Today we finish off our three-JuicyLesson series on the Oxfam Report on Income Inequality. Last Tuesday, JL 116 introduced the Report and included some commentary on a particularly disturbing section of it from yours truly. JL 119 on Friday contained the first part of Oxfam’s effort; today’s JuicyLesson #120 presents the second half of the Report on Income Inequality interspersed with some comments from me.
So without further ado, here is Part 2 of the Oxfam Report along with commentary as required by way of clarification and/or explanation.
Now some questions:
Does it matter who these eighty-five people are? Not really.
In the same time as this rise to glory have come increases in prices which effectively means that their $200 billion each is worth approximately $40 billion of 1970s money. Their own methods have debased their wealth.
COMMENTARY: I am not sure about the correctness of the logic underlying this particular remark. When measuring wealth we require a foundation upon which to base our comparison: this measure is referred to as “constant” dollars and takes inflation into account while the notion of “current” dollars does not make allowances for inflation eating away at the purchasing power of money. Therefore it is difficult to say whether the very rich, that so-called one percent, have in fact debased their wealth. I’m assuming that both the $200 billion referred to in the Oxfam Report and the $40 billion in 1970’s money are classified as being in “constant” dollars because that is the only way this particular conclusion can be viewed as being a correct one. This means that if the cost of living has risen by 400% in the approximately fifty years since the 1970’s – and this is entirely conceivable – then $200 billion present-day “current” dollars would have purchased $40 billion worth of goods and services in the 1970’s. It would have been better if the authors of this Report had clearly stated whether they were discussing “current” or ” constant” dollars. For their statement to be true regarding their opinion on the very rich having functioned to debase their wealth all the dollar figures would have had to have been measured in current dollars without any allowance made for inflation (rising prices over time).
They have simultaneously reduced/denied access to wealth for the rest of the world’s population. That means people have less money to buy their products and services, and make them richer. That’s basic capitalism 101, and they’ve got it wrong.
They have allowed themselves to be identified. That’s a big and very basic no-no for the very rich. They’re now the easiest targets on Earth for any kind of financial, political, or social attacks. Both they and their assets are extremely vulnerable.
They’re dependent on others. They can hire and fire as much as they want, but ultimately they have to trust people with their money and assets. Bernie Madoff and a host of others have made it clear how safe that is. Greed goes where the money goes. So does crime. It’s a very unsafe situation.
COMMENTARY: Like some other parts of the Report, the authors are guilty of hyperbole and over-simplification in this section. What they say about the very wealthy failing Capitalism 101 is a definite over-simplification as is what is being said regarding “greed going where the money goes as does crime … making for the existence of a very unsafe situation” also over-simplifies things.
These are the Czars of the early 21st century. Distribution of wealth, that very much misinterpreted phrase, was the basis of just about every revolution in history. Distribution of wealth, ironically in its incorrect form, is considered social injustice, with a lot of good reason. It’s visible injustice to others, therefore it’s the basis for attacks.
COMMENTARY: The authors appear to be right on point here: a less equal distribution of wealth does serve as a breeding ground for revolution and other forms of social upheaval.
They are now, by default, “responsible” for the state and endless mistakes and miseries of the global economy by default. They’re running things, therefore everything that goes wrong is their fault. It often is, too.
COMMENTARY: Finding fault is easy. Correcting an unsatisfactory set of circumstances is more difficult.
They’ve done themselves no favours in terms of public image. The one percent (1%) is seen, with a lot of justification, as a collection of obnoxious brattish geriatrics, out of touch with the world, paying for policies which are nothing but destructive. They’re seen as lacking class, which is all too obvious, lacking ethics, and lacking any sort of human qualities. They’re rich, and that’s becoming the crime of crimes.
A few predictable developments:
*Assassinations and extortion, the usual practices since time began.
*Corruption cases leading to “revelations” regarding the very rich.
*Cyber-attacks on a massive scale on their corporations.
*Attacks on their staff
*Attacks on their assets.
*Litigation uber alles, they can be sued for anything and everything.
All the security in the world, literally, can’t prevent these things. A lot of poor people with time on their hands and nothing to lose can’t be stopped, another lesson from history.
The New World Disorder
These super-rich have another issue, which they’ve proven themselves, time and again, to be totally unable to manage.
They’re not exactly experts in terms of global issues, beyond their own interests. That much has been obvious for decades. Every major global issue in recent times has been totally mismanaged. It also means that global issues will continue to be mismanaged on a routine basis, simply because they’re calling the shots.
COMMENTARY:If the very rich are as fucked up and incompetent as the report’s authors seem to think, how come they’re so successful? Even if they inherited all or significant parts of their wealth, how come they haven’t all squandered their huge fortunes away? Another example of exaggeration and hyperbole not to mention over-simplification.
The tipping point will come when total failure becomes obvious. Even allowing for the unbelievable cowardice and corruption of American media and political organizations, Lincoln was basically right in another way – When the people are fooled, they’re not inclined to be merciful.
Rich they may be, but hell is just a few blocks.
There you go.
Peace out. See you around.