fri 16/11/2018

The Super-Rich and Us, BBC Two | reviews, news & interviews

The Super-Rich and Us, BBC Two

The Super-Rich and Us, BBC Two

Unequal opportunity knocks in the tax haven that is UK plc

Jacques Peretti: not his own vehicle

Some depressing statistics for your reading pleasure. (Depressing if you’re British and not a billionaire.) Since 2008, UK government austerity measures have been equal to the sum of money paid out in bankers’ bonuses: £80 billion. Not depressed yet? Try this. In 2013 the UK’s thousand richest people saw their wealth increase by a sum equivalent to the combined earnings of the country’s fulltime workforce: £70 billion. You probably are now, but if not... We play host to more billionaires than any other country in the world: 104. Oh, and the UK is the only leading economy which has become more unequal this century.

The above information was supplied by Jacques Peretti in The Super-Rich and Us, in which he set out to answer the six billion pound question: is there such a thing as that capitalist chimera, trickledown economics? The theory, espoused by right-wing economists since Thatcher, is that wealth does indeed wander down the food chain. “If they invest and hire, if they use taxis and go to restaurants, they are creating wealth.” So someone explained without a hint of a blush. Cabbies are doing well then. Or they would be if the super-rich didn’t all have chauffeurs.

Peretti had to schlep all the way to Seattle to find a billionaire who thinks inequality is bad news

“Human nature,” explained an Englishwoman who can’t speak English, “will always be a little envious of those who have more than they do.” Unsurprisingly, Peretti couldn’t find a lot of super-rich to talk to, or not among the non-doms who are perceived to be the problem. We met someone called Kevin Green, a D̶i̶s̶n̶e̶y̶ ̶v̶i̶l̶l̶a̶i̶n̶  buy-to-let impresario who runs courses telling others how to make billions. He gets them all to shout things like “If I wasn’t me, I would so want to be me!” And no doubt charges them a fortune. “Robbing the rich to pay the poor?” he said. “I don’t agree with it.” Nor was he prepared to accept any responsibility for pricing first-time buyers out of the market and helping to turn Britain back into a nation of renters.

Peretti had to schlep all the way to Seattle to find a billionaire who thinks inequality is bad news. He may earn a thousand times more than most people, conceded Nick Hanauer, “but I don’t buy a thousand times as much stuff. No matter how much money I have, I cannot sustain a robust economy. Only a robust middle class can do that.” And as Peretti found out when he went to Twickenham, the British middle class is squeezed to the pips.

There were interviews with two types of economist: former advisers to Republican presidents, who argued that trickledown works, and everyone else. In between the talking heads, and a brief history of the rich getting richer from 1970 to now, the documentary was like wandering around the pages of Tatler. There was a garish array of rich people doing rich stuff, like buying implausible watches or getting golden facials, playing Lamborghini polo or feeding gateau to chimney sweeps. Peretti even found a property fair where local councils are shamelessly selling chunks of England to hordes of Asian investors. 

The arguments were well laid out by the personable Peretti, who managed to dig up zero evidence that trickledown really works. Nobody mentioned greed. Where are we all heading? Into a future where the disenfranchised middle class won’t be able to afford the therapy they’re going to need.

There was a garish array of rich people doing rich stuff, like buying implausible watches or getting golden facials

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Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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A very simplistic analysis of the issue. Perretti would have us beleieve that the super-rich, and thesuper-rich slone, have plunged the rest of us into our present sorry economic state. Not a mention of the wotls ecocomic crises of recent years here. and, in lamentung that our fat cats pay less tax bow than in the 1970s, he somegow overlooked that the rest of us do the same.

The bankers bonus' equals the same amount of the austerity cuts, That's all you need to know !

I think you'll find that, with their very firm grip on the economic levers, the super-rich HAVE plunged us into our present mess and the huge inequality that this has produced is adding petrol to the flames. Try reading Thomas Piketty's book if Perretti's arguments are too simplistic for you.

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