Scales continue to tip in the rich’s favor the world around.
Income inequality — the gap between a society’s richest members and its poorest — is rising not only in the United States but in most of the world’s major economies, according to a new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Since 1985, income inequality has grown more pronounced in 17 of the 22 countries for which the OECD has long-term data, including Mexico, Italy, Japan, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.
The OECD’s report suggests an explanation for why the Occupy Wall Street movement has grown from a single protest site in New York’s Zuccotti Park to a global phenomenon with hundreds of chapters in dozens of countries. Among other things, protesters in the Occupy movement say they oppose the concentration of wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer people.
In the United States, the incomes of the very highest earners have grown by leaps and bounds over the last quarter century, while remaining more or less flat for the vast majority of the population.
Comparable growth in the wealth gap has taken place in Germany, Finland, Israel, Sweden, Luxembourg and New Zealand, according to the OECD. Only five countries — Greece, Turkey, France, Belgium and Hungary — saw their levels of income inequality decline or remain constant.
Income inequality has been linked to a number of troubling economic trends, and some analysts believe the wealth gap is contributing to the slow rate of recovery for the global economy.
Earlier this year, a study in the newsletter of the International Monetary Fund suggested that a country is more likely to enjoy a sustained period of growth if it has a relatively equitable distribution of income — meaning that for the wealthy, high-inequality nations named in the OECD report, bouncing back from the worldwide recession may be taking longer than it needs to.
Income inequality has also been cited as a catalyzing factor for a number of protest movements around the globe, including the riots in England this summer and the Arab Spring uprisings in the Middle East on which the Occupy Wall Street movement has been patterned.
An OECD press release notes that income inequality, besides affecting the wealthy member-nations of the organization, is also a major concern in many of the developing countries outside of it. The correlation between a nation’s wealth gap and its poverty and social and political instability was suggested earlier this year, when The Atlantic published a world map color-coded by inequality. China, Brazil, Rwanda, Uganda, Cote d’Ivoire and Serbia all had high levels of income inequality — as did the United States.
Posts tagged occupy wall street
84-year-old Occupy Seattle participant Dorli Rainey, pictured above after being pepper sprayed by Seattle Police on November 15th.
She later wrote about the incident:
“Something funny happened on my way to a transportation meeting in Northgate. As I got off the bus at 3rd and Pine I heard helicopters above. Knowing that the problems of New York would certainly precipitate action by Occupy Seattle, I thought I better check it out. Especially since only yesterday the City Government made a grandiose gesture to protect free speech. Well free speech does have its limits as I found out as the cops shoved their bicycles into the crowd and simultaneously pepper sprayed the so captured protesters. If it had not been for my Hero (Iraq Vet Caleb) I would have been down on the ground and trampled. This is what democracy looks like. It certainly left an impression on the people who rode the No. 1 bus home with me. In the women’s movement there were signs which said: “Screw us and we multiply.’”
Occupy the universities?
With the costs of a college education astonishingly high and youth job prospects incredibly dim in this economy, is going to college worth it anymore?
“The students in Zuccotti Park are right to focus on the injustices of student debt: Many of them are indentured to the very banks that destroyed the economy and along with it the jobs students need to pay their loans back. The banks were bailed out for their trouble, while students are left with debt that, thanks to financial industry lobbying, can’t be discharged in bankruptcy. Outstanding student loans in the United States are projected to reach $1 trillion this year, a larger sum than credit card debt.”
Photo courtesy of Andy Wibbels.
I learn new things every day…