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Sunday Times Rich List 'wealthier than ever'
May 18, 2014 4:00 AM   Subscribe

"Britain's richest people are wealthier than ever before, with a combined fortune of almost £520bn, according to the Sunday Times Rich List. The total wealth of the richest 1,000 individuals, couples or families jumped 15% in a year, the survey said. Wealth expert Philip Beresford, who compiled the list, said he had never before seen such a "phenomenal" rise in personal fortune... Mr Beresford said: "The richest people in Britain have had an astonishing year. While some may criticise them, many of these people are at the heart of the economy and their success brings more jobs and more wealth for the country." - The total figure for the Rich List is equivalent to a third of the UK's gross domestic product."
posted by marienbad (44 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Top Rated BBC Comment: "I bet the poorest 1000 got at least 15% poorer."
posted by marienbad at 4:01 AM on May 18 [21 favorites]


What's sad, is that. I look at this unbelievable figure and go "yeah, what's new?".

Ugh.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:14 AM on May 18


"While some may criticise them, many of these people are at the heart of the economy and their success brings more jobs and more wealth for the country".

What utter tripe. Trickle-down does not work. These people are at the heart of sucking the life out of the economy, leeching us all dry, and behaving like gross parasites.

Fair taxation and massive attack on tax avoidance is what's required.
posted by rolandroland at 4:15 AM on May 18 [58 favorites]


Yes, but all the super wealthy in Britain are accompanied always by that so catchy refrain of music and the old mother with the funny way of delivering her caustic observations.
posted by TimTypeZed at 4:51 AM on May 18 [7 favorites]


If they are indeed responsible for the growth of the economy and jobs, then I'd expect them to gain a fair amount of wealth, equivalent in percentage to the percentage of the growth of the British economy last year. Britain's economy grew 1.9% - so is Mr. Beresford claiming that they are sucking out over 700% more out of the economy than their fair share would indicate? Somehow I doubt that in the rush to justify this obscenity, he's thought through these numbers.
posted by VikingSword at 5:04 AM on May 18 [27 favorites]


Interesting that they try to fly that "job creators" bullshit on both sides of the pond.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:04 AM on May 18 [13 favorites]


The amazing thing is how quick the wealth drops even in the top 1000. At the top of the list is two brothers with £11.9bn and near the bottom of the list is two men with £90m.
posted by srboisvert at 5:04 AM on May 18


Interesting that they try to fly that "job creators" bullshit on both sides of the pond.

Don't argue with success.
posted by Pudhoho at 5:09 AM on May 18


How austere.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:20 AM on May 18 [2 favorites]


It's a good thing we toppled all those kings or there wouldn't be room for these new ones.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:52 AM on May 18 [9 favorites]


Query how many are domiciled elsewhere to avoid tax on the non-source income rolling off of that wealth. Say what you will about the US, but we at least make people break the law to avoid tax in similar circumstances.
posted by jpe at 5:59 AM on May 18 [4 favorites]


Yay 0.000001% !
posted by surplus at 6:10 AM on May 18


It's a good thing we toppled all those kings...


You're not paying attention.
posted by Segundus at 6:20 AM on May 18 [2 favorites]


Osborne, Cameron and the rest of the Tory Government have done a good job then? - for their own as usual!
posted by c330s at 6:43 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]


Why do so many who support capitalism then complain when it works?
posted by notreally at 6:48 AM on May 18 [2 favorites]


Isn't this evidence of it not working?
posted by dng at 6:57 AM on May 18 [5 favorites]


Why do so many who support capitalism then complain when it works?

It's been said many times here: capitalism is great at creating wealth, but it sucks at distributing wealth. Managing a society (of which wealth distribution is a component) is government's job. This is not an economic failure; it's a governmental failure.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:57 AM on May 18 [31 favorites]


Why do so many who support capitalism then complain when it works?

I see myself as a critical friend looking out for its long term welfare, trying to get it to cut down on the fags and booze, think about a pension, stop taking the temp jobs just because they pay well in the short term, call its mother now and then, keep up with those old friends, pay off the credit card, make friends with the neighbours, that kind of thing.
posted by Segundus at 7:09 AM on May 18 [7 favorites]


The total figure for the Rich List is equivalent to a third of the UK's gross domestic product

There something very wrong about this. Wealth distribution like this is not equitable and conducive to the long term benefit of anyone who's not a 1%.
posted by arcticseal at 7:35 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]


OP: While some may criticise them, many of these people are at the heart of the economy and their success brings more jobs and more wealth for the country.

rolandroland: What utter tripe. Trickle-down does not work. These people are at the heart of sucking the life out of the economy, leeching us all dry, and behaving like gross parasites.

The thing is, this statement is true, if you just look at the claims made in it.

1. many of these people are at the heart of the economy
- True, where else would they get their immense wealth? Well, foreign economies, too.

2. their success brings more jobs and more wealth for the country
- Compared to what? If they magically disappeared, taking their empires with them? Sure, their success indicates that their related businesses are doing well, and as such, likely to bring in more jobs and more wealth for the country.

Except for their wealth to raise like this, they have to take significantly more from the economy than their companies give back, as noted by VikingSword.

This is the magic of words: you can write something that is factually true, but in fact hide the ugly reality that raises ire from the wealthy and the conservative, who hold a significant amount of sway on both sides of the pond.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:01 AM on May 18 [5 favorites]



Take a look at the size of the middle class; most distributions I have seen show that is what is shrinking (the low income/poverty class is slowly expanding) and wealth flows up to the top percent.

The big economies seem to be transitioning to what it's like in much of the rest of the world: tiny mega-wealthy class, almost no middle-class, and a gigantic poverty/minimum wage/servant class.
posted by CrowGoat at 8:30 AM on May 18 [7 favorites]


This is an issue that will not and should not go away from public discussion. The trick and challenge will be to move it from righteous indignation to policy change and the speed of that change. Not in my lifetime but the rest of you have a lot of work to do. But, I would like to be part of the first steps of progressive change. Succinct discussion of this on NPR this AM
posted by rmhsinc at 8:35 AM on May 18 [2 favorites]


their success brings more jobs and more wealth for the country

It seems rather peculiar to make the claim that "a rising tide lifts all boats" in the face of data showing that a select few boats are rising spectacularly while the others seem to be being dragged under the surface.
posted by yoink at 9:10 AM on May 18 [10 favorites]


Why do readers here find this so surprising? Isn't this the nature of capitalism with restraints tossed aside?
posted by Postroad at 10:07 AM on May 18


I don't think it's surprise you're seeing, it's disgust and annoyance at an unsurprising story (the richest of the rich have gotten significantly richer in the last year), spun in this particular telling as A Good Thing For The Economy.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:15 AM on May 18 [3 favorites]


The big economies seem to be transitioning to what it's like in much of the rest of the world: tiny mega-wealthy class, almost no middle-class, and a gigantic poverty/minimum wage/servant class.

Don't forget the amoral guard dog class.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:26 AM on May 18


"OP: While some may criticise them, many of these people are at the heart of the economy and their success brings more jobs and more wealth for the country."

That is a quote from the article, not my own words.
posted by marienbad at 10:37 AM on May 18


"While some may criticise them, many of these people are at the heart of the economy and their success brings more jobs and more wealth for the country."

Commenting on the preliminary estimate of GDP growth in the first quarter of 2014, published today (Tuesday) by the Office for National Statistics, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“This is the kind of growth we could have seen two or three years ago if the government had not choked off recovery through cuts, austerity and wage freezes.

“But however welcome these figures are the economy remains below its 2008 peak and most people have yet to see much benefit from growth. Pay and job prospects are still below pre-crash levels, and there will need to be many more years of figures like today’s, before ordinary families recover lost ground.

“The worst possible conclusion from today is to believe that the recovery is now strong enough to survive higher interest rates.”


Meanwhile, over in the conservative rag...
"Enough is enough, we need higher interest rates now"

So basically, the rich speculators kill the economy... then profit from the recovery, pocketing the stimulus in the process... and then they cut that stimulus, in order to maintain their leverage over the poor people stuck paying for the whole mess. Can't have the economy get too strong... if that happens, unemployment will fall and wages will rise, with the risk of inflation... which disproportionately effects those with the most money! Is it any wonder that recessions are commonplace, while anything remotely approaching inflation -- except on basic consumer items -- is never allowed to happen anymore?

It's not so much a recovery, as it is a case of institutionalized theft.
posted by markkraft at 11:00 AM on May 18 [16 favorites]


Claiming capitalism works because there are Vanderbilts is kind of like claiming famine works because there are Kennedy's.
posted by surplus at 12:01 PM on May 18 [1 favorite]


cf. Piketty
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:43 PM on May 18


Meanwhile, over in the conservative rag...
"Enough is enough, we need higher interest rates now"

So basically, the rich speculators kill the economy....


Speculators aided and abetted by US government policy (which does a number on the rest of the world whether we like it or not). We've been at near zero percent for at least five years with nothing to show for it. Raise interest rates and rich speculators don't have free money courtesy the US government to fuel their next pump and dump scheme. (Where I live, it's real estate again - REITs, hedgefunds, and developers outbid normal people and do so with cash, do crap Pottery Barn refurbs, then jack up prices for metropolitan refugees). Investment tip - now might not be the best time to buy stocks.

So yeah, higher interest rates. To discourage useless speculation, to encourage banks to lend to real business, not to the next sucker scam. Oh, and as a bonus, to boost the safe income of widows, orphans, and retirees who depend on non-volatile retirement nest eggs- that is to say, on insured savings accounts that pay more than ten basis points, rather than stocks.

Managing a society (of which wealth distribution is a component) is government's job.

"Managing" a society? Since when? Not according to my country's declaration of independence. You want a bunch of politicians and bureaucrats to "manage" you? I want them to deliver the mail, jail malefactors, and organize the militia against external threats. More than that we can discuss, but when you start throwing around words like "manage", well....

These people are at the heart of sucking the life out of the economy, leeching us all dry, and behaving like gross parasites.

"These people"? That's another dangerous phrase. Look, wealth, even extreme wealth, comes from all kinds of enterprises, some malign, many beneficial. Are you really prepared to argue that J.K.Rowling, Simon Cowell, and Jamie Oliver have somehow sucked life from the economy and robbed you? It's ludicrous.

Query how many are domiciled elsewhere to avoid tax on the non-source income rolling off of that wealth. Say what you will about the US, but we at least make people break the law to avoid tax in similar circumstances.

There's another side to that story, and it doesn't make the US look good.


Last year's top ten.
Only 2 1/2 Britons....
posted by IndigoJones at 1:44 PM on May 18 [2 favorites]


That other side makes it harder for american citizens and assets abroad to avoid tax. As a policy matter I'm certainly sympathetic to our overburdensome compliance and tax regime, but there's something grimly funny about people that bitch about Mitt Romney or GE's offshore holdings also crying uncle when it's their ox being gored.
posted by jpe at 2:02 PM on May 18


"Managing" a society? Since when? Not according to my country's declaration of independence.

The two are far from mutually exclusive. NOTHING in the Declaration of Independence springs out of the earth unaided. The ideals are enunciated and then the government and the people have to shepherd them. Laws and taxes are nothing more than management. By far, the biggest problem we have today is the absolute fetishization of the individual and the absolute denial of societal responsibilities. We are reaping what we've sowed for the last forty years.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:11 PM on May 18 [3 favorites]


I haven't heard anyone mention "gush up economics", but it seems more reflective of reality.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 3:39 PM on May 18 [1 favorite]


gush up economics

Bidet economics?
posted by yoink at 3:48 PM on May 18


"Managing" a society? Since when? Not according to my country's declaration of independence.

But according to the document which succeeded it:
"in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare..."
What the hell did you think managing a society actually meant?
posted by Pallas Athena at 3:57 PM on May 18


Interesting that they try to fly that "job creators" bullshit on both sides of the pond.

I was just commenting on this sort of thing in another thread.

Because yea, it's really weird that the same messages seem to get used in the UK, australia, the US, canada, and other places.

It's as if it's all one government, run by the same asses.
posted by emptythought at 4:26 PM on May 18


It's as if it's all one government, run by the same asses.

Your government, brought to you by [corporate sponsor].
posted by Pudhoho at 4:37 PM on May 18


This is inflated since they count both the rich British domiciled in Monaco, Switzerland, etc., and the various rich foreigners in London.
posted by knoyers at 6:02 PM on May 18 [1 favorite]


You want a bunch of politicians and bureaucrats to "manage" you? I want them to deliver the mail

Our mail is delivered by a private company.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:15 PM on May 18


Benny Andajetz: It's been said many times here: capitalism is great at creating wealth, but it sucks at distributing wealth. Managing a society (of which wealth distribution is a component) is government's job. This is not an economic failure; it's a governmental failure.

Oh, boy, this old canard! From Saint-Simon, to Lasalle, to post-war Keynesian social democracy. Again and again, they say, we'll fix this distribution problem. All together now, this time with feeling!

For 19th century politics, what bette response than a 19th century critic...

Any distribution whatever of the means of consumption is only a consequence of the distribution of the conditions of production themselves. The latter distribution, however, is a feature of the mode of production itself. The capitalist mode of production, for example, rests on the fact that the material conditions of production are in the hands of nonworkers in the form of property in capital and land, while the masses are only owners of the personal condition of production, of labor power. If the elements of production are so distributed, then the present-day distribution of the means of consumption results automatically. If the material conditions of production are the co-operative property of the workers themselves, then there likewise results a distribution of the means of consumption different from the present one. Vulgar socialism (and from it in turn a section of the democrats) has taken over from the bourgeois economists the consideration and treatment of distribution as independent of the mode of production and hence the presentation of socialism as turning principally on distribution. After the real relation has long been made clear, why retrogress again? - Critique of the Gotha Programme (1875)
posted by wobdev at 8:42 PM on May 18


A rising tide lifts all superyachts.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:26 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]


As Jarvis Cocker said, cunts are still running the world.
posted by wilful at 2:43 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]


I haven't heard anyone mention "gush up economics", but it seems more reflective of reality.

Capillary action economics.
posted by acb at 4:43 AM on May 19


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