by Robert Wilkinson
Well, it turns out the US is not number one in wealth disparity! Thanks to a friend of the site, this article came across my desk. It seems the entire western financial model hurts a whole lot of people while benefiting a few rich ones, with the UK leading the way!
From the excellent blog SCRIPTONITE DAILY we read an article titled Wealth Inequality in UK Now Equal to Nigeria, UN Report where it states “According to the UN Human Development Report 2013, the UK has become the most unequal nation in the developed world (from 4th in 2012.) The gap between rich and poor in UK society has risen sharply during the leadership of the Coalition government and is now equal to Nigeria, with the poorest here living on roughly the same as their counterparts in Hungary and Korea.”
Here’s more from the story. Among the key findings:
1. The UK’s poorest 40% share in just 14.6% of the national wealth – the only country performing worse was Russia.
2. The richest 20% have incomes more than ten times as high as the bottom 20%, this is the same as Nigeria, and worse than Ghana and the Ivory Coast, and twice as bad as Sri Lanka and Ethiopia.
3.The average per capita income of the poorest fifth of the UK is 32% lower than equivalent in US and the Netherlands.
4. Inequality in the UK has risen sharply since 1991, when the country sat around the middle of the table.
5. As inequality in the UK has risen, intergenerational mobility (children ‘doing better’ than their parents) has also declined.
6. The majority of working people have had little or no wage increases in recent decades, while the top earners have seen substantial increases.
The report links the recent acceleration in rising inequality to austerity, but as the rise started well before austerity the report implicitly calls out neoliberalism itself by holding the key policies of neoliberalism responsible. These policies force down wages, weaken collective bargaining rights of working people, remove social support to balance the failures of capitalism, weaken or remove regulations and legislation governing price controls on core services such as transport, accommodation, food and energy – meanwhile allowing excessive pay rises for top percentile jobs, regardless of social value or added or how these salaries were procured.
The Human Development Report is yet more conclusive evidence that Thatcher’s neoliberal idea of the ‘trickle down effect’ (that a minority becoming super wealthy benefits us all) is nothing more than a fairy tale to keep the paupers quiet. American writer and Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck once wrote: “Socialism never took off in America because the poor view themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires”
The article also offers us this chilling assessment:
What this report and others before it demonstrate is that the rich aren’t getting richer while the poor get poorer, the rich are getting richer by the poor getting poorer. Wage cuts, price hikes; human welfare cut, corporate welfare hikes; civil liberties cuts, police power hikes.
We are playing in a casino where the house always wins. The myriad losing players are blamed for not playing hard or smart enough, while upstairs the confiscated wealth of all those losing parties is spewing from a wall in the VIP room full of over indulged, never exerted owners. The worst part of it all is even if one of those players in the casino does win ... they merely enter the VIP room and become a member of this exploitative class themselves. There is no victory for humanity, only safe harbour for a single human.
Please check out the rest of the article. It is extremely well written, and calls out the hypocritical lying politicians who preach the gospel of self-reliance but come from very cushy backgrounds. It seems privilege is hereditary, and the rest of us can eat stone soup.
Though some of the information comes from a while ago, the author has attempted to connect the dots to what's going on right now. There are several links for those who want to learn more, or be an activist in some way, whether through community gardens, alternative banking, or other ways to check out of this exploitive economic system and do our part to make a better world. What we have now, where the banksters and politically privileged classes are making life miserable for everyone, is unsustainable.
© Copyright 2013 Robert Wilkinson