The Fruits of Civilization (50) Inequality


The wealth of the world is divided in 2: almost half going to the richest 1%; the other half to the remaining 99%.  ~ Oxfam International in 2016

Among many mammals, inequity is a fact of life. Simians are socially stratified creatures: privileges and rights are practically considered synonymous. The lion’s share goes to those at the top rungs of the social ladder.

The nomadic lifestyle is not conducive to wealth accumulation. Once people domesticated themselves, along with edible plants and livestock, the equation changed: surpluses beget inequality. Agriculture created strata of resource access. Property was inherited generationally.

Even before cultivation became part of culture, inequity had started. The Natufians of the Levant were one of the first peoples to embark on the long transition to farming. Beginning ~14,500 years ago, early settlements were amid rich food resources. Those who staked claims to the best spots gathered surpluses which put them ahead. Agriculture reinforced an already-established status.

Since antiquity, the societal impact of wealth distribution has been a political issue. Inequality wanes in the aftermath of carnage and disaster, then waxes again as peace and stability return.

The world economies produced vast inequities prior to the 1st World War. In 1910, the 10% of European households controlled nearly 90% of all wealth. The top 10% captured over 45% of all income.

The wars and depressions between 1914 and 1950 dragged the wealthy down. With economic recovery, inequality roared back, as owners of capital inordinately prospered once again. Wealth concentration and income inequity are now approaching the peaks of the early 20th century.

This is an economic model developed by the economic elite to benefit the economic elite. ~ US Senator Bernie Sanders