Long to reign over us…?

21 11 2011

So, if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have a girl first then she will become queen in succession.

Am I pleased?
Surely this is a triumph for women?

Well, no. I am not pleased. This is another piece of tokenism that doesn’t address the underlying problem, which is with the system and not with the appointment of the figurehead. We have a female head of state now, the queen. True, the next queen might be there as the first born of the reigning monarch rather than because there were no men available but what will really have changed. Nothing.

This is not just a matter of a quaint, dysfunctional and largely marginalised family whose role is purely ceremonial. Prince Charles, for example, routinely interferes with due process in matters that affect the Duchy of Cornwall in order to ensure that decisions are always made in his favour.

And privilege still ‘rules’ in Britain. On of the stories uncovered by the current storm surrounding the relaxation of border controls is that UK Customs and Revenue have agreed to let off Goldman Sachs and Vodafone with millions in unpaid taxes – leading one insider to observe that ,for the very rich, taxation is discretionary’. Essentially, if you are a wealthy individual or large corporation and can afford to employ expensive lawyers to evade taxes and to dispute any attempts to reclaim tax owed then HMRC will cut you a deal in order to avoid lengthy court cases.

Compare and contrast with the instant issuing of threatening letters and fines should a standard rate taxpayer miss the submission deadline for tax returns.

The rich are better equipped, better advised and more prepared to avoid taxes than at any time in the past. The principle of a fair days work for a fair days pay has completely broken down, most clearly evidenced by the huge bonuses and massive pay rises that the elite continue to award themselves despite record falls in the stock market and continued corporate losses.

I am not anti-capitalism. I have run a succession of entrepreneurial businesses for profit over the past 20 years. What I am is anti insider capitalism, the type that allows the very rich and powerful to exploit and manipulate the system in a way that ordinary people and businesses simply can’t.

So how about this. If government departments are unwilling or unable to gather the taxes that are due from the income of rich, lets shift the tax burden to what is owned rather than what is earned. After all, cash can be moved round the world at the click of a mouse – it is much more difficult to move a flat in Kensington or Knightsbridge to an offshore tax haven.

If we really want to make a difference we need to find a way to redistribute wealth and relying on the rich paying income tax and corporates paying corporation tax clearly isn’t working. We should transfer taxation to property tax, land duty, inheritance tax and the like.

We should focus on dismantling privilege and not just change the way that the head of the whole outdated system is created.



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