when considering the current ideologically driven public service cuts, and the consequential lose of jobs. Furthermore, how can they cut Future Job Funds, which provides thousands of jobs to younger people, then argue that they are somehow protecting children and their future?

What is even more interesting is that the right-wing argument against rising taxes for the wealthiest is actually conceding that the richest and most able are actually in need of benefits themself. Whilst they may offend those who need benefits in order to survive, the rich need their benefits (tax avoidance, low taxes) in order to maintain their lifestyle.

Lets not forget however, that the coalitions proposals around capital gains tax are that non business assets fall under the purview of the capital gains tax – therefore, the arguments put forward by MPs that it somehow curtails ambition seems even more off the mark.

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2 thoughts on “Turning the right wing argument against tax rises for most able to pay on its head

  1. You’re not wrong. The Conservative/neoliberal leitmotif is the freedom of the individual to become filthy rich through hard work, but in practice, the freedom applies only to the rich. The poor (in their view) are poor through their own indigence and fecklessness, deserve their misery, and must be punished mercilessly when their condition pushes them to crime. In essence, there are two species of human – the successful and the unsuccessful.

    Conservatism is an ideology, a world-view. The philosophical argument between world views can be endless, but the key is in how the views match up to reality. We have two lines of support for our view, both science based. First is the science of global ecology, which demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt that there are constraints on free human economic reality. The second is in the data of the Equality Trust, who show that all people, including the rich, would live happier lives if wealth were distributed more equitably.

  2. Richard,

    Totally agree with your analogy. It relates to Spencer’s survival of the fittest applied to social order and human ‘nature’. This ideology fails to consider the very routes of why people are poor – so the social structures of low benefits, low wages, poor employment chances. Instead, it thinks cutting jobs will somehow promote economic growth – all it will do is ensure the rich are still bankrolling the further proliferation of the ideology and inequality in society.

    The evidence you provide is very true. It is only a very few people who don’t want to redistribute what they earn more – but these few are often the most powerful, so often get their way. Also, if you look at Sweden, with their social democratic approach to reducing the deficit, even though they had higher taxes they didn’t chase away potential investment. It is just a capitalist myth, the race to the bottom doesn’t work.

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