“Economic research shows that people who feel they are becoming better off over time are more generous, altruistic, and participatory.” Time magazine
There is a rule of thumb that says when the top one percent own more than twenty percent of the nation’s wealth you can begin to expect social instability. It is now way beyond that in America and quickly heading that way throughout the western world.
Ninety per cent of American workers have not had a pay rise in last forty years.
The wealth gap between whites and blacks has become a chasm. The most recent study puts the median wealth of white households at twenty times that of black households, making the gap nearly twice the size it was in the two decades before the great recession.
What is more, the wealthy will do the best out of the new deal struck by Washington, saved by clever accountants and the so called Tea Party.
Harvard economist Ken Rogoff said, ”It’s hard to shrink the size of government right now without exacerbating inequality.” In his book “It’s Different This Time” he shows that by legislating to increase the wealth gap as they just have, they are compounding the nation’s economic woes. Why? Because it is those in the lower ninety five percent of the economy, that do seventy one percent of the spending, thus keeping the economy ticking over.
The I.M.F. looked at the both the 1929 and 2007 economic crises and found two remarkable similarities: Both saw a sharp increase in income inequality and household debt to income ratios. They also found financial deregulation and loose monetary policy, along with the political inclination to hide rather than to reverse the income gap, were crucial factors in the meltdown.
Welcome to the return of Frankenstein.
In Australia we are told how well we are doing compared to the rest of the world, however before he was knifed Kevin Rudd was exploring ways to intervene into the seven Australian economic black holes where ordinary working families are doing it tough. He knew the current economic structure would mean these people would miss out in the uneven distribution of the good times.
It is true that truck drivers are making two thousand dollars a week after tax in Western Australia, however the mining boom gives a distorted view of how most ordinary people are going. They are in fact, going backwards!
Look once again into the faces of the rioters in the U.K.; not many wealthy upper middle class people, but lots of the disenfranchised from the bottom seventy five per cent of the economy.
They say a job with a fair wage is the best way to stop a bullet.
It may also be the way to build identification with a community and its values. Throwing people out of their homes and further alienating them is the best way to create revolutionary warriors.
This is the moment to be slow to speak and quick to listen. Yes, it is important to show all that behaviour has consequences. There is a time for appropriate discipline but there is a profound difference between discipline and mindless and reactionary punishment.
All effective leadership knows there should be ‘no discipline without understanding.’ After all you don’t catch fish by throwing stones at them.