“Don't strangle the goose that laid the golden egg”, pleaded the Tory MP, Bernard Jenkin yesterday after the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, called for a wealth tax. Now, where exactly is this golden egg, I wonder? Could it be in the City of London, where some very wealthy people laid an egg of another kind recently that brought the country to its knees. Perhaps it is in British manufacturing, which has dwindled to 11% of GDP. Or have the golden eggs perhaps been deposited in feathered nests abroad?
It is astonishing that anyone still subscribes to the myth that the enrichment of the few leads to the prosperity of the many. It just doesn't happen. Wealth does not “trickle down” to the rest of society from the troughs of the very rich – if anything the reverse is the case. It is sucked up through the concentrations of asset wealth held by the top 1% in property, shares, bonds. The story of the last three decades is that the wealthy have become immensely, shockingly, incomprehensibly richer while the middle has been squeezed and the poor remain pretty much as they always have – at the bottom of the heap struggling to hold their lives together.