The Political Economy: Where is my share of the Nation’s Wealth?
The rich are getting richer and the 1% are seen to have the same amount of wealth as the remaining population. Wealth distribution is a controversial topic in today’s world. But what is wealth? It is known to be whether you own a means to production, have a certain net worth (in the millions or billions) and if your children attend a private school. Do you agree on this? No, perhaps you don’t. This could be the no.1 problem in the 21st century but we must understand the economy in all areas.
Mercantilism, the oldest political economy; which focuses on the need of the state rather than society (not concerned with freedoms or equality) this allows full or partial ownership of industries that are considered critical. - limit social expenditures, no taxation. Do you have an idea of where this is going? Yes, you’ve guessed it. Inequality of classes, though in this era you can literally find out where you stand in the economic ladder by simply answering anonymously to discover the actual truth you can do this by visiting: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/how-rich-are-you – interesting.
What is more, class is defined to be a group of people in society whom attribute the same or common economic and social status. Robinson argues, that there will be exercised not by a particular nation-state but by this new global ruling class through machinery of this transnational state. (Robinson, 2004). Even though, dating back to the early days, class is something which some argue was constructed in order to govern society. Placing citizens in categories of class makes it easier to keep an eye on them in terms of who owns what means of production and which classes need more help – mostly seen in the lower working classes or also known as the ‘proletariats’. (Standing, 2011).
But as Standing defined the rise in lower and working classes seen in today’s era, how o we differentiate who is who and what improvements do we need to make in regards to distributing wealth? Is it the basic standard living? What is the standard living? Being able to afford the daily essentials of food, having a high paying salary or having your kids as mentioned in a well profound school? It is indeed difficult to measure, as there are many variables we need to consider. Geographical locations, genetics differences, heritage of culture and so on. Or is the standard of living based on the economic or status of which you obtain? It is a tricky concept to fathom. Anyway, we are all sure that there is a lack of distribution of wealth in today’s era across the world.
Take a look at the UK for instance. There is an effect of taxes and benefits on household income in the capital. The richest fifth of the households paid £29,800 in taxes (direct and indirect) compared with £5,200 for the poorest fifth. (ONS, 2016). So where is your share of the Nation’s wealth? Well, since you pay your taxes. How much taxes go to welfare you’re wondering? According to the ONS, £29 billion is spent on personal social services. Total pension spending has increased by 25% since the financial year 2010/11 (ONS, 2016) – so if you are a pension or retired this is comforting to know. Although, it isn’t surprising since life expectancy in the UK is increasing.
Bearing all the facts, we can only say that our share of the nation’s wealth is in proportion to the salary that we have, the taxes we pay which has an effect on the economy and our everyday life from our social status to economic attributes. Global wealth may not be well distributed as of yet, but we have seen some signs of improvement. Whether or not we will see wealth as an equal entity in the world in the near future can be a big ask but it is what will end the world inequality of oppressed groups we see today.
However, all we ask is that everyone has an opportunity to have a standard of living regardless of how the economy is doing – all citizens of society in a nation should have their share of the nation’s wealth whether that be a share of health, education or social and economic freedom. Nonetheless, these given opportunities are in the hands of the government all we can do is cross our fingers and hope to see an increase in the distribution of wealth.
Writer: Patrick Ngombo
Bibliography and Further Reading:
“How Is The Welfare Budget Spent? | Visual.ONS”. Visual.ons.gov.uk. N.p., 2016. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.
“How Rich Are You? – All 4”. Channel4.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 1 Dec. 2016.
“Income And Wealth- Office For National Statistics”. Ons.gov.uk. N.p., 2016. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.
Standing, Guy. The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class. 1st ed. Bloomsbury Academic, 2011. Print.
William I. Robinson (2004) ‘Global Class Formation and the Rise of a Transnational Capital Class’, A Theory of Global Capitalism: Production, Class and State in a Transnational World (Johns Hopkins), pp. 33 – 84.