Britain is one of the very few countries in the world that allows people to declare it as their place of residence whether or not they live here.
As a result these 'non-domiciles' pay no tax on their overseas earnings or capital gains outside Britain. That is one reason why many of the world's super-rich are settling in London.
Prime minister Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling have suggested a levy of £30,000 on all those who are claiming 'non-dom' status and have been in Britain for at least seven of the past 10 years.
As a result they are being lobbied by Britain's top executives and the US embassy not to demand such a sum from the global super-rich. Now Alistair Darling is rethinking his plan.
This government has no such second thoughts about targeting people eking out an existence on benefits worth £50 a week. It also wants to remove incapacity benefit from two million people and to withdraw benefits from those who turn down a job or training.
What makes it more obscene is that many Labour ministers who are leading the attacks on benefit claimants represent constituencies which suffered the worst ravages of the Thatcher years.
At the next election they will be asking those same people to vote for them.