Inequality Kills

Today I am participating in Blog Action Day 2014 where bloggers around the world are participating in a global conversation about Inequality.

The official Blog Action Day hashtags are #BAD2014, #Inequality and #BlogAction


This is a great video about global inequality, made in response to this famous video about American inequality.

Global inequality

American inequality

Income inequality kills

Pope Francis on the immorality of inequality (my emphasis added)

Pope Francis also spoke out against what he called “savage capitalism,” which he said exploits people to rake in more profits. He condemned what he called the “dictatorship of economy” and the “cult of money”…..He also expressed disappointment in what he called the “tyranny of markets.” The pope said that an economy of exclusion on inequality kills…..”How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?”

Economic inequality is bad for many reasons.  It slows down the economy when people do not have enough money to spend on things they need and want.  The economy relies on manufacturing products, and then having people available to buy them.  That is supply and demand.  There are things that people need to survive, food shelter, clothing, medical attention, and things that improve the quality of life, education, entertainment, chocolate.  There are people that make money producing and supplying these products to meet demands of the consumers.

Anyone paying attention since the Great Recession of 2008 knows this about the economy, and the exponential effect, downwards or upwards, that a change in confidence in the economy and money supply can have on business and people around the world.

There is a crisis of confidence in a company, a sector of the economy, fear grows, layoffs begin, companies close, the crisis spreads, banks stop lending.

Recessions have long lasting effects even after they are declared over, as we see from the current recession, which “ended” in June 2009, is still being felt today, as fast food workers protest for a minimum wage raise to $15 an hour, and that wages are stagnant even as “employment is growing at a healthy clip, with 248,000 jobs created this month, and an average of 220,000 jobs created each month over the past year.”

The median net worth of families in the middle 20 percent of incomes fell 17 percent from 2010 to 2013, according to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances.

Democrats since 2008 have been saying that raising the minimum wage would be good for businesses and the economy, because low income families would be able to afford to buy more, increasing demand and leading to increased employment.  Now finally even businesses are worried.

Sixty-eight percent of the top 100 retail companies in the U.S. — a group that includes, Walmart, Apple, McDonald’s and J.C. Penney — say the country’s stagnant wages pose a major threat to their bottom lines.

when before the Recession

only half as many top 100 retailers identified flat wages as a business risk in 2006, the year before the Great Recession.

While the White House has been campaigning for an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour (implemented over the next 3 years), many around the country, like Seattle, are not waiting for Congress to pass an increase, and are not increasing only to $10.10, but many are going to $15 (based on size of business).

Seattle $15 Implementation

Naomi Klein on Global Warming versus Capitalism

“Capitalism is a machine based on short-term profit and growth and the climate needs us to contract,” said Klein

“Capitalism is a machine based on short-term profit and growth and the climate needs us to contract,” said Klein. “So you have this tension between a system that needs to grow, grow, grow indiscriminately, and a planet going, ‘Guys, I have had it.’” 

Lower wages, high costs, less access to healthcare, more stress, and the effects of global warming are all symptoms of poverty and inequality.  Now studies show that how long you live is affected by how poor or rich you are.  (And it is worse for women than men.  This is “the ultimate cost of income inequality.”)

wealthy Americans are even enjoying longer lifespans than lower income Americans…..
new analysis conducted by Barry Bosworth and Kathleen Burke shows the average American man in the richest 10 percent category can expect to live another 35 years after he becomes 55 years old.

However, the 55-year-old average American man in the poorest 10 percent category only has about 24 years left.

Here are 7 reasons why the rich live longer (FAZ in German)

Besides even the statistics showing inequality negatively impacts quality of life through stress, bad health, crime, global warming, and other issues hard to quantify, there is now evidence linking the Recession to an increase in suicides.

The recent recession can be linked with over 10,000 suicides across Europe and North America between 2008 and 2010…..suicide rates rose significantly in the EU, Canada and the USA after 2007, with the increase being four times higher among men…..job loss, home repossession and debt are the main risk factors leading to suicide during economic downturns.

The recent Sottish independence referendum was seen by some as a referendum on inequality

On the metric of income equality, the U.K. ranks 28th out of 34 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which has warned in recent years that income inequality is growing faster in Britain than in any other wealthy nation.

Now, many Scots want out. On Thursday, voters in Scotland will answer a straightforward Yes/No question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?” If the answer is ‘yes,’ then Scotland will declare independence and a 307-year-old union will be torn asunder. The U.K. will lose a third of its landmass and almost 10 percent of its population…..In some quarters, the vote is already being hailed as the world’s first-ever referendum on economic inequality—an event that has less in common with other nationalist votes like Quebec’s in 1995 than it does with recent developments such as Occupy Wall Street, the adoption of “the 1 percent” as a global catchphrase.

The United Kingdom was the only state in the G7 to see a rise in inequality

Britain is the only G7 country where inequality has grown since the start of the 21st century, according to a report by Credit Suisse…..By contrast, all other G7 member states (US, Japan, France, Germany, Canada and Italy) have seen wealth inequality either remain the same or fall since 2000.

the anti-poverty charity Oxfam found Britain’s five richest families are worth more than the country’s poorest 20 percent.

Oxfam’s head of inequality, Emma Seery, said: “These figures give more evidence that inequality is extreme and growing, and that economic recovery following the financial crisis has been skewed in favor of the wealthiest.”

Kshama Sawant, the Socialist city councilwoman in Seattle responsible for passing the $15 an hour minimum wage bill, explained another way that inequality kills on Democracy Now.

If you look at the extreme suffering that is being meted out to the people in Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Middle East, all the places which have been the target of the brutal imperialism from the West, the bloodbath that Iraq is going through, where is the solution to all of this? The only solution can be on the basis of rejecting capitalism, the system that, you know, means that a few billionaires and a few ruling-class politicians at the top get to decide how they’re going to divide up the world’s resources and go to war in that process. And who fights the wars? It’s the poor of the United States. Who dies in the war? It’s the poor of those countries. So I think she brings a message of solidarity that we need to recognize, that our solidarity lies not only as American working people, but as working people globally against a system, against a billionaire class that is continuing to exert such brutality and really miserable conditions for most of us.

 Inequality kills.  Join us in fighting it.


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