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Inequality

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Aspirational parents condemn their children to a desperate, joyless life | George Monbiot. Perhaps because the alternative is too hideous to contemplate, we persuade ourselves that those who wield power know what they are doing. The belief in a guiding intelligence is hard to shake. We know that our conditions of life are deteriorating. Most young people have little prospect of owning a home, or even of renting a decent one. Interesting jobs are sliced up, through digital Taylorism, into portions of meaningless drudgery. The natural world, whose wonders enhance our lives, and upon which our survival depends, is being rubbed out with horrible speed.

Those to whom we look for guardianship, in government and among the economic elite, do not arrest this decline, they accelerate it. The political system that delivers these outcomes is sustained by aspiration: the faith that if we try hard enough we could join the elite, even as living standards decline and social immobility becomes set almost in stone.

Play time is over, but did it ever begin? Who knows? But there are hints. The best argument against Australian inequality | Miriam Lyons and Ian McAuley. Inequality has reached the point where even billionaires are worried about it. In an open letter to “my fellow zillionaires”, American dot-com entrepreneur Nick Hanauer warns that rising inequality is making his country “less a capitalist society and more a feudal society”. Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, the 15th richest person in the world, says that his concerns about widening polarisation are keeping him awake at night: “… why am I sleepless in Hong Kong? I fear that widening inequality in wealth and opportunities, if left unaddressed could fast become ‘the new normal’.” In a world where worsening inequality is widespread, Australia is still managing to pull away from the pack.

Compared to the average for OECD countries, income inequality is growing significantly faster in Australia. The Productivity Commission, in a study of how the economic gains from 1988 to 2010 had been distributed among workers, found that they disproportionately accrued to higher-paid workers. Joseph Stiglitz: ‘GDP per capita in the UK is lower than it was before the crisis. That is not a success’ Think back to 2008. There was an inquest into Princess Diana’s death, Portsmouth won the FA Cup and Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand got in trouble for making a prank call to Andrew Sachs.

Oh yeah, and the global economy almost collapsed. To prevent the disintegration of international banking, and capitalism as we know it, governments were forced to pour trillions of dollars into rescue packages. In Britain alone, government loans to and investment in the banks amounted to hundreds of billions of pounds, which in turn presaged a debt crisis and years of austerity measures. The world was in a dire mess and investment bankers, with their incomprehensible derivatives and collateralised debt obligations, were widely seen as the venal culprits.

As deep recession took hold, almost everyone agreed the banks had become too powerful, the economy unbalanced, and that the executive pay and bonus culture in the finance industry was out of control. Stiglitz agrees. He breaks into a loud laugh. The strikes sweeping Germany are here to stay | Wolfgang Streeck. German strikes once seemed like German jokes: a contradiction in terms. But no more: this year, Europe’s largest economy is on course to set a new record for industrial action, with everyone from train drivers, kindergarten and nursery teachers and post office workers staging walkouts recently. The strike wave is more than a conjunctural blip: it is another facet of the inexorable disintegration of what used to be the “German model”. Good economic conditions play a part, but unions in the thriving export industries are not the ones that are striking these days. Strikes cluster in domestic services, especially the public sector, and indications are that they are here to stay.

In the old days, the powerful unions of the metalworkers set the pace for wage increases throughout the economy. But the last time IG Metall went on a nationwide strike was in 1984. International competition is now no longer just about market share, but also employment. Research Highlights. Generous welfare systems actually make people more keen to work, Europe-wide study finds - Europe. The research released by the British Sociological Association comes as all major parties indicate they want to reduce spending on benefits. Survey responses from 19,000 people in 18 European countries, including the UK, indicated that the sums spent on welfare had a positive impact on people’s desire to find work. Sociologists Dr Kjetil van der Wel and Dr Knut Halvorsen examined responses to the statement “I would enjoy having a paid job even if I did not need the money” and compared responses with the amount the country spent on welfare benefits and employment schemes. The results were adjusted according to population differences between states The researchers from Oslo and Akershus University College, Norway, found that the more a country paid to the unemployed or sick, and invested in employment schemes, the more likely its people were to say they would enjoy paid work - whether they were in a job or not.

Knowledge Isn’t Power. Regular readers know that I sometimes mock “very serious people” — politicians and pundits who solemnly repeat conventional wisdom that sounds tough-minded and realistic. The trouble is that sounding serious and being serious are by no means the same thing, and some of those seemingly tough-minded positions are actually ways to dodge the truly hard issues. The prime example of recent years was, of course, Bowles-Simpsonism — the diversion of elite discourse away from the ongoing tragedy of high unemployment and into the supposedly crucial issue of how, exactly, we will pay for social insurance programs a couple of decades from now.

That particular obsession, I’m happy to say, seems to be on the wane. But my sense is that there’s a new form of issue-dodging packaged as seriousness on the rise. This time, the evasion involves trying to divert our national discourse about inequality into a discussion of alleged problems with education. The terrible loneliness of growing up poor in Robert Putnam’s America. Political scientist Bob Putnam is photographed at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Putnam recently wrote a book about the inequality of opportunity for children titled "Our Kids. " (Damian Strohmeyer for The Washington Post) SWARTHMORE, Penn. — Robert Putnam wants a show of hands of everyone in the room with a parent who graduated from college. In a packed Swarthmore College auditorium where the students have spilled onto the floor next to their backpacks, about 200 arms rise. “Whenever I say ‘rich kids,’ think you,” Putnam says. The Harvard political scientist, famous for his book “Bowling Alone” that warned of the decline of American community, has returned to his alma mater to talk, this time, about inequality.

The distance between the two is deeply personal for Putnam, now 74 and launching a book that he hopes could change what Americans are willing to do about children in poverty. They all look ominously similar. Starting a discussion Bewildering childhoods. Russell Brand: what monkeys and the Queen taught me about inequality. When travelling in impoverished regions in galling luxury, as I have done, you have to undergo some high-wire ethical arithmetic to legitimise your position.

If you can’t geographically separate yourself from poverty, then you have to do it ideologically. You have to believe inequality is OK. You have to accept the ideas that segregate us from one another and nullify your human instinct for fairness. Edward Slingerland, a professor of ancient Chinese philosophy at Stanford University, demonstrated this instinct to me with the use of hazelnuts. As we spoke, there was a bowl of them on the table.

“Russell,” he said, scooping up a handful, “we humans have an inbuilt tendency towards fairness. If offered an unfair deal, we will want to reject it. The answer was actually quite complex. We then watched a clip on YouTube where monkeys in adjacent cages in a university laboratory perform the same task for food. This may be the point in the article where you start shouting the word “hypocrite”. Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us | Paul Verhaeghe. We tend to perceive our identities as stable and largely separate from outside forces. But over decades of research and therapeutic practice, I have become convinced that economic change is having a profound effect not only on our values but also on our personalities.

Thirty years of neoliberalism, free-market forces and privatisation have taken their toll, as relentless pressure to achieve has become normative. If you’re reading this sceptically, I put this simple statement to you: meritocratic neoliberalism favours certain personality traits and penalises others. There are certain ideal characteristics needed to make a career today. The first is articulateness, the aim being to win over as many people as possible. Contact can be superficial, but since this applies to most human interaction nowadays, this won’t really be noticed. On top of all this, you are flexible and impulsive, always on the lookout for new stimuli and challenges. How the super rich got richer: 10 shocking facts about inequality | Society.

1. The top 1% no longer includes most doctors and head teachers To be in the top 1% of earners in Britain today, a couple with no children would need a minimum income of £160,000. A single person can enter the 1% with a little less, while a couple with children would need more. Hardly any GPs are paid enough to take their place in the top 1% any longer, despite the last decade’s huge hike in their pay; their incomes have been far outstripped by those of the financiers above them.

The best-paid head teachers, too, used to be within the top paid 1% in society. 2. Per head, there are more so-called ultra-high net-worth individuals (UHNWI) in London than anywhere else on the planet. London’s wealthy elite also includes the largest concentration of Russian millionaires found outside of Moscow – at least 2,000, many of whom are also “Ultras”. 3. It is very hard to justify your huge wealth unless you see people beneath you as less deserving. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.