Tag Archives | Inequality
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“Are they real?” That’s the question people usually ask when they hear for the first time of the “Citigroup Plutonomy Memos.” The sad truth is: Yes, they are real, and instead of being discussed on mainstream media outlets all over America and beyond, Citigroup was surprisingly successful so far in suppressing these memos, using their lawyers to issue takedown-notices whenever these memos were being made available for download on the internet.
So what are we talking about? In 2005 and 2006, several analysts at Citigroup took a very, very close look at the economic inequalities within the USA and other countries and wrote two memos which were addressed to their very wealthy customers. If there is one group of people who need to know the truth about what is really going on within the society and the economy, minus the propaganda, then it’s businesspeople who have a lot of money to invest, and who want to invest wisely.
Why do we stick up for a system or institution we live in — a government, company, or marriage — even when anyone else can see it is failing miserably? Why do we resist change even when the system is corrupt or unjust?
A new article in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science, illuminates the conditions under which we’re motivated to defend the status quo — a process called “system justification.”System justification isn’t the same as acquiescence, explains Aaron C. Kay, a psychologist at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience, who co-authored the paper with University of Waterloo graduate student Justin Friesen. “It’s pro-active. When someone comes to justify the status quo, they also come to see it as what should be.”
Reviewing laboratory and cross-national studies, the paper illuminates four situations that foster system justification: system threat, system dependence, system inescapability, and low personal control …
…In South Korea, not the United States. The newly elected mayor of Seoul is Park Won Soon, a longtime activist and human rights lawyer who ran on an explicit “Occupy Wall Street platform” of challenging social inequality. Could this happen here as well? Via New Left Project:
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Park Won Soon, the newly elected mayor of Seoul, is “perhaps the first politician to win with an Occupy Wall Street platform”.
Park Won Soon ran on a platform of social justice. The previous mayor of Seoul had resigned over the issue of school lunches, Park pushed for the universal provision of lunches to all Seoul school children. He also promised to direct social services to helping the poor and disadvantaged. Korea has become increasingly divided in terms of rich and poor, and Seoul has some of the richest and some of the poorest people in the country. Park pledged to be the mayor of all of Seoul and not just the wealthy.
Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:
The gulf between the rich and the poor continues to grow exponentially and stands to “unravel the social contract in many countries,” according to a report released Monday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In 17 out of 22 countries the OECD measured, income inequality has risen steadily for more than three decades and now sits at the highest levels in recent history. The study found the average income of the richest 10% of a population is nine times that of the poorest 10%. The income gap in “traditionally egalitarian countries” like Demark and Sweden rose from 5 to 1 in the 80’s to 6 to 1 today, and in America, the income gap is a staggering 14 to 1.
Inequality in wages and salaries is the largest contributing factor to the rise in income disparity. Other factors include an increase in part time work and declining collective bargaining agreements between workers and employers; disparity between workers with higher technological skills and those without; and regulatory reforms that created mainly low wage jobs.… Read the rest
Given the state of the global economy, it might not surprise you to learn that psychopaths may be controlling the world. Not violent criminals, but corporate psychopaths who nonetheless have a genetically inherited biochemical condition that prevents them from feeling normal human empathy. Scientific research is revealing that 21st century financial institutions with a high rate of turnover and expanding global power have become highly attractive to psychopathic individuals to enrich themselves at the expense of others, and the companies they work for. A peer-reviewed theoretical paper titled “The Corporate Psychopaths Theory of the Global Financial Crisis” details how highly placed psychopaths in the banking sector may have nearly brought down the world economy through their own inherent inability to care about the consequences of their actions ...
An incisive new article by Tim Dickinson of Rolling Stone looks back to the ’80s, and describes how Republican Party came to abandon fiscal responsibility in favor of endless tax subsidies for the rich:
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The nation is still recovering from a crushing recession that sent unemployment hovering above nine percent for two straight years. The president, mindful of soaring deficits, is pushing bold action to shore up the nation’s balance sheet. Cloaking himself in the language of class warfare, he calls on a hostile Congress to end wasteful tax breaks for the rich. “We’re going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that allow some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share,” he thunders to a crowd in Georgia. Such tax loopholes, he adds, “sometimes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary — and that’s crazy.”
Preacherlike, the president draws the crowd into a call-and-response.
We usually associate the terms “occupy” and “Israel” in a different political context…But, this summer the country saw massive demonstrations (including tent cities) to draw attention to social inequality, in what was arguably a blueprint for Occupy Wall Street. And there have been encouraging results: the conservative Israeli government is shifting more of the tax burden onto corporations and the super-rich. Could this happen in the United States, also? Via GlobalPost:
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Israel’s summertime protest movement, which was occupying “Wall Street” before it was cool, can now celebrate their first major tangible success.
At a Sunday cabinet meeting the government approved the restructuring of Israel’s tax system, shifting a few degrees of the social burden onto corporations and the very rich.
On Monday, legislators received the new tax plan for approval, alongside a lengthy list of demands for financial reform and social justice that were nonexistent when the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, was last in session and which have been catapulted to the forefront of a pre-electoral year.
We feel instinctively that societies with huge income gaps are somehow going wrong. Richard Wilkinson charts the hard data on economic inequality, and shows what gets worse when rich and poor are too far apart: real effects on health, lifespan, even such basic values as trust.