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Changing Inequality

It is telling that in the Covid years, the wealthiest people in the world increased their wealth by billions (Jeff Bezos increased his wealth by $74 billion, Musk by $103 billion, and, for example, Canada's, top 20 billionaires became $37 billion richer while everyone was locked down). Meanwhile others worked reduced hours and struggled to pay bills. If an alien came down to earth to record our behaviors, they would note that some individuals in our colony hoard billions more acorns than they can eat, while others are left starving. They would wonder what on earth is going on. It is not a clever discovery to make - that unchecked capitalism has failed society. Clearly it has. While it has delivered massive wealth to a few, we have witnessed with our own eyes the rise of inequality and the encouragement of over consumption and pollution in deregulated societies. Not to mention the other collateral damage of unchecked capitalism - the demise of human values. Our leisure time has, somewhere along the line, become completely monetized by the wealthy to whom we have conceded our algorithmized attention. They know what we want because we let them see our habits, and so they put in front of us their version of whatever we want to look at, and we now even think about whatever they want us to think about. But don't equate capitalism with democracy. The slide of humankind is not a failing of the democratic west. Wealth in the hands of a few is also the hallmark of Venezuela, Russia and many autocracies. As with the old circle graph where fascism and communism meet at the bottom if you draw the lines to the left and right far enough, so do absolute deregulation and absolute political control meet in dystopian unity if you draw their lines long enough.. It is unchecked capitalism that is the problem, not democracy. A good democracy is one way out of inequality. In a good democracy, representatives will explain the benefits of regulation and be voted in to implement them. A good autocracy would likewise be an antidote to excessive inequality. So let us not demonize political systems. Demonize the choices that you and I are making today, to the extent they do not include any attempt to engage in political life. How do you engage in political life? A simple vote on, even if anonymous, is an engagement in global politics. Go for it. Support democracy, and oppose the things that cause the rampant inequalities that we see in the world today - the suppression of free thought through the hijacking of media by certain actors; the spreading of false information; and the dumbing down of individual development through the algorithmic seduction of targeted social media. Long live free thinking. Long live good democracies.
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