“Poker machine operators are knowingly preying on poor.”
These are the words of Dr. Charles Livingstone, of Monash University’s Department of Health and Social Science. He was responding to the latest figures from Victoria’s gambling regulator that show Melbourne’s most well off areas have some of the lowest rates of pokies per capita. In contrast the areas where residents are worse off by more than$ 8,ooo per annum had by far the highest penetration of pokies.
Dr. Livingstone who is one of Australia’s foremost problem gambling experts went on to say, “The gambling industry says it’s a supply and demand thing, but we all know the reality is that poker machines tend to be deliberately put in areas of disadvantage. We all know why! It is where people need an escape, or are desperate enough to risk all to get a few more bucks.” He went on to say “It’s the better connected groups with money who are very good at placing machines in the areas of relative vulnerability. They do it because they think commercially and they know how to make money”.
Other industries that scoop the financial cream off the poor.
Ever wondered how come banks in these economic times of low interest rates and economic difficulty are making such big profits? It is, among other things, the huge rates they manage to get from the fantastic plastic, the various credit cards! What precipitated the American collapse was the marketing of credit like this though the banks knew full well that people would not be able to repay their debts. They presumed the capacity to foreclose on homes and other things, would cover them, but the floor fell out of the housing boom and the chickens came home to roost.
One wonders how much money is going out of the pockets of the poor into the pockets of the phone companies every month.
Profit is not a dirty word, but it’s an obscenity if it’s gained at the expense, well-being or dignity of another human being.
There is what is called the Gini Co-efficient; it’s a figure used by economists to measure the level of inequality in the nation. Surprise surprise, Britain, the land of the recent riots, fares worse than almost every other developed country in the world. According to International Monetary Fund economists Michael Kumhof and Romain Ranciere nearly 30% of the income of the nation went to 5% of the earners.
In no other major European country was so much concentrated in the hands of so few.
The OECD says the UK has the worst social mobility of all the developed nations; that is, “those born to a certain class tend to stay there.” The unemployment rate for British people aged 16 to 24 has risen from 14% to 20% over the last three years, and is set to get worse with the 10% reduction in government spending.
The London boroughs of Hackney and Haringey ,which includes Tottenham where the riots started, have 25 applicants for every available job, and can you believe it, these are the areas scheduled for the highest cuts in government spending .
Of course the Prime Minister’s plan to throw so many hundreds of them in jail together, simply shows the class divide hasn’t closed much since the founding of Australia; it will simply exacerbate the problem.
There is one other developed country where the gap is bigger.
There is one other developed country with a similarly large underclass; it’s the U.S.. The IMF statistics show that more than 33% of the American income goes to the top 5% of earners, but unlike the Brits who despair that things are likely to change, 68% of Americans still believe in the American dream. However populist politics like the American Tea Party, an economy poised for a double dip recession, and the great stalling of retailing will severely test the American dream.
The indicators are that hope is beginning to slide.
Europe’s economy is tottering which has profound implications for the global economy because it is the largest trading partner of both the US and China. Europe has one of the world’s largest pools of wealthy consumers, but retailing in Europe seems to be screeching to a halt. This of course means the prospects of an American recovery looks increasingly unlikely.
As the sale of Chinese products to the West begins to slow, the need for Australia’s minerals will slow. The impact on Australia’s already uneven economy looks grim and the battlers who are doing it tough in classic Labour seats, are likely to continue to take it out on the party that was meant to look after them. I am not sure that Tony Abbott’s populist politics will do much better than the American Tea Party’s approach, to bring hope to the battlers.
At the end of World War Two General Douglas MacArthur said when looking out from the deck of the battleship Missouri at the twisted remains of Japan, “ It is going to have to be of the spirit, if we are to save the flesh.”