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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Plutocrats and Pitchforks - The AIM Network

Plutocrats and Pitchforks - The AIM Network

Plutocrats and Pitchforks

The word ‘revolution’ has throughout history been
synonymous with the cry for equality and social change. The French
Revolution of 1789, the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Cuban Revolution
of 1959 to name a few, all began because the divide between the haves
and the have nots became intolerable. In the examples above, social
inequality was at historically high levels and getting worse by the day.
Something had to happen and it did, much of it violent and bloody.

Revolutions were generally born of peasant unrest, dissatisfaction, a
sense of betrayal by once revered heroes who were seduced by their own
power and their accumulation of vast wealth. When that peasant
dissatisfaction reached a tipping point, revolution became the only

Today the wealthiest 1% in our society enjoy a lifestyle that much of
the 99% could not even imagine. Furthermore, the gap continues to widen
such that the line between middle and lower class workers is now
blurred, while the gap between middle and upper income levels grows
wider and easier to see.

While any high functioning capitalist economy will always have
inequality to some degree, the divide as it exists today is so geared
toward greater wealth for the fewer that the middle class is in danger
of disappearing altogether. The message for all those living in their
gated compounds and ivory towers is, it cannot last.

Statistics are not needed to reinforce these claims. They simply
confirm what the 99% already know. But, for the record, in 1980 in the
USA, the top 1% controlled about 8% of the national income while the
bottom 50% shared about 18%. Today, the top 1% share 20% of the national
income while the bottom 50% share just 12%.

In Australia, similar comparisons are difficult to find but in measuring wealth by quintiles, the
ABS found that in 2011 the top 20% of households owned 62% of the
wealth while the bottom 20% held less than 1%. In fact the top 20% held
more wealth than the rest combined. The conclusion was that wealth
inequality was rising fast.

Free market capitalism in its present form is no longer a recipe for a
sustained, prosperous, happy, healthy society. Today, capitalism is
synonymous with inequality, unfairness and discrimination. With today’s
capitalism we are drifting toward feudalism.

trickle downInequality
has grown so dramatically over the past thirty years that our once
great egalitarian Australia of the 1960s and ’70s has all but
disappeared. And to quote Joseph Stiglitz, “one
of the major culprits has been trickle-down economics—the idea that the
government can just step back and if the rich get richer and use their
talents and resources to create jobs, everyone will benefit. It just
doesn’t work; the historical data now proves that.”

If ever world leaders had an opportunity to revolutionise capitalism
it was in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). Just six
years on from that incredible opportunity, we can see they have failed
and have done so, spectacularly.

Bank bailouts without conditions will be a dark legacy for Barack
Obama in an otherwise reasonable presidency and now the opportunity has
all but passed. The US stock market has not just recovered but surpassed
pre 2008 lows. The rich are richer and the poor are poorer in far
greater numbers than before. For the 1%, the plutocrats, it’s business
as usual.

The Reagan trickle-down effect is back with a vengeance and is now
the hallmark of the present Australian government despite a plethora of
information, data, and recent history to demonstrate its failure. They
still expect business to lead a national recovery with investment in
goods and services. What they don’t get, is that an underutilised
workforce cannot afford it. Business knows this. That is why they will
not commit.

The government cannot see that a vibrant, active, well-educated
workforce is an essential component of a strong, robust economy; a
component that creates demand that results in stronger growth, stronger
investment and stronger taxes.

Blinded by the advice from bankers, investment houses and those whose
fortunes are derived from manipulating stock markets and overvaluing
mortgage stocks, Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey are no more than a
mouthpiece for the 1%; the plutocrats. They are victims of their own
self-serving ideology. While they are in power nothing will change, no
improvement for the 99% will ever eventuate.


Any realistic observer can see that this trend is unsustainable and
its future unpredictable. While the plutocrats continue to build their
wealth, billionaire Nick Hanauer thinks they might inherit pitchforks.

While the 1% enjoy their wealth, blind to the signs of desperation
around them, a single act of defiance by someone desperate and destitute
enough could mobilise thousands in support and roll across the country
like a tidal wave. The 1% could be caught like the frog in the saucepan
unaware the water has reached boiling point. But by then, it will be too

I don’t think anyone in government, least of all Scott Morrison,
anticipated riots leading to murder and self-immolation when he embarked
upon his ruthless policy of deprivation detention on Manus Island. That
crept up without warning. And now, I don’t think either he or his party
foresee all the possible outcomes if they embark upon a policy of
reducing welfare at a time of fiscal contraction.

He may not even care but he could well be responsible for creating a
new underclass that has no respect for law and order. He could well
extend existing poverty further into the realm of the middle class,
bringing welfare agencies to their knees trying to cope. This is where
that one defiant act could likely emerge.

is littered with such circumstances and the consequences of doing
nothing. The 1% won’t see it coming, but governments should. And they
should do something to stop it, or they too will feel the pitchforks.
They can plead ignorance but that won’t save them.

They can say their hands were tied but their complicity will be all
too obvious. The plutocrats will never change voluntarily. The
government is running out of time to do it for them.