Wealth and power inequality, seem to be increasing all the time. Inequality in wealth equals inequality of power. Due to the power inequalities, wealthy people continue to get tax breaks in times of crisis, they get legislation which suits them, they get special privileges and subsidies. So the inequality of wealth keeps growing without limit, when we all need to pull together. This is one of the aims of neoliberalism. The other is to protect corporations from democracy. We can summarise this by saying, neoliberalism supports the proposition, that only big business and big profit is good. Nothing else counts.
It appears that through right wing parties and media ownership, the wealth elites are setting up oligarchies through out the world, and carrying out disinformation campaigns, to support their power and distract people from the real causes of inequality and crises in living.
Inequalities of wealth, in capitalism, also equal inequalities of pollution. The wealthy are responsible for most of the world’s pollution through their earning, ownerships and lifestyles. They get to freeload pollution and ecological destruction onto poorer areas. They drive ecological breakdown and its side-effect of climate change. Wealthy companies continue to manage to get taxpayer subsidies for new fossil fuel fields, destroying agricultural areas, while dispossessing and poisoning local people. In Australia, they get all this and most pay more or less no tax.
It is likely that eco-system tipping points have started, such as release of methane from beneath permafrost, rapid temperature rises at the poles, and bleaching death of major coral reefs. Should the tipping points become established, then there is no going back. Systems out of equilibriium and heading for new equilibrium, or chaotic states, are hard, if not impossible, to return to normal.
Inequalities of wealth also distribute inequalities of resilience and capacity to avoid, or deal with floods, bushfires, droughts, pandemics and pollution. Poorer people suffer more substantially and for longer from ecological disasters, and appear to get less governmental help.
Inequalities of wealth and power, also mean that potential solutions to problems are corrupted. Corporations do Renewable Energy installations, ignore the needs of locals, and do not even power local communities. They fence off, perhaps destroy and privatise lands, and create inequalities when they pay royalties and rents to some, but not to others. This prevents any social transformation, lowers hope, and lowers the legitimacy of Renewables.
The Covid pandemic is not over. Where I live, in NSW, Australia, there have been 1485 deaths from Covid this year (March), according to my arithmetic. This is more deaths than for the whole of Australia last year. However, there is no longer any interest in reporting the trends – hence my arithmetic. There is no interest in reducing the deaths through simple public health measures, even less interest in preventing long Covid amongst working people, and there seem to be no fear about what could happen with new variants which defeat vaccines. In Australia we are no longer requiring people to have Covid tests to enter the country, so the new variants will spread. The trend seems to be that most wealthy people can work from home, and avoid some dangers, while poorer people (including hospital doctors) take the risks. Furthermore pandemics will not end with Covid. The possibility is high that worse pandemics will be transferred around the world by aeroplane, as we destroy more forests, and viruses which normally affect small mammals cross species and escape into the wider world.
Its as if we have decided that if we cannot suicide through ecological destruction and climate change, we should suicide through avoidable public health failures, and ignoring what is happening.
Warfare is another present danger which could escalate. Putin is threatening nuclear war. this means all other nuclear systems will now be on stand by, and ready to go. I suspect Putin is the kind of person that should he feel he is losing or under threat will be happy to take others with him.
Climate change plus the disruption of gas and oil supplies caused by the war, while possibly helping energy transition (although giving others excuses to boost fossil fuel production) has already put food prices up. Ukraine is one of the world’s great sources of food, and it will take years to put back together, and climate change and biofuel production seems to be affecting food anyway. Increasing food prices will render poorer people even less resilient and capable of surviving eco-destruction.
All of these interactions generate an existential crisis for most people. This is a crisis of meaning and meaning making. People’s worlds are falling apart, yet they have no idea what is going wrong, or what to do about it. They do their best and still fall behind. They work endlessly to survive and get completely exhausted This makes them more vulnerable to misinformation and distraction and unable to resist their losses, so the situation is likely to get worse.
There seem to be few working negative feedback loops which could encourage stability, or a return to equilibrium – and those which might exist are being destroyed.
This means every day is essential….