Thursday 14 April 2016

A hint of wealth

In a recent Parliamentary debate, Sir Alan Duncan MP said that critics of David Cameron's tax arrangements should admit they "hate anyone who has even got a hint of wealth".

I don't know exactly who Sir Alan imagines these critics to be, but I probably fit the bill. The trouble is, Sir Alan has been misinformed. I do not hate anyone with a hint of wealth.

In the interests of setting the record straight, here are five wealthy people whom I like and even admire:
  1. JK Rowling: Wrote the Harry Potter series. Showed millions of children the joy of reading, and entertained millions more adults. Makes a point of living in the UK and paying full UK tax. Founded a children's charity, Lumos. Approximate net worth: £700 million.
  2. Steven Spielberg: Has been making very good movies for 40 years. Approximate net worth: £3.5 billion.
  3. Bill Gates: A controversial one, I know. Microsoft has made some poorly designed and bloated software, and abused its quasi-monopoly position. But he was also responsible for a huge amount of innovation. Heavily involved in charity work, notably for health and vaccinations in the developing world. Approximate net worth: £50 billion.
  4. Elon Musk: Engineer and inventor. Promoter of electric cars, rockets, and cities on Mars. Like a Bond villain, but not noticeably evil. Approximate net worth: £8 billion.
  5. Sir Paul McCartney: Bass player in some band whose name I can't recall at the moment. Promotes vegetarianism and animal welfare. Approximate net worth: £730 million.
(This is an arbitrary list off the top of my head, not some kind of definitive ranking.)

What do these people have in common? They all made their fortunes through creativity and innovation, and most are actively engaged in charitable causes. In short, they have made life better for those of us who are not stupendously rich.

All of them could buy and sell Sir Alan Duncan many times over; which in his scale of values, apparently means they are much better than he is.

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