Who are the real wealth creators?

Henry Tam, 2015 Jan 24

Close-up of Lord Howell's sanctimonious yet unsavoury pie-hole. (Not that I'm biased!) [ed.]
George Osborne’s frack-loving pappy-in-la (credits below)
People who create wealth in the sense of beneficial resources rarely refer to themselves as ‘wealth creators’, let alone pontificate about how uniquely important they are. They teach, they provide care, they protect the vulnerable, they grow food, they make what people need, but they don’t pretend they are superior or merit special attention from society.

The self-styled “Wealth Creators”
By contrast, self-styled wealth creators strut around and tut-tut incessantly about how they are held back by too much constraint. Liberate them from regulatory red tape, let them keep more of the money they make – so their argument goes – and they would create even more wealth. But supposing that is to happen, the question remains: would it be a good thing?

For these Creators, ‘wealth’ is simply money they are able to appropriate for themselves out of any deals they put together. On this amoral definition of wealth (which underpins the dubious measures of GDP and shares index), owners of factories exploiting child labour working under hideous conditions; bosses who intimidate their workers into handing over to them the vast majority of the proceeds they generate together; executives who make a fortune by peddling harmful and addictive substance; business leaders whose stocks rise with the growing sale of weapons of swift destruction; or corporate chiefs helping to accelerate planetary degradation – they are all successful Wealth Creators.

Hang on a minute, cry the Wealth Creators and their plutocratic chorus in governments everywhere, it is unfair to lump them together with shameless exploiters of slave labour, drug pushers and irresponsible polluters; but what exactly is the distinction we are meant to keep in mind?

The distinction, apparently, is that what they do is legal. But what is legal or not depends on what is set out in law. What one Wealth Creator gets away with while another is held back comes down to statutory controls. And here we reach the crux of why the so-called Wealth Creators want the law off their back.

Deregulate for freedom!
‘Deregulation’ means they would be left to do as they please. ‘Tax flexibility’ means they are given endless scope to avoid paying their share to support the public good in return for what they have taken out of society. In short, they want to pursue any ends, by any means, regardless of the consequences for other people, and without anyone being able to seek redress through the democratic state.

Bare-faced greed
Next time you hear so-called Wealth Creators muttering in the shadows that they should be left alone, turn the spotlight in their direction. Draped in naked greed, these shameless petty emperors should be seen for what they are.

Edited and reposted from the original, 2012 Oct 01

[Follow Henry’s Twitter updates: https://twitter.com/HenryBTam]