Inequality

(…)Oxfam International is raising such questions at the World Economic Forum at Davos, where the global elite gather to talk of big ideas and big money. Oxfam executive director, Winnie Byanyima, is arguing that this increasing concentration of wealth since the recession is “bad for growth and bad for governance”. What’s more, inequality is bad not just for the poor, but for the rich too. That’s why we have the likes of the IMF’s Christine Lagarde kicking off with warnings about rising inequality. Visceral inequality from foodbanks to empty luxury flats is still seen as somehow being in the eye of the beholder by the right – a narrative in which poverty is seen as an innate moral failure of the poor themselves has taken hold. This in turn sustains the idea that rich people deserve their incredible riches. Most wealth, though, is not earned: huge assets, often inherited, simply get bigger not because the individuals who own them are super talented, but because structures are in place to ensure this happens…

The rich, via lobbyists and Byzantine tax arrangements, actively work to stop redistribution. Inequality is not inevitable, it’s engineered. Many mainstream economists do not question the degree of this engineering, even when it is highly dubious. This level of acceptance among economists of inequality as merely an unfortunate byproduct of growth, alongside their failure to predict the crash, has worryingly not affected their cult status among blinkered admirers…

When we talk of neoliberalism, we are talking about something that has fuelled inequality and enabled the 1%. All it means is a stage of capitalism in which the financial markets were deregulated, public services privatised, welfare systems run down, laws to protect working people dismantled, and unions cast as the enemy.

Inequality

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