We don’t need more growth, we need more equality

Tax
Tax (Photo credit: 401K)

All the chatter is about the lack of growth in the economy, which is a massive red herring for what’s really wrong.

More growth means more consumption, and we need to consume less.

What remains is a smaller pie, and the problem with the pie is that the idiot who sliced it up didn’t do it evenly. When they talk about social mobility, they don’t really mean it. Because our most urgent need is for a huge chunk to be lopped off the top of the social ladder.

It’s not lack of growth in the economy that makes most people unhappy, it’s inequality.

We all know how to fix inequality. A more progressive tax system, for a start. nd get rid of private schools. Although tax relief isn’t given for private school fees, there are plenty of ways for the wealthy to avoid paying tax. For example, the notion of using your children’s capital gains and income tax allowances to reduce your tax bill is nothing more than a weaselly way of hiding your wealth.

Which brings us to the thorny notion of inherited wealth. It’s easy for me, sitting here on my little molehill, to point up at the people in the ivory tower and say that they shouldn’t be able to leave a shedload of money and property to their kids, but still: tough love is required. Release the wealth back into the wild. So you’ve managed to accrue wealth in your lifetime (or did you start out that way?), but tying it all up in your estate means there is less to go round.

The answer from people who believe wealth should be inherited is always that this isn’t a zero-sum game, that economic growth means that other people can grab a slice. But growth is bad for the planet, bad for the poor, and never enough in itself to mitigate the poisonous effects of inequality.

I’ll inherit nothing; my father and mother inherited nothing. And am I bitter? You bet.

While we’re about the abolition of private & public schools, we need to get rid of grammar schools. They’re just a hidden form of private education. Wealthy parents pay for 11+ coaching, which distorts the results of a test which has nothing to do with the primary curriculum. A disproportionate number of children get 100% on their 11+ test, which distorts the standard results bell curve, meaning that some of the more academically able children are actually branded failures. In any event, being branded a failure at the age of 11 can shatter a child’s self esteem.

The wealth of their cohort also means grammar schools are able to raise more money from parents to mitigate the effect of spending cuts.

Next, we do indeed need to get rid of the House of Lords, which is profoundly undemocratic, and the monarchy, which is an important symbol of inequality and inherited wealth. House of Lords reform is not a distraction: it’s one of the most important changes we can make to the way our society runs. And because the European Union is also undemocratic (it’s being run by bankers, not MEPs), we should leave that, too.

In short: growth is not what we need. Equality is what we need.

 

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