MEDIAWATCH: Chloe is right – the polluters & plutocrats are a threat to democracy

Chloe is right – the polluters & plutocrats are a threat to democracy…

Chlöe Swarbrick: Climate change has arrived while politicians argue the status quo

I’ll let you in on a bit of an open political secret. The over-egged debate we’re having about wealth taxes and the lack of mainstream political interest in frightening climate change news are driven by the same forces: a long-time status quo bias for the rhetoric of “individual responsibility” over collective responsibility.

In a flood, you could have 10 people working together to build a boat big enough for all of them. Or you could have one person hoarding the materials necessary, scolding the others that they simply didn’t work hard enough to survive. The boat wouldn’t be built. Those rising waters won’t care who held the most status or the most money.

While the usual characters were busy attacking any possible future of an economy that might rebalance grotesque wealth inequality this week, ground-breaking scientific research from Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington, GNS Science, Niwa, University of Otago and the Antarctic Science Platform told us that without immediate action, in less than 20 years, “once-in-a-century” floods will be knocking on the door of our capital city every single year.

One of these issues is about whether we have the guts to do anything about the fact, as discovered by renowned inequality researcher Max Rashbrooke, that 70 per cent of wealth is held by 10 per cent of people in this country. The least wealthy half – 2.5 million New Zealanders – own just 2 per cent. The top 1 per cent, meanwhile, own 25 per cent – or one in every four dollars of wealth.

National and Act say there’s nothing wrong with this slide into aristocracy and want to supercharge it with a swathe of tax cuts paid for by low income earners and potential cuts to public services. Labour aren’t yet sure if they’re ready to do anything about it.

…Chloe is right.

In 2010, the 388 richest individuals owned more wealth than half of the entire human population on Earth

By 2015, this number was reduced to only 62 individuals

In 2018, it was 42

In 2019, it was down to only 26 individuals who own more wealth than 3.8 billion people.

And in 2021, 20 people owned more than 50% of the entire planet.

Last month the richest man on Earth bought one of the most important social media platforms.

The Big Tech Tzars have manipulated our collective fear, ego, anger and insecurities through social media in a way that has led to the largest psychological civil war ever launched against one another.

Meanwhile, the planet burns and every aspect of our existence is monetarised for big data to sell us more stuff we can’t afford. We are alienated and anesthetized by a consumer culture that keeps us neurotic and disconnected. Our work, our existence, every move we make are all built to suck money to a minority class that sits above us while under neoliberalism, globalization, financialization, and automation, our existence as individuals has only become more disposable.

This isn’t progress.

The Greens must articulate a different economic vision that builds solidarity and universalism rather than pure temple identity politic aesthetics or the Greens will miss out on having real leverage when negotiating with Labour to form the post 2023 election.

 

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