“A most recent study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research at the United Nations University reports that the richest 1% of adult humans alone owned 40% of global assets in the year 2000, and that the richest 10% of adults accounted for 85% of the total world wealth. The bottom half of the world adult population owned 1% of global wealth. [i] This is, though, but a snapshot of the on-going process… Yet more and more bad and ever worse news for equality of humans, and so also for the quality of life of all of us, are lining up daily.
“Social inequalities would have made the inventors of the modern project blush of shame” – so Michel Rocard, Dominique Bourg and Floran Augagner conclude in the article “Human species, endangered” they co-authored and published in Le Monde of 3rd April 2011. In the era of the Enlightenment, during the lifetimes of Francis Bacon, Descartes or even Hegel, in no place of Earth the standard of living was more than twice as high as in its poorest region. Today, the richest country, Qatar, boasts an income per head 428 times higher than the poorest, Zimbabwe. And these are, let’s never forget, comparisons between averages – and so akin to the facetious recipe for the hare-and-horsemeat paté: take one hare and one horse…
The stubborn persistence of poverty on a planet in the throes of economic-growth fundamentalism is enough to make thoughtful people to pause and reflect on the direct as much as the collateral casualties of that redistribution of wealth. The deepening abyss separating the poor and prospect-less from the well off, sanguine, self-confident and boisterous – an abyss of the depth already exceeding the ability of any but the most muscular and the least scrupulous hikers to climb – is an obvious reason to be gravely concerned.”
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