Malvern Cleaners takes an unpopular view. Why the rich getting richer is a good thing.
I watched a rather frightful show on Channel 4 last night. It was orchestrated like a circus, and the crowd jeered and booed and clapped accordingly. It's title: "How Rich are You?"
It started out with introductory animations that, amongst others, showed a 'rich' woman forcing a 'poor' woman into some Pac Man-looking device before zipping her inside, screaming as her innards were crushed to pulp, a red Ferrari driven by a 'rich' person mowing down a 'poor' cyclist on an uphill climb, and a 'rich' plump man, balding, (supposedly a CEO or Fat Cat), force himself into a line up with a leering eye toward a nervous, placard-waving 'poor' woman.
So, from the very outset this was a program that took a decidedly bias view of its subject matter. By the time the intro was over, we'd been subjected to attempted brainwashing that declared: "All rich people are bad. And all poor/working people are downtrodden and victims of the vile child-eating rich. We must hate them."
It was nauseating, insulting, and offensive.
From that moment on we were subjected to various ONS figures that illustrated how the inequality between the rich and poor in the UK was widening to levels not seen since pre-World War One. A youthful man with a plate of chips on both shoulders stormed down a northern high street, peered through school fences (declaring, "If I'd gone there, or me mates, we could have made something of ourselves" or somesuch), and then ranted on about "who pays £400 for a coat?" (a sentiment which I do actually agree with - though I don't often lecture people how to spend their own money - but that's Socialism for you). One man, (laterrevealed on twitter as being a lying fantasist who posed as an Afghan Veteran with angry homophobic and xenophobic attitudes), openly declared that "he did dodgy stuff on the side to get by. And, by the way, I don't pay my bills." (This was received by the deranged audience with cheers and claps - they obviously hadn't thought about what might happen should we all down tools and take a leaf out of this man's book). But the bloodlust was whipped up now. The richly attired hare was being sniffed out by the baying hounds.
It didn't help that the show decided to appoint Sir Benjamin Slade as being representative of the rich. This is a man known for his deliberately provocative views, and didn't he just live it up when Channel 4 followed him around his country pile in Somerset? "To be comfortable you once needed X million," he purred. "Nowadays, it's more like ten or twenty." (I could feel the simmering animosity of the nation raise the global temperature by 2 degrees as this panjandrum continued. I feel he was playing up to the audience as agent provocateur - but really the show could have picked someone who might have tried to argue the case of the wealthy and the benefits they bring?).
But throughout the whole show one important point was never made. It claimed to focus on widening inequality and what that meant for the national fabric, but no one, NO ONE, pointed out the obvious fact. It is an unpopular point but it destroys the current slogan of the Left.
"The rich are getting richer! It's a recovery for the rich!"
Well, this is what any one with any ounce of critical thinking might reply: They are. And it is. And it's GOOD!
Think about it for a moment. We have just come out of the greatest recession in recent history. Private debt is huge, and public debt is dangerously high as well. There is little room for manoeuvre. The levers of economic control are jammed. Growth in many sectors is only now recovering to near pre-crash levels.
What this means is that companies are building their balance sheets back up after the dip (hence wages are being restricted), and inflation, to date, has outstripped wage growth (because we've printed about £400 BILLION in quantitative easing, which has reduced the value of our currency by nearly 25% in the first year of the crisis, though this has now recovered and inflation is slowing (a Lloyds TSB survey found that the £ has lost 67% of its value over the last 30 years!) - all those imports are now, comparatively, more expensive). People are feeling the pain. And they are angry.
But there are opportunities still. And the rich can exploit them best of all, as, of course, they would, having access to business networks and the finance to back their decisions. If they see a sector in decline or stagnation and see another one beginning to grow, where will they put their money? Where would you put yours? It would be moved from under-performing assets to those that offer better returns.
And this creates jobs in these new growth areas. Assets have investment that allows the businesses to expand.
So, whilst the common man might be stuck in a nine-to-five job without seeing any wage growth over the last few years (in fact, feeling a real decline in their purchasing power), the rich are actually the quickest at responding to new opportunities and getting in at the ground level.
So, why am I so happy about the rich getting richer?
It's simple. If they weren't, then that would mean the whole economy would be contracting. If they weren't, then we would have REAL problems. As a metaphor, let us say that the 'rich' and the 'workers' are starting side-by-side at the start of a downhill drag race. But we've forgotten to put fuel in our car so the rich will pull ahead on the empty track before gravity works its wonders on us, and the gap will diminish in time.
As it is, the rich can adapt to new opportunities quicker than the rest of us, and their investments will help small growing entities become larger, thus employing more people. It will take time, but the gap of inequality will start to reduce over the coming years. (Though there are still an awful lot of problems out there. A bevy of Black Swans is still circling our estranged voyage: the slowdown in the EU, our biggest trading partner, is a bullet we can't entirely avoid, US political deadlock won't help anything, and who knows what affect Ebola could have if it reached the slums of Nigeria. Add to that an emboldened Russia with a plunging Rouble, massive debt and dissatisfaction in the traditional western democracies, Islamic State, and the Black Swans we can't predict but will be out there, somewhere, then the future is more uncertain now than at any time since the end of the Cold War, if not before).
So, to summarise: the rich are getting richer because they are in the best positions to take advantage of a recovering economy. This is GOOD news, because it means green shoots are firming up and spreading seeds of their own. It should not be a case for hot-headed envy and cries of "let's smash everything up!" or a Russell Brand "Revolution" (priced £20 RRP!) with nothing to replace the preceding system with. Anarchy is not the way to build a fairer society. Look at any revolution and you will see its history is written most often in blood.
(As an aside, one of the key reasons I believe that Britain became a world power in previous centuries was for the very simple reason that we haven't had any serious unrest on these islands for 400 years. That is perhaps the longest period of stability that any society in human history has achieved. So let's think very, very carefully before we applaud mad fantasists who proudly declare that they "don't pay their bills" (and presumably their taxes - didn't see the Left pointing that out to him last night though as they clapped him on - no matter he's deprived society of much needed public services) and "have to do dodgy stuff to survive."
It was an infantile political shot at what could, and should, have been a more insightful and sober show.
If you want to be annoyed at bad journalism, then you can see the show here:
http://www.channel4.com/programmes/how-rich-are-you/on-demand/59898-001 (It will expire on the 07th December 2014).
FROM GUEST EDITOR TOM C.