Any Spare Change?

Poverty

Five years on and the remnants of the economic Crisis are still very much present amongst societies across the globe. From the plague of empty units and pawn shops that has ravaged Welsh towns, to the near collapse of HMV, symbolic of the decline of the entire music industry, it is evident that the Britain has tightened the purse strings, something which is apparent worldwide. Despite moderate GDP growth in the UK and across the globe, the current domestic economic policies clearly are not benefiting everybody, which calls into question the distribution of this wealth.

Despite governments’ austerity measures and stimulus strategies based around expansionary Economic policies, developed countries have failed to fuel any significant growth with the Global Foreign Direct Investment declining in 2012. Also, with diminishing state influence, growing income inequality and the predominance of the consistently scarce regulation of the financial sector, the UN has felt it necessary to intervene. This comes in the form of the 2013 UN Trade and Development Report, which has suggested that the best way forward is for countries to concentrate on fostering domestic trade. Developed countries are allowing their complacency with the current economic structure to inhibit their movement towards change, in tackling the root cause of the crisis.

This report couldn’t have come quickly enough if the international community is to come within reach of its Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Sadly though, even if the Millennium Development Goals are met by their target date, the global financial catastrophe remains unresolved. We must therefore look beyond 2015 and towards the future. In order to create the prospect of a prosperous future, the UN has called for new economic policies, but are governments open to change?

Currently, a new global financial structure is emerging and governments are failing to adapt to it. Instead of locking horns with the root causes of the financial crisis, governments in the Western world persist in their attempt to repair what’s already broken. Their current economic policies are much like a tyre that has been torn apart by potholes, and governments seem to believe that a bit of sticky tape will fix it, and pumping new life into old, failed policies will ‘do the job.’ They then insist in forcing such policies down the same treacherous path, and instead of accepting that what is necessary is a new take on the reparation process, they enforce harsh austerity measures upon working people, who have persistently worked hard regardless of the crisis.

The capitalist model that we know today was formulated in a moral vacuum in response to the Great Depression. However, this economic revelation that conquered new riches and triumphed over economic downturn seems to have left working men and women behind. If we take the US as an example, the richest 0.01% of the population own a larger proportion of the national wealth than any time since the depression in 1929. In fact the wealthiest 1% of the population own a stomach churning third of US net worth.

In a world that coined the phrase ‘first world problems,’ where material goods are a source of happiness, where we have become blinded by capitalism and have lost sight of any meaning to life other than making money. The gap is expanding and the global poor are falling into the abyss. Thanks to capitalism the globe has become riddled with an incurable case of greed. If we are ever to move towards a world based on equality, then we must slay this ‘greed eyed monster’ and embrace change. Maybe a positive move towards an internationally interdependent Economic policy would not only help to spread growth more evenly across the global landscape, but also build the foundations upon which to develop a system of wealth redistribution amongst the global community. Granted, this view may be somewhat utopian, but should we condemn all utopian notions to failure, without ever attempting them?

Lowri Pritchard

Sources:

http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/nov/16/occupy-protests-data-video

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46264&Cr=Economic+Crisis&Cr1=#.Ul-zk2TwKdM

http://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/wir2013_en.pdf

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