“Rich double their wealth in five years.” That was the front page headline in a recent Sunday Times. Now I don’t know about you, but for me that is ominous, because living standards for the rest of us are falling.
A BBC report claims that, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies, a mid-range UK household’s income had declined by 6% in this time. So here you have clear evidence that the rich are getting richer while the rest of us are getting poorer. And, while the report suggests that this decline “was felt equally across high and low income groups,” (one has to question the dividing line between rich and high income) it adds that, over time, the affects will be felt more by the lower income groups.
This is natural. After all, you don’t have to be a student of economics to know that it is easier to improve your well-being when you have the where-with-all to do so. Everyone knows that “it is easier to make money when you have money” and those who have been pushed closer to the breadline will struggle to make up the ground they have lost.
The problem is that this kind of differential points to an ever-widening wealth gap and is clear sign of a fractured society where continuing stress is likely to cause a complete break and a new dark age. After all, it was the disparity between the wealthy and the rest of society that characterised and perpetuated the dark ages of medieval history. If more and more wealth continues to accumulate in fewer and fewer hands, there is an increasing risk of reverting to a new dark age. And our gated communities with security access to some of the wealthier suburbs in the US and other parts of the world are the first indications of this developing new apartheid and fear that is likely to increase and dominate the lives and behaviour of the wealthy.
It does not, of course, have to be that way. In order to prevent this, however, we have to mend the aspects of society which are clearly broken. A feature of enlightenment has been the development of a more “civilised” society, in the true sense of the word, when “civilised” means a more considerate society with greater regard for people and their individual rights, with a more equitable (albeit far-from-perfect) way to spread wealth that gives people the possibility and opportunity to improve their social status. The Democracy Delusion simply explains why that model is no longer working and why we have a fractured society and suggests solutions for repairing it. Please read it and help develop and take the ideas forward.