Global Elites Getting Nervous About Skyrocketing Inequality (But Won’t Spare a Nickel to Fix It)

From Alternet

There’s a lot of handwringing, but will elite anxiety bring any changes?

By Lynn Stuart Parramore
December 2, 2013

Global elites are getting a bit antsy these days.

A new study by the World Economic Forum based on a survey of 1,592 leaders from academia, business, government, and the non-profit world suggests that all is not cheery at the top. It seems that elites believe that the second biggest problem facing Planet Earth in 2014 is widening income disparities (unrest in the Middle East and North Africa is their top worry). When it comes to economic issues, elites and ordinary folks are often at odds, but according to a recent Pew survey, they converge on identifying the gap between rich and poor as a major flaw in the system.

What’s clear is that the schemes elites have supported, from austerity policies to financial predation, are driving inequality to such extreme levels that everybody is now talking about it. The Pope is talking about it. Robert Reich made a movie about it. All over the world, people having been protesting and rioting in rolling demonstrations about it. An ugly resurgence of fascist elements in Europe is capitalizing on it. Even folks like Larry Summers, who promoted policies that stoke inequality, are publicly lamenting it.

The global elites are sittting on piles of obscene wealth, but they also have two big problems:

  1. Soft demand: When people are too poor to buy goods and services, businesses suffer and the whole economy lags.
  2. Prospects of increasing social unrest: When people are so squeezed that they think they have nothing to lose by taking to the streets, the wealthy have to hide behind barricades.

The global situation is crazy and probably unstable, and the 0.01 percent knows it. The question is, what are they prepared to do about it?

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