Michael Caine, one of the UK’s best-known actors, is thinking of emigrating due to the UK government’s recent decision to impose a new, top-rate income tax of 50 per cent, which once other changes are taken into account, will be nearer 65 per cent. Iain Martin, writing in the Daily Telegraph story that I linked to, points out how Caine is just one of the more recognisable examples of the sort of person looking to hit the exits. It is often useful, if one’s constitution is strong enough, to read the Daily Telegraph comments sections these days, which are sometimes even worse than those of the Guardian. Several people moan about Iain Martin’s article that the 76-year-old actor has made his fortune so he should shut up and be grateful, etc. How lovely. The fact is that Caine, while he may not employ philosophical abstractions to denounce the looting intent of such a tax rise, is at root repelled not by the economic stupidity of such a tax hike, but its essential injustice. What a top-rate tax like this says, in effect, is that no-one should be allowed to rise above a certain level of wealth because it might make others envious. It makes a mockery of all that progressive-leftist talk about removing “glass ceilings” to advancement, etc.
Funnily enough, it was Caine, along with his UK film star buddy and working-class-boy-made-good pal, Sean Connery, who first legged it out of the UK back in the 1970s when the-then governments of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan introduced tax rates of more than 80 per cent on the “super rich”. He’s done it before, and he is quite prepared to leave again. Arsene Wenger, manager of Arsenal FC, has warned that many foreign footballers will think twice about playing in the English Premier League. No doubt football fans of a nationalistic bent may applaud this trend if it gives local players more of a chance to play for their clubs, but it arguably will roll back one of the benefits to domestic sport in having talented overseas players strut their stuff here in the UK.
It will be interesting to see whether the acting profession’s traditional love affair with the Left shows the strain. I remember reading that Ray Winstone, another English East End boy to have cracked Hollywood, is running out of patience with the tax situation in the UK. And a few years ago, I watched a chat show when David McCallum, who used to star in the 1960s Man From Uncle TV series, vowed that he would only return to the UK when it spurned socialism. And for whatever reason Peter Sellers or Richard Burton chose to live in the Switzerland, it was not for the cuckoo clocks.