April 12, 2011

Wealth Gap and Revolution

Lately I've been dwelling on the social strains caused by the wealth gap in the US. Everyone should know the difference between "income gap" and "wealth gap;" income being the annual revenues and wealth being the accumulated revenues or savings. The wealth gap is actually more pronounced than the income gap, but both have been growing for several decades. A recent statistic on wealth gap:

The top 1% of Americans own 40% of the wealth.

The word hoarding comes to mind as does a famous quote:

There is, inherent in the capitalist system, a tendency to self-destruct. - Schumpeter, 1942.

We see it happening before our very eyes playing out in the Washington budget debate. The notion, that giving the wealthy class, or owner class, tax cuts to spur growth is a widely held belief in our society. But this simplistic rule only makes sense when money is tight and production capacity at factories is tight and in need of investment to expand, neither of which hold today; we don't need any more production capacity and even if the owner class were to produce more, the commoners don't have the money to buy the stuff.

What we face is a market that is saturated with production capacity, but no money among we the little people, because the money is being hoarded and used for non-productive speculation. Buying commodities, like grains, industrial metals, oil & gas, have become disconnected from the real economy and turned into a gambling playground for the wealthy (not just Americans).

The tendency is for this kind of hoarding to create social instability (dare I say "revolution"?).
People are catching on to this, and the big questions are 1) will we get to the point where enough people become so destitute that they don't have anything, and thus don't have anything to loose if they rise up? 2) will the honest, wise wealthy people change policies before this happens, if only to save themselves?

Stay Tuned.


Show Me the Money, Zine, Autumn, 2001, Tony Honeycut.


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