British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt thinks the British don’t work hard enough because they have too generous tax credits – a benefit similar to the U.S. Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
Hunt seemed like a money-grubbing rich person when he explained:
“My wife is Chinese. We want this to be one of the most successful countries in the world in 20, 30, 40 years’ time. There’s a pretty difficult question that we have to answer, which is essentially: are we going to be a country which is prepared to work hard in the way that Asian economies are prepared to work hard, in the way that Americans are prepared to work hard? And that is about creating a culture where work is at the heart of our success.”
“Dignity is not just about how much money you have got … officially, children are growing up in poverty if there is an income in that family of less than £16,500 (a £ is worth about $1.52 U.S.). What the Conservatives say is how that £16,500 is earned matters.
“It matters if you are earning that yourself, because if you are earning it yourself you are independent and that is the first step towards self-respect. If that £16,500 is either a high proportion or entirely through the benefit system you are trapped. It is about pathways to work, pathways to independence … It is about creating a pathway to independence, self-respect and dignity.”
In one sense Jeremy agrees with many Americans. We do work hard. We spend too many hours at work. Many of us are underpaid. For Jeremy all that is good – because he is rich and doesn’t have to work. Check out this newspaper report from a couple years ago:
Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, is set to become the richest member of the Cabinet after it emerged that he is in line for a £17m windfall from the imminent sale of his own company.
Hotcourses, an education listings service Mr Hunt co-founded before he became an MP, is believed to be close to a deal to be bought for £35m by the private equity firm Inflexion. Although he stood down as a director in 2009, he is understood to hold a 49 per cent stake in the company.
Not everyone in Britain agrees with Hunt’s plan to cut benefits by about £1,300 a month to many poor families. Owen Smith, the shadow work and pensions secretary, explained: “It is a kick in the teeth for working families to hear Jeremy Hunt patronizingly say that the reason they are struggling to pay the bills is because they are not working hard enough.”
Back here in the states we have a different problem with tax credits. Instead of raising the minimum wage to the $15 an hour (I have been advocating this since early 2011), our politicians are forcing extra taxes on the middle class, money which is then given to those workers grossly underpaid by their employers. The EITC means thousands of dollars to workers under a $7.25 minimum wage. If wages rise, the eligibility for EITC would be exceeded by many, and companies would pay for the subsistence of their workers, not force the middle class to pay more taxes to make up the deficit. It’s corporate welfare and the establishment in both parties adores this plan to take from the wage workers to give to the wage slaves, while the rich keep their tax cuts.
The national minimum wage in Great Britain is about $10 an hour if you are older than 21, about $8 for 18-16 years old, and about $6 for those under 16. Britain, like most developed nations, has a tiered minimum wage, something politicians won’t adopt here because it squashes the argument that those new to the labor force shouldn’t be paid that whopping $7.25 an hour.
Unemployment and illegal immigration have decimated job opportunities in Britain and the U.S.. leading to a strange capitalist-perverting theme that the poor don’t work hard enough, long enough and they have not studied in school long enough. Those three ” short sins” are why the poor are shortchanged, according to the Tories in Britain and the Fiscal Hawks in the U.S.
London Mayor Boris Johnson had the best reply to Hunt:
“We must ensure that as we reform welfare and we cut taxes that we protect the hardest working and lowest paid: shops workers, cleaners, the people who get up in the small hours or work through the night because they have dreams for what their families can achieve.”
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