So- Why do I think Charlotte's stance is wrong?
I am not going to be cynical about her motives as some people have done. I am going to start from the position that she genuinely is prepared to do this and that she thinks it is something which could feasibly happen.
1. There is no guarantee that if rich people paid 70% tax, then more money would be spent on public services. In the last election neither of the major parties were even willing to stand on a platform of spending more on public services. Voters got a choice between a party that was going to cut a bit of public spending and a party that was going to cut a lot from public spending. They chose the party that was going to cut a lot. My guess is that if the Government got more income tax revenue they would cut either VAT or corporation tax. Or they could decide to spend more money on defence. They will only spend more on public services when it becomes a vote winning issue- not when they get more money.
2. High rates of marginal tax will damage job opportunities for people at every level in society. Why? Well this not is slightly more difficult to explain because it is not clear exactly what Charlotte meant by a 70% tax rate. Did she mean a maximum 70% marginal rate on the top part of her earnings and if so at what point would it kick in? Or did she mean an overall tax of 70% on all her earnings with the top marginal rate somewhere in the region of 95%.
Regardless of which she meant a high top marginal rate is going to affect her behaviour. Let's say Charlotte has made one album in a year and any additional money she makes is going to put her into the highest tax bracket and will be taxed at 70% or even higher. She has an idea for a special album and wants to get it recorded and released this year. However, more than 2/3 of the money is going to be taken away from her. She is not greedy. She has more than enough money to live on. She might be prepared to give all the money away to a charity she likes but is she going to be happy to hand it to the Government with no control over what it will be spent on? I think most people would say no to that. They might worry that it will be spent on arms, or used to offset money earned by tax dodging companies or spent on expensive dinners. So Charlotte will probably put off making the additional album and as a result lots of session musicians, graphic designers, technicians etc will lose out on work which mow won't happen. Then there will be the promotional tour that won't happen and that will be lost revenue for music venues- many of which are struggling already. Before long that extra 20% tax on Charlotte is 20% of nothing and all the money that the Inland Revenue would have got from people who worked on Charlotte's album and tour is lost too.
3. There are lots of other things that Charlotte could do with her money that would improve people's lives and raise even more money for public services than paying additional taxes. She could start a recording company that funds unemployed young people to make their first record....or she could set up a foundation to give instruments and music tuition to children in schools on deprived areas......or she could fund audiovisual equipment for helping people with dementia. All of these things would create jobs, and the first suggestion would actually create more tax payers too, so it might actually give the treasury more money than her paying the taxes. It could also actually inspire some other rich people to be more philanthropic. Basically there are many things she could do with her money that would be more imaginative and do more good than paying extra taxes.
4. The trouble with calling for excessively high taxes is that it involves making claims on other people's money and a degree of coercion. Charlotte could give most of her money away at the moment. If she did so the it would inspire others to do the same. Calling for higher taxes is more likely to annoy people and lead to cynicism about whether she would actually pay them herself.
The environmentalist Guardian writer George Monbiot is always arguing that the way to achieve better behaviour towards the environment is to pass more laws and more Government control. He does not believe that individuals can improve the environment. However, I would argue that the best forward is to persuade individuals to change their behaviour and then the Government will follow. If people are not on board for helping the environment then they are not going to vote in a Government which is going to force them to care for the environment.
The really liberating thought for all people who care about others is that you don't have to wait for the Government to act on anything. You can start helping other people or the environment right now - either with money, or campaigning or with your labour. It doesn't require everyone else to think like you and you don't need to wait for an election.
Ghandi said be the change you want to see in the world. He didn't say force other people to pay for the change you want to see in the world.