Saturday, 29 October 2011

Greed is the Creed

The science of the study of Anthropogenic Global Warming is often characterised as a religion by the vested interests that stand to lose if corporate behaviour is forced to change through recent legislation.

This characterisation of AGW as a cult is a worldwide phenomenon, but it has its epicentre across the Pacific, and is frequent fodder for the shock jocks.

The Yanks have a tendency to drop religion front and centre into any discussion about freedom and democracy. A road trip across the US is particularly revealing of the number and variety of religious organisations that infest the land of the free. Every second radio station is of the God-bothering kind. There is a strongly held belief that the path to heaven is via the cash register.

The most refined version of this thought, the most pervasive religion of all, and the one that presents the greatest danger to world peace, is also centred in the USA. That religion is Market Fundamentalism. It could also be described as Neo-Materialism or Corporate Greed and transcends borders, both national and international.

Its basic tenent is that the market should be left completely unfettered. According to this creed, this will allow for wealth creation and prosperity for all.

We saw where that got us a few years ago.

I would argue that the world government conspiracy, touted as a threat by those who despise the United Nations, is already with us, through the spread of transnational corporations that respect neither international boundaries, nor basic human rights.

The Occupy Wall Street protesters aren’t politically sophisticated or consistent with their demands, but a large part of what they’re unhappy about stems from the growing disparity between rich and poor worldwide, but particularly in the USA.

Maybe they have a point.

Consider, for a moment, the following
The recession has hit middle-income and poor families hardest, widening the economic gap between the richest and poorest Americans as rippling job layoffs ravaged household budgets.
The wealthiest 10 percent of Americans — those making more than $138,000 each year — earned 11.4 times the roughly $12,000 made by those living near or below the poverty line in 2008, according to newly released census figures. That ratio was an increase from 11.2 in 2007 and the previous high of 11.22 in 2003.
Household income declined across all groups, but at sharper percentage levels for middle-income and poor Americans. Median income fell last year from $52,163 to $50,303, wiping out a decade's worth of gains to hit the lowest level since 1997.
Poverty jumped sharply to 13.2 percent, an 11-year high.

The clearest communication about this issue is best achieved graphically. Go to this series of graphics over at Business Insider to understand the dimensions of this problem.

 The “Find America” visual is pretty shocking to those of us conditioned by stories told at Grandad’s knee about the rewards for hard work and innovation available across the Pacific. The sad fact of the matter, is that using the Gini Coefficient, a well-recognised statistical measure of inequality, the USA is ranked at 96, indicating a greater rich-poor gap than stellar performers such as Turkmenistan, Mali and Uzbekistan, to name a few. Australia is ranked 24th by the way.

Strangest of all, two one-party states with “Communist” governments (Vietnam and China) are way ahead (62 and 83 respectively) and have much less of a poverty gap than the home of the free.

Tell me it isn’t so….

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