Facts can be stubborn and troubling things: It is a fact that the gap between the super-rich and everyone else is growing. This should disturb anyone concerned about justice, peace or mere survival.
Consider these realities:
- Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population.
- The wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.
- The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world.
- Seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years.
- The richest one percent increased their share of income in 24 out of 26 countries for which we have data between 1980 and 2012.
- In the U.S., the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.
The gap between the super-rich and everyone was chronicled in a January report by the non-profit Oxfam on the eve of a major economic summit where a select few, whether wealthy, famous, or powerful discussed the state of the world economy and outlooks for the future.
The numbers above signal what the world is in for: More suffering and more strife.
From the ghettos of America to the streets of Egypt young people, young males in particular, see little hope and are growing angrier and more disillusioned. Ordinary people worldwide trying to eke out a living are dismayed. They are told governments are broke, services must be cut and times are tough all around. They are losing homes in America and kicked out into the street in Spain. They are battling police with Molotov cocktails in Ukraine.
But times aren’t tough all-around, times are booming for the few, the bloodsuckers of the poor, who dine deliciously in almost every country around the world.
While West Africa faces conflict and coups, North Africa faces disintegration and fragmentation, Europe faces anger and austerity, Asia faces tension and stands on the brink of conflict and America’s public grows more disdainful of political leaders and more fractured along racial and political fault lines.
There is massive insecurity. The have-nots know they are being had by the haves, they know the playing field is not level, they know the rules are not fair and they know the future is dark.
When the Occupy Movement erupted in 2011, it was another sign of ordinary people reaching their limits. Young people seeing little or nothing in their futures stepped out to express their fears and demand more. The response from rulers was not engagement, or outreach, it was crackdown. Police officers in the U.S. beat innocent protestors, dragged women by their hair and pepper-sprayed American citizens engaged in peaceful protests.
The shameful wealth gap is bad enough, but massive wealth brings influence, access, power and perverts institutions.
“This massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer people presents a significant threat to inclusive political and economic systems. Instead of moving forward together, people are increasingly separated by economic and political power, inevitably heightening social tensions and increasing the risk of societal breakdown,” warned Oxfam in the report “Working for the Few.”
“Oxfam’s polling from across the world captures the belief of many that laws and regulations are now designed to benefit the rich. A survey in six countries (Spain, Brazil, India, South Africa, the UK and the U.S.) showed that a majority of people believe that laws are skewed in favor of the rich–in Spain eight out of 10 people agreed with this statement. Another recent Oxfam poll of low-wage earners in the U.S. reveals that 65 percent believe that Congress passes laws that predominantly benefit the wealthy.”
Simply put, he who has the gold, makes the rules and everybody ain’t got no gold.
So while a Utah school district takes lunches away from children and dumps them in the garbage–their parents didn’t have money in student lunch room accounts–the super-rich lobby, buy, bribe and clean out the coffers of “bankrupt” governments and rob private industry.
School reform is a business. Stopping crime is a business. Health is a business. Every solution to a problem comes with a price tag or shifting money from one account to another account where a well-connected friend or associate grows rich or richer but problems remain unsolved.
Meanwhile the poor and so-called middle class are mesmerized by sports, sex, celebrity and non-reality, trivial TV shows that parade wealth most will never enjoy.
But these conditions were foretold of in the second chapter of Daniel, where the king Nebuchadnezzar has a troubling dream. An “image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.”
As the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has explained, the feet of iron and clay represent the poor masses, the foundation on which the rich stand. Once these feet of clay crumbled, the image fell. It’s broken pieces were scattered and the stone that struck the image became a mountain and filled the earth.
A change is coming and the Divine Supreme Being is ushering in that new reality. The economic and social conditions we see are signs of an old world going out and a new world coming in. Power, wealth, nor status will stop that change. God cannot be bribed.