Inequality kills

The pandemic has been a good thing for the rich. They’ve consolidated their power.

The wealth of the world’s 10 richest men has doubled since the pandemic began. The incomes of 99% of humanity are worse off because of COVID-19. Widening economic, gender, and racial inequalities—as well as the inequality that exists between countries—are tearing our world apart. This is not by chance, but choice: “economic violence” is perpetrated when structural policy choices are made for the richest and most powerful people. This causes direct harm to us all, and to the poorest people, women and girls, and racialized groups most. Inequality contributes to the death of at least one person every four seconds. But we can radically redesign our economies to be centered on equality. We can claw back extreme wealth through progressive taxation; invest in powerful, proven inequality-busting public measures; and boldly shift power in the economy and society. If we are courageous, and listen to the movements demanding change, we can create an economy in which nobody lives in poverty, nor with unimaginable billionaire wealth—in which inequality no longer kills.

It’s only a small ‘elite’.

The world’s small elite of 2,755 billionaires has seen its fortunes grow more during COVID-19 than they have in the whole of the last fourteen years—fourteen years that themselves were a bonanza for billionaire wealth.
This is the biggest annual increase in billionaire wealth since records began. It is taking place on every continent. It is enabled by skyrocketing stock market prices, a boom in unregulated entities, a surge in monopoly power, and privatization, alongside the erosion of individual corporate tax rates and regulations, and workers’ rights and wages—all aided by the weaponization of racism.
These trends are alarming. By not vaccinating the world, governments have allowed the conditions for the COVID-19 virus to dangerously mutate. At the same time, they have also created the conditions for an entirely new variant of billionaire wealth. This variant, the billionaire variant, is profoundly dangerous for our world.
New figures and analysis released in December 2021 by the World Inequality Lab reveal that since 1995, the top 1% have captured 19 times more of global wealth growth than the whole of the bottom 50% of humanity. Inequality is now as great as it was at the pinnacle of Western imperialism in the early 20th century. The Gilded Age of the late 19th Century has been surpassed.

The good news: we’ll only need a small number of guillotines to take care of that group.

The bad news: they control the media, and have succeeded in brainwashing hundreds of millions to act against their own interests and prop up the oligarchs. It’s shocking how thoroughly they’ve convinced the mob to spurn vaccination, the most effective tool to control the pandemic. It’s as if the media moguls and politicians are finding it advantageous to promote death and disease.


  1. Susan Montgomery says

    Why is it so shocking? Stugeon’s law applies to people too. Most people are idiots and this is well known to those who aren’t. Simply looking at the stupid shit people will kill or die for – imaginary sky pixies, sports teams, parking spots or TV shows – should have disabused the notion that we’re all special starchildren who can act rationally on the honor system.

  2. birgerjohansson says

    A short while ago I read some article staying that giving single mothers cash payments improved the health of the children. Which should be bloody obvious.

  3. says

    Oh, don’t worry. I’m sure the Democrats have a plan to handle all this. (Spoiler: the Democratic plan is to run multimillionaires who are best buddies with multiple of those billionaires, who will continue the hawkish foreign policy and supply-side domestic economics which the party publicly abhors but continuously endorses as policy, and tell us that’s the best we can possibly do. Heck, it’s kept the base docile for the last 30 years, why would they stop now?)

  4. says

    birgerjohansson @2, see Can giving parents cash help with babies’ brain development?

    A new study suggests that regular cash payments to parents can speed up brain activity in infants.


    […] The PNAS paper, the first to come out of the Baby’s First Years experiment, compares brain wave activity in infants in households receiving $20 per month to infants in households receiving $333 per month. What they find is striking: Babies in houses getting more money show more high-frequency or “fast” brain activity than babies in houses getting less money. That’s a sign that the cash gifts directly changed brain development, according to Kimberly Noble, a professor of neuroscience and education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and a co-author of the new study. “As kids get older, they tend to have more fast brain activity,” Noble said. “And kids who have more of that fast brain activity tend to score higher” in subsequent tests of cognitive ability.

    Katie McLaughlin, a professor of psychology at Harvard not involved in the study who studies brain development in children, told me the PNAS paper is “maybe one of the most important papers to come out on the effects of early adversity on early development broadly, and brain development in particular.” Allyson Mackey, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania not involved in the study, agreed and argued the changes to brain wave patterns were highly significant: “My prediction is that the brain effects of cash transfer will grow as kids grow up.”

    The paper is especially relevant as Congress debates reauthorizing the expanded child tax credit. “This is the first study showing a monthly cash payment having a causal impact on kids,” Noble told me. And while we can debate how handing out cash to parents would affect those parents’ choices, Noble argues that the study “shifts attention to the children, who are blameless in terms of how they got to their life circumstances.”

    Poor children did nothing to deserve being poor — and by making them less poor, cash payments seem like they may alleviate some of the developmental harms of poverty. […]

  5. jrkrideau says

    @ 2 birgerjohansson
    The impact of a poverty reduction intervention on infant brain activity

    I have not read it but the results, apparently are much more nuanced than Vox or the NYTimes seem to discuss. Andrew Gelman has a post on it with some interesting comments. I’m skeptical of that claim that “Cash Aid to Poor Mothers Increases Brain Activity in Babies”

    A rather more convincing report of “having money helps looks to be this one Poverty isn’t a lack of character. It’s a lack of cash