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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The UK Is Keeping it Real

Posted by on Tue, Jan 8, 2013 at 8:04 AM


Britain is now the most unequal country in the Western world, an authoritative new United Nations report reveals. The gap between rich and poor is as great as in Nigeria.
Detailed statistics in the Human Development Report published last week also demonstrate that inequality has grown sharply during Conservative rule and that the poor in Britain now have to live on much the same incomes as their equivalents in Hungary and Korea.
While growing inequality might once have been a cause for congratulation - Margaret Thatcher called on us to "glory" in it - the consensus among experts in such bodies as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the rich nations' club, and even the World Bank is now moving against.
Lady Thatcher, like Ronald Reagan, believed that if the rich got richer, everybody would benefit. Now many economists believe that inequality hinders growth. In an unpublished paper Michael Bruno, chief economist of the World Bank, says: "Reducing inequality not only benefits the poor immediately but will benefit all through higher growth."
The same report also revealed that the wealth of 348 billionaires equaled that of 45 percent of the world's total population.


Comments (12) RSS

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The Commonwealth has always been better at tisk-tisking the US about social welfare and sound policy than have been at actually doing it themselves.
Posted by nullbull on January 8, 2013 at 8:38 AM · Report this
Taking $2000 in payroll tax from everyone's salary doesn't help inequality very much.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on January 8, 2013 at 8:46 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 4
I don't think conservatives truly believe that line about "if the rich get richer, everybody benefits." I think in their hearts, the conservatives simply want to keep their wealth and power and they want everyone else to remain poor and needy. I don't believe conservatives truly want everyone to benefit.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on January 8, 2013 at 9:12 AM · Report this
T 5
@4 Exactly. Conservatism is the philosophy of "ME! MINE!" They don't give a fuck about anyone but themselves.
Posted by T on January 8, 2013 at 9:25 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 6
@2: continuing to short the SS trust by $2000/worker/year doesn't help seniors very much. but keep spinning the year-delayed expiration of a temporary stimulus policy as a tax increase, it makes you sound well informed.
Posted by Max Solomon on January 8, 2013 at 10:03 AM · Report this
We're on the doorstep of neofeudalism. If we don't get a grip in the next several months, it will be too late. Plan A is imposing a steep progressive tax on the wealthy and corporations until they fall over puking, then drag them to their feet and do it some more.
Posted by Che Guava on January 8, 2013 at 10:17 AM · Report this
As the unregistered commenter* from Bristol, England, pointed out, the cited article is from over 15 years ago. I'm not going to take the time to dredge up citations -- I remember reading pertinent Wikipedia articles on income and wealth inequality, an OECD report on social inequality, and an article by Olympia native Douglas Massey in the European Journal of Sociology on American exceptionalism in income and wealth distribution, among other sources -- but I believe that, thanks to exceptionally weak labor standards, dramatically less progressive fiscal policy, and race-to-the-bottom free trade, the United States is now the most financially unequal country in the developed world. And I vaguely remember from the infamous Citibank/Citigroup "plutonomy memos" cited in Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story that the UK comes in at number two and Canada at number three. (It could be the other way around, with Canada at number two and the UK at number three, but I want to think that the UK was the second most unequal.) It's interesting to note that all three countries use first-past-the-post voting and have been run by economically neoliberal governments for some time.

*As my New Year's resolution, I turned off the automatic display of unregistered comments ... but my curiosity got the better of me.
Posted by PCM on January 8, 2013 at 10:56 AM · Report this
lark 10
Good Afternoon Charles,
I am posting far less as of late. I trust you're well and Happy New Year to you and yours.

I must say I'm a tad startled at the date, July 21, 1996 of the article. It struck me as odd that Thatcher & Reagan were mentioned. How relevant is this? Couldn't something more current be used? And, how well has the US fared under Obama vis-a-vis "inequality" using this standard (discount Obamacare. My understanding is the UK has universal healthcare or the National Health Service). A good friend of mine just returned from an extended stay in the UK (he now has a British bride) and said to me that he thought the British seemed happier with their quality of life.

"Inequality" here seems quite loaded and the article/study quite dated.
Posted by lark on January 8, 2013 at 12:55 PM · Report this
treacle 11
Posted by treacle on January 8, 2013 at 1:04 PM · Report this
treacle 12
@4,5 - I assume that the culture of the rich and powerful allows them to see the poor as "inevitable" and that it's not really their responsibility to do much, if anything, about that situation (the "rising tide" myth being so prevelant).

For CEOs and captains of industry (the job with the most psychopaths), I'm sure they feel no empathy for the "less fortunate", and have no real compassion or understanding of how bad some people have it. So their are ideally suited to fuck people over even more. It's kind of a self-perpetuating feedback loop.

What we need, what economies have gotten away from by using interest-bearing currency exclusively, is economics that reinforce circles of trust, reputation, and interdependence. Non-anonymous money. Money that encourages trade and cooperation, not greed.
Posted by treacle on January 8, 2013 at 1:26 PM · Report this
treacle 13
s/their/they're/ ...grr.
Posted by treacle on January 8, 2013 at 1:27 PM · Report this
I've been on Slog too long. I can recognize Mudede posts simply by the article fragments he copies, without reading his byline or his actual verbiage.
Posted by sarah70 on January 8, 2013 at 5:05 PM · Report this

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