An excellent article at Big Hollywood notes that prominent entertainers in the UK are coming out in opposition to the government’s plan to push the top individual income tax rate over 50 percent. The article by Big Hollywood columnist "Stage Right" quotes Andrew Lloyd Webber from an oped the renowned composer wrote for the Daily Mail pointing out that the contemplated tax hikes would push many of the nation’s most productive people into exile:
I believe that this new top rate of tax could be the final nail in the coffin of Britain plc [meaning, Britain Inc.]. . . .
Two years from now, Britain will have the highest tax rate on earned income of any developed country.
Last Thursday I met with a thirtysomething guy. I absolutely depend on him in a highly technical area of theatrical production. For legal reasons he has to employ himself through his own company. Under the new tax regime, he will have to pay 13.3 per cent to employ himself before he pays himself anything. And then he will have to pay 51.5 per cent on what’s left.
This is a guy at the cutting edge of his profession who works all over the world. He is in demand in every major territory where entertainment is produced. He has a young wife and two children. Last Thursday he told me that he and his wife had decided that the UK was no longer where they wanted to live. His wife thinks the State education system is inadequate. And she fears that a bankrupt Britain will increasingly be a worse place in which to live as the horror of our present financial mess hits us all in the solar plexus.
Stage Right then quotes the beloved septuagenarian actor Michael Caine announcing that he will indeed leave Britain because of the tax hikes:
“Tax got to 82 per cent [in the 1970s] and I thought this was kind of unfair,” he said. “Also, I see … that the government has taken it up to 50 per cent and if it goes to 51 I will be back in America. I will not pay the Government more than I get. No way, ever. So they’ve reached their limit with me. That’s the lot. That’s what will happen to a lot of people,” he said. “You know how much they [the government] made out of that high taxation all those years ago? Nothing, and they sent a mass of incredible brains to America. Yes, they did. The most stupid act you’ve ever seen in your life.
“We’ve got three and a half million layabouts laying about on benefits, and I’m 76 getting up at six o’clock in the morning to go to work to keep them. Let’s get everybody back to work so we can save a couple of billion and cut tax, not to keep sticking it on.”
This is the road the United States is traveling, "spreading the wealth" around by "taxing the rich" and continually defining "rich" as the middle class (and allowing their truly wealthy campaign contributors to avoid paying their fair share of taxes). As Caine astutely notes, when more than half the public does not pay taxes–as is soon to be the case in the United States as well–then they will bleed the rest dry.
Stage Right aptly summarizes the situation thus:
Using class warfare rhetoric and casting the top earners in our country as the greedy rich, we have now reached a point where 49% of our nation pays no taxes at all. This means that half of our country’s voters are deciding how much the other half has to pay. Yet whenever a tax reduction has been implemented it has always, ALWAYS created higher revenues for the federal government.
Both the moral and the practical realities argue for lower tax rates, not higher ones, but the class-warrior socialist elite of this nation will continue to press their agenda to the point of national suicide.
Which catastrophe they will then blame on rapacious capitalists. Plus ca change….
—S. T. Karnick