Although many young radicals will still try to fight and deny it, we are living in a strong capitalist country that depends on such a social hierarchy for its economic status. Indeed, for most people this capitalism will be taken for granted as that is all they have ever known. However, as much we may admire the system it is (of course) not without fault and we may from time to time question the ethics behind the way in which poverty and wealth can be so sporadically distributed.
The beneficiaries of today’s grotesque Darwinian capitalism have one great advantage over the Harrods shopgirls mentioned in your report in that they have the power to set their own remuneration — in some cases without limit or any clear relation to their individual productivity.
What is the income difference between the Harrods shopgirl and the top directors at Harrods and what is the difference in their life expectancies? What is her (or his) future as millions of immigrants take low-paid jobs across Britain?
Thomas Piketty’s recent book Capital in the Twenty-First Century predicts that wealth will increasingly be the preserve of certain classes with no laws against the exploitation of labour with zero-hour contracts.
Disparity at work
Companies can legally use all sorts of manoeuvres to dodge tax, and bosses can collect millions in bonuses after sacking swathes of workers.
The shopgirl at Harrods may eventually be replaced by an automatic cash till of the type already used in supermarkets. Your view that she should be happy this is not the Victorian era hardly rates as justification for the decline of living standards.
Richard Bond London W2
Tax and capitalism
Stuart Richards may or may not be right in claiming that leading bookmaking companies are bluffing about the adverse effects of government plans to raise the duty on fixed-odds betting terminals from 20% to 25% (“Bookies are playing us for a fool”, Business Letters, last week).
Like many chancellors with many taxes, George Osborne is no doubt aiming through trial and error for a rate that maximises revenue. With a gambling tax I see nothing wrong with that, but from this standpoint an increase is not always a move in the right direction.
About 15 years ago betting duty had to be cut, after the growth of the internet had made the old rate unsustainable in the face of offshore competition. A switch to a more complex tax base — the betting margin in place of the gross stake — thinly disguised the extent of the unavoidable reduction.
In spite of their name, most of these “betting” terminals offer a unique gambling mix, with options such as casino-type games as well as betting in the true sense (on potentially predictable events). Their current tax rate is already higher than most other betting taxes.
Over to you
What do you think of the country’s capitalist status? Where do you see the largest room for improvement? Where do the largest disparities lie within your company? Do get in touch with your thoughts via the Contact Me page.