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Funding Equality

Last week the Socialist favourite in France's presidential election, Francois Hollande, said that top earners should pay 75% of their income in tax: "Above 1m euros [£847,000; $1.3m], the tax rate should be 75% because it's not possible to have that level of income." (I’m sure he meant “it’s not fair to have that level of income”, as clearly it is possible – but perhaps that was just a glitch in translation.) This pronouncement caused immediate consternation among Mr Hollande’s colleagues, and also caused the Swiss to look forward to welcoming more French millionaires across the border.

In the same week a survey revealed the tax contribution made by the highest earners in the UK. According to the Daily Telegraph:

an analysis of official figures shows tax contributed by the 300,000 highest earners in the UK is now the equivalent of half the annual running costs of the NHS or a third of the bill for the entire welfare system… The research also reveals the highest earning half of the population is contributing nine pounds out of every ten in income tax.

Unlike manna from heaven, social provision in liberal democracies is provided by the taxes of those who are able to generate the most income. Which means good government is concerned with encouraging those with high revenue generating potential to do so – and means that policies such as those espoused by Francois Hollande are counter-productive when it comes to actually increasing the tax-take a government can make.

Because the doctrine of total depravity is true, no human political or economic system can ever be entirely fair. Neither can any human society be completely equal, and to try and impose equality only results in other inequalities. Yes, let’s work for equality of opportunity, but let’s not villify those who pay for it.
This is part four of a series on poverty.

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