If this goes on... The 1% will own two thirds of the world by 2030

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/04/07/optimistic-projection.html


The good news is that the more concentrated the wealth gets then the fewer guillotines we have to build.


I just think homeopathy should be studied. The potential for gains from using some herbal and homeopathic remedies justifies the need for investment in science. Valerian works! Chamomile. Chinese herbal medicine, the 5 types of ginseng, food as medicine, not the soul crushing pill popping culture that doesn’t prevent disease. Prince Charles is not a dumb man. At this point anyone saying anything about conservation and marine debris looks like a Godsend. Maybe it’s a plot to restore the monarchy. Watch out for that. Excellent diatribe from Cory Doctorow. Makes my puny human mind all kerfuffle with thinky bits.


@doctorow uses the word Homeopathy in its original sense: the use of microdosing of “naturally derived” compounds in a water solution to treat various ailments. Of course, since the origin of the term it has been conflated with numerous other treatment methods including the use of verifiably-effective healing herbs, I think it’s fair to say that the word has evolved well beyond its original meaning and now encompasses all treatments not considered “conventional” medicine. Until very recently, the vast majority of critical medicines were either plant derived or synthetic derivatives thereof.



Yes I see, homeopathy does not refer to alternative medicine to general as I previously assumed but to an absurd whackaloon thing. Got it!


Straight line predictions of wealth inequality? Not all that useful really.

What would be useful was a bit more knowledge about wealth distributions though. They’re always, but always, grossly unequal for example. Read the Saez and Zucman paper - the bottom 50% just never do have more than 5% of all wealth. Just the way it works, it’s nothing to do with either capitalism or neoliberalism.

Or try Jamie Galbraith - we don’t count the things we do to reduce wealth inequality. When we measure income inequality we do count the things we do to reduce it. Seems sensible enough to do that. What we want to know is do we need to do more to reduce it more - thus we’ve got to include the effects of what we already do. So, the pre tax pre benefits Gini of Sweden is not that far from that of the US - .44 to .48 or thereabouts but those are from memory. The post tax post benefits Gini is very different, perhaps 0.25 to 0.38. The US is a very much more unequal country than Sweden after all the things that are done.

Whether or not we think more should be done obviously that second set of numbers is the relevant one for decision making.

With wealth distributions we don’t take account of what is already done to reduce wealth inequality. The measurements aren’t therefore all that useful., For example, pensions are a major source of wealth in the US today (Saez and Zucman again). But we only count fully funded private pensions as wealth. Those Federal pensions paid out of tax revenues (ie, not fully funded) aren’t counted as wealth. No, really, some bureaucrat’s $50 k for life is not counted as wealth. Nor is Social Security counted as wealth. It obviously is, it’s an income for life, that’s wealth. But it’s not counted.

None of the Great Society programs, many of which reduce wealth inequality, are included.

Mere chuntering about how awful wealth inequality is ain’t all that useful. Understanding what’s wrong with how we measure it might be more so.

BTW, we should all agree that QE increased wealth inequality because it did. But unwinding QE is therefore going to decrease it, isn’t it? As also the global end to the growth in the labour force is going to tip the rewards of growth away from capital and to labour in the coming decades…amazingly it’s all a bit more complex than just snarling Godamnit at the plutocrats.




You are correct. Federal pensions are wealth when it comes to those owed the pension.

Equally they are also debt for those that will be forced to pay for it.

So do you tell the young that they are on the hook for 220 trillion dollars of debt?

You’ve not looked at both sides of that coin.

So here’s the basic problem.

How does the working poor get richer when the state takes their money and gives it to someone else?


By the actual rich paying a wage that people can live comfortably on? Do it enough and it might have the effect of reducing taxes as less welfare is needed.


Please. That’s lazy speak for “let’s ignore structural problems in the world and not fix them because reasons.” Capitalism, like all other systems, are not “natural” they are human constructs, meaning they can be changed, improved, or even done away with if they are not working for the benefit of humanity or the planet. The concentration of wealth and destruction of the planet for the benefit of a few is not beneficial. We can make changes that benefits us all and the planet.




Neoliberalism has been an accelerant over the past 35 years in the U.S., burning away jobs that provided middle-class incomes and scorching holes in the social safety net. We know what we need to do to reverse the trend in the American post-tax Gini index and get it somewhere below 34.0, but there’s no political will to do so in the U.S.

That’s surprising. What explanation do they give for excluding it?

That’s because it’s intended to be insurance rather than a pension. That people mistake the former for the latter does not make it wealth.

Welfare programmes like that aren’t intended to build wealth. The funds they take in are applied to keep marginalised people fed and sheltered.

I’m not necessarily disagreeing (at least in terms of QE’s duration after 2008), but a general statement like that calls for a definitive and authoritative citation.

Thanks to automation, that will be another force for concentrating wealth. The rewards may be higher, but they’ll go to far fewer people.

Yeah, I mean it’s not like the working poor and their parents were getting any services from all those Federal bureaucrats. The state is just taking the money and giving it to people who joined the public sector as a no-strings-attached giveaway.


Have a look at the notes to the second chart in Kathy Padilla’s comment above. No government transfers are included. Medicaid makes the poor less poor. We agree upon that, yes? Thus the poor have greater wealth from the existence of Medicaid. They get health care treatment (of a ind, perhaps not the best etc) and they are those less poor, they both have higher incomes and more wealth by the value of that health care they get. We do it to reduce the inequality of health care provision and also the inequality of income and even wealth distributions.

We do not include any of these things in our calculations of the wealth distribution. We include some of them in our calcs of the income distribution. As to the detailed reasons why, read the Saez and Zucman paper linked in that same chart. Myself I think they’re entirely wrong to do it this way. Not that my opinion is worth that much but Jamie Galbraith does agree with me too.


Which the right is working furiously hard to eliminate as an “undeserved entitlement.” The ability to not die of an easily preventable disease isn’t “wealth” it’s basic human decency.


The notes are talking about Medicare and Social Security, which are not intended to build net worth. Are the pensions for Federal employees you discussed also excluded as government transfers? To clarify, that’s what I was asking about.

When an individual’s or household’s wealth is discussed in the context of inequality, it’s usually referring to net worth in assets, of which those relying on various forms of social assistance have little to none to negative amounts.

As a secondary effect, yes, at least in the very short term (it’s not exactly allowing them to accumulate wealth, just get through another month or two). In the long term, Americans are still considered poor if they have to continue to rely on it. Medicaid for all (or some other variation on universal single-payer health insurance) makes that a mostly moot discussion.


Sounds like trickle down. Doesn’t work

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Welfare programmes like that aren’t intended to build wealth.

But you have taken money from the workers. Real wealth. Given that people are now complaining that people don’t have wealth you need to look to that cause.

The cause is taking the wealth and not investing it.

So why are pensions ommitted from the debts? Very simple. If they were published the public would put 2 and 2 together and work out the consequences. And the blame.

When an individual’s or household’s wealth is discussed in the context of inequality, it’s usually referring to net worth in assets, of which those relying on various forms of social assistance have little to none to negative amounts.

The value of the social assistance has a flip side. It’s negative wealth for those paying for it.

Yes, it’s called “taxes”, or as Justice Holmes put it, “the price we pay for civilisation.” Wealth applied to value.

You don’t think applying funds to the common well-being is an investment of wealth? Or perhaps you’re Maggie Thatcher, returned from the grave to remind us that “there’s no such thing as society.”

I’ll bet you a nickle the explanation isn’t quite as simple as your conspiracy theory, especially since the figures are out there for those who want to count the Federal employees’ pensions into wealth measurements.

Only if you’re a typical Libertarian who “knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

No, trickle-down is giving money to already wealthy private individuals who are accountable to no-one and trusting them to throw some crumbs to the peasants.


[insert staring pelican gif] :wink: