Friday, 21 December 2012

Who’s Afraid of Father Christmas?

[Sir Reginald Pratt, one of the most celebrated entrepreneurs and philanthropists in the world, and widely known to his friends in the City as ‘Father Christmas’, has once again agreed to be interviewed by ‘Question the Powerful’. When we met, he had recently returned from abroad.]

Q: You’ve been away for nearly six months. Have you missed Britain?

R: Terribly. I can’t tell you what it’s like not being able to look in on my estates or catch up with old friends in the City. But the tax system here is dreadful. It leaves me no choice but to spend a lot of time in my other homes around the world.

Q: What kind of changes to the tax regime might entice you back to these shores?

R: Funny you should say that. I was just talking to young Osborne the other day about it. Basically, the scale of tax rates should be reversed. So the more you earn, the lower % you pay.

Q: You mean anything above, for example, £150,000 should be taxed at a lower rate than 20%?

R: No, no, at each higher threshold, the tax rate for your entire income should be reduced. I would say that once you’ve reached an annual income of, say, £1 million, you shouldn’t pay any tax at all.

Q: You’re serious about this?

R: Don’t you see, it would be a splendid incentive for people to earn more money for themselves. And people on low income paying high taxes would only have themselves to blame. Osborne loved the idea, wished he had thought of it himself, but poor chap, hasn’t quite got it up there.

Q: Wouldn’t that impoverish the state? Who would pay for our public services?

R: Well, that’s where Britain is showing some signs of improvement. You let brilliant entrepreneurs like us keep our money, the state has to cut back on everything, and before you know it, 90% or more of the population will be without proper healthcare, job security, not even basic fire or policing service. They would be completely dependent on the charity of the rich. Then finally they would learn to respect us, defer to our better judgement, and learn to do as they’re told.

Q: You think charity will be sufficient to help all the sick and feed those going hungry?

R: That’s not the point of charity. Charity is about feelings. For the riffraff, it’s that desperate feeling in hoping that some kind soul might rescue you. For us benefactors, it is a noble feeling in sensing that we can do something for these wretched people.

Q: But don’t you think more people would suffer when we displace public support by private charity?

R: ‘Suffer’ is a relative term. The real problem is that people don’t appreciate they have it so good. They should learn to complain a little less, and be thankful for what we let them have a little more.

Q: And what are you letting them have once you stop paying your taxes altogether?

R: Charity, my dear fellow, gifts freely given. Talking of which I must be off - got to go to an event in some inner London borough where there are lots of poor people. My office elves are coming along with me to give out the best present they will ever have.

Q: Blankets, food parcels, a job with one of your companies?

R: Better than all those combined – they will each get a signed copy of my autobiography, Who’s Afraid of Father Christmas? A wonderful book about how I’ve always managed to persuade the regulators not to fret about my business activities. It really is quite an unbelievable story.

[For observations between QTP posts, go to my Twitter account (@HenryBTam) and click ‘Follow’.
For our interview with ‘Father Christmas’ last year, see:]