A friend just forwarded me an article from Business Insider. The article, by Joe Wiesenthal, talks about the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He talks about what seemed to preoccupy the conferees this year. What is apparently preoccupying them is the impact of technology on increasing the concentration of wealth. This concentration of wealth is a problem because, well, I'll quote an economist by the name of Nouriel Roubini whom Wiesenthal quotes:
".......inequality is rising. This is not just a 'moral' issue but also an issue of too little consumption too little savings that is bad for global growth. So it becomes vicious cycle. It's a bit like the old Marxist idea that if profits grow too much compared to wages, there's not going to be enough consumption, and capitalism is going to self destruct."
The article is quite short: http://www.businessinsider.com/rich-tech-fears-2014-1#ixzz3KBvzBBXU
I haven't read much Marx, though what I have read (or been taught in classes) I've tended to admire, not the Romantic utopian stuff which I think can get a bit naive but the economist stuff, the analysis of what's driving economies, how, and why, and their effects on politics, which I think is brilliant, often startlingly so. I've independently reached conclusions from observation that apparently predate me by more than a century.
This has been the trend that scares me: Income Polarization. It's also been what I talk about politically, in that I've said repeatedly that the secret to reversing both the economic trends and Republican political trends is to recruit business to liberalism on the grounds that Republican policies are ultimately bad for business. Reductions in taxation and regulation are convenient for business but they tend to erode the customer base. The profitability and viability of businesses is ultimately determined by how business is, by how much they can sell, more than by the tax and regulatory climates. The advantage to Democratic policies for business, even though those advantages are unintentional, is that they support the growth of the customer base while Republican policies shrink it.
It has driven me nuts that Democrats have never taken advantage of being better for business to recruit business support, which could tip the national political balance leftward both by recruiting talented people and by shifting to whom money and time are donated. Without that, I've been afraid that current trends are unstoppable and that the world is going to get continuously worse, with growing poverty, growing tendencies toward revolution, and growing oppression as surveillance increases (see NSA and American and world phone records) and police forces militarize (the enormous shift of military hardware to American police forces in recent years along with alarming tendencies to deploy it where not necessary has been widely reported). We were given a bit of a preview of how those in power would react to those without money when we saw how cities around the country handled their Occupy Wall Street protests.
The news from Davos is that the people who really run things may be waking up on their own. If enough of that population takes this seriously, we have a shot. The problems I've outlined are not only American problems, they're worldwide problems. A while ago, I posted about how a British newspaper estimated how much money was hidden in banking havens that don't report to governments, where the wealthy hide their money to keep it from being taxed, places like the Caymans and Switzerland. The amount they estimated was greater than the combined GDP's of the European Union and the United States.
If the hyperwealthy take this seriously and act, that could in itself quite literally save the world.