Recently, the Telegraph made a claim that David Cameron is caught in a ‘wealth trap’. It only needs one sentence to perfectly capture what angle the Telegraph was going for:
“You often hear of people being “trapped in poverty”, but it is also possible to be trapped in wealth.” So claims the writer, Charles Moore.
This claim is simply farcical, it’s inane to draw comparisons between a family trapped in poverty, simply working to scrape enough together to survive and being born into a wealthy family and thus being in a bubble. I wouldn’t see that as being trapped, and I suspect the vast majority of people outside of the super-rich wouldn’t mind to be ‘trapped’ in the kind of wealth Cameron was born into.
Certainly Charles Moore is right to claim that those born into staggering wealth may have different approaches to finance than the average Briton, but that doesn’t mean they are ‘trapped’. If we draw this claim to its extremes one could be in a ‘middle class trap’ as much as a poverty trap or the supposed ‘wealth trap’, we’re all born into different financial situations and therefore have different approaches to finance because of it.
Just because the wealthy parapet that Cameron is peering over is vastly different to mine, it doesn’t mean he deserves sympathy for what the Panama scandal uncovered. Dodging tax may seem normal to those born in this ‘wealth trap’, that doesn’t make it right.
Charles Moore does make some important points – what Cameron did wasn’t illegal, and to those who belong to the super wealthy group, what Cameron has done is, as Charles Moore makes comparisons to similar to buying a “duty-free drink” or saving in a “tax-free ISA”.
But again, just because this is a normal thing to do for the 1% doesn’t mean they are ‘trapped’. I will not weep for those poor people that Moore claims are stuck in a wealth trap, I will not lose sleep over those who have a morally dubious approach to finance because it’s the way they were raised. They are born into a wealthy inheritance and have had a damn better head start than most in life. It isn’t a trap.
What is a trap is being “trapped in poverty” where one is born into a family with little wealth – it makes life infinitely harder for those within the poverty trap and it’s hard to claw ones way out of it. Those in poverty find it harder to hold jobs, pay for items that we find normal on a regular basis and on average suffer worse in school.
For Charles Moore to even think that being born into a wealthy family is even remotely similar to being born into poverty is wrong. The two aren’t even remotely similar – and it in no way justifies those who wronged our system over the Panama scandal.
Image courtesy of AP Photo