How does imposing more taxes on the wealthy translate to increased wealth for the poor?

Recent articles about wealth inequality have prompted suggestions on ways to tax the wealthy. “Make them pay” sounds like an appropriate slogan.

The idea of taking from the haves and giving to the have-nots is noble, but it appears to unfairly penalise the wealthy.

To be fair, the wealthy in Singapore have supported many philanthropic causes, without which many who stood to benefit would have been poorer.

So why is the focus almost always on the wealthy? What about the poor? Should the focus not be on them and how to empower them to rise above poverty?

Looking at the wealth gap alone is not constructive. Even if the wealthy were taxed in every way imaginable, as suggested by Mr Francis Cheng (“Other assets that can be taxed”; Monday), will needy households escape the poverty trap? By how much will the wealth gap shrink?

It would be more meaningful to study why these households are poor. Could it be due to illness, lack of educational qualifications, or poor choices in life such as gambling, over-borrowing and pregnancy out of wedlock?

How can help be rendered to them in a way that can give them the means or know-how to turn their fortunes around? This would be more sustainable than leaving them or their children to be lifelong dependants.

The article (“Income + wealth inequality = More trouble for society”; Feb 11) would like us to believe that “the chances of someone from a non-wealthy family staying non-wealthy are high”. However, the Me & My Money section in The Sunday Times often features financially successful people from humble backgrounds. Their stories are proof that people from non-wealthy families can gain wealth.

Taxing the wealthy is but one solution to shrink the wealth gap, but it does not empower the poor with the means to rise above their poverty. Giving the poor the means to achieve financial independence and success is a more worthwhile solution.

Grace Chua Siew Hwee

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