Crisis, but not for billionaires

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Riches beyond our dreams

Wednesday 01 December 2010

If there’s one phrase guaranteed to get right up the nostrils of anybody on the left of the political spectrum it’s “we’re all in it together.”

We know it’s not the case, the charities and NGOs that struggle to ameliorate the worst excesses of capitalism know it’s not the case, even the dogs in the street know that it’s not the case.

But the rotten lie keeps resurfacing in the pages of the tame Tory press, in one form or another, and the Lib Dems are propounding a philosophy of “equal pain” as hard as they can to justify their unprincipled treachery and opportunism.

So let’s try to put the lie to rest once and for all.

Two stories encapsulated the whole situation today and should really deliver the coup de grace to this silly fiction.

Wallis Simpson and ex-king Edward VIII meet Adolf Hitler

A bracelet owned by Wallis Simpson, whose love affair with Edward VIII led to his abdication, sold for a world record £4.5 million at auction. The Cartier-designed onyx and diamond panther bracelet reached £4,521,250 at Sotheby’s in London on Tuesday night.

Wallis Simpson bracelet

It was one of 20 pieces to go under the hammer in the sale, which raised a total of £7,975,550.

Somewhere in this brave new world of globalised markets, there are people with spare millions to squander on trinkets, perhaps bank bigshots with bonus money begging to be tucked away in hard assets, or maybe just successful currency speculators.

Elsewhere, in the cold, bleak world outside, the rest of Britain marches to a different drummer.

The Registrar General for Scotland told us, in a story that broke at the same time as the Sotheby’s debauch, that women in the poorest parts of Scotland can expect to live to 75.4 years of age, nine years less than those in the most affluent communities in the country.

And it’s even worse for men. Statistics showed that men living in the most deprived 10 per cent of the country have a life expectancy that is 13.4 years less than those in the least deprived area of Scotland.

It’s not just Scotland. In 2008-9, 13.5 million people in Britain lived in households below the low-income threshold of 60 per cent of the average British household income – around a fifth of the population.

Around a third of all disabled adults aged between 25 and retirement are living in low-income households.

Over the last decade, the poorest tenth of the population have, on average, seen a fall in their real incomes after deducting housing costs. The richest tenth of the population have seen much bigger proportional rises in their incomes than any other group.

Britain has a higher proportion of its population in relative low income than most other EU countries. Of the 27 EU countries, only four have a higher rate than Britain.

The number of children living in low-income households was 3.9 million in 2008-9.

The proportion of people aged 75 and over who receive care to help them live at home has almost halved over the last decade.

Around four million adults aged between 22 and retirement were paid less than £7 per hour in 2009.

Two-thirds of these were women and more than half were part-time workers.

Two-fifths of adults aged 45-64 on below-average incomes have a limiting long-term illness or disability, more than twice the rate for those on above-average incomes.

Children from manual social backgrounds are 1.5 times more likely to die as infants than children from non-manual social backgrounds.

In 2009, a quarter of workers earning less than £7 per hour worked in the public sector.

Now check out who the Tory cuts are hitting hardest – the low paid, public-sector workers, the elderly, the sick and disabled, the benefit claimants – the list shadows the schedule of those worst off in this society with an almost uncanny accuracy.

So, when someone tells you that we are all in it together, try not to react as your instincts tell you – strangling someone with their £ 4 million bracelet is still a crime.

A giant Frank Stella painting sells to a “private entity in Abu Dhabi” for $5 million: here.

On February 15, 2011, as the super-wealthy gathered at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art auction in London to sweep-up even more modern art “treasures” for their fetid private collections, reality intervened to burst their illusions. Just as Tobias Meyer, Sotheby’s worldwide head of contemporary art was taking bids on yet another oh-so-expensive Warhol silk-screen, chaos broke-out in the auction hall as a dozen art activists set off alarms, shouted, screamed, and threw counterfeit money into the air: here.

6 thoughts on “Crisis, but not for billionaires

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