Mind the Gap – A Report on Inequality

A heavier post than my usual but since watching this documentary on TV a couple of months ago it has been playing on my mind so I thought I would share it.  The statistics here speak for themselves and while I doubt me sharing it makes a scrap of difference in the world (!) it is something that concerns me, concerns everyone. This documentary investigates the new working poor.

Most of us realise that world governments are doing things wrong and we, the little people, are suffering for it. New Zealand is a small country with a population of only 4 million, but still we have followed the examples of bigger countries (America, England) to our detriment and our statistics echo what is going on elsewhere.

The video here, Mind the Gap http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__2EdGFdgTA is 45 minutes long and I am not really expecting anyone to watch it however these are a few statistics I have written down from it.

In 1984 our government changed from neo-liberalism, following America and England. They changed from a focus on social policies, brought in after the war, to business and industry… encouraging consumerism. They hoped by providing tax breaks to wealthy business owners this would have a “trickle down effect” providing better business, more jobs.

In 1953 there was a large working class in this country, a medium sized pool of medium class, a small group of rich. Today there is a large percentage of people living in poverty, a large group of what we call the new “working poor” paying large taxes to support those living in poverty, a distinct group of wealthy.

Today the top 10 % of the population own over 1/2 of the country’s wealth.

Detected social welfare fraud last year – $23 million and 800 people were prosecuted. Detected tax evasion (business, corporate) – $1 billion and 50 people were prosecuted. Undetected tax fraud is thought to be $5 billion. There is a much higher rate of welfare defrauders going to jail than those who rip off their investors.

Our government pays $1.2 billion in accommodation supplements to the poor and another $2 billion in their Working For Families scheme to supplement the low working wage or to support the unemployed.

Food costs have risen 217% in 30 years while the dollar is buying 2/3rds less.

The bigger the inequality in a country between rich and poor the higher the rates of crime, disease, infant mortality, mental illness, incarceration rates and teenage pregnancies and there are shorter life expectancy rates. Governments/taxpayers pay the costs for all this, for how long is this sustainable to support the people AFTER they have fallen off a cliff?

screw-the-poor

Have any of you seen Kid President. He’s a little American kid who has alot to say, he’s funny (loud!) but he’s also serious. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFZGyUZ9YrM. In this video he discusses internet use – 14 million human beings follow Miley Cyrus on Twitter – on purpose! 60 million photos are uploaded on the internet each day, many of them are “selfies” or photos of what people are eating. People spend $600, 000 a day on Candy Crush!! His message in this, it’s Socktober, donate a pair of socks to a homeless person, or a tin of food, donate to a shelter. 600,000 people are homeless in America, including kids.

We can walk past the homeless with averted eyes pretending we didn’t see them, or we can help. We can keep voting the way we vote out of habit or we can start voting with a social conscience, can’t we? WE are the future, our children are the future and right now the future isn’t looking great for too many. Where are we going to be in 10 – 20 years time if WE don’t bring in change …….and maybe there is something in that saying “Be the change you wish to see in the world”.