An octopus named INEQUALITY

Octopus (1)

Like an octopus INEQUALITY is a catastrophe with no eyes, even if its devastating impacts are seeing it by everyone. Their poisoned tentacles reach millions of people in the world slow and painfully in a way that could not be identified as poverty, but there impact in adults and children could be equated to it.

Half of the world wealth is in the hands of 1% of the total population; the other part, 99% lives with the rest. A study done by Oxfam reveals that if this situation persists, the European Union would face 146 millions vulnerable people by 2025[1]. Just in Spain the forecast it´s of 20 millions people, almost 42% of the total population. In Africa six countries are among the top 10 most unequal in the world[2].

Globalization is supposes to be a system that in times of financial crisis is there to help developed and developing countries in boosting their economies and facilitate their citizen’s access to education and labour market. This was one of the pillars to support the implementation of a global machinery. However, inadequate political-economic policies and the most important: lack of political will and solidarity have lead to more marginalization. Transforming globalization into a “monster” that swept opportunities and tie up countries and people without tackle the real issue of concern: inequality.

Is paramount to work through international organizations that are meant to reduce poverty and stimulate financial and economic systems making them reliable and productive through creative ideas and investment. Currently there is not a “global system” with a coherent strategy on reducing inequality but isolated efforts more or less connected. For instance, World Bank implement projects that has as a direct contradictory consequence the creation of more inequality. Many projects in Vietnam that aimed to boost electricity, water supplies and expand transport networks have resulted in more than 1.2 million people being displaced. In addition, more than 1 million people in China were displaced by about $12bn of bank investment.”[3]

One of the most important barriers to address inequality problems is that is seeing as simple acts of solidarity with social exclude people and not what it really means: a devastating impact on economic growth, hence on sustainable growth. It´s precisely this reason that motivate international organisms like IMF or WB to invest in development projects, and are those organizations that have the responsibility and commitment to reduce inequality as one of their main goals and mission.

Let´s see it in practical terms: economic growth cannot be achieved if there is s growing inequality underlying and as a direct consequence of a substantial fall down in consumption, one important engine of growth. This is what Robert Reich named the “virtuous circle”[4]: prosperity generates more prosperity: indeed productivity grows, wages increase, workers buy more, companies hire more, tax revenues increase, government invests more, workers are better educated, finally economy is expanded.

We could have the certainty that investing in the people works as the best business ever. Not in the sense of class conflict as in a Marxist theory. Inequality is really a hidden poverty that runs beyond ideologies. Many countries implement policies based on innovation and productivity like Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Germany and are doing it successfully achieving good levels of productivity, and reducing inequality at local level.

Once we face the reality of high rates of child poverty in developed countries as in USA with 42% of children -that will not get out of it in the next years-, or Spain with 35,4% of their children leaving in poverty or under risk of social exclusion; the political-financial message need to change, and we cannot continue blind to this cruel reality that mark future generations in a relentless manner. Something is going wrong and inequality is transformed in a political opportunist speech, lack of leadership and initiative leading towards wrong economic-political decisions.

How many more “Lehman& Brothers” do we need to understand that the financial world needs tremendous changes in order to reduce inequality? How many kids need to be condemned to poverty? How many more people need to see their life’s sink by unemployment and lack of access to health and education? Let´s act now, by raising awareness among politicians and international and financial organizations of the need of an effective global strategy, taking the international united action as the only path to get through this relentless octopus named Inequality.


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