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From The Socialist newspaper, 16 May 2018

Sunday Times Rich List 2018

Richest worth 724bn... as 100,000 kids fall into poverty

It's austerity for us and prosperity for them, photo torbakhopper/CC

It's austerity for us and prosperity for them, photo torbakhopper/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Andrew Carss, Salford Socialist Party

724 billion. This is the combined wealth of Britain's 1,000 richest. The Sunday Times has produced its annual Rich List, and the working class can see who is dipping their hand in our pockets.

The top 1,000 have increased their worth by 10% in a year. In the same time, another 100,000 children fell into poverty - making 4.1 million, about 30% of all kids - according to the Department for Work and Pensions.

The top spot this year has been claimed by spiv-in-chief union-buster Jim Ratcliffe, net worth 21 billion. Back in 2013, the Ineos chair and majority owner used the livelihoods of thousands of workers as leverage to extract 134 million from the taxpayer for his oil refinery at Grangemouth.

In real terms, average wages are still lower than they were in 2007. The Tories have offered NHS workers a miserly below-inflation pay 'increase'. Wages are recovering slower than even after the Great Depression, according to the Trade Union Congress.

Meanwhile, at the top of the pile, capital gains tax is 28%, and corporate tax just 20% - both lower than the higher rates of income tax! For all their spiel about "making work pay," in Tory and Blairite Britain work is disincentivised for the super-rich.

They ferret away their ill-gotten gains in tax havens, where capital languishes until a profitable investment opportunity opens up for it.

Under Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity leadership, donations to Labour from the very wealthy have almost disappeared. Meanwhile, of the top 50 political donors in this year's Rich List, only one was not a Tory donor.

Capitalist politicians tell us that if we stand up to the billionaire 'Masters of the Universe' and demand they pay more, they will simply leave the country, taking thousands of jobs with them. But working people create all the wealth in society - the bosses just take it.

The Times has lauded the "triumph" of the "self-made" billionaires this year. "94% of most wealthy made own fortunes" in the top 1,000, it claims.

Really? Did Jim Ratcliffe make petrochemical products worth 2.3 billion profit last year himself? Or was that, in fact, the workers whose terms and conditions he battered in 2013 while relaxing on a 130 million yacht?

The answer to billionaire thieves threatening to leave is to nationalise their business empires under democratic workers' control and management. Britain is an enormously wealthy country. There is enough wealth to guarantee every person a decent standard of living - but not while supporting a billionaire class.

The Socialist Party fights for the nationalisation of the banks and top corporations as part of a democratic, socialist plan of production - and heavy, progressive taxes on the stolen fortunes of the super-rich.

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In The Socialist 16 May 2018:


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Opinion

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