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Gathering steam...

Comment
Gordon Boyle


2019 is going to be a very interesting year as many of the issues of the day gather steam.
One of the biggest worries I have relates to wealth disparity and the consequences of the super-rich getting richer and almost all of the rest of us getting poorer.

Some of the numbers I’ve been looking at show that in the last two decades in America close to 90 per cent of the population have seen a modest 10pc rise in income whilst those at the top have seen their earnings rise by over 900pc.

As a result, today just three men, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos have a combined wealth equal to the poorest 160 million in America.
For many today they are not only having their earning squeezed but their jobs are coming under threat from new technology. This affects mostly those in repetitive and administrative jobs where artificial

intelligence can save costs resulting in more workers being left unwanted on the human scrapheap.
Once on the human scrapheap, the only way is down. Thousands in the UK have been left living in cars and tents as homelessness reaches a record high. More than 170,000 individuals and families are

experiencing destitution as the numbers of rough sleepers have doubled in five years, according to research for charity Crisis.
The majority are sofa-surfing or living in hostels, but 12,300 are sleeping rough on the streets and nearly 12,000 are sleeping in vehicles or tents.

Let’s not forget the billionaires we have in the world.
There are according to Forbes 2,200 of them today. Back in 2000 the billionaires collectively had wealth of just under $1 trillion and 15 years later in 2015 the billionaires had grown their wealth to just over

$7trn. We now have just 1pc of the global population holding 50pc of the total global wealth.
At the end of the Second World War, we entered a new phase of capitalism that was termed ‘Mass Production Capitalism’. This form of capitalism depended on well-paid workers working in factories producing

goods that people wanted and could afford. In the 50s we witnessed households enjoying the benefits of the refrigerator, vacuum cleaner, washing machine, television, etc. Household chores of old became redundant freeing up leisure time allowing families to enjoy going out to cinemas, restaurants, sports events, etc.

The capitalist model established in the 50s is broken and heading for the rocks. Voters are making their voice heard from the Trump hardcore supporters, the French gilets jaunes, UK voting for Brexit, the rise of the Five Star Movement in Italy, the election of Jair Bolsonaro as the new far-right president of Brazil and the list goes on.

Big business has in recent years become increasingly powerful working hand in hand with elected politicians to do what is right for their shareholders.
We need to break the cosy connection global businesses have with politicians. We need tax reforms that are relevant in this new digital age. If companies want to pay senior executives millions of dollars, then

the company must pay more when it comes to their corporate tax bill.
How can consumers consume if more and more of the wealth is in the hands of a few? Time for a change.

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