The rich get richer

Nobel prize winner Paul Krugman highlights the growing inequality in this article in the New York Times. The left wing slogan that the “the rich get richer” is a fact of almost perverse power. The most recent period of expansion in the USA the top 1% got 95% of the income gains. They did this after creating the crisis in the first place. So instead of being put in prison for fraud and negligence they continue to rob us blind.
It is little wonder that some of the 1% are beginning to worry that “the pitchforks are are going to come for us” as US entrepreneur Nick Hanauer wrote recently in Politico in an open letter to “my fellow zillinaires”.


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But why don’t citizens of the US do something about it? The Public Research Institute’s American Values surveys show overwhelming support for action to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. In fact, the results from the Institute’s latest survey, released last week, shows a two to one majority in support for more stronger action to reduce inequality. By nearly the same margin Americans agree that the nation’s economic system “unfairly favors the wealthy.” Some 69 percent also agree that “corporations do not share enough of their success with their employees.”

I am sure opinion surveys in NZ would produce similar results. Overwhelmingly the issues of concern this election in NZ were around inequality, low wages, and poverty. 

The problem is that in the US and New Zealand there is a lack of belief that voting for any of the establishment parties will actually produce the changes we need. At the same time a more radical critique of capitalism which is beginning to be advanced by the Mana Movement has yet to to win a hearing from a significant percentage of the voting public.

That doesn’t mean that radical voice should be silenced or moderated. I am confident that the continued failure of this system, and the parties that defend this system, will eventually open the eyes of many more people to what is needed. That is also reflected in the willingness of growing numbers to take action around issues like climate change, child poverty, deep sea oil drilling in just the last few weeks. Ultimately real change will come from a combination of action in the streets and at the ballot box. If Mana remains true to itself as a movement of both the streets and parliament they can be confident of future victories.


  1. The problem is that in the US and New Zealand there is a lack of belief that voting for any of the establishment parties will actually produce the changes we need.

    That’s because voting for the establishment parties won’t – they’re there for the establishment and not NZ. This is why we need Mana and Internet Party. They’ll break the establishment which, of course, is why Labour and National are dead set against them.

    I am confident that the continued failure of this system, and the parties that defend this system, will eventually open the eyes of many more people to what is needed.

    It took the Great Depression and WWII last time to get the establishment politicians to move. Hopefully it won’t take that again but I figure that there’s another depression in the near future for NZ and possibly the world.

    • Well said Draco,& Mike,

      These rich are poison to our future and must be taught that they are killing people with their self centred philosophy of rich gets richer and like it or lump it.

      Capitalism is dead and what we have now is power and control over the masses, not what fathers of capitalism envisaged.

      The day of reckoning will put paid to their scheming ways.

      What goes around comes around.

      • Capitalism is dead and what we have now is power and control over the masses, not what fathers of capitalism envisaged.

        Don’t be too sure on that. The fathers of capitalism 300 odd years ago saw themselves as replacing the aristocrats in the social order. I’d say that they’ve succeeded.

        Oh, and they most definitely didn’t want democracy but, considering that they were surrounded by a lot of armed peasants who did, they gave in but only gave it to themselves. It took another 200 odd years to get it out to all males and then to everyone.

        • I have been racking my tiny brain trying to remember the name of the TV series which Niall Ferguson did that addressed the issue Draco has raised.
          Niall Ferguson is no Howard Zinn but he did raise some interesting points about why the North American oligarchs had to share land while their South American counterparts held on to it all.

          • I believe it was based on his book “Civilization: The West and the Rest” one point raised was the original capitialist realised that the producer is also a consumer so therefore it made sense to pay your employees well so they could afford to buy your products. Also a worker would be more productive and focused on his job if he was not worrying about making ends meet.

            • Thanks for that, Stephan, you scratched an itch.
              I suppose Henry Ford is the best known example of a capitalist who realised he would have to pay his workers enough to buy his Model T, modern day capitalists have not been so enlightened.

    • It took the Great Depression and WWII last time … Hopefully it won’t take that again but I figure that there’s another depression in the near future for NZ and possibly the world.

      Either that or until the pitchforks do come out.
      Time for a rerun of 1789

  2. I have the answer to your conundrum . Lets all be rich ! It’s easy . Lets just all be millionaires then . If that’s what the current crop of psychopaths expect of us , then lets do it ! Whoop Yeah ! High Five ME !
    We should just pull up our socks , get some gumption , use our can – do attitude , find that spring for our step and be rich today .
    Lets all rush out and get an education . We should all get Degrees immediately ! Then , we can all be employed on huge salaries with entitlements . I’m not sure who’ll fix the pot holes our Ferraris will make in the roads and I have no idea who’ll clean the toilets after they get blocked with our expensive shit but it won’t be us because we’ll all be too rich for that kind of carry on .

    Chris Hedges . Another loser Pulitzer prize winning journalist and no doubt henchman to the Left .

    “Those who fail to exhibit positive attitudes, no matter the external reality, are seen as maladjusted and in need of assistance. Their attitudes need correction. Once we adopt an upbeat vision of reality, positive things will happen. This belief encourages us to flee from reality when reality does not elicit positive feelings. These specialists in “happiness” have formulated something they call the “Law of Attraction.” It argues that we attract those things in life, whether it is money, relationships or employment, which we focus on. Suddenly, abused and battered wives or children, the unemployed, the depressed and mentally ill, the illiterate, the lonely, those grieving for lost loved ones, those crushed by poverty, the terminally ill, those fighting with addictions, those suffering from trauma, those trapped in menial and poorly paid jobs, those whose homes are in foreclosure or who are filing for bankruptcy because they cannot pay their medical bills, are to blame for their negativity. The ideology justifies the cruelty of unfettered capitalism, shifting the blame from the power elite to those they oppress. And many of us have internalised this pernicious message, which in times of difficulty leads to personal despair, passivity and disillusionment.”
    ― Chris Hedges

    Whew ! Life is so much better now that we’re all millionaires isn’t it ? What were we all thinking ? Trying to scratch out a living on a measly few thousand dollars a year .
    I have noticed however that when I went to the gold plated , diamond encrusted Super Duper Market recently I had to pay $712,982,891,879,973.28 for a packet of tea bags ? Bit steep I thought . Only last week I paid a mere $ 678,987,536,619.89 for the same item ? What’s going on ??

    The truly awful thing about a burgeoning population of the otherwise useless , also known as the Nouveau riche , is that it show cases just how vulnerable we are to their special type of insanity .

    What would you do if a clearly very , very rich person came to a stop beside you in their Bentley while you and your kids were walking up the street one day ?

    They jumped out of the car and demanded what ever money you had in your pocket . ” He/she demanded ” C’mon , c’mon . I haven’t got all day . ” My guess is that there would be some swearing , punching and kicking going on . And yet , we allow ourselves to be subjected to that kind of theft on a daily basis . Every time you pay a power bill , a phone bill , a rates bill , an insurance bill , a credit card payment , a mortgage payment , a grocery bill , you are getting robbed blind and you just let it happen , time and time again .

    Now , who’s to blame ?

    The rich for daring to exploit us ? Or ourselves for allowing it to happen ? What Leader of any of the contenders of our most recent debacle that was our ‘ elections ‘ demand that we take back control of our resources from the Rich ?
    It wasn’t any of the politicians making six figure salaries I can tell you that for nothing . It wasn’t the moronic 48 % who voted for their abusers in National either . They must just love being subjugated by their rich masters .
    The neo liberals who were shat out of Labour back in 1984 have spent thirty years castrating us and now ball-less and intellectually retarded we’re lost in a morass of our own making and everytime we try to drag ourselves out of that stinking bog , the Media push us back in with that fucking ugly little prick Gower or some boney , sinew knecked fluff-head and failed Hollywood Wife on a stick figure who hisses sarcasm as she spits out the bones of the lost .

    • Country Boy, Chris Hedges is great very intelligent and well worth listening to. Amazing more people don’t listen to what he and others like Noam Chomsky have to say.

      Totally agree with what you have said here. I can only see inequality getting worse I hope I am wrong. I also have seen a doco by Robert Reich called ‘ inequality for all’ although set in America parallels the nz situation quite well.

    • Right,, ”Country Boy,, Key the sheperd,, ,,”a ruminant mammal of the genus ,,, Lets all milk the sheep and shear the cows ,,And shag the goats ,, Looks like New Zealand spends the next three years dagging ,, ,,Shoshonearn’s last stand ,,,

  3. An excellent post Mike.

    Here’s our real-world, topical example:

    NZ’s top pay packet revealed: $4.1m – NZ Herald

    It outlines how the people at the top earn disproportionately more than everybody else, with little if any justification.

    Although political action is vital, I would humbly suggest that social activism is important in this regard. Don’t let people rattle off the same old tired platitudes they’ve heard from the elite or the media. Challenge them with the facts. Ask them to explain why they believe what they do. Do this all with the aim of raising awareness. Only when the populace is aware will they be politically inclined to vote for parties such as Internet Mana or others on the Left who oppose such obvious disparity.

    • It outlines how the people at the top earn disproportionately more than everybody else, with little if any justification.

      Actually, that’s with no justification. That video does explain how and why these people are fucking up our economy and our society.

  4. Excellent post, yes sadly even the Greens are pro capitalism. people are scared of capital flight, this is a little country which could easily be screwed by the U.S. and other large powers. Plus we want to be friendly so come take it all.

    • people are scared of capital flight

      And there’s absolutely no need to be. We have all the resources we need here in NZ and all we have to do is utilise them. Lack of money doesn’t prevent us from doing that, politicians telling us that we have a lack of money prevent us from doing that.

  5. The zillionares are on the way, under the TPP and John Keys able ” leadership” we will shortly become the 52 State of the United States of America Inc.The sleepy hobbits aren’t all sleepy , mainly they are doopy spellbound mushrooms kept in the dark and feed bullshit .

  6. I like this article. This tells the truth that mainstream political parties are Screwing up the country along with support from mainstream Media. The Mana Movement seems to have the right Idea, back to basics, The people come first It seems. Where the other parties seem to favour the rich. If this doesn’t change it may well take a people Uprising to change it or a War along with a Deeper depression than the one that started before WWII. Following the election iT Seems we have gone from a Democracy to a Plutocracy.

  7. great post.
    i feel dismay at the way sheeple vote.
    i was encouraging everyone i knew to vote act and get a real squeeze on the populace and then maybe we can act together.
    in 2007/8 when petrol hit $2 a litre, people started car pooling, community gardens sprang up and we started to organize and cooperate with each other.
    the price dropped and people slowly went back to pre 2007 behaviour.
    it was only through the near slave conditions that workers organized and the union movement was started.

  8. I’m not necessarily doubting the conclusions, but I am always sceptical of graphs that don’t show comparable time periods, and leave some time periods out. For example where is 1974? 1980 to 1982? Why are the time periods 4,3,8,1,4,3,8,9,6,3 years?

      • Well actually that isn’t very helpful, because it doesn’t tell the full story. For example, what happened in the ‘missing’ years? And why aren’t the periods at least equal, even if they a recovery spans several periods? Again I’m not questioning the conclusions, just that the presentation wouldn’t pass a year 11 statistics class.

  9. I was reminded of a quote from FDR today:

    “It is to the real advantage of every producer, every manufacturer and every merchant to co-operate in the improvement of working conditions, because the best customer of American industry is the well-paid worker”.

    Given the mealy-mouthed, bene-bashing, Randian mind-set of our current overlords, they haven’t figured that one out yet.

  10. I have been saying for a number of years now that we can resolve the social order peacefully or by force. Sadly I see us edging towards a violent conclusion if we don’t wake up soon. This election was such an eye-opener for me. The NZ voting public is blind, deaf, and numb to the plight of the poor and to the obscene position of the wealthy. I pray that I am wrong – but I believe that, like climate change and the ecological destruction wrought by our species, the future lies inevitably before us . . . and we approach it reluctantly one fearful step at a time.

    • Pretty much. The rich have been destroying societies in all of recorded history. It seems that we haven’t learned, yet, how to stop them. In fact, it seems that a lot of us go along with them in the hopes that they too can be rich.

  11. @ Mike Treen ? Can you please get on with ‘ moderating ‘ my comment ? I feel the need to be ‘ moderated ‘ because I need to sleep xx

    Not Mike Treen. Me. – Scarletmod

  12. American here, who is also a NZ citizen.

    Since Reagan enacted his reforms, the US went from being an economy that worked for everyone (i.e. the ‘golden age of capitalism’) to being one that benefits the rich.
    America is past a point of no return. NZ is still at a point where there are actually a significant number of politicians who fight for people in poverty, the unemployed, poor children, etc. The US is far past that point.
    Our politics here have so much money in them..(the supreme court ruled that corporations were literally people, and it was an unconstitutional restriction on free speech to limit their campaign donations. so, money is speech.)
    We have these things called Super PACs, which are basically largely unregulated groups that spend hundreds of millions of dollars – from corporate and private donors (that don’t disclose who they are) – to influence elections. $2.2 billion was spent it total by these PACs. A total of $7 billion was spent in the overall 2012 elections.
    It’s not even a scandal anymore when corporations donate to politicians in exchange for political policy. It’s just expected. For example, these oil barons called the Koch Brothers, who plan to spend $300 million in the 2014 elections – 2 people alone – literally say “okay, here’s your policy, if you want more donations” and then they fund a few bogus rightwing think tanks so the politicians can back up their policies.

    I could go on and on…American politics is attached to Wall Street and other corporate interests. The American Left isn’t innocent, either. Obama received quite a bit of money from Wall Street.

    Even our left is centre-right. John Key would be considered a huge liberal here. About 50% of the politicians in the Democratic Party are probably right of centre, with 30% falling in to the centre, and 20% falling into the left.
    Obama, who was deemed a raving Marxist extremist by the rightwing media, would be very comfortable in the John Key National Party. I mean, the TPPA is his agenda.. he wants it fast tracked. (The Democratic Party is split on this, but Bill Clinton did put through the TPPA-style NAFTA agreement in the 90s)

    Also, in the 90s, the Democrats were the one who carried out welfare reform..far stricter than National’s. Funding was turned into a dollar amount that hasn’t increased for 20 years. Lifetime limits were placed of 5 years for beneficiaries. (regardless of how many children you have, if you spend more than 60 months of your life at any time as a beneficiary, you’re cut off) Work requirements are strictly enforced regardless of the child’s age. And no, it’s not just ‘look for work’. It’s literally a workfare program from day one, for single parents. All support for childless adults was taken away. Everything.

    Voter turnout here is shitty, too. Overall turnout is about 50%. The poor turn out at about 40%. The rich turn out at about 80%. One politician (the only one in the whole of congress that refers to himself as a democratic socialist) recently said there needs to be political revolution to get people to vote, in order to change anything.

    Politicians just don’t care about income inequality or poverty. Not once during elections was ‘poverty’ mentioned. Sure, a Democratic politician might pay some lip service about it..but they’d never go far enough to actually mention the numbers in poverty. Democrats barely support a minimum wage rise from $7 to $10…Republicans want to abolish the minimum wage completely. (and every single other social program) In absolute poverty (i.e. our poverty measure which measures basic needs, such as the bare minimum for food and housing) there are about 55 million people. I’m scared to see what relative poverty looks like.

    Anyway, I could go on and on..that’s why we don’t do anything about it.

    (sorry, that post got very long)

    • Michael, Its interesting to hear you say this. I mentioned above I watched Robert Reich’s documentary ‘Inequality for all’. Robert was optimistic that there could be change in direction in future as he looks to the history. Not sure if you have seen the documentary would be interested to know what you thought? Also do you see us following the inequality trends here?

      • I’ll have to check out the documentary. i’ve seen the trailer for it, but i haven’t seen it yet.

        I think that there could be a reverse in the growing inequality, only if government policy changes. Government policy currently encourages inequality and income growth for the top 1%. There would need to be a massive political change. Nothing is going to happen unless the two-party system changes, the electoral system changes, and money is taken out of politics. Without those changes, it’ll just get worse and worse. The political system is far too entrenched in money and special interests.
        People will also have to believe that government is the right entity to change things. People in the US don’t trust the government. Economic “libertarianism” is mainstream. For example, when healthcare reform was happening, many opinion polls were done. When people were asked, “do you want a Canadian-style system of universal health care?” the result was overwhelmingly ‘yes’. When people were asked, “do you want government-run universal health care?” The majority said no. One thing that was proposed during Obama’s health care law debate was a ‘public option’ – a state-owned health insurance company to compete in the market. When Americans were asked if they wanted a “government-run option”, the majority said no. If they were asked if they wanted a “non-profit public option”, the majority said yes.
        The right-wing media have gotten Americans so convinced that all forms of state intervention are horrible and comparable to Soviet Russia. Obama’s health care reform that requires people to buy private for-profit health insurance was deemed ‘communist’. (Although, the idea actually came from a right-wing think tank in the 1990s.)

        Here’s an interview article done with Senate Bernie Sanders (the most social democratic/left-wing senator in the US), where he talks about how change is possible, and how the current system is rigged against the 99%.

        I don’t think NZ is necessarily on the path of inequality and oligarchy to the extent that the US is. Wealth is not as harshly distributed in NZ, compared to the US. People will generally be trusting of state intervention in NZ (i.e. universal healthcare, public tertiary education, etc). Politicians are present that actually fight for the unemployed and those in poverty. The political system (MMP) allows for a multi-party system, so there’s more of the political spectrum represented. The general political spectrum isn’t extremely to the right. I think that NZ is on a path of growing inequality, but

        As an American, when I look at NZ politics, it almost makes me jealous. You have ‘choice’ in who you vote for, and have a voice in making changes. I think that is one of the biggest things. There isn’t as much money in politics, or the entrenched two-party system. The Nats would be considered centre to centre-left in the USA. Basically, in the USA, 50% of the voters will vote for a party to the right of the National Party. (To put it in perspective.)
        ^ There’s an interesting article. A think tank analyzed thousands of policies over 20 years.
        “They conclude that “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”
        In their primary statistical analysis, the collective preferences of ordinary citizens had only a negligible estimated effect on policy outcomes, while the collective preferences of “economic elites” (roughly proxied by citizens at the 90th percentile of the income distribution) were 15 times as important. “Mass-based interest groups” mattered, too, but only about half as much as business interest groups — and the preferences of those public interest groups were only weakly correlated (.12) with the preferences of the public as measured in opinion surveys.

      • Disenfranchisement in all but name.

        Voting is always on a work day.
        It’s not a public holiday. Your employer isn’t required to pay you while you vote, or give you a few hours off to vote.
        The majority of low-paid Americans lack any paid holiday or paid sick leave. When you’re earning $7.25 per hour with a family, you’re not going to go without pay to vote.

        Second is de-facto discrimination and intimidation of non-white people (who are disproportionately poor) at voting polls. Minorities will often be asked (in some Southern states) to show IDs before voting, far less often than white people are asked.

        Also, polling places in low-income areas are inadequate. The average black or Latino voter will wait twice as long as a white person to vote.

        The history of discrimination against minority groups in some states at the voting polls is still present today, and it’s very, very difficult for low-income people to vote at the polls in some areas.

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