No 1462 Posted by fw, September 28, 2015
“What is clear is that some of the 99 percent believe that it’s time to confront inequality. There is now a political tide for change. Powerful Americans from President Obama downwards are talking about the threat to society if they do not address what he calls ‘The great divergence’…. And even the super-rich themselves are taking it seriously.” —Jacques Peretti
Picking up from where yesterday’s post left off, in episode 2 of his two-part exposé, London-born documentary film-maker Jacques Peretti examines how the rapid rise of the super-rich since 2000 is driving society apart. Britain has more billionaires per head than anywhere else, yet they’re also the most unequal nation in Europe. Peretti investigates how the super-rich are transforming Britain, how they pinpointed inequality as a business opportunity in America, a way of making money from a more divided society. Jacques also looks at how our work life was made deliberately more unstable in the 70s to drive a new 80s profit culture, and how an acceptance of huge executive bonuses was manufactured. Jacques meets the billionaires who have gained, and those that are growing increasingly fearful of the new society that they have helped to create.
The embedded video of episode 2 is at the bottom of this post, following the three transcripts of brief excerpts. The first is from the 1:26-minute Introduction at the very beginning. The second is a not-to-miss short piece starting at the 44:40 mark, highlighting how wealth is transforming 2 million of Britain’s working class into poorly paid part-timers with no job security or benefits. The third and final section concludes that the super-rich can seal themselves off from this inequality for only so long – then comes revolution or the emergence of a police state.
To watch the video on the You Tube website, absent my 3 partial transcripts, click on the following linked title.
Transcripts of 3 Excerpts
00 – 1:46 — Introduction
Jacques Peretti — The super-rich are taking over. 85 people now own the same as half the world’s population. Never before has money been so polarized.
Man dressed as clown – People are struggling to pay their mortgages, pay their rent, to eat, to pay utility bills…
Unidentified man – The 21st century will be the most unequal period in human history…
Peretti – My name is Jacques Peretti. Last time I revealed how billionaires were wooed to this country (UK).
Peretti – Explain how important Britain is as a tax haven for the super-rich.
Unidentified woman – It’s very important. It’s the most attractive location now on the planet.
Peretti – But the plan to bring them here was flawed.
Unidentified man – A model which is based on the top 1 percent generating and consuming all of the growth simply isn’t sustainable.
Peretti – This time we’ll see how far from happening by chance soaring inequality was a business opportunity for the wealthy to make money out of us.
Unidentified woman – You invest a lot in the super-rich and you would invest also in companies that serve the super-poor.
Unidentified man – What you see during that period is a series of fairly intentional policies designed to guarantee that most people are in debt.
Peretti – Britain’s inequality has risen every year this century [i.e. since the year 2000]. It’s driving society apart and now even the super-rich could be in trouble.
Unidentified man – So are the pitchforks coming? If things keep going the way they are, for sure they’re going to come.
44:40 – A nation of micro-jobbing, free-lancers
Peretti — Britain is becoming a nation of free-lancers. There’s nearly 2 million of us. An epitome of this new world is micro-jobbing, finding websites that offer jobs for a day, a week, or even just an hour, and with as little as 5 pounds at the end of it. You pay for the privilege of the odd job and without any guarantee of security or hours. This is a new and highly precarious world.
53:39 — Conclusion
Peretti – What is clear is that some of the 99 percent believe that it’s time to confront inequality. There is now a political tide for change. Powerful Americans from President Obama downwards are talking about the threat to society if they do not address what he calls “The great divergence.”
Barack Obama – …and that is a dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility that has jeopardized middle class America’s basic bargain – that if you work hard you have a chance to get ahead. I believe this is the defining challenge of our time.
Peretti – [On Screen: Occupy Wall St protest march] – And even the super-rich themselves are taking it seriously.
Nick Hanauer – [wealthy American entrepreneur and venture capitalist] – You show me a highly unequal society, I will show you either a revolution or a police state.
Peretti – Nick Hanauer was one of the first investors in Amazon and sold his company to Microsoft for $6B.
Hanauer – Somebody like me earns $10,000, $20,000 an hour. You know, that creates a very different life from the life that ordinary people have to live. And that gap isn’t just an economic gap, it’s a social gap. And that gap, I think is very, very corrosive because it decreases the amount of empathy that people at the top have for everyone else.
Peretti – A sentiment that was echoed at a Fair Pay demo in Boston last year. The pay protesters have formed a national movement in the US in city after city. Demonstrations have sprung up attacking inequality.
Male protester – I want to flip around the idea. We generate money for them. They don’t give us jobs. We’re generating the riches of the wealthy people.
Woman protester – The norm in this country today is for CEOs to make massive amounts of money to an immoral level. And we need to bring money back to the workers.
Male protester – We’re not going to get the 1 percent to change their mind. We’re going to get the 99 percent to realize that if they all stand up collectively this is over with tomorrow.
Hanauer — History shows that if you make society unequal enough it is going to turn bad for everybody, particularly people like me. So are the pitchforks coming? Well, maybe not tomorrow but if things keep going the way they are for sure they’re going to come.
Peretti – And these predictions are true for the UK as they are for America. The cracks are already showing in our own hourglass society. When rioting broke out 4 years ago across the UK for some it was an illegal shopping trip, but for others it was about inequality and injustice. And the establishment are taking note. Remarkably riots have been predicted in a strategic report written by a secretive think tank at the Ministry of Defence. It stated that inequality could lead to violence if the excluded began to take the law into their own hands. Rear Admiral Chris Parry commissioned the report.
Parry — I think in modern complex societies, if you don’t address the issue of economic inequality and social cohesion you are going to get unrest. You are going to get people who reject the capitalist system, reject the market. They reject democracy. They’ll take action outside our democratic institutions and we won’t like that.
Peretti – This is not a politician talking, but a high-ranking member of the armed services. His warning is stark. The potential danger is clear and present.
Parry – I think that there comes a point where people say: “Look, I don’t have enough out of this society. I don’t have a stake in this society. And suddenly they burst out.”
Peretti – A fact not lost on those who might be in the firing line.
Hanauer – They will conclude that we’re not playing a fair game. That we’re not playing a game at all. We’re engaging in an activity where I get everything and they get nothing. And if it’s just a game they will simply cease to play. If it’s an economy, they’re likely to eventually get really angry and come and kill me and take all my stuff because that will be their only option at that point. And this is just obvious.
Peretti – Forty years of widening inequality has left Britain with a fractured society. The richest 1 percent now earn 14 percent of our total national income, a figure which has nearly tripled in the last 40 years. And the rest of society have become a business opportunity for the very few. This is the Shard, the tallest building in Europe, and a fitting metaphor for inequality in society. The 1 percent are on the top floor and the rest of us live down here [on the street]. Britain is being transformed by a polarization of wealth unlike any seen before. The super-rich can seal themselves off from this inequality but only for so long. When it becomes unsustainable the view from the top floor could suddenly be very different.
The 60-minute embedded video
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