Mind The Gap
Your Sunday morning piece
I stumbled across this 2013 blog earlier today. I’m posting it because I thought you might enjoy it, and partly because it’s relevant to a thought piece I’ve been working on that I’ll be posting later in the week
Ooh, what fun
There's nothing surer
The rich get rich and the poor get poorer
Most of us now enjoy luxuries that would have been unheard of a hundred years ago - running water, electricity, computers, phones, cheap food and clothing. Yet, despite all this, there is discontent. Huge amounts.
The problem is inequality. Inequality is everywhere, it is increasing and it comes in many different forms.
There is the wealth gap.
The wealthiest 400 people in the world are worth more than the poorest 140 million.
70% of the land in the UK is owned by less than 1% of the population.
When once CEOs of major corporations earned 20 times more than their employees, now they can earn a thousand times more. A Burberry sales assistant (according to Glassdoor) earns £16-17,000 including commission. The Burberry CEO, Angela Ahrendts, received £16.9 million last year. I shudder to think what the Burberry factory worker is getting.
Over fifty per cent of young people believe they will never own a house, while the average age of the first-time buyer in London is now over 40. He or she'll be a pensioner before they can start a family.
We can build a decent house for less than a hundred grand, and only 2.5% of the UK is actually built on, so how can we have a society in which houses have got so expensive that most young people think they will never own one?
There is the health gap.
Unbelievably - and despite best intentions - health inequality, as measured by
life expectancy, has actually increased since the founding of the NHS in 1948. There is also huge discrepancy in the quality of care received between the top and bottom of society.
And we have the opportunity gap.
Despite billions being spent on education, despite more and more taxation, subsidy, legislation and regulation all with the intention to spread wealth and bring equality of opportunity, the top positions in just about every area of the economy you can think of - politics, law, media, finance, medicine, even manufacturing - are dominated by the 7% of the population who went to public school.
Even in the Olympics you were five times more likely to win a medal if you went to public school.
Something is wrong. People are, rightly, angry about it.
Tax the rich more. Stop companies like Google evading their tax. Clamp down on immigrants. Stop benefit cheats. Spend more on education, on health care, or is it infrastructure? Increase regulation of banks. Build more houses. Subsidize wind farms or environmental initiatives. More austerity. Everyone has their own idea about what needs to be done and over the last decade a huge ideological battle has been unfolding as people argue about it.
But all these ideas and many more besides, some of which come from the left and others from the right, all involve the same thing: that the government does more, that it takes action.
I suggest the opposite - that the ONE thing government should do is LESS. I suggest that, counter-intuitive though it may seem, the huge rise in inequality is BECAUSE of government and the unintended consequences of its actions.
For a hundred years the state has got more and more involved in our lives. It now look after our birth, our education, our health, often our employment, our old age, even our burial. Through its money and interest rates, through its taxes and subsidies, its rules and regulations, it looks after our economy. The more it does, the greater these gaps have all grown.
It's time to try something else - Life After The State.
Life After The State by Dominic Frisby is available on Amazon. The audiobook is available at Audible.
And if you happen to be in the Louisiana neck of the woods next week, or fancy a trip, I’ll be speaking at the New Orleans Investment Conference, which runs from October 12-15, at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. There are lots of big names on - Rick Rule, James Grant, George Gammon, Jim Rickards, Doug Casey and many more besides. Come and say hi!
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