Why the rich have never had it so good

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In this edition of The Daly Report, I explain why – in the midst of a global pandemic – the rich have never had it so good.

Whilst so many of us are struggling with this pandemic, I’m here to tell you that the rich have never had it so good.

With restrictions lifted, and the vaccine rolling out, there’s some light at the end of the tunnel. But what is the damage for ordinary working people?

According to the ONS, over 800,000 people have lost their jobs with no welfare state fit for purpose. Huge numbers of people have been pushed into debt and destitution. 

Then there are, of course, people who are in work but still have lost hours and income.

Given all of this, the people at the top of society are still having a great time.

According to the Resolution Foundation, around a quarter of household wealth in this country belongs to the top 1%.

Read on...

The study found that they had pocketed almost £800bn more wealth than suggested by official statistics. In reality, inequality is far worse than what we know at present.

Now we all know that gross inequality exists. We see it all around us, but it’s staggering when you look at the numbers.

The working class has been shafted for a long, long time. But the worrying thing is, it’s getting worse.

Despite inequality falling during the 20th century, thanks to improving living standards, people power movements,government interventions such as the NHS, the welfare state, and higher taxation.

The trend reversed from the late 70s to 80s.

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the share of the wealth income going to the top 1% has tripled in the last 40 years. 

With the rise of technology and more innovative ways of working, life should be getting easier, inequality should be disappearing, and everyone should be given equal opportunities.

But it’s not happening.

Let’s go back to the 70s. Margaret Thatcher wins a thumping majority in the 1983 general election. From then on, the UK embarked on a new political path, one of individualism, of extreme free market capitalism, and decimation of trade unions. This is known to many as ‘neoliberalism’.

The same happened in the US under president Ronald Reagan, and in a much more extreme way. Wages have almost completely flatlined whilst productivity has continued to rise. People are working harder for lower wages.

The idea was to allow the rich to get richer, remove regulations or ‘red tape’, cut taxes, stop collective bargaining, allowing businesses to ‘thrive’, because eventually the wealth will trickle down.

You can imagine what really happened.

If you tell a capitalist, a businessperson, or a CEO – whose job is to make their company spend as little as possible whilst trying to make it insanely profitable; that you can have so much wealth; so much money – you think they will give it away to their workers from the goodness of their hearts?

This is not to point the finger at any particular person, although there are more than a few bad bosses knocking around.

“Which bit are you not understanding… go away!”

It’s the system – a system error if you will.

When it comes to Covid-19 people have lost jobs, income; even their lives to this awful pandemic, it’s quite shocking that there are still people who have positively impacted from it.

Jeff Bezos’s net worth exploded by $75bn during 2020. His net worth was over $200bn by the time he stepped down as boss of Amazon.

Despite his massive increase in his riches, that money didn’t trickle down to his workers. Amazon employees are currently on £9.50 per hour.

To paint a picture, Amazon’s lowest paid would need to work 650,734 and a half years just to reach the amount of wealth Bezos accrued in one year during a global pandemic, and that doesn’t even cover unpaid lunch breaks.

Sure, whilst in today’s society there exists hierarchical structures and pay, Jeff Bezos does not work 5 billion times harder than his workers.

This is unhinged, inhumane, and you couldn’t make it up.

This is what we need to do, we need to have a new relationship with work. One of a truly balanced life, with proportionate pay and conditions. The minimum wage should be increased to at least £10, maybe £12 per hour. We need to revitalise our unions to fight back against these disgraceful levels of inequality.

We also need to tax the billionaire class, increase corporate taxation, but most importantly, get those taxes that are siphoned off in places such as the Cayman Islands, and make sure  we close those loopholes.

The billionaire class cannot have it all, in fact, should they even exist?

It’s disgusting that so few have so much, that our economy, and our society, and our world is always geared towards those at the top.

A meritocracy suggests we are rewarded for what we contribute to society. These wealthy fat cats drain our resources, destroy the planet, and evade taxes to enrich themselves, whilst the many, us, we’re left to pick up the pieces.

We need to address inequality as a matter of emergency.

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