…to the manor born and to the hovel sentenced…

Upstairs, downstairs. As the world turns, things seem to turn not for the better – for the great unwashed? Inequality, so evident and so little remarked on by most public officials, and worse, not even perfunctorily acted on. 

When Pope Francis in late November 2013 delivered his apostolic exhortation on inequality and the role of unfettered capitalism in its continuing increase, that famous exceptionalist politician was quick to seek to co-opt the issue. Inequality would be declared with ‘gravitas’ to be ‘…the defining challenge of our time…’ He would then recommend a measly minimum wage of US10.10/hour for some workers in the US and all would be well – no need to mention the slashing of some social programmes and extended unemployment benefits. Problem solved and subsequent substantial personal wealth assured. And the dutiful MSM moved on – but others in the US and elsewhere chose not to, as we shall see.

For a quick view of income inequality as measured by the Gini coefficient, this Wikipedia table provides a useful illustration. [For the Gini coefficient, a higher number implies greater inequality.] List of countries by income equality.

A few articles that should provoke some thought, questions, and even further research; and prompt even action in the US and the UK, where it shows few signs of abating. And as we know most countries of Latin America have suffered historically from high income inequality, as measured by the Gini coefficient – a situation ameliorated significantly in recent years by adoption of more social development programmes and abandonment of those neoliberal illusions that favour the corporate class.

With specific regard to the still unaddressed crisis in the US, from orderstatistic.org we have,

Needed: Meaningful Progress on Income Inequality The evidence speaks for itself, yet apathy or resignation seems the order of the day.

From inequality.org comes a question based on a brief review of the recent magnum opus, Capitalism in the 21st Century, of Thomas Piketty, a work that comes on the heels of Joe Stiglitz’s, The Price of Inequality, 

What Will Reversing Inequality Really Take?

In the article that follows Filip Spagnoli compares income growth and inequality in both the ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ economies, and does so in the context of Piketty’s recent work. On his blog he also provides a useful series of articles related to the topic of inequality. The role of ideology in an analytical framework (Kuznets’) is noteworthy.

Income Inequality (30): A Primer on Inequality and Economic Growth

Not much to be sanguine about, then, especially where the enablers of the one percent in the US are high among the very elected representatives and policy makers. But the disadvantaged LAC region overall still fares better, even if modestly so in some countries, as the expectation is that, with increased educational and health and employment opportunities, further neoliberal ‘overtures’ (predatory capitalism) will continue to be resoundingly rejected, and then finally routed.

To the hovel sentenced? Not this century. Nor the next.