As a direct result of existing financial policies, the world’s one hundred richest people grew to be $241 billion richer in 2012. This makes them collectively worth $1.9 trillion, just slightly less than the United Kingdom’s total economic output.
A few of the policies responsible for this occurrence are the reduction of tax rates and tax enforcement, the privatization of public assets, wage controls and the destruction of collective bargaining. These same policies that are building up the richest people are causing colossal hardships to the rest of the world’s population.
George Monbiot has attributed this situation to neoliberal policies, which produce economic outcomes contrary to those predicted, and even promised, by advocates of neoliberal policy and laissez faire markets. In consequence, across the thirty-four countries that constitute the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), taxation has decreased among the rich and increased among the poor. Despite what neoliberals claimed would happen, the spending power of the state and of poorer people has diminished, contracting demand along with it.
Wage inequality and unemployment have both skyrocketed, making the economy increasingly unstable with monumental amounts of debt. Monbiot observed, “The complete failure of this world-scale experiment is no impediment to its repetition. This has nothing to do with economics. It has everything to do with power.”
Billionaires’ Rising Wealth Intensifies Poverty and Inequality
George Monbiot, “Bang Goes the Theory,” Monbiot.com, January 14, 2013, http://www.monbiot.com/2013/01/14/bang-goes-the-theory/.
Student Researcher: Paige Fischer (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips (Sonoma State University)