Taxing the rich: a seductive but dangerous trap

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Opinion Digest: The danger of wealth taxes, America’s Middle East strategy, and a warning for Labour

LAST UPDATED AT 11:01 ON Fri 28 Sep 2012

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RICH TAX: SEDUCTIVE BUT DANGEROUS
FRASER NELSON ON THE TRAP THAT OSBORNE MUST AVOID
The idea of taxing wealth may be dangerously seductive, writes Fraser Nelson in The Daily Telegraph. In reality, it is unworkable. Britain is already taxed as much as it can bear; it is our spending that is out of control. But for the past three years, the idea of a wealth tax has consistently been used to score political points. The Lib Dems are enthusiastic and Labour is always up for squeezing the rich. Tactically, such policies are even beneficial for the Tories, as they offer a defence from the charge the Cameroons fear most: that they are a bunch of rich kids, governing for the monied classes. But as Germany, Austria, Sweden and Austria have already found, these policies simply do not work when they come up against one of the most persistent forces in human history: mankind’s ingenuity at avoiding taxes. 

LABOUR NEEDS A COALITION PLAN
POLLY TOYNBEE ON THE FUTURE OF LIB-LAB RELATIONS
As it heads towards the next election, Labour must face the facts: it might be better off in a coalition than going it alone, writes Polly Toynbee in The Guardian. The party knows that despite a 10-point lead, no deal has yet been struck with the voters. Labour’s polling success is more attributable to the harsh policies of an unpopular government than it is to genuine support for Ed Miliband. Cameron and his party have thrown away their advantage by emerging as the most rightwing government since the war. Labour now needs to embrace the third party and encourage people to keep voting Lib Dem to keep the Tories out. If there is a hung parliament, an amicable path to Labour's own rose-garden embrace needs rolling out well in advance to stop those Lib Dem seats from turning blue.

OBAMA AND ROMNEY MUST NOT HIDE FROM THE MIDDLE EAST
PHILIP STEPHENS ON US PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGNS
The mudslinging that has characterised Barack Obama and Mitt Romney’s pronouncements on world affairs obscures the fact that neither side has developed a coherent strategy for the Middle East, says Philip Stephens in the Financial Times. The Obama camp has cultivated a clear narrative on its first term in office: the president has taken the US out of Iraq, killed Osama Bin Laden and helped overthrow Muammar Gaddafi. Yet a host of problems still urgently need to be addressed: the spiralling civil war in Syria, the rising threat of Iran’s nuclear programme, and the intransigence of the Israeli leadership over its West Bank settlement programme. Romney’s team does not have the answers and Obama must now develop a strategy. This should begin with negotiating with Iran and kick-starting the Middle East peace process. Otherwise Obama, if re-elected, could be remembered as the president who ended two wars in the Middle East, only to start a third. · 

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