Next year, the richest 1% of the world will own more wealth than the rest of the entire population of the planet, according to Oxfam. This is a staggering figure. This puts into focus a harsh truth: that we live in a world where a handful of the richest people get richer and more powerful, even as governments across the globe enact austerity measures against the working class. Austerity measures have been presented as the lesser of evils to confront a deficient economy. Austerity is trumpeted by many politicians as a necessary, though painful step to ensure long term economic viability. But it’s simply a way of perpetuating, rather than challenging, capitalist business as usual, a business in which the global 1% get richer and richer while workers get laid off. But what we’re seeing is a massive impoverishment of the population, full-frontal attacks on working conditions and a loss of security for society’s most vulnerable people. Meanwhile, according the Harvard Business School, CEOs in America currently make 350 times what the average worker makes, and 774 times as much as minimum wage workers. Since 1979, Americans have increased productivity by 80 percent. Yet, according to Forbes, income has not increased at the same rate, if it has increased at all. Furthermore, “the rich spend about 17 percent of their income traveling for business and pleasure” while “the lower classes spend about 17 percent of their income on feeding their families.”
Governments enact austerity measures to protect the 1% and global capitalism. Those in the 1% influence in government policy. Oxfam reports that the global elite spent $550 million lobbying policy makers in Washington and Brussels during 2013. During the 2012 US election cycle alone, the financial sector provided $571 million in campaign contributions.
While the 1% fills their pockets, protests against austerity have been rocking the globe. The entire system needs to be overthrown. “The idea that poverty is a problem of persons—that it results from personal moral, cultural, or biological inadequacies—has dominated discussions of poverty for well over two hundred years and given us the enduring idea of the underserving poor.” Explained Michael Katz in ‘The Undeserving Poor’