From Socialist Voice, September 2010

The rich get richer, and there are more of them!

he Government would have you believe that, because of the global economic crisis, all of us have to share considerable pain to right the financial mess they and their cronies have got us into. On the face of it it would appear that this is the case, and certainly most of the media have been peddling the story that we should brace ourselves for an exceptionally abrasive budget this autumn.
     But all might not be as stated. Two recent financial reports, which have received little or no media coverage, when considered against this financial backdrop are enough to either irk the most patient of us or, even more so, fan the flames of revolutionary response hopefully inherent in us all!
     The Boston Consulting Group published a report in early June entitled “Regaining Lost Ground: Resurgent Markets and New Opportunities,” which reported facts on the global economy. While we are informed that we are in the midst of a crippling recession, the report states that global wealth staged a remarkable 11½ per cent comeback in 2009.
     The report went on to say that Europe remained the wealthiest region, with a third of the world’s wealth—$37.1 trillion—and that global wealth is expected to grow at an annual rate of nearly 6 per cent from the end of 2009 to the end of 2014.
     This news appears to represent manna from heaven and to mean that we are finally “turning the corner.” Not so. The report goes on to say that as wealth grew it became more concentrated. “Millionaire households represented less than 1% of all households but owned about 38% of the world’s wealth, up from about 36% in 2008.”
     A completely separate report, by Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management and Capgemini, suggests that Ireland is following a similar pattern of the increasing concentration of wealth. It said that in 2009 the number of Ireland’s rich grew by 10 per cent, with an additional 1,800 Irish people having investable assets of $1 million or more. In 2009 the population of Irish millionaires increased from its 2008 figure of 16,300 to 18,100.
     The same report states that eighteen more “ultra-rich” were created in 2009, increasing this population to 181. These are individuals who have investable assets of $30 million or more.
     As you and I can fully expect the negative financial impact of another hairshirt budget, there are those in this society who not only appear to go unscathed but are actually benefiting from the recession.
     These facts about the growing disparity of wealth have been totally ignored by the establishment media, from RTE to the Irish Independent.
     Despite all that has been said, there is more than enough wealth in this country, if only very slightly redistributed, to negate the worst effects of this recession. Facts like those presented, if reported by the media in the same way that sections of the media slavishly attack trade unions and workers, might spark the public imagination to the effect that there is an alternative to laissez-faire capitalism.

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