This data was posted on Twitter today by Anonymous. The first bullet is the killer for me – 62 rich individuals have the same wealth 3.6bn poor people. They don’t source the data so I don’t know how accurate it is, but somehow I’m not surprised by this statistic. I’m shocked, but not surprised. As you can see from the other bullets wealth inequality has been getting worse and worse recently.
Wealth inequality is a problem when it reaches levels widely regarded as unfair. At that point we get riots and bad things start to happen, particularly when social mobility is also limited. 62 people having the same wealth as 3.6bn others is definitely not fair.
We are now a global society and wealth inequality is now a phenomenon best understood globally. The problem is that our governments are still national, and national governments can’t control global capital. If they try it moves elsewhere, so instead many of them compete to bring it to their shores, often exacerbating problems of inequality.
I can’t see any easy policy fixes, so our best course of action is to raise awareness. Hence this post. This is not a plea for equality. Far from it. The capitalist system has served us well these past two centuries, but its excesses need regulating.
The good news is that I think there is a growing understanding that we must get back to a fairer distribution of wealth. I was heartened to see New York millionaires call to pay higher tax last month, and in 2014 when Nick Hanauer wrote that The pitchforks are coming …. for us plutocrats there was a lot of nodding in agreement from the startup ecosystem. That said, we have a long way to go in raising awareness and understanding before we will see any change.