A Tidal Wave of Inequality

Figures out this week show just how divided our society is becoming, a trend which is ever more extreme and shocking. It was revealed yesterday – by Oxfam* – that the 5 richest families in the country have as much wealth between them as the poorest 20% (12.6m people). This came hot on the heels of a report in January – also by Oxfam – that the 85 richest people in the world have as much wealth as the poorest 50% (that’s the poorest 3.5 billion people). It’s actually difficult to comprehend such vast figures, though they clearly show just how very wrong our society has become.

File:Buckingham Palace, London - April 2009.jpg
Land near Buckingham Palace forms a large part of the Grosvenor Family Wealth. Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

There are many different reasons for such vast wealth accumulating in the hands of a few: inherited land wealth (The Duke of Westminster’s family and the Cadogan family); buying up natural resources (the Reuben Brothers); or just being successful businessmen (the Hindujas and Mike Ashley’s family) but one thing is certain – in our current system of ‘free market’ capitalism and light-touch government regulation, such vast treasures of wealth will never filter down to the population at large, as the wealthy will continue to use all means at their disposal to keep it to themselves. That means a mixture of employing lawyers to exploit legal loopholes, using every tax-avoidance measure they can think of, using off-shore tax havens to stash their cash away and out of the sight, and using a mixture of lobbying and party-funding to ‘buy’ favourable regulation from their friends in government. While they do that the rest of the population continue to suffer Austerity and poverty, which has now got so bad that, for the first time ever, more working households are living in poverty than workless ones.

Any right-thinking person knows what’s going on is wrong, but not everyone realizes just how corrupt is the system which sustains it. All our main political parties are in on this, and until we get rid of them nothing, sadly, is going to change. For some ideas of how we can instigate change click here.

* http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/mar/17/oxfam-report-scale-britain-growing-financial-inequality

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