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The Wealth Gap

Written By: - Date published: 2:42 pm, January 18th, 2012 - 23 comments
Categories: equality, radio - Tags:

I’ve not had a chance to listen to it, but looks like there’s a good documentary on BBC World Service about now (Auckland 810AM, Coromandel 107FM, or just follow the previous web link…).

The Wealth Gap looks at how the top 0.1% are running off with all the wealth.

The richest 1% have almost reversed the trend from early in the 20th century to get back up to 20% of national income in the UK.  But many in the top 1% are being left behind by the top 0.1%.

FTSE 100 company chief executives’ total pay rose by 49% during the previous year alone, compared with average increases of less than 3% for their employees.  The rise left the chief executives with average pay of £4.2m: 145 times the average pay of their employees and 162 times the British average wage.

The richest thousand individuals leave in the UK saw their wealth increase on average in 2010 alone by £60m. That was a 20% gain, following 25% the previous year.

The top 0.1% has gone from earning 61 times as much as the bottom 90% to 95 times as much between 1997 and 2007.  Have they really suddenly become so valuable, so necessary to the economy or their companies to be rewarded so ridiculously?  And if so: why is the world struggling so much?

Looks an interesting program.  I’ll be listening tonight…

23 comments on “The Wealth Gap ”

  1. RedLogix 1

    Again… the same damned sharp inflexion point in 1980.

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    This documentary is not allowed to be screened in election years.

  3. Have they really suddenly become so valuable, so necessary to the economy or their companies to be rewarded so ridiculously?  And if so: why is the world struggling so much?
    Good questions.
    The answers are:
    1.  In their view of course so.
    2.  They are blind to the problems of the rest of the world.  As far as they are concerned this is not a matter for them to be worried about.  After all the rest of the world’s problems are because they are (choose one or more of the following) bludgers/solo mums/beneficiaries/drunks/drug addicts/just not right/foreigners/speak in a funny accent …

  4. randal 4

    thats the year that ronny raygun gave in to the bondholders and appointed volcker chairman of the federal reserve and financial assets became more important than productive assets.

  5. randal 5

    oh and thats when right wing nutbar milton friedman thought it was possible to control inflation by controlling M1 alone.
    in the ensuing debacle and dont forget the pc spreadsheet revolution it became too easy for the beancounters to grab everything and they did and they are still doing it.

  6. Matt 6

    Well, atleast the bottom incomes are rising! I can understand why people are jealous of people in high incomes, such as CEO’s but whats the alternative? If you lower their pay considerably they’ll scamper off to some other company, high tax increases will just ship everyone away, then you’ll get uneducated muppets running the likes of BP, Barclays, J Sainsbury etc. That would create chaos. And if you think shelf stackers (which I have done) with no experience can run a major company, saying your head is in the sand is an understatement.

    @McFlock and Labour was elected in 1997. Interesting huh. I’m sick of the left worrying about what other are getting paid. If you don’t like it then work your way up the ladder, get an education and get those higher incomes.

    [lprent: Can’t quite figure out why you wound up in spam… Perhaps it has a bullshit detector? ]

    • Lanthanide 6.1

      “then you’ll get uneducated muppets running the likes of BP, Barclays, J Sainsbury etc. That would create chaos.”

      Wow, really?

      The last few years have been pretty chaotic. I guess we already have those uneducated muppets running the likes of BP, Barclays, J Sainsbury etc. Amirite?

      “If you don’t like it then work your way up the ladder, get an education and get those higher incomes.”

      If you hadn’t noticed (seems like you haven’t), the ladder metaphor is incorrect. Incomes are more like pyramids: tiny little fraction at the top get heaps, most people hardly get anything. There’s only so much room at the top, which means someone is always missing out. The “left” doesn’t have a problem with person A being at the top of the pyramid, the left has a problem with people E through Z being at the bottom with no fair chance of improving their lot, often through no fault of their own.

      I’m sure if the world really fit the ladder metaphor as you suggest it does, the world would be a much better place.

    • Colonial Viper 6.2


      Dumber, less ambitious, less hubristic CEOs would have avoided the GFC and the destruction of billions in worker pension funds.

      Get rid of the fuckers and replace them with workers councils.

      And if you think shelf stackers (which I have done) with no experience can run a major company, saying your head is in the sand is an understatement.

      I know highly qualified people with a lot of experience currently working minimum wage jobs because the economy has decided they are waste surplus.

      CEOs and directors are not gods. They often destroy societal wealth. We could do with ones with smaller egos, smaller insecurity complexes and smaller ambitions.

      Bottom line for me. No one is worth more than 20x the median wage in total renumeration and thats where a 91% income tax should kick in.

      • beachbum 6.2.1

        I agree with the overall sentiment. C.V. can you put into numbers what your scenario might look like in a NZ context. What is current median wage say $45k??? so taht would mean 91% income tax kicks in at say $900k

        They would need to ensure share options are taxed as well and all the other benefits. I lean to the right but have no problem with taxing those who can afford to pay. I think at 91% it may be a bit extreme but certainly back to the days of (was it) 66% at say 10 times median should be totally acceptable. There has to be more tax paid buts its too damn easy for successive govts to push through changes to the tax laws and turn things upside down very quickly.

        Having said that…..salaried employees deserve to be taxed higher, but there has to be soem reward for the business owners who invest their own cash – and am fully aware that employees are also important etc, but businesses need encouragement to grow.

        • Colonial Viper

          I think the median wage is about $40K and the average wage is about $49K pa.

          I use 91% as a bit of a provocative figure – but that was the top US income tax rate circa 1960.

          Re: share options being taxed; if the options are exercised and they make a gain, then that gain will be taxed as income. A rule could be made to say that the option is taxed at the applicable rate for the person on the date of initial granting.

          Probably the biggest gap which exists in our tax system – which both Morgans have talked about before and amptly demonstrated – is a lack of tax on capital gains. A land tax and FTT might also be in order.

          It would let taxation on wage earners on less than $70K pa to be eased off.

          We have to invest in the productive infrastructure and social services of this country. Hard times are coming and this investment will pay off for all.

          Business owners who grow jobs onshore, invest their capital in a productive company and add value tot he local economy must be well incentivised and rewarded, I agree.

    • McFlock 6.3

      Labour after they remove clause 4 from the constitution. Look it up.

    • mik e 6.4

      really good examples matt BP and Barclays both dubious management

  7. Drongo 7

    It’s so enjoyable watching Odgers’ bullshit take on this get smashed to bits. Couldn’t happen to a nicer person.

  8. One Anonymous Bloke 9

    It’s about time these facts were banned from the internet, they are obviously biased. We need proper right-wing opinion-based facts, not this so called “observed evidence”.

  9. Georgecom 10

    Meanwhile the World Bank has revised downward its forecast for global economic growth and is predicting a potentially bumpy year ahead.

    Can someone remind me, when DID John Key predict NZ would come ‘roaring out of recession’?

    I mean, what year did that statement relate to?

    • tc 10.1

      Relates to every year George…..just another slogan like the brighter future and good to go under any circumstances. No recession for key and his mates so in a way he’s correct.

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