Saturday, January 02, 2016

That 1% again

2016 will be the year when the richest 1% will own more than the rest of the world, according to projections by Oxfam. This is up from the 1% owning 44% of the world's wealth in 2010 and 48% in 2014. If current trends continue, the 1% will own 54% by 2020.Also according to that report, 52% of global wealth not owned by the richest 1% of humanity is owned by the richest 20%, while 80%of humanity has to make do with just 5.5%of global wealth.

The top 80 billionaires were worth $1.9 trillion in 2014, an amount equal to the bottom 50 percent. These 80 billionaires saw a 50 percent rise in their wealth in just four years, from 2010 to 2014, during which time the poorest 50 percent saw a drop in their wealth. In other words, there has been a huge transfer of wealth in a very short period of time from the poorest half of humanity to the richest 80 individuals on the planet.

In ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’, Thomas Piketty argued for a global tax on capital and redistribution through progressive tax reform. Those concerned that the turmoil sparked by such inequality may destabilize global capitalism and threaten their control, like Piketty, have been calling for mildly redistributive measures, such as increased taxes on corporations and the rich, a more progressive income tax, the reintroduction of social welfare programs and a "green capitalism." The ranks of the reformists among the transnational elite and intelligentsia have expanded rapidly since the 2008 global financial collapse. Many global elites responded to the collapse (and even prior to it) by pushing for a neo-Keynesianism. These elites articulated a project involving a limited re-regulation of global market forces, tax reform (such as the Tobin tax), limited redistribution and multitrillion-dollar state intervention programs to bail out transnational capital. The role of the state is to assist transnational capital to accumulate even against its will, by raising demand and attenuating radical challenges without disputing the prerogative of capital or altering the fundamental structure of private property. The reformist approach has more to do with averting social conflict than with resolving the plight of the poor majority. Piketty has become a poster child of the emerging ‘post-neoliberal’ era in which states are to play a limited role in a mild re-regulation of capital and effect a limited redistribution through transfer payments, more progressive income tax and a tax on capital.

As Marx analyzed in Capital, there is something going on in the capitalist system itself beyond sets of government policies that generates inequalities. Simply put, capitalists own the means of producing wealth, and therefore appropriate as profits as much as possible of the wealth that society collectively produces. Capitalism produces social inequalities as a consequence of its own internal workings. In the view of the reformers, however, it is not the capitalist system itself, but its particular institutional organization that is to blame for inequalities. They believe it can be offset by increased taxes, social welfare programs and other reformist measures.

1 comment:

prolerat said...

This made the Guardian Comments. :-)