The global level of inequality continues to skyrocket…
Number of billionaires doubled since financial crisis
The number of billionaires has doubled since the start of the financial crisis, according to a major new report from anti-poverty campaigners.
According to Oxfam, the world’s rich are getting richer, leaving hundreds of millions of people facing a life “trapped in poverty” as global “inequality spirals out of control”.
The report found that the number of billionaires in the world has more than doubled to 1,646 since the financial crisis of 2009, and Oxfam says is evidence that the benefits of a return to economic growth are “not being shared with the vast majority”.
…and an interesting article asking if NZ’s poor will revolt…
Following our election American billionaire and prophet of doom Nick Hanauer could be on his way here, with a lot of his rich mates.
This country will be a bolt-hole for the super-rich, according to a lecture, The Pitchforks are coming for us Plutocrats, which Hanauer delivered to the influential TED Foundation earlier this year (the essay is available on politico.com).
Now widely re-published on the web, this article predicts blood in the streets unless wealth gets shared more fairly.
Hanauer says the divide between the haves and have-nots is getting worse fast, and unless measures such as raising the minimum wage are introduced, the middle class could disappear.
“The more money workers make, the more opportunities people like me have,” says the Seattle venture capitalist.
“A real economy is just like the game of Monopoly – when one person has all the money, the game is over.”
His warning to the top 1 per cent, who now share about 20 per cent of America’s wealth, is that they may not be able to spot the inevitable revolution coming.
“Revolutions, like bankruptcies, come gradually, then suddenly . . . And then there’s no time for us to get on our Gulfstream Vs and fly to New Zealand.”
It’s unclear why Hanauer chose New Zealand as an example of a reliable safe haven for the super-rich to flee to, but in any case he seems to have been bang on.
The New Zealand poor, some of whom rioted in 1932 and 1984, show few signs of activism – violent or otherwise – with union membership in the doldrums and near collapse of the political left at the last election.
Labour pointed out 40 per cent of the New Zealand children growing up in poverty are in working households. They promised to raise the minimum wage from $14.25 to $16.25 an hour by next year. But it was to no avail.
…the article makes the point that the political left is dead post the election and the level of disconnect between the haves and the have nots is so large that those have nots are simply too disillusioned with the political process to participate any longer. With no overarching ideological narrative to drive mass mobilisation, I don’t think a revolution is even remotely possible in NZ, but desperation driven by poverty could very well generate a riot.
Respected economist Brian Easton asks if NZ will be racked with civil disturbances by the angry poor…
A divided country?
The election demonstrated deep divisions. Will the next three years make them worse or help heal the rift? And where will the pressure points be?
Will we see New Zealanders marching in the streets during the next three years? I don’t mean protests in which the police, while behaving perfectly professionally, are smiling benignly in a sort of agreement. I’m wondering whether we’ll see civil disturbances. And I’m not the only person pondering such things – probably even John Key is. He has had a good parliamentary win, but the country seems intensely divided.
I don’t think there’ll be any addressing of inequality by the NZ political class until there is wide spread civil disobedience and news coverage beaming out angry people smashing up Queen street. Only then will the Government be forced to address the problem beyond their empty rhetoric and punitive policy.
Throughout our history, we have not moved on genuine policy to address poverty until there has been a sharp short shock to the current system, a riot is the exact sort of pressure valve that once blown can’t be ignored.
All a riot needs is desperation, an issue that resonates and a means to transmit the message.
Deepening poverty generates the desperation. Something like road tolls or more draconian welfare cuts could provide the issue and social media promoting a ‘riot against poverty’ event creates the means to transmit the message.
NZers will leave the sickles at home, but maybe they might pick up a hammer?