Unjust Rewards? New book exposes the reality of the rich
With the gap between the richest and the poorest people in the UK increasing a new book reveals the extent to which the new super rich are loosing touch with the reality faced by the majority of citizens.
Unjust Rewards, which is being serialised in the Guardian this week, is written by journalists Polly Toynbee and David Walker. The book contains interviews with many highly paid city workers looking at their attitudes about earnings and growing inequality.
In one display of arrogance and ignorance one of the bankers interviewed for the book said: “Many people, like teachers, don’t do things for pay. But you won’t find a teacher that works as hard as we do.”
‘But,’ ask the authors, ‘did they work 10 times as hard as a teacher on 30,000 a year or, in the case of some lawyers and bankers, 100 times as hard?’ No is the answer but this had no barring on the views of the majority of top earners.
Toynbee and Walker are not trying to say that these people should feel guilty and give up most of what they earn. Instead they are exposing the lack of awareness inside the City bubble.
When the conversation turned to taxation there were several responses but none where in favour of a fair tax system. ‘Response one: we will leave, and you will be poorer. Or: we don't deserve to be forced to pay more. Or: even if we were taxed more, the money would all be wasted.
‘John Hills's charts showed how the modern UK tax system can barely be called progressive, with the top 10th of income earners paying a smaller proportion of their total income in tax than the bottom 10th. The poor are hit hard by VAT and other indirect taxes: they spend relatively more on taxable goods and services. Even when confronted with that evidence, the bankers especially gave the crudest response, saying flatly that they contributed more in cash - denying the point of a progressive tax system, which is that higher earners pay a larger proportionate share.’
The most disturbing thing about the findings in this section of the book is the obvious lack of compassion expressed by those questioned. Furthermore, there is no sense that they feel privileged and that by giving something back they could improve society and consequently there own lives.
To read more extracts from the book click the link below.
Unjust Rewards by Polly Toynbee and David Walker is published by Granta and can be purchased now at your local bookshop.
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