The Great Divide
by C.A. Matthews
At last! You’ve made it to the top where you are left panting in exhaustion with only a few cuts, bruises, gnashes, and muscle pulls to show for your exertions. There’s no celebration of your achievement or even a cold drink of water waiting for you, sorry. A sign commands you on pain of death to turn around and do it all again. And again. Because.
If you’re starting to question this corrupt socioeconomic system most Western countries live under, you’ll probably have a few choice words to give those who zoomed by and left you suffering in their wake. Why do only certain persons get to take the shortcut? Why do they get to take the easy route and even employ others to do the actual hard work like driving for them? What besides sheer dumb luck of where and when and to whom you were born to determines which path across the Great Divide you’re allowed to take?
It’s difficult for many working class Americans to grasp just how great that Great Divide is between those just scraping by and those whose total net worth is larger than some countries’ Gross National Products. A recent study done by Oxfam tells us that for every $1 you earn as a worker, a billionaire makes $1.7 million. This isn’t an exaggeration. Let's say you make $10 an hour working. In that same time period a billionaire sipping champagne makes $17 million an hour—and he doesn’t even risk getting his hands dirty!
The super rich have been growing wealthier over the past three years of the pandemic, growing wealthier than ever in history. While millions suffered from COVID-19, Long COVID, and the deaths of loved ones due to COVID, the billionaire class and their wealth have kept growing and growing and growing… We the workers can take comfort in the fact that the actual number of billionaires on the planet is actually still quite small—only about two thousand in total. But these two thousand individuals own most of all wealth in the world, leaving a small portion for the remaining eight billion of us to share.
According to Oxfam, an international humanitarian organization dedicated to fighting poverty and hunger, in their report Survival of the Richest the wealthiest 1% of the world’s population took nearly two-thirds of all new wealth, six times greater than the wealth made by the poorest 90% of workers. Simply put, billionaires are getting richer while overall global poverty is increasing. Oxfam warns:
Since 2020, the richest 1% have captured almost two-thirds of all new wealth – nearly twice as much money as the bottom 99% of the world’s population.
Billionaire fortunes are increasing by $2.7 billion a day, even as inflation outpaces the wages of at least 1.7 billion workers, more than the population of India.
Food and energy companies more than doubled their profits in 2022, paying out $257 billion to wealthy shareholders, while over 800 million people went to bed hungry.
Only 4 cents in every dollar of tax revenue comes from wealth taxes, and half the world’s billionaires live in countries with no inheritance tax on money they give to their children.
A tax of up to 5% on the world’s multi-millionaires and billionaires could raise $1.7 trillion a year, enough to lift 2 billion people out of poverty, and fund a global plan to end hunger.
You're probably catching on to how wide, deep, and treacherous the Great Divide is. And it’s not just about how horrible the distribution of material wealth is on Earth. The Great Divide is an analogy for how political and military/police power is distributed as well. The more money you have, the more power you wield and the more military/police might to back up your claim to that wealth and power you have. This is readily apparent at a yearly gathering of the super-wealthy and their sycophants in Davos, Switzerland.
The World Economic Forum in Davos is where our “betters” get to tell us, the struggling workers, what we should be doing. They'll toss a few nuggets of wisdom our way, like we all should stop purchasing gas stoves or we should simply stop being sick and get back to work whether we have access to health care or not. Those little patronizing gems are supposed to convince us that the elites actually care about those of us at the bottom of the pyramid of wealth accumulation.
You know that COVID pandemic thing that’s “over” according to President Biden? The billionaires at Davos see the threat of the coronavirus in a completely different way:
...State-of-the-art ventilation and HEPA air cleaners have been made available in common spaces and private rooms and the over 3,000 attendants will ensure these areas are cleaned and disinfected several times a day. Free access to N95s and respirators was provided because the participants, who have called such measures useless (for working people), know very well that they work. In fact, meeting organizers said that on “Forum-provided official transport,” the requirement is for “all drivers (chauffeurs) [to] wear masks at all times.”
And if this wasn’t enough, there have been reports that Upper Room Ultraviolet Disinfection systems and Far-UVC lights have been installed to disinfect the spaces and remove any virus that gains unauthorized access to the meeting.
Capitalism is the magic socioeconomic system that cures all ills, according to our masters at the WEF. Two thousand hoarders of wealth and power get to tell us, the other 8 billion inhabitants of Earth, what’s what. And the truth of the matter is that we of the bottom 8 billion don’t count in their big picture. We’re just here to provide them the wealth that our labors generate.
The Great Divide is essential for capitalism to exist because if all of us had adequate food, shelter, and health care—or even an access to the “bridge”—then how would the billionaires ever “motivate” (read: frighten, scare, threaten) us into working for them in the first place?
Someone has got to drive the billionaires around, clean their toilets, cook their food, sew their designer clothes, manufacture their fancy cars, fly their private jets, perform their facelifts, etc. If we’re content simply to take care of ourselves and our neighbors, we’d never take care of those at the top, or so they fear. We might even ignore them until they become as poor as we workers are—and that can’t be allowed! (Read Why Are the Rich So Scared of Socialism for more answers.)
So, what's the real reason why the rich can't become like the workers? Look at their last names again. That’s why.
Because there’s no real reason why any human being should hoard wealth at the obscene rate these handful of billionaires (and their close friends the multi-millionaires) have done. We are all equals under the sun or in the eyes of God (if that’s your belief). Equals don't allow equals to starve just for the sake of showing off vast hoards of material wealth and flaunting their power over others.
Capitalism as an socioeconomic system is a perversion of how to organize work and community for the benefit of all. It’s totally lacking in a sense of community for starters. Capitalists intentionally divide workers into different groups so these factions can be manipulated into spending time and energy hating other factions so much that they don’t have time to actually see it’s the capitalists who have forced them into this untenable situation in order to control them.
The next time someone tells you that certain people (Gays, Muslims, Blacks, Asians, etc.) are "inferior" to you stop and think. Who told me to hate people from this group? What reasons do they have to make me hate others? What control do they exert over me?
We the workers must get past the “othering” we’ve been brainwashed into doing. There's no time for it. Our planet is in the grips of a climate emergency:
Over the longer term, the greatest existential risk the world faces is climate breakdown. The last eight years were the hottest ever recorded, with 2016 being the warmest. Extreme weather events that once took place every several hundred years are now taking place annually.
We have already started to approach the tipping points that will rapidly and unpredictably accelerate the processes causing the climate breakdown. The oceans are becoming acidified, arctic ice and permafrost are melting, and forests are being lost at a devastating rate. (...)
The greatest risk the world faces comes from the class currently assembled at Davos. If they really wanted to save the world, they’d hand over their wealth and power to their workers—the only class with the ability and the incentive to deal with the challenges the world currently faces. --From Davos Elites Can’t Solve The Problems They Create
Why are we of the 8 billion strong allowing a handful of capitalists rule over us? It’s time for us to organize and fight back. A new organization forming called Workers Strike Back could help lead the way in the US. American workers should check them out.
Remember: We the workers have the power. We certainly have the numbers. Now is the time for us to take control of our future. Our children and our planet are counting on us.
The Billionaires at Davos Protect Themselves from COVID-19, While Declaring the Pandemic "Over" for Working People https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2023/01/21/gkzt-j21.html
True Priorities of the Global Elite https://popular.info/p/the-true-priorities-of-the-global
Oxfam: Social inequality and poverty soaring in Australia
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