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Private wealth and public squalor

(203 Posts)
whitewave Wed 01-Nov-17 19:29:47

We have Galbraith to thank for this theory, and I think that far from being a theory of the past it is so apt for what is happening in this country.

I am watching the BBC programme about the super rich.

Today I have also seen on a report about people resorting to living in vans and caravans because they cannot afford anywhere else to live.
Our young are struggling.

The cuts have resulted in poorer welfare system, a struggling NHS, pot holes in the roads, and so on.

Today I visited Wells and in the Cathedral precinct there were homeless people begging -shame on the church. And don’t say the homeless have always been with us.When we were growing up we had tramps who we almost knew by sight as they were so unusual.

Food banks ?

Whilst we have just been told that the super rich wealth rose from an average of 2bn to 5bn within two years of the recession. Their wealth has continued to grow to the extent that now the top 1% own more than everyone else. Marx said that wealth will always become concentrated at the top, but for many years he seemed to be wrong, I wonder if he is so wrong now?

And no I’m not envious, just demanding fairness.

whitewave Wed 01-Nov-17 20:00:57

So it’s official, the super rich are ruining our economy - now who’s got the spine to tackle it?

mostlyharmless Thu 02-Nov-17 12:25:29

I saw some of that programme. Shocking.
Did you see this table the other day posted by John McDonnell? It's from OECD and the Spectator so should be accurate. I found it incredible. Can the disparity between rich and poor really be this enormous? Or am I misinterpreting? Also I couldn't find it on the OECD site.

gillybob Thu 02-Nov-17 12:41:33

....and the interest rate has gone up today. Is this just the start?

I listened to an article on radio 4 about Robert Peston's new book (can't stand the man btw) who suggested a mixed interest rate depending on where you live in the country. For eg. London would see high rates whereas places like the NE would see lower rates.

I could have laughed my head off.

Primrose65 Thu 02-Nov-17 13:04:59

mostlyharmless The chart comes from an Economist article, published last week, called "In the Lurch - many places have lost out to globalisation and what can be done to help them". The chart does not show the difference between 'rich and poor' per se. It's from research from the Brookings Institute and the OECD showing the productivity gap widening. The article is interesting. About the collapse of industries, new technology, the effect of education policy .... it's a long read.
I get access to The Economist online for free through my library, it's well worth the effort of signing up if it's available to you.

grannyactivist Thu 02-Nov-17 13:57:47

whitewave I share your concern, and most especially for people who are homeless or vulnerably housed, but your comment, 'shame on the church', in this connection is perhaps misjudged. As is the case across the country there are church based initiatives in Somerset that are doing their best to plug the gaps in provision, including YWAF who has the Bishop of Wells as a Trustee.
By the cathedral in my nearby city you will also see homeless people; it's where they congregate, but what you don't see is the provision that has been made for them by local churches. In my small town all of the provision for people who are homeless and disadvantaged is run by local churches in co-operation. Likewise our sister organisations in neighbouring towns are church led. We offer foodbanks, nightshelters, furniture, debt advice services, cafes that offer free and subsidised food, computer access and training, advocacy, clothing, a place to shower and wash clothes, support groups, literacy schemes, legal services and, most importantly, our time.
It is never enough. It never can be enough whilst we have systems in place that erode the provision available to the neediest of people, but churches are, in general, aware of the need and are responding to it.

Jalima1108 Thu 02-Nov-17 14:04:09

Good post grannyactivist which gives a truer picture of what the various churches are offering in the way of help.

I was in Wells last week and saw just one homeless man (presumably he was homeless), and did give him some cash but I am never sure if this is the right thing to do.
There is obviously an awareness in Wells of what is happening.

lemongrove Thu 02-Nov-17 14:07:50

I would say that churches do a wonderdul job of providing for those in need, be it food parcels, hot meals, clothes and money given by parishioners ( the poor box) and that few are turned away (if any) so there is no ‘shame’ , that over used word again, for the Church at all.Far from it.

Primrose65 Thu 02-Nov-17 14:27:57

When we were growing up we had tramps who we almost knew by sight as they were so unusual.

I have no idea where you grew up, but it was not representative of many urban areas. They had slums of hundreds of thousands of people. If you look at the history of Shelter, started in 1966, and their campaigns, I think you might have a different view. I'm not so sure that the low waged, renting a room for a whole family, had a better life than today. This glorious past never existed in my opinion.

Jalima1108 Thu 02-Nov-17 14:38:35

Yes, there were always tramps.

They 'tramped' around carrying their belongings., that is how the name came about.
I grew up in the house next door to the vicarage and there were always tramps calling there (sometimes they called at our house and DM would give them some food to take away). They seemed to walk the countryside rather than position themselves in town centres begging.

Peep Thu 02-Nov-17 15:29:30

What confuses me about this church situation, at least for C of E churches, is that churches seem so poor and rely on their parishioners for money, yet the Church of England is so rich. Why don't they help out more?

whitewave Thu 02-Nov-17 15:51:22

Yes I am sure you are right about the churches, it was a throwaway comment on my part seeing the homeless juxtaposed against the wealth that is the church.

What my real concern is that wealth is getting more and more concentrated at the very top. Unfortunately i think that it will be a recipie for disaster if this vast inequality continues. The lack of housing, the cuts and downward pressure on wages and benefits has already shown its discontent in the Brexit and Trump vote.

Jalima1108 Thu 02-Nov-17 16:03:37

After we had been to Wells we came home via the Mendips. I remarked to DH about an item we had seen on local tv about homeless people (men, mainly I think) who are living rough on the Mendips.
It was a damp, miserable day and I wondered what would happen to them when winter sets in. However, there is help available:

The article mentions The Connect Centre in Wells.

durhamjen Thu 02-Nov-17 16:11:34

The House of Lords has asked for comments about a similar situation. MySociety and lots of other groups have given submissions to the enquiry.

Day6 Thu 02-Nov-17 16:22:52

"And no I’m not envious, just demanding fairness."

I am not sure how you can demandfairness? Do we legislate against the wealthy?

I completely agree that the wealth gap is an obscenity and loathe the way the super rich are ostentatiously brash. We watched wealthy young men in gold plated super cars racing them around London streets, revving them up in Park Lane outside the plushest hotels. The rich gravitate to London to have their children educated in our public schools and buy up acres of land for their country piles and swathes of large cities while they are at it.

I grew up very poor. We started life in slum housing, so not a lot has changed sadly. Nurture, schooling and determination moved me on, nothing else. There was no money, no grammar school. Some people will struggle all their lives, some people will never ever understand what it means to go without.

I think the time may have come to think about a Robin Hood economy and the wealthiest residents of the UK contributing more to the cities they inhabit, whether they are here for two weeks or twenty years.

mostlyharmless Thu 02-Nov-17 16:40:52

Thank you primrose for that link to the Spectator. I found the article "In the lurch" October 21st edition.
So I think it's saying that some regions get seriously left behind. And the chart shows that it's far worse in the UK than in most other countries.
We are very London-centric and investment radiates out from London slowly, tailing off as it goes. But the size of the gap (in productivity) is much more serious than I would have expected.
The gap seems to have been accelerating in recent years.
I suppose regional development now is dealt with through devolved powers (Scotland, Wales and NI) and EU grants.
And the Northern Powerhouse of course!

durhamjen Thu 02-Nov-17 17:06:46

Whitewave, good things can happen to rich people.

What we think good, I mean, not what they think good.

whitewave Thu 02-Nov-17 17:12:05

Many economists think much of the problem is a result of wealth residing in property.

durhamjen Thu 02-Nov-17 17:20:54

Or residing in offshore tax havens.

Lazigirl Thu 02-Nov-17 17:35:51

It is dreadful to be very poor in an affluent society such as ours, and sadly the evidence shows that extreme inequality has adverse effects for society as a whole in terms of multiple health and social problems. I read about this a few years ago in a book called "The Spirit Level" by Wilkinson and Pickett. There is no doubt that reducing inequality would lead to a much better society BUT requires the political will to address it.

mostlyharmless Thu 02-Nov-17 19:33:34

"When 37% of children are brought up poor, that’s a national humiliation." Polly Toynbee in the Guardian

grannyactivist Thu 02-Nov-17 19:50:23

The Super Rich and Us is on BBC2 at the moment. I will catch it on iPlayer later if I can bear to watch it.

durhamjen Thu 02-Nov-17 22:37:30

Interesting reading.

Primrose65 Fri 03-Nov-17 13:33:59

As this is a thread about the concentration of wealth, it's just interesting to observe that both Polly Toynbee and Dawn Porter are both comfortably in the 1%. Do as I say, not as I do?

durhamjen Fri 03-Nov-17 15:27:24

Are they?
Is there a rule which says the rich can't want their wealth to be less, or shared out?
Is there a law which says that if you share your wealth you have to let others know how much you give away?