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Clegg forgets that high earnings are just a phase of life

Nick Clegg, the LibDem leader has “kick started a debate” about higher taxes for middle earners and got himself into a terrible pickle. In attempting to play the Occupy game Clegg has tried to draw a line between the top 10% of earners and the 90% of the country that earn below £50,000 with his cute line about starting at the top not the bottom. However much he talks about Russian oligarchs and mansions the only way to pull in large sums is to tax a lot of people. This means taxing middle earners more.

The Daily Mail says that:

With the nation facing its longest period of belt-tightening since the war, the Deputy Prime Minister said the ‘top 10 per cent’ – around 3million earning more than £50,500 – should brace themselves for new levies.

As ever when the left, of which Clegg is merely a slightly less soggy part, draws this line it forgets the lifecycle of the majority of high earners: they start off as children, work hard at their education for 16 or more years and in junior roles for another 5 to 10 years before they start to earn decent salaries in their early thirties. This period might come to an end in their late sixties and then they will have a reduced income in retirement. A high earner might only be a high earner for a half or one third of their life. They might also very often have a child-rearing partner who is never a high earner. They might have children who don’t want to be on the high earning track.

If Clegg thinks he is drawing a dividing line between the many and the few to his electoral advantage then he is a fool. People in high earner families, and those that aspire to high earning, are a lot more like half of us than 10%. Clegg wants to tax aspiration and hard work.

It is worth remembering that the top 10% of earners in this country already pay over half of all income tax.

Clegg really didn’t think this one through. If he wants a debate he can have one but he won’t win.