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Forget philanthropy. The super-rich should be paying proper taxes

6 21 3

A half-lie dominates modern culture that is worse than a straight lie because it contains enough truth to persuade readers who otherwise wouldn’t be fooled. The people from somewhere have risen up against the people from nowhere, it runs. The globalised elites, once as comfortable in Manhattan as Davos, have been humbled by the left-behind working-class.

The half of the lie that’s true is that Brexit, Trump and the rise of the European radical right are shocks to the system. Yet they are shocks that leave the holders of wealth and power remarkably unruffled.

The elite did not appear to be trembling at this year’s Davos conclave. The Dutch historian Rutger Bregman became the boy who pointed to the nakedness of 1,500 globetrotting emperors and said their willingness to divert a part of their wealth to charitable foundations was “bullshit”, if he could be blunt about it. “I hear people talking the language of participation, justice, equality and transparency but almost no one raises the real issue of tax avoidance and of the rich just not paying their fair share.” It was, he said, as he surveyed an audience that pretended to will the end of a fairer society but forbade the means, as if he were at a firefighters conference “and no one’s allowed to speak about water”.

The desire of the super-rich to give money to charity rather than see it spent by a legitimate state is a form of anarchism. Robert Nozick, whose Anarchy, State and Utopia of 1974 anticipated 21st-century libertarianism, insisted that the state had no right to force the wealthy to help........

© The Guardian