Monday, 24 October 2011

Relaxed about the stinking rich....

When I was young the USA was viewed by one-and-all as the land of opportunity for the ordinary person. I knew a number of families, incuding relatives, who emigrated there in search of a better life: more jobs, better paid, a higher standard of living. And, importantly, a rising standard of living. If you worked you were better off every year, and there was no reason not to work. That was the promise of the USA to its citizens young and old, old and new.

And that was the message sent back but those who went there: a land of plenty where the working man could hold his head up and do as well as the next guy.

Which is why the graph below, (plucked from here) while not really a shock, carries a shocking message. 

It shows that the vast majority, 90%, of US citizens have had no real improvement in their wealth in 30 years. But the top 1% has increased its wealth by 224% and the top 0.1% has increased its wealth by a positively gargantuan 390%!

The promise of the USA to its citizens is, and as been for thirty years, a lie. The working man, and indeed that mythical American cadre, the "middle classes", gets stiffed in the wealth stakes. The bottom 90% have been betrayed and left behind while the top 1% have lapped up all the benefits of growth over that time.

The betrayal aligns exactly with the neo-con era, Thatcher/Regan voodoo economics and the sick joke of "trickle down", the theory that it's all right if the rich get richer because we all benefit from their greed. Well it isn't so and it never was. And all of this in a era when those same 1% of the extremely rich have paid a lot less tax. Something stinks, IMHO.

Peter Mandelson was famously "relaxed about some people being filthy rich".. Up to a point, Lord Copper, says I. But when the evidence for such a cash-grab is so stark and so prolonged, it's time to call a halt. No wonder there's the stirrings of a left-wing resistance movement building up in the USA. 

Don't get me wrong: I'm not jealous of rich people who work hard and who get rewards commensurate with their industry and their luck. Good for them I say, as long as the reward really is proportionate and as long as the rest of us do not get left behind. 

Would a similar analysis in the UK would show a similar result? I wouldn't be surprised: maybe someone will do the work....?

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