Taxing the Wealthy: A Framed Debate

BBC Radio 4 (The Today Show) - 11 January 2012
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A discussion on the 50p tax rate on the Today Show is an excellent example of a framed debate. The two guests invited to contribute share a stance against increased taxation of the wealthy.

Camilla Cavendish from The Times claims that the 50p tax rate is a 'terrible psychological threshold; people think they’re going to have half of their income taken away before they’ve seen a penny of it'.

The Spectator's Melissa Kite, who is 'not sure that all these £2m properties – which the idea is to tax – are the property of the mega-rich', argues against a property tax on high-value houses: 'the mega rich need incentives too, I mean, they’re spending they’re money in this country, and thank goodness for that, in a downturn' ... 'If you say that, actually, when you get up there and you own a £1.5m or £2m house, you’re actually going to be hunted down and taxed extra, isn’t that a perverse incentive to people who want to do well?'

The idea that taxing lower earners might have 'damaging' affects is hardly entertained (while Kite's notion that those who own £1.5m houses are simply those who 'want to do well' goes unchallenged). Rather, as Cavendish puts it, 'if we could reduce income tax for ordinary people, that would be a bonus'. As this discussion makes clear, the burning issue here is that which affects the wealthy.

Listen to the audio clip from 11 January 2012:

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