Will Theresa May and Donald Trump Solve the #1 Challenge of Our Time?

by John Brian Shannon – Originally posted at LetterToBritain.com

UK Prime Minister Theresa May was invited to the White House on January 27 to be the first foreign leader to meet with the new American president, Donald Trump.

It’s always an honour to be the first invitee of the new president, and the timing couldn’t be better as the Western economic order is beginning to churn.

In the West, the past 70 years have been a relatively stable era with increasing wealth (although since the Reagan-era tax cuts, obscene inequality has become a destabilizing force) and social mobility has increased dramatically since the creation of the internet.

This combination could prove extraordinarily useful to motivate leaders to provide the kind of leadership required of the times — or 2017 could prove to be the pivotal moment in the unravelling of the Western democracies.

President Trump wasn’t elected U.S. president because American citizens were bored by the Democrats.

Americans voted Trump/Pence to overthrow the existing plutocracy in Washington, not to overthrow foreign governments.

Regardless how many Middle Eastern conflicts the West has prosecuted, the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer. But this time the problems are here at home, not in some faraway country.

Americans voted for Barack Obama (2008 and 2012) and now Donald Trump (2016) in large part to stop the unfolding economic disaster in the West. Britons may have held similar ideas to American voters about a sustainable economic plan when they voted for Brexit.

Will Prime Minister of Britain Theresa May and President of the United States Donald Trump work together to solve the existential challenge of our time? Image displays the share of the world’s total wealth for the Top 1% vs. the Bottom 99%. Image courtesy of OXFAM
Will Prime Minister of Britain Theresa May and President of the United States Donald Trump work together to solve inequality, the existential challenge of our time? Image displays the share of the world’s total wealth for the Top 1% vs. the Bottom 99%. Image courtesy of OXFAM.

The chart below (from 2010) reveals the bottom 80 percent of Americans share just 7 percent of the nation’s wealth, but it’s much worse now (in 2017) and this phenomenon is no longer confined to the United States.

Theresa May must work with Donald Trump to roll back record inequality
Britain’s Theresa May must work with U.S. president Donald Trump to roll back record inequality that will eventually destroy the entire middle class. You can see the bottom 80% compete for only 7% of America’s total wealth. (This image is from 2010. It’s actually much worse now)

That trend will not change until politicians are bigger than the challenges that confront them, and actually do something about the record inequality sweeping the West.

It’s not a call to ‘do something, anything, anything at all’ — as some so-called ‘solutions’ might be worse than the problem.

But what citizens of the Western nations require is an acknowledgement by politicians of the sheer scale of the problem, and some initial steps to slow the rapid transfer of wealth away from the bottom three quintiles to the top 1 percent. (Even tiny baby-steps are preferable to the decades-long stony silence on the matter)

Theresa May and Donald Trump must ensure that globalization and free trade work for everyone.
Britain and the United States must ensure that globalization and free trade work for everyone. Image courtesy of the New York Times, You can’t feed a family with GDP by Neil Irwin.

Inequality ignored, will only result in citizens ‘giving up’ on their governments and ‘giving up’ on democracy — and we know how that will end. Badly. For everyone.

Including powerful politicians who serve for amazingly short stints of time in office. Once you’re in politics, four years pass by like a long summer!

Today’s toxic combination of ultra-low taxes on the rich and unrestricted globalization aren’t working for 3/5ths of the population. In 10 years, it won’t be working for 4/5ths of the population. And let’s remember, all of them are voters.

Here’s how that looks

In 2016, more than 50 percent of the world’s wealth was owned by the 1 percent.
By 2030, more than 70 percent of the world’s wealth will be owned by the 1 percent.
By 2045, more than 85 percent of the world’s wealth will be owned by the 1 percent.

Put another way; Do you really want to live in a world where 8 billion people are fighting over the then-remaining 30 percent of the world’s wealth?

Can you imagine what it’s going to look like in 2045 when 9 billion people are fighting over the then-remaining 15 percent of the world’s wealth?

At that time, you’d better be living on an island in the mid-Pacific that doesn’t appear on any map, in a castle with 100-metre high concrete walls.

I respectfully suggest to Prime Minister Theresa May and President Donald Trump that if inequality isn’t addressed this year, it’ll be too late. Just look for a remote island in the Pacific Ocean… now, before the rush begins.

The time involved in getting new legislation passed, combined with the lag time involved for it to take effect during the following fiscal cycle, is years after the day it is first discussed.

Can Theresa May and president Donald Trump cooperate to solve record inequality.

Let’s hope that January 27, 2017 will come to be known as, ‘The day the decline of the bottom-three quintiles was halted and reversed’ by these two great leaders.

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Why Build a Better World?

RePosted from JohnBrianShannon.com
by John Brian Shannon

Imagine for a moment the unforeseen has occurred, and lying in the middle of the road is your body covered by a white sheet.

Yes, you got hit by a bus only minutes ago. And now, body-less for the first time in your existence, your spirit is hearing the words of the ‘keepers of spirits’ as you watch the paramedics put your body into the Ambulance.

They tell you that you’ll sleep for 20-years and then be awoken in time to be born in the normal manner, but to a different set of parents, exactly 20-years from today. Happy Birth Day!

Oh, and, this part is important. You won’t have any of your present memories, you may be born anywhere in the world, you may be a different ethnicity or gender, you may be born within any socio-economic group — and your parent or parents might be the poorest on that particular continent or the richest, or anywhere in between. All these variables and more will be matters of chance.

For now, let’s assume that the above paradigm is true.

But what if you died and came back tomorrow?

‘Well’ you say, ‘It depends where I was born, and how highly my parents rank in that country.’

If you came back tomorrow; There’s only a 1 percent chance that you’d be a brand new member of the 1 percent. Did you know that the 1 percent manage to exist on more than $1179. per day, per person? How do they manage it?

Some 29 percent of the people alive today live between $10. and $1178. per day, per person.

And there’s a 71 percent chance that you’d be born into a family that lives on less than $10. per day, per person. That’s our world in 2016.

Know your annual income?
Find out which percent group you belong to on this interactive CNN chart

You found your goat! Image courtesy of Mongolia on Pinterest.

You found your goat! Image courtesy of Mongolia on Pinterest.

Today, you’re more likely to be born into poverty, maybe living on the desolate Mongolian steppes.

Hey! In your previous life you always liked goats and always wanted to pet one. Now you can be a goat-herder for the next 64 years! Which is the average life expectancy of Mongolian males who live in yurts (tents) on the edge of the Gobi Desert.

Or be reborn as one of the Roma, the poverty-stricken people who roam Europe in sight of sumptuous luxury every day, but never able to experience it.

Or maybe you’re born into a Muslim family trapped in present-day Syria. Better start studying that Koran as soon as you learn to read, I hear they don’t tolerate slackers there.

On the bright side, you have a 29 percent chance of being born into a family that exists on anything between $10. per day, per person and $1178. per day, per person. You rock!

Just remember that you won’t get to choose any of this, nor prepare for it in advance. It’ll be completely random. Nor will you have any memories of your previous life.

What if you came back 20-years from today?

One wonders what kind of world will exist 20-years from now. Hopefully, you’ll be one of the people who used your time wisely in this decade to help create a better future for all humanity — not only for yourself and your immediate family — but for people who are being born on every continent, at every economic strata.

If you knew today that you were going to be reborn in 20-years with a family and country chosen for you at random, what would you do today to help create a better future for all humanity?

In 2016, 7.4 billion people live on this planet and 1 percent of the world’s population own more than 50 percent of the world’s total wealth.

But in 2035, 8.8 billion people will live on this planet; And if present trends continue, the 1 percent will own more than 80 percent of the world’s total wealth.

Leaving only 20 percent of the world’s total wealth to be distributed between the remaining 8.7 billion in 2035.

If you expect to be alive in 2035, let’s hope you’ve used your time wisely in this decade to help create a better future for all humanity.

Share of the world's total wealth for the Top 1 percent and the Bottom 99 percent. Image courtesy of OXFAM.

Share of the world’s total wealth for the Top 1 percent and the Bottom 99 percent. Image courtesy of OXFAM.

The Politics of ‘Out’

Reposted from JohnBrianShannon.com

The 1 percent are already ‘In’ and for obvious reasons. Now, what about the 99 percent?

Widespread dissatisfaction among very large numbers of people is manifesting itself in various ways around the world.

We’ve seen it in politics, in regards to the Occupy Wall Street protests, the Scottish referendum, the Arab Spring, Syrian uprising, in the deepening distrust of globalization and free-trade agreements, lower voter turnouts, and most recently, in the Swiss referendum in 2014 to not join the European Union, in the recent Brexit referendum result, and in the potential for ‘Grexit’ from the European Union.

But it wasn’t always that way. In the postwar world, people from all walks of life and in every country ‘pulled together’ towards a common and better future. Sure, the Cold War interrupted that mood. But in the broadest possible context, the Cold War served to sharpen competition and increase the overall flow towards a better civilization.

When the Cold War ended, Earth’s then-population of 6 billion took a collective deep breath and said; “Now we can get somewhere!” — in regards to creating the kind of world anyone would be proud to live in.

But 26 years on, we have fallen massively short of those aspirations. And it’s becoming more apparent and it is grating on people, moreso with each passing year.

The 1 percent

Politics: In 2016, the richest 1 percent will own more wealth than the rest of humanity combined. Image courtesy of Oxfam International

Instead of a giant leap forward for the human race, we had trillion dollar wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that were based on falsehood (the U.S. Iraq Study Group said so) a major recession caused by the unethical and perhaps illegal actions of ‘too big to fail’ financial institutions (but only one person has gone to prison) we had democratic voices being dragged away from peaceful and legal #OWS rallies, we have dangerous people trying to re-ignite the Cold War because it used to be good for the military-industrial-complex economy (so why not try that again?) we suddenly have a 1 percent cohort that owns more than HALF of the world’s wealth (by 2030 they will own 76% of the world’s wealth if measures aren’t taken) we have more outsourcing of jobs (and therefore a larger proportion of low-paying jobs) and we have unelected, elitist, bureaucrats in Europe telling the rest of the continent where to go and what to do.

And that isn’t the half of it.

“It is time for the global leaders of modern capitalism, in addition to our politicians, to work to change the system to make it more inclusive, more equitable and more sustainable.  

Extreme inequality isn’t just a moral wrong. It undermines economic growth and it threatens the private sector’s bottom line.  All those gathering at Davos who want a stable and prosperous world should make tackling inequality a top priority.” 

Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, Chief Executive Officer of E.L. Rothschild and chairman of the Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism, who spoke at a joint Oxfam-University of Oxford event on inequality in 2015

(So far, not a single recommendation has been implemented)

Consequently millions of people are losing faith in and blaming globalization when in fact globalization isn’t the problem.

Twenty-six years after the Cold War has ended, our civilization is so much less than it could be that it boggles the mind.

The 1 percenters and their acolytes can’t understand what all the fuss is about.

And I understand that! Their lives are so far removed from reality that; Let the peasants eat cake.” doesn’t begin to describe the disconnect they have with the other 7.2 billion people on the planet.

(For the record, none of it was caused by the 1 percent — they are merely the beneficiaries of the trickle-up economy — therefore, we can never blame them for the problems of the 99 percent)

Ongoing troubles with Russia, China, #OWS, the global economy, Brexit, etc. are just the beginning of our problems. Five years out and ten years out, we will look back longingly to the 2010-2016 timeframe where we had these relatively minor problems to contend with!

We need a new global vision, one that is orders of magnitude better than the present mediocre vision, so that 7.2 billion people will say to themselves, Now this; I can support and work diligently towards.”

The present vision of; Let’s keep making corporations and the 1 percent richer and richer at our expense, getting into conflicts with Russia and China for no reason good enough to justify the risks involved, and unelected and elitist technocrats ruling the Earth (seems to be a growing trend) all so that we can feel grateful to have a low-paying job and a declining middle class?

That’s not a vision! That’s the path to economic suicide!

While there won’t be revolutions there is likely to be widespread voter dissatisfaction and a much lower level of ‘buy-in’ to our civilization from everyday citizens. That alone, is enough to cause irreparable damage to our world.

Everyone has a different idea about why the former Soviet Union failed;

Some say it was the sudden drop in oil prices (not really, that was merely the straw that broke the camel’s back) some say it was Western plots (slight attribution there) while some said its fall was due to their failure in Afghanistan (embarrassing, but not Warsaw Pact demolishing by any standard) or by other, unspecified means.

But no, the real reason for the failure of the former Soviet Union was passive defiance by Soviet workers, whose favorite (quietly-spoken) saying was;

“As long as they pretend to pay us, we will pretend to work.”

And that is everything!

Once it became obvious to Soviet workers that the Soviet Union was ‘no longer working’ for their best interests, they employed a sort of ‘passive defiance’ in return for the crass neglect they felt they had endured, which lowered the USSR’s productivity to such an extent that all it took was a few months of low oil prices and some sniping from U.S. politicians for the whole thing to implode.

Now, 26 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, Western workers are beginning to think in terms of ‘passive defiance’ and may soon follow the path of those Soviet workers.

Long story short; There are very real reasons for the growing dissatisfaction and the disconnect between 7.2 billion people on the one hand — and the 1 percent, their acolytes, and the elitist technocrats that serve them, on the other hand.

The grievances of that many people can’t simply be waved away in a ‘Let them eat cake’ kind of way.

We need a grand and new vision, one that is orders of magnitude better than the present non-vision, and one that 7.2 billion people will urgently wish to support.

Anyone up for that?

If not, we’re already on the path to lose everything we’ve built.

by John Brian Shannon


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