When Theo Paphitis seemed to claim on Question Time tonight that philanthropy was a better use for the surplus cash of the rich than – y’know – paying their taxes, I squawked. Because giving money to charity is a ‘wiser’ use of those funds than – haha! – letting the exchequer use them. My natural instinct was to chuck stuff at my telly.
After all, surely if that were true, the unprecedented conditions in which we find ourselves (where despite austerity, the ultra-rich are £14billion better off than they were a year ago) would lead to all these wise, wealthy entrepreneurs spending their money on supporting the vulnerable, combating ill-health, ending homelessness, worklessness, domestic abuse etc. The diversion of the nation’s wealth into the pockets of the rich would make the world a better place for all of us, wouldn’t it, if that were true.
But that isn’t the case. So he was talking bollocks, wasn’t he?
Now I realise I was wrong.
Paphitis also told the story of an upbringing in which his mother had to choose between electricity and food, and cited poverty as the motivator for his successful entrepreneurship.
The implication of this story in the context of the programme seemed to be that austerity, and increasing the poverty and vulnerability of the already poor and vulnerable, ain’t all bad. It is, in fact, the seedbed in which future entrepreneurs are grown.
So there you have it. The Theo Paphitis virtuous cycle. It’s entirely right to channel money to the rich and for them to use it ‘wisely’ by buying artworks, donating to ‘good causes’ (like the Tory party), stacking it up in offshore accounts, because that helps to create the VERY POVERTY and DISADVANTAGE in which the entrepreneurs of the future are born.
It’s a NECESSARY poverty and disadvantage. It’s GOOD poverty.
Syphon the nation’s wealth into the pockets of the rich; let them ‘give it away’ wisely and watch poverty and desperation grow; see the burning desire for success ignited in the hearts and homes of the poor; watch the rise of the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Thanks for that Theo.