Survival of the richest…

November 30th, 2013  |  Published in Economic (in)justice

But remember the camel and the eye of the needle

colour camelSome people have way more than they need and others are destitute. Why? Enough is enough, surely? But, no, it seems not, and I’m wondering if some combination of factors – ripple effects of the global financial crisis, depletion of the planet’s resources, climate change, and …(fill in the blanks)… have created a hoarding mentality on the part of the rich; as if they might protect themselves from annihilation by accumulating more and more un-spendable wealth. Too bad about everyone else; even better if most do NOT survive, perhaps!
This gloomy train of thought was the result of joining the dots between the following stories in my breakfast newspaper:

  • Walmart pays its 1.3 million employees somewhere between $US 8.81/hour on average (employees’ figures) and $US 12.83/hour (employer’s figures). The corporation made a profit of $US 15.7 billion last year, and its owners have a collective fortune of around $ US 150 billion (The Age, 29 Nov, 2013,  p.15).
  • A major health-care conglomerate in Melbourne attempted to scapegoat an unqualified, untrained, and low-paid worker for the death of an adolescent boy in their care. The coroner found the conglomerate did not have policies for dealing with children with disabilities (p.10). In other words, winning the contract and getting the money clearly took precedence over safety for both clients and staff.
  • The Australian government seems hellbent on dismantling the social security safety net. According to one letter (p.19, Greg Abramovitch) the national disability insurance scheme is about all there is left before the government’s scorched earth policy is complete. And, the path has been paved with rumblings of a budget blowout for the scheme.
  • The Australian government also seems hellbent on unravelling the Gonski reforms to the education system (p.20); reforms that might have boosted the prospects of longer term socioeconomic survival for many young people.

These stories have little in common in terms of content, but hang together in my mind because each illustrates serious disregard for large proportions of the population: low-paid workers, disadvantaged students and their families, anyone on welfare benefits, and people with disabilities; in other words, those with less money, less power, and less voice. Do the rich seriously believe that greed is in their salvation?

over the cliff

Best Themis blessings, especially to those who are struggling…Joan Beckwith

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