What does the annual Rich List say to you?

April 28, 2008

diamonds.jpgBritain’s rich are getting richer, according to the annual Sunday Times list.

While most Britons are feeling the effect of the credit crunch, looking nervously at their mortgage burdens and gasping at the size of the utility bills, the super-rich just keep piling it on, it seems.

At the top of the list for the fourth year is Lakshmi Mittal, the 57-year-old Indian steel magnate, whose wealth increased 44 percent to 27.7 billion pounds.

Other high-rankers were businessmen Philip Green, Richard Branson and Stelios Haji-Ioannou, author J.K. Rowling and musicians Paul McCartney and Amy Winehouse.

One respondent wrote: “I have just finished reading the Sunday Times rich list and it has made me sick.”

That’s what rich lists are for of course, but many may be feeling this year that perhaps the fundamental balance between the rich and the rest is changing, that the gap is getting wider and more permanent. Others will be encouraged that such huge rewards are available in Britain and redouble their efforts to make money.

What sort of reaction does the Rich List provoke in you?


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Having read the Rich List again this year I am disgusted by several of the people in it who I actually know. These have friends and relatives who have helped the rich get where they are today, and would appreciate a tiny fraction of their wealth to enable them to live free of debts and worry. Over the years, these rich people have consistently held on to their stash, using, and treading on their acquaintances heads to get further up the pile.

Posted by Susie Dixon | Report as abusive

I wish I had some of that rich stuff.

But I work hard and live in hope and what I’ve got is what I earned myself and I never sponged off anyone. I won’t be voting for the Greed & Envy Party.

Posted by Mike T | Report as abusive

It’s a pity the Rich List doesn’t include how much tax these robber barons have paid

Posted by Matthew Milnes | Report as abusive

A sad but true observation…


Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to £100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay £1.
The sixth would pay £3.
The seventh would pay £7.
The eighth would pay £12.
The ninth would pay £18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay £59.

So, that’s what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. “Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by £20.” Drinks for the ten now cost just £80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free: but what about the other six men – the paying customers? How could they divide the £20 windfall so that everyone would get his ‘fair share?’

They realized that £20 divided by six is £3.33. But if they subtracted that from everyone’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid £2 instead of £3 (33%savings).

The seventh now pay £5 instead of £7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid £9 instead of £12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid £14 instead of £18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid £49 instead of £59 (16% savings).
Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

“I only got a pound out of the £20,” declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, “but he got £10!”

“Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a pound, too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more than I did!”

“That’s true!!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get £10 back when I
got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!”

“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison. “We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!”

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics

Posted by Grant | Report as abusive

What strikes me is that we’re very lucky this bungling over-taxing government has not yet managed to drive out all the people with money who shore up our creaking system. Dave Spart style ranting about “robber barons” is just so, well, seventies frankly… (with apologies to Private Eye).

Posted by Matthew | Report as abusive

I am happy for those that are very rich. I am rich as well, but not anywhere near a billionaire (yet).

Networth seems to be something hard to achieve for most people, but it is not. Making money to pay the bills are harder. Networth in itself is just one company away.

Posted by Mathias | Report as abusive

Stop complaining and note the following facts.

1) under the current system no matter how much tax these people pay they will receive the same state pension when they retire as someone who has contributed the lowest level of tax.
2) If each of these people where knocked down in the street by a car they would have to wait the same amount of time for an ambulance to turn up as the afore mentioned individuals.
3) If these people became unemployed they would not be able to receive unemployment benefit even though they paid taxes because they have too much money in savings. When they eventually do earn that right, they will receive exactly the same as the afore mentioned individuals.
And on and on and on.
Now pick up your pens and start writing thank you notes to these wealthy people for subsidising your existances.

Posted by Nick Riley | Report as abusive

I said it before and I will say again, the Rich are running away with all the money. It’s time to take the upper limit right off National Insurance. Will the Rich ever pay their share?

Posted by William Fowler | Report as abusive

Not only are the rich becoming richer and the divide between rich and poor becoming ever ossified, so is the divide between those who wish to justify this and those who are inclined to ask why it should be this way.

Surely we won’t forever believe that unlimited economic growth is the answer to all our problems and that the rat race to grab an ever greater share of the pot is naturally good for all? Look where we have come in 200 years in regard to infrastructure, consume and waste and so on. We only have another six thousand million years of “infinite” growth to go. Where do you think that will lead? Sooner or later both rich AND poor will have to live lower maintenance lifestyles and start emphasising BEING rather than HAVING. It’s only a matter of time.

Only then might we live in some kind of sustainable equilibrium.

Posted by Allan Thomson | Report as abusive