The Inequality Thread

The latest Oxfam report exposes how fucked the global system really is.

What can be done about it? Clearly, there is little political will to change the status quo, as too many politicians are fighting for the scraps falling from the billionaires’ table; there are also far too many fingers in the pie further down the food chain.

Is it simply human nature to be greedy or can a more equitable solution be found?



Without massive social, political, and even cultural upheaval - including a great many deaths, I would imagine - nothing will change.

Off with their heads etc etc…however, I think the power they now enjoy is so entrenched that meaningful change would only ever be sparked by some sort of cataclysmic global event, one far worse than the pandemic we are currently living through. Covid was a godsend for the billionaire class…they actually got richer.

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Maybe a global war between the US and China/Russia would kick it off?

After we get through the tens of millions of deaths such a war would cause, that is…

Looking at history, inequality is a full part of mankind. However, the fact that this inequality, which has always existed, becomes increasingly exposed in the media and over the internet, it becomes unbearable for more and more people. On the other hand, a lot of people seem to accept the situation without any fuss.

The conclusion is: once a large majority of people will find this kind of inequality truly unbearable, things will change. Not before.

It’s very much a long-term thing. Information and education plays a key role.


What’s possibly more worrying is that my generation grew up in the 80s. You couldn’t turn the TV on without seeing Bob Geldof or Lenny Henry shouting at us from a hovel full of dying children saying “DO SOMETHING NOW!!!” One of the advantages of getting messages over 40 years ago was that we only had broadcast TV and 3 then 4 channels. You watched what was broadcast. Bandaid / Liveaid / Softaid (who remembers that?) were the cultural events of the decade and the message was loud and clear. Children are dying everyday in the third world because they have no food and no water. 40 years on, those of us who knew full well about it mostly do nothing to help save a few donated ££ here and there. Almost all of parliament will have grown up with those images and stories. So depressing that it just changed nothing in the long term.


At the beginning of the 20th Century, the Global population was 1.6 Billion
At the end of that century, it was 6.3 Billion.

A near quadrupling of the population of the world should, you would think, lead to mass poverty and inequality - however, the proportion of the world’s population in extreme poverty declined from about three-quarters in 1820 to one-fifth today. Relatively speaking, over the last thirty years or so, the majority of the world’s poor have begun slowly to catch up with living standards in developed countries for the first time in over two centuries.

In 1870 the highest average life expectancy was in Norway - 49 years
In 1990 the average life expectancy in India was 65 years - only 3 countries on earth had a lower life expectancy rate of 49 years - all were in sub-Saharan Africa in countries torn apart by civil war.

"Cast your mind back a generation and remember how poorly India’s and China’s economic growth prospects were then viewed. It should be no more difficult to spark economic growth in the
next generation for this final group of about one billion people who have
not shared significantly in world economic growth.í [DeLong (2001)]

Real quantifiable change has occurred over the last 150 years - there is no short term fix - no magic formulae that can be applied - reducing inequality will take decades more, but things are moving in the right direction - there is much cause for hope.

  • Excellent site here

Perhaps we should not strive for equality, but happiness.

We create constructs of what people should have. How we should live. Expectations and perceptions of self worth. Yet go into Africa and many of those who are poor, who have no possessions are happier than those in the west.

Now I know that sounds like hippy shit. But I dont know is striving for equality is ever possible. Perhaps its better to try meet the basics of Maslow hierarchy of needs.

It took me a while to realize to reject the pursuit of money/possessions/prestige, what society tells me I should strive for. I halved my income, because I realized what I valued most was family, and the time to spend it with them. I am much happier and healthier.

Perhaps instead of leveling up. We should ensure people have the basics. Physiological needs, Safety and security needs, community and love. Change perceptions of what is needed for self esteem.


Haven’t the Scandinavian countries have some semblance of equality (social justice) without any upheavals? Genuine question.

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I was reading a book recently that talked about the US experience over the last 100 years. What struck me the most was his discussion on the difference between 1950 to the 1970’s and the following period to now. Although many of us are probably aware that in the first period Income levels were much closer than now, what I hadn’t appreciated was of the habits and expectations baked into society during that period which didn’t adjust as incomes increasingly diverged in the following period.


Get rid of money?

Like in Star Trek


I’m not familiar with Scandinavian history, but for the UK, there was a massive shift post second world war. I wouldn’t be surprised if other countries had a similar experience.

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Getting rid of money must go hand in hand with a mutant star goat and a suitable B ark.

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I remeber watching a documentary (French) about 2 years ago where they were comparing standard of living and equality. divigence since the war has gone from the top earners earning 3 times more than the bottom to 6 times in the nineties and is now over 10 times.
Wage increases over the previous 10 years for bottom earners averaged 1.5%. Top earners are getting more than 60% increases every 5 years (it’s incomparable). Bottom earners shouldn’t even have their wages discussed in percentages as it’s meaningless in real terms they should just get a lump sum increase.


What you say here is very important, and surely a way forward for many people.

However, it doesn’t take into account that one percent of the richest people own as much as 69% of the poorest. That must be corrected. Not in order to obtain perfect equality (that is impossible, and not even desirable), but it’s unbearable to see people starve nowadays, when you have people on the other side who don’t know what to do with all the money they have. It’s immoral and really not admissible.

Progress has been done overall, but it’s still not enough. Not by a long shot.


You are talking Bhutan, mate :heart_eyes:

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Agree 100% - I remember watching a tv show years ago that tested happiness levels by recording brain waves - the happiest person they found, by a very long way, was a Monk in France if I remember correctly. He was off the charts. He basically owned nothing - not even his robes - which he had inherited.

For me it has always been about finding connection and meaning - both have been elusive and hard to maintain. I have not the slightest interest in possessions - they are pretty much meaningless to me.

  • I have worked with 4 people from Bhutan, 3 were content and happy and had a quiet confidence about them - the other was a right miserable whinger. Seems like it would be an interesting place to visit.
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Most of the most miserable bastards I’ve ever met are stinking rich.

I’d rather be rich and unhappy than scrabbling for the next meal and shelter though.


ya we heard so many stories of people striking it rich through lotteries and then went bankrupt the next few years and still think yeah that sounds bad and stupid but well…I might not mind going through that ourselves…just to be a millionaire once huh…

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Or even selling your kids to cacao estates or killing your neighbour for a job that still doesn’t earn you enough to put a roof over your head.
The trouble with materialism is it leads to insane ideas particularly about what matters. However having that luxury to chose between having a material concept and a familly life must be great.
The best years of my life were those 2 where I got to enjoy bringing my kids up, inbetween learning what’s important and falling ill to a bacterial desease that the medical world knew about yet disregarded and flatly refused to treat with anti-biotics. Go figure.

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