Recent research has found that the super-rich in Britain are sitting on an even greater pile of wealth than previously thought. The capitalist class have a million tricks to avoid taxes. Instead, we must demand the expropriation of their fortunes.
It has recently been revealed that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has persistently underestimated the extent of economic inequality. As a result, the top 1% are £800 billion richer than was previously thought.
This rich elite own around a quarter of all household wealth in the UK. But researchers have also said that this is a conservative estimate, and that the extent of their fortunes could be even greater.
How has this wealth been missed by official measures? The Resolution Foundation, a well-known think tank, compared data from the ONS Wealth and Assets Survey with that from the Sunday Times Rich List, which estimates the assets of the wealthiest 1000 families.
In self-reported surveys, the super-rich seem to be consistently underreporting their wealth and incomes – a phenomenon that is replicated in other advanced capitalists countries.
Perhaps the 1% just aren’t able to keep track of their vast riches. Or perhaps they’re consciously underreporting because, like the infamous American speculator Warren Buffett, they fear that the truth would lead to the masses paying them a visit with pitchforks in hand.
Limits of taxation
The problem of underreporting can be addressed by looking at tax records. But this leads to another problem: the propensity of those at the top to avoid and evade taxes. They can move their wealth into tax havens; write it off; or modify it in such a way as to keep it hidden.
When it comes to drains on the ‘public purse’, the capitalist press mostly focus on benefit fraud and overpayments. Similarly, the Tories and their media mouthpieces endlessly demonise those on welfare as ‘scroungers’, as seen with the current debate over extending top-ups to Universal Credit.
All of this is purposefully designed to divide the working class, and distract from who the real ‘fraudsters’ and ‘scroungers’ are: the bosses and bankers.
In fact, the net loss to the benefit system through fraud or error from 2019 to 2020 (£2.6 billion) is dwarfed by the yearly amount in unclaimed benefits (£16 billion). And both of these figures, in turn, are blown out of the water by the government’s own estimate of avoided, evaded, and uncollected taxes (£31 billion).
The capitalist class operates behind a veil of secrecy, amassing unfathomable wealth through the exploitation of labour. Meanwhile, millions of ordinary people in Britain face homelessness, hunger, unemployment, and insecure working conditions, in the middle of the deadliest pandemic in living memory.
Some have suggested the introduction of a wealth tax to remedy this situation, forcing the rich to pay for the measures needed to deal with all the crises affecting society: from public health, to housing, to jobs, to food poverty.
But the capitalists will fight tooth-and-nail to veto such proposals. They squeal and squirm at anything that eats into their profits, such as higher taxation, as seen by their response to Rishi Sunak’s mild suggestion of increasing corporation tax.
Faced with such measures, the capitalists threaten to go on strike – blackmailing governments with warnings that they will withdraw investment and take their hoards of cash elsewhere. In this way, the bankers and bosses pressure governments of all flavours to create a ‘business friendly’ environment.
Such noises were explicitly made in reference to the possibility of a Corbyn Labour government. And clearly the Tories – the ever faithful servants of capitalism – need little persuasion to help their chums in the City of London.
Expropriate the super-rich
This is why the labour movement must demand the nationalisation of the banks and big financial institutions, as well as the expropriation of all the major monopolies, along with the wealth of the super-rich.
Only by abolishing the profit motive and ending the anarchy of the market anarchy – through socialist economic planning, under democratic workers’ control and management – can we take power out of the hands of the capitalist class, and ensure that the enormous wealth in society is utilised for the needs of the many, and not the profits of the few.