Inequality is a burning topic among economists, especially since the
release of Thomas Piketty’s recent book on the subject. Many are
questioning whether this is a temporary period of runaway inequality, or
whether we are on the verge of an irreversible collapse into extremes
of wealth and poverty. (What would we call it? The Oligopolypse?
But numbers alone don’t tell the full story.
Culture, too, is adapting to this unequal world. We idealize the wealthy
today in ways that would have been unthinkable decades ago.
With the children of today’s baby boomers scheduled to inherit $30 trillion
in the next several decades, politicians and the press are hard at work
flattering plutocrats of all ages by portraying them as paragons of
wisdom. Here are four such portraits:
In fact, Gen. James Cartwright has not gone to jail and the above
paragraph remains — as yet — a grim Washington fairy tale. There is
indeed a Justice Department investigation open
against the president’s “favorite general” (as Washington scribe to the
stars Bob Woodward once labeled him) for the possible leaking of
information on that virus to the New York Times, but that’s all. He remains quite active in private life, holding the Harold Brown Chair in Defense Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, as a consultant to ABC News, and on the board of Raytheon, among other things. He has suffered but a single penalty so far: he was stripped of his security clearance.
The evidence of income inequality just keeps mounting. According to “Working for the Few,”
a recent briefing paper from Oxfam, “In the US, the wealthiest one
percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009,
while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.” - Salon
Income inequality is becoming the new hot topic - it's everywhere. The more people you talk to, the more you realise that everyone is talking about it and they are pretty pissed. The weird thing is that this never goes past angry grumbling. Sure, there are a few protests here and there - but no one is really making an effort to promote a solution. Most people don't even consider that there could be a solution - they are content to continue complaining and grumbling.
It's not like we can't see what's going on - we do - we just aren't that serious about changing it. A similar phenomenon is happening with climate change: we talk about it a lot and make a few token gestures to "prove we care", but nowhere near the level of commitment actually required to make substantial changes.
We keep talking about things like "the economy", "income inequality", "poverty", "global warming" and "nature" as if they are separate entities contained in separate capsules, not really part of our lives - present but not felt. This, of course, is another symptom of the human disease called "wait till something really crap happens". The behaviour of this virus seems to cause people to wait for disaster to strike before implementing changes to prevent said disaster. This disease causes people to disengage from the reality of imminent threats and retreat into a fantasy world that distracts us from said threat, inducing a sort of delusional contentedness with what we believe our lives consist of. We convince ourselves that "someone else will fix it" - but when everyone is telling themselves this lie, who is doing the fixing?
It's not enough to be angry or scared. It is not constructive to feel helpless and then give up before we really even try. The reality is that we will all be affected - not even the ridiculously wealthy can hide from the kinds of consequences looming over us. We must act in sustainable ways that will benefit our global community and natural habitat which is, of course, the Earth.