European rich play sacrifice trap

In: Uncategorized

2 Sep 2011

The campaign to promote shared sacrifice by calling for higher taxes on the wealthy seems to have taken off across Europe. In many cases rich individuals seem to be following the example of Warren Buffett (see 21 August post), one of America’s richest investors, who was in turn heeding Barack Obama’s call.

  • France. Some 16 wealthy executives and investors signed a statement in Nouvel Observateur, a weekly news magazine.
  • Germany. Several wealthy Germans have also demanded to be taxed harder.
  • Italy. Luca di Montezemolo, the chairman of Ferrari, told the La Repubblica newspaper that it is right that he pay more because he is wealthy
  • On a governmental level Portugal has announced a “solidary tax” for the wealthy while France has also proposed one.  Italy and Spain have backed away from the idea.

I know of no such campaign in Britain but the Spectator, a conservative weekly, has called on the government to take on the “undeserving rich”.  In the magazine’s view the small minority of rich who are undeserving “are undermining support for capitalism and helping create an anti-success, left-wing mood in the country.”

To reiterate my earlier post on the subject I am indifferent to how much tax the wealthy pay. My concern is that the call for self-sacrifice is helping to “sell” austerity packages across Europe.