Covid-19: Debunked – “The Great Leveller”, “Strength of Character”

Covid-19: Debunked – “The Great Leveller”, “Strength of Character” April 9, 2020

Emily Maitlis on Newsnight is so often on the money. Here she is for a short introductory minute telling it how it is:

There is an awful lot to be said about the language you hear in the media, those lovely soundbites that might make you feel good, but are empty, vacuous.

Here is, I think, the next part to it:

The projected drop in GDP of a gigantic 10% will, as ever, disproportionately affect the poor and the young.

Here’s an interesting aside concerning Tesco, one of Britain’s largest supermarkets (so much so that there is a book, movement and website called Tescopoly). They have received £585m of business rate/tax relief from the government. They are just about to pay shareholders a dividend, where many other companies are cancelling dividends, of £635m. Are we, as taxpayers, paying dividends to Tesco shareholders?

When I questioned this, a friend said:

What makes you confident you are not benefiting from these dividend payments? Pensions have a tendency to be linked to to stock market share price and dividend payments, either directly or indirectly. Unless you don’t have a pension fund at all of course.


The dividend: “A dividend is the distribution of a portion of the company’s earnings, decided and managed by the company’s board of directors, and paid to a class of its shareholders. Dividends are payments made by publicly-listed companies as a reward to investors for putting their money into the venture.”

So this payment comes from the corporation’s profit line. Because of the economic precariousness of the economy, the government are giving tax breaks to businesses. The problem is, Tesco have done well out of CV and do not need tax breaks. Thus, the £585m given to Tesco is money that could go directly into fighting CV or propping up the self-employed or small businesses more. This money would also be better circulated around (we know this from data already) the local and general economy if distributed in this way (feeding the bottom of the pyramid not the top – trickle down does not stimulate).

So this is the taxpayer paying for dividend payments out from Tesco – some of which might go to small investors, but most to large funds. Take the 4% holding Norwegian bank Norges have – do you think UK taxpayers will benefit from the £23m going to them, abroad? And Mondrian, and Artemis, and other foreign shareholders…

The point is, the poor don’t feature here and are not benefitting from some of these massive government payouts.

As Vicky Pryce intimates, the unemployment and long-term economic effects of CV will be huge. The only comfort is that it is fairly universal. We have a safety in numbers in that most countries, most industries, most services will be experiencing the same. However, on the back of a decade of failed Tory austerity, this will be another (repeated, chronic) kick in the teeth for public services and the most vulnerable.

Stay in touch! Like A Tippling Philosopher on Facebook:

A Tippling Philosopher

You can also buy me a cuppa. Please… It justifies me continuing to do this!

Browse Our Archives