Amazon makes Bezos rich, ruins workers’ health

This 30 November 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Investigation raises alarm about handling of worker fatality at Indiana Amazon facility

Our research into never-before-public injury records from 23 Amazon warehouses across the country indicates most had injury rates higher than the industry average. One particular incident in Indiana raises questions about how regulators and government officials deal with potential safety violations at the global company. Will Evans of Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting reports.

By Pete Lazenby in Britain:

Friday, January 31, 2020

Amazon made its £10bn profit last year off the back of its workers’ health, safety and pay, union says

Over the last three years, ambulances have been called to Amazon warehouses 600 times to deal with emergencies including broken bones, and workers collapsing

PROFITEERING online retailer Amazon was accused today of making more than £10 billion last year off the back of its workers’ health, safety, pay and working conditions.

Figures released by the company show that the firm, which runs a string of giant warehouses across Britain, made £10.7 billion in global profits over the whole of 2019.

Amazon’s profits for the fourth quarter of 2019 were £3.1bn in the final three months of the year.

GMB national officer Mick Rix said: “Amazon’s profits come at a heavy cost.

Conditions at the company’s warehouses are appalling. Workers are breaking bones, being knocked unconscious, being taken away in ambulances.

“It’s time for Amazon to take its social responsibilities seriously, reinvest its profits in creating a safe environment, and listen to the independent voice of its workers who are crying out for change.”

GMB has also accused the company of using tax loopholes to avoid paying an estimated £89 million in corporation tax.

As reported in the Morning Star, working conditions in Amazon’s warehouses are appalling.

Over the last three years, ambulances have been called to Amazon warehouses 600 times to deal with emergencies including broken bones, and workers collapsing.

The company refuses to recognise trade unions, but general union GMB has recruited workers at the firm who have given graphic reports on shocking working conditions, low wages and insecurity of employment.

Research carried out by the TUC revealed last year that Amazon employees would have to work for five weeks to receive the same amount in pay that the company’s boss Jeff Bezos is paid in one second.

Monopoly board game, capitalist or socialist?

This 2015 video from the USA says about itself:

Who Really Invented Monopoly?

Monopoly, arguably the most-famous board game, was invented by Charles Darrow. But many attribute the original idea to Lizzie Magie, a Quaker and the creator of the Landlord’s Game, which bears striking resemblance to its more-popular successor.

By James Mather in Britain:

Monday, December 23, 2019

The hidden anti-capitalist history of Monopoly

The popular board game has surprising socialist origins, says JAMES MATHER

MANY of our Christmas traditions have unusual roots, but perhaps the most surprising are those of the board game Monopoly, which you may find yourself playing over the holidays.

Monopoly is the perfect symbol of capitalism — to the extent that the game was banned in East Germany until after the fall of the Berlin Wall, after which Monopoly championships were held in Berlin.

Hasbro, the brand’s owners, will tell you that Charles Darrow invented the game during the Great Depression, single-handedly creating what he called a “real estate trading game” with property names taken from Atlantic City.

Patented in 1935, Monopoly sold over two million copies within the first two years of its production and would go on to become the world’s fourth-bestselling board game.

The actual origins of the game, however, are quite different from Hasbro’s history.

Around three decades before Darrow patented the game, an actor named Lizzie Magie invented it as a tool for teaching the philosophy of Henry George, that individuals should not own land.

In George’s book Progress and Poverty (1879) he describes ownership of private land as an “erroneous and destructive principle” and argues instead that land should be owned communally with members of society acting collectively as “the general landlord”.

Magie called it “The Landlord’s Game”. It had a continuous track along the sides of a square play mat. The track was divided into blocks marked with the name of a property, its buying price and rent value.

You could even go to jail … Merry Christmas! However, the chance cards were quite different from the ones we see today, as they had relevant quotes, such as: “‘The earth belongs in usufruct to the living’ — Thomas Jefferson.”

As I’m sure you already knew, usufruct means the right to enjoy the use and advantages of another’s property short of the destruction or waste of its substance.

“‘The greatest astonishment of my life was the discovery that the man who does the work is not the man who gets rich’ — Andrew Carnegie” was another quote featured.

Instead of the word “Go!” on Magie’s version the start box had the phrase ‘“Labour Upon Mother Earth Produces Wages.”

The Landlord’s Game was played in various forms and had different names — “Monopoly” and “Auction” and “Finance” were variants and was apparently especially popular in the Quaker communities as well as among professors of economics and university students.

The main premise was the same as present-day Monopoly — players were reduced to financial ruin after being plunged into debt due to escalating rents and there was a single winner, the monopolist.

This is perhaps the main failing of Monopoly as an anti-capitalist tool, it puts you in the position of the capitalist and it’s such good fun.

However, in The Landlord’s Game the players could decide to do something completely different: they could work together as a collective.

Under these alternative rules the players would pay land rent not to a landlord but into a common pot — the rent socialised so that, as Magie would later write, “Prosperity is achieved”.

The game was shared freely in the public domain, as much a part of the cultural commons as chess or draughts. The Landlord’s Game was, in effect, the property of anyone who learned how to play it. Consequently Magie made no money from her invention.

The lesson of Monopoly is that one of the strengths of capitalism is its flexibility, it can absorb and neutralise criticism and turn to its own advantage.

Unlike the feudal system, capitalism is inclusive and can adapt in order to dissipate challenges — and make a profit from doing it. That’s one of capitalism’s great strengths and one of the major problems in trying to combat it.

Any brand that can be commercialised is sure to have a Monopoly board as part of its catalogue — for example, “One Direction Monopoly”, “Pokemon Monopoly”, “Avengers Monopoly” and even “Bass Fishing Monopoly.”

At least one billion people in 111 countries play the game, with an estimated six billion miniature green houses manufactured to date.

There have been 1,144 versions of Monopoly, so if you’re playing the game over Christmas remember its socialist origins.

This January 2019 video says about itself:

Anti Monopoly Board Game Play w/ Brother! (2 HOUR ASMR!)

A hilarious and entertaining board game playing with my brother Daniel. We always argue when we are competing as you have seen in our video game collab videos, and this time was no different! I cut out the worst parts that would wake you up like the yelling and cackling or interruptions LOL but the rest should soothe you into calm at least, and sometimes laughter here and there. Perfect to listen to while doing other tasks. But if you watch in full screen also good to follow along like an observer.

I received the anti-monopoly board game from my brother as a Christmas present and I had no idea it even existed because I thought only the regular monopoly did so I was a bit confused at the rules in first regard but then he later explained it to me so it became clear. You compete as a competitor or a monopolist and there are various rule changes between the two when purchasing real estate or property, and even when buying houses and apartments, and charging rent against your opponent. Let’s see who ended up winning? I won the first time I played against him and it got him so angry LOL! You can tell the tension and frustration rising in this game too. XD

This 2017 video from the USA says about itself:

One of the gifts I received for X-Mas was Class Struggle, a Marxist board game from the 1970s created by a Marxist NYU professor named Bertell Ollman.

See also here.

Sorry We Missed You, new Loach film

This 17 May 2019 video from France says about itself:

SORRY WE MISSED YOU – Press conference – Cannes 2019 – EV

Press conference of SORRY WE MISSED YOU with Henry Béhar moderator / Rebecca O’Brien producer / Rhys Stone actor / Katie Proctor actress / Kris Hitchen actor / Ken Loach director / Debbie Honeywood actress / Paul Laverty screenplay / Robbie Ryan cinematography.

By Maria Duarte in Britain:

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Film Of The Week

On message for December 12

Ken Loach‘s film on the obscenity of the gig economy is a vital reminder of what’s at stake in the coming election, says MARIA DUARTE

Sorry We Missed You (15)
Directed by Ken Loach

AFTER his critically acclaimed I, Daniel Blake, Ken Loach shines a much-needed spotlight on Britain’s exploitative zero-hours contract and gig economy in this powerful, heart-wrenching drama.

It comes shortly after his impassioned speech on BBC Question Time in which he slammed the gig economy for killing a white-van driver, for which Loach was hailed as a working-class hero by some social media users.

Penned by Paul Laverty, Loach’s long-term writing partner, Sorry We Missed You tells the story of a loving working-class family struggling to make ends meet and battling debt ever since the 2008 financial crash and the collapse of Northern Rock, which ended their dreams of owning their own home.

But father-of-two Ricky (Kris Hitchen), working endless odd jobs for years, sees an opportunity to get his family’s life back on track by becoming his own boss as a self-employed delivery driver.

He lays a guilt-trip on his care-worker wife Abbie (Debbie Honeywood) and she sells her car so that he can buy a van. That makes getting to her many elderly clients a much more arduous job and, being on a zero-hours contract, she is only paid for the visits she makes.

The film opens with a black screen and Ricky being enticed by his prospective employer (Ross Brewster, a former serving police officer) as to the advantages of working for himself and the company. “You don’t work for us, you work with us,” he tells him as he seals the deal with: “You are the master of your own destiny.”

The stark reality is that Ricky is beholden to the electronic scanner that tracks his every move and delivery. If he needs to take a day off and cannot provide a replacement driver, he is fined and sanctioned, plunging him into deeper debt and putting him in a moral quandary.

Both he and his wife end up working 14-hour-long days, after which they don’t have any time or energy for each other or their two kids who are left to fend for themselves.

Their 16-year-old son Seb (impressive newcomer Rhys Stone) is going off the rails and their wise younger daughter Lisa Jane (a phenomenal Katie Proctor) is the glue that is holding the family together.

With no cinematic frills or gimmicks, just a poignant screenplay brought to captivating life by his remarkable cast, Loach drives home the criminal injustice and inhumane practices of a gig economy, which exploits and penalises people desperately trying to keep afloat. In extreme cases, it costs them their lives.

With another general election looming, let’s hope that the film’s vital message isn’t lost in the melee. It will certainly make you see delivery drivers in a whole new, and compassionate, light., 25 years of exploitation

This 5 September 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Exposed: Undercover Reporter at Amazon Warehouse Found Abusive Conditions & No Bathroom Breaks

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders has targeted Amazon for its role in widening the wage gap in the United States, and this week he is expected to unveil legislation requiring large employers like Amazon to cover the cost of federal assistance received by their employees.

We speak with journalist James Bloodworth, who spent a month working undercover as a “picker” in an Amazon order fulfillment center and found workers were urinating in bottles because they were discouraged from taking bathroom breaks. His new book is “Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain.”

By Tom Carter in the USA:

Amazon’s 25th anniversary: A conglomerate based on parasitism and exploitation

8 July 2019

Last week, Amazon commemorated its 25th anniversary. From its beginnings in a garage in Seattle, Washington, Amazon has grown into a multinational technology conglomerate with a market capitalization of nearly one trillion dollars.

In 1994, future Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos left his job at hedge fund D.E. Shaw to get out in front of the possibilities opened up by the accelerating development of the internet, beginning with the modest idea of an online bookstore. Bezos went on to become the wealthiest man on the planet, his hoard by one estimate peaking at a record $157 billion before his assets were divided in a divorce earlier this year.

Now considered one of the “Big Four” technology monopolies alongside Apple, Google and Facebook, Amazon controls the largest marketplace on the Internet: The conglomerate’s reach extends from Whole Foods Market, which Amazon purchased in 2017 for $13.4 billion, to consumer electronics such as the Kindle reader and the voice-controlled Alexa. Amazon subsidiary Kuiper Systems announced in April of this year that it will spend a decade launching 3,236 satellites into space to provide broadband internet.

Traditional book publishers were decimated by the arrival of Amazon, which aggressively pursued them, in the words of Bezos, “the way a cheetah would pursue a sickly gazelle.” Using its vast flows of cash, Amazon ruthlessly undercut its rivals, from neighborhood stores to diaper manufacturers, accepting losses in order to drive competitors out of its way. Meanwhile, Amazon demanded and obtained free money from state and local governments in the form of tax breaks and other concessions.

Amazon’s annual revenues reached $233 billion in 2018, on which the conglomerate is expected to pay zero federal income tax. To put this figure in perspective, these revenues are nearly at the level of the annual tax revenue of Russia, which amounted to $253.9 billion in US dollars in 2017. Amazon’s revenues are higher than the government revenues of Turkey ($173.9 billion), Austria ($197.8 billion), Poland ($90.8 billion) and Iran ($77.2 billion).

Nearly half of American households now have subscriptions to Amazon Prime. The click of a mouse on a personal computer, or the tap of a finger on a mobile device, now sets into motion the speedy delivery of commodities from around the world, or the instantaneous electronic transmission of a film, song or book. Behind these deceptively simple transactions lies Amazon’s vast and complex commercial, logistics, distribution and computing empire.

Promising advances have indeed been made in automation and artificial intelligence. These technological advances carry with them tremendous liberating potential for human civilization as a whole. Heavy and repetitive toil by humans can increasingly be mitigated by robots, and possibilities appear on the horizon for advanced levels of coordination and integration around the world, assisted by artificial intelligence.

But under capitalism, new advances in technology have made possible new techniques of exploitation. Amazon has become a watchword for a new kind of despotism in the workplace.

In Amazon “fulfillment centers”, workers are forbidden to carry cellphones or to talk to each other. They are searched coming in and out, and minute details of their activity throughout the workday are tracked. Amazon specializes in putting constant pressure on workers to move as fast as possible, with electronic devices constantly prompting and prodding them to complete the next task.

Workers are instructed to compete with each other to surpass each other’s rates, which they are admonished constitutes “fun”. Arbitrarily high rates are demanded, and then raised, and then raised again. A worker who takes a moment to rest, to drink water, or to go to the bathroom can be criticized for a diminished rate. The workers who are deemed too slow, or who simply tire out, are replaced.

Amazon is now the second-largest employer in the United States, and there are around 647,000 Amazon workers worldwide. Journalist John Cassidy, writing about Amazon in the New Yorker in 2015, commented: “Behind all the technological advances and product innovation, there is a good deal of old-fashioned labor discipline, wage repression, and exertion of management power.”

Over the past week, the World Socialist Web Site published an article exposing the injury of 567 workers over a two-year period at Amazon’s DFW-7 fulfillment center near Fort Worth, Texas. In December of last year, the WSWS reported how Amazon had hired a private detective to spy on 27-year-old worker Michelle Quinones in an effort to block compensation for her injury.

Amazon has appeared in the “Dirty Dozen” list maintained by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) for two years in a row. The 2019 report highlights six worker deaths in seven months, 13 deaths since 2013, “a high incidence of suicide attempts, workers urinating in bottles and workers left without resources or income after on-the-job injuries.”

Amazon’s techniques are merely a refined expression of conditions being imposed on workers around the world. In March of this year, Ford Motor Company announced the hiring of its new chief financial officer, Tim Stone, who previously served as Amazon’s former vice president of finance and the leader of the Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods. Stone was hired as Ford carries out brutal cost cutting in the US, Europe and around the world.

There is no shortage of opposition among Amazon workers. On social media, current and former Amazon workers are contacting each other, looking for ways to fight back. In Poland, where Amazon workers make around $5 per hour, Amazon walked out of negotiations on July 2 with two unions over working conditions, setting the stage for a strike.

… The WSWS fights for the building of independent, rank-and-file workplace committees to unite Amazon workers throughout the world with all workers in a common counteroffensive.

The key to the struggle of Amazon workers is an understanding that the fight against Amazon is a fight against the capitalist system itself. In 25 years, Amazon produced the biggest individual fortune in history, and it did so on the backs of hundreds of thousands of workers. In the words of Karl Marx, Amazon’s trajectory represents an “accumulation of misery, corresponding with accumulation of capital.”

Not just Bezos, but many others have enriched themselves or stand to enrich themselves from Amazon’s rise. Wall Street has its fingers in the pie. The Vanguard Group currently owns $55 billion of Amazon stock, BlackRock owns $45 billion and FMR owns $30 billion.

The parasitic activities of Amazon, through which it has sought to appropriate for itself the surplus value accumulated by other companies, has been integrated with the financial parasitism of the American economy. Amazon’s own stock has been buoyed ever higher as part of the speculative mania on Wall Street.

Amazon is entangled not only with Wall Street, but also with the US military and intelligence apparatus. Amazon was awarded a $600 million contract with the CIA in 2013, followed by a $10 billion contract with the Department of Defense last year to move government data onto the cloud. Meanwhile, Amazon’s facial-identification software “Rekognition” is being marketed to federal and local police.

In 2013, Bezos personally purchased, and now operates, the Washington Post, which has been a main media voice for the Democratic Party’s anti-Russia campaign and the overall interests of American imperialism.

The increasing integration of Amazon with the repressive apparatus of the state, while its tentacles stretch into every corner of society, confirms the Marxist understanding of the relationship between capitalism and democracy in the modern epoch. “Finance capital does not want liberty, it wants domination”, wrote Austrian Marxist Rudolf Hilferding, in a passage quoted by Lenin in Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism.

Amazon must be placed under public ownership and democratic control. It must be taken out of the hands of the financial oligarchy and transformed into a public utility. The technology and infrastructure behind Amazon’s meteoric trajectory and the biggest individual fortune in modern history must be turned towards the needs and aspirations of the world’s population as a whole.

This program can only be achieved through the mobilization of the working class on an international scale on the basis of a fight to overthrow the capitalist system and establish a democratically-controlled socialist economy, run on the basis of social need, not private profit.

‘United States young people sick of capitalism’

This 15 June 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

POLL: Millennials Are Sick Of Capitalism

As wealth inequality reaches historic proportions, the popularity of socialism continues to rise. John Iadarola and Brett Erlich break it down on The Damage Report.

United States young people on socialism, capitalism

This 30 December 2011 video from the USA says about itself:

A recent poll results were released which asked Americans what their opinion of socialism is. Find out whether or not young people prefer socialism or capitalism? Ben Mankiewicz, Cenk Uygur and Michael Shure discuss the results.

So, that was over seven years ago. And now …

By Trévon Austin in the USA:

New poll shows American youth are increasingly supportive of socialism

13 March 2019

A Harris poll exclusively reported by Axios has found that a larger majority of youth—Millennials and Generation Z—are embracing “socialism” and policies associated with it. The increasingly positive view of socialism is a continuation of a trend recorded in the last few years.

According to the poll, which was conducted in February 2019, 61 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 (born after 1995) view socialism in a positive light. Furthermore, 73.1 percent of Millennials, those born between 1980 and 1994, and Generation Z, those born after 1995, believe the government should provide universal health care, and 67.1 percent think college should be tuition-free.

The top three voting issues for Gen Z, according to the Harris poll, are mass shootings, racial equality, and immigration policy and treatment of immigrants. Millennials’ top issues are access to health care, global warming/climate change and mass shootings.

A similar 2018 Gallup poll found that 51 percent of Americans between 18 and 29 viewed socialism positively, while less than half of the same age group found capitalism agreeable. The Gallup poll’s inclusion of ages 25 to 29 makes an exact comparison difficult, but the results from the new Harris poll suggests an increased interest in socialism compared to last year, an ongoing trend since the aftermath of the Great Recession.

The source of the interest in socialism is not hard to find. American youth are part of a generation that has experienced nothing but economic crises, social degradation, unending violence, and the deteriorating living conditions of the working class.

Many are without access to decent paying jobs and are forced to live with their parents. The average student graduating from college with debt has a total debt of nearly $30,000, with no guarantee of employment. Furthermore, research shows that Millennials are the first generation set to be worse off than their parents.

Youth have grown up in the shadow of the “war on terror” and have been subject to police brutality and gun violence at home and in schools. The US military’s murderous campaign in the Middle East is immensely unpopular among youth. For the fifth year in a row, police have killed over 1,000 people, and last year’s March for Our Lives was a response to the stream of school shootings that claimed the lives of hundreds of children.

The widespread support for socialism terrifies the ruling class, which fears above all that the growth of working class struggle over the past year will acquire a socialist orientation and perspective. The US has seen an escalating wave of strikes and workers’ militancy. From 2009 to 2018, strike activity jumped from 124,000 work days lost, to 2.8 million, an increase of over 2,000 percent.

Last month, US President Donald Trump unleashed a tirade against socialism and declared a global crusade against it. He declared the United States would “never be a socialist country” in the State of the Union speech. Trump’s speeches are a direct appeal to ultra-right forces in the US and spout the poison of nationalism and xenophobia.

For their part, the Democrats have had two distinct but parallel responses. A dominant faction of the party establishment has hastened to repudiate any association with socialism. Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris recently told reporters she was not a “democratic socialist” but a “progressive Democrat”. In 2017, when responding to an NYU student asking about the future of the party, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi declared, “We’re capitalists.”

On the other hand, there are figures such as Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez … . Significantly, Millennials and Generation Z will make up 37 percent of voters in the upcoming 2020 elections. Large sections of young people are responding favorably to Sanders’ second presidential election [campaign].

Why Are Jewish Millennials Flocking To Socialism? Passover Has The Answer: here.

YOUNG MIAMI CUBANS WARM TO SOCIALISM While more than half of Americans rejected socialism in a recent Gallup poll, 43% surveyed said some version of it would be good for the country. That sentiment was held by 58% of respondents ages 18 to 34, compared with just 36% of those 55 and older. And it’s growing among Miami’s young Cubans. [AP]

USA: 70 percent of Millennials say they would be “somewhat likely” or “extremely likely” to vote for a socialist candidate. The percentage of Millennials who say they would be extremely likely to vote for a socialist candidate has doubled (from 10 percent in 2018 to 20 percent in 2019): here.

Big pharma tax dodging, new report

This September 2017 video from the USA is called New Tax-Funded Cancer Drug Costs $475k Thanks To Big Pharma.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Abbott, Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Pfizer: these largest pharmaceutical companies in the world report significant profits in countries with favorable tax policies, including the Netherlands. This is evident from new research by Oxfam Novib. …

Due to profit shifting, many countries miss out on tax revenues, which are often needed to improve access to health care. On the basis of available figures, Oxfam estimates that the four major pill corporations are dodging an estimated 3.8 billion dollars in taxes in countries such as Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, the USA, Thailand, India and Ecuador. …

Esmé Berkhout, Oxfam Novib’s tax expert, is clear: “Drug corporations seem to be deceiving governments by tax-dodging, they have to pay honest taxes, make their medicines affordable and stop manipulating and influencing governments for their own gain.”

Ella Weggen of Wemos – an independent social organization that focuses on the improvement of health worldwide – agrees with the words of Berkhout: “Tax dodging does not improve the reputation of pharma companies and denies governments money they desperately need for investing in health care”.

US multinationals dodge $180 billion in taxes on foreign profits per year: here.

Billionaires getting richer

This video from the USA is called Poverty in America: Documentary 2017.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Worlds’ richest 1 trillion richer

Today, 22:26

The 500 richest people on earth this year have gained 1 trillion extra dollars, according to a calculation by Bloomberg news agency. The growth, which is four times the size of last year, was mainly due to rising share prices.

The boss of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, saw his wealth increase most: with 34.2 billion dollars to almost 100 billion in total. Bezos took over in October as the richest man in the world from Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Gates, now the number two, … received around 9 billion dollars. His assets are estimated at more than 91 billion dollars.

The 500 richest people have $ 5.3 trillion according to Bloomberg. A year ago that was 4.4 trillion dollars.

See also here.

Online retail giant Amazon commenced operations early December in Australia, opening a fulfilment centre in outer Melbourne. The move forms part of Amazon’s continuing global expansion, based on the accumulation of profit through the brutal exploitation of low-wage warehouse workers. The company’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, is now the world’s wealthiest individual, with a personal fortune estimated at more than $US100 billion: here.

Inequality getting worse, economists say

Top 1 percent vs. bottom 50 percent national income shares in the USA 1980–2016

By Niles Niemuth in the USA:

World’s richest one percent capture twice as much income growth as the bottom half

15 December 2017

The inaugural World Inequality Report published on Thursday by economists Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, Gabriel Zucman, Facundo Alvaredo and Lucas Chancel documents the rise in global income and wealth inequality since 1980.

The report covers up to 2016, leaving out the last year, in which the stock market has soared on the expectation that the US will enact massive tax cuts, providing yet another windfall for the rich.

The report found that between 1980 and 2016 the world’s richest one percent captured twice the income growth as the bottom half of the world’s population, contributing to a significant rise in global inequality.

The data shows that world’s top 0.1 percent alone captured as much growth as the bottom half, and the top 0.001 percent, just 76,000 people worldwide, received 4 percent of global income growth. Meanwhile those in 50th to 99th percentiles worldwide, which the report refers to as the “squeezed bottom 90 percent in the US and Western Europe”, encompassing the working class in the world’s advanced economies, experienced anemic growth rates.

The report is based on tax data and other financial information collected for the World Wealth and Income Database by more than 100 researchers in 70 countries. It shows that income inequality has either risen or remained stable in every country.

Additionally, the report found that concentration of wealth in the hands of the top one percent has risen sharply, particularly in the US, Russia and China. In the US, the wealth share monopolized by the top one percent rose from 22 percent in 1980 to 39 percent; in China it doubled from 15 percent to 30 percent; and in Russia it went from 22 percent to 43 percent.

In terms of income, the top ten percent captured 37 percent of national income in Europe, 41 percent in China, 47 percent in the United States-Canada, 54 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa, 55 percent in Brazil and India, and 61 percent in the Middle East.

Top 1 percent wealth shares across the world, 1913–2015

Notably Russia, when it was still part of the Soviet Union, had the lowest level of inequality in 1980, with the top ten percent accounting for 20 percent of income. There was a sharp spike in inequality following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1990-91, with half of all national income going to the top ten percent in less than five years. Russia has now reached parity with the United States, returning to levels of inequality which prevailed a century ago under the rule of the tsar.

The report also shows that there has been a significant divergence in inequality levels between the United States and Europe since 1980, when the top one percent claimed 10 percent of income in both regions. As of 2016, the top one percent in Europe claimed 12 percent of income, while in the United States its share had doubled to 20 percent.

The top one percent and the bottom half of the American population have essentially flipped positions. While the bottom 50 percent received 20 percent of national income in 1980, that figure declined steadily to just 13 percent by 2016. Conversely, the one percent steadily increased their claim on national income, from 10 percent to 20 percent in less than two generations.

Average annual income for the bottom half of the US population, adjusted for inflation, has remained at $16,500 for the last forty years, while the top one percent has seen its average income triple from $430,000 to $1.3 million.

Top 10 percent income shares across the world, 1980–2016

The report’s authors note in an op-ed published in the Guardian that the United States is an outlier among the advanced economies, with a surge in income and wealth inequality over the last four decades which has developed into a “second Gilded Age.”

The authors attribute the dramatic difference between the US and Europe to a “perfect storm of radical policy changes” in the US. They argue that the growth of inequality in the US has been exacerbated by a number of factors, including a tax system that has become less progressive over time, a federal minimum wage that has not kept up with inflation, shrinking unions, deregulation of the finance industry and increasingly unequal access to higher education. They warn that the Republican tax cuts will “turbocharge” the further rise of inequality.

Despite its explosive content, the latest report on inequality was buried by the media, relegated to a small headline in the Business Day section of the New York Times and posted well down the Guardian’s front page in the world news section. The vast and ever-growing levels of social inequality around the world is not what the ruling classes in the US, Europe and elsewhere want to talk about.

Social inequality in the United States is being ignored and covered up by the political system. The Democrats are entirely focused on issues of sex and the anti-Russia campaign, even as the Republicans are pushing to finalize tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy by the end of the year.

However, under the surface of official life, class conflict is growing. The World Inequality Report reveals that the contradictions of the capitalist system find expression in every country.

In concluding their report, the authors refer to policy decisions that could be adopted to reverse the growth of social inequality, promoting the illusion that a fair distribution of resources can be achieved under capitalism through various liberal reform measures and appeals to capitalist governments to enact progressive tax measures.

There is, however, no “reform” faction in the ruling class. The growth of inequality in the US has been carried out under both Democrats and Republicans … . In Europe, the ruling elite is moving rapidly to “catch up” to the United States through the implementation of labor “reform” measures, the destruction of social programs and the redistribution of wealth to the rich.

The response of the ruling class to growing social opposition is not reform, but repression. A movement against inequality requires the building of a socialist movement of the international working class, on the basis of a socialist program to appropriate the wealth of the corporate and financial oligarchy, transform the banks and giant corporations into democratically-controlled public utilities, and reorganize economic life on the basis of social need.

The UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty, Philip Alston, toured Southern California last week as part of a two-week tour to investigate the economic condition of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the US. Alston is to share preliminary remarks at the conclusion of his tour on the December 15, and is to release a final report next spring: here.

US becoming ‘world champion of extreme inequality’ under Donald Trump, says UN poverty envoy. ‘The American dream is rapidly becoming the American illusion’: here.

Last week, as Congress rushed to pass a tax bill that will transfer trillions of dollars to the financial oligarchy, two separate teams of experts published damning reports documenting the growth of social inequality in the United States: here.

Social inequality in Australia, which is already higher than in many other developed countries, worsened markedly in 2016–17, according to data presented by the charity Oxfam last week. In particular, the statistics compiled by Oxfam in its latest Australian factsheet, titled “Growing gulf between work and wealth”, show an accelerating concentration of wealth in the hands of billionaires at the expense of workers: here.