Social inequality is increasing: without effort to more wealth

Social inequality is increasing: without effort to more wealth

Why does it bother us that there are more and more millionaires? Because great wealth contradicts today’s ideal of social justice.

Golden car in front of a car wash.

The first million is difficult, after that it usually goes faster Photo: plainpicture

Actually, that’s not a fuss, but a truism: The rich are getting richer – and more. Last year, the number of wealthy millionaires rose to around 22.5 million people worldwide. Their combined capital now totals 82,000 billion euros, like the French Management consultancy Capgemini just calculated. That roughly corresponds to the total economic output of the world in one year. Yes, that’s an incredible amount of money. But why does that bother us?

A look back at history: the kings, electors and archbishops of the Middle Ages were at least as rich as the current elite compared to the farmers and craftsmen of the time. Nineteenth-century industrialists probably lived twice as long as their workers. The difference between these historical epochs and the present is ideal of social justice.

This ideal makes today’s people see excessive differences in wealth as immoral. In addition, blatant social inequality endangers political equality: if schools are so poorly equipped due to a lack of money that children from poorer families do not receive a proper education, this undermines democracy.

Nevertheless, capital gives birth to more capital. The first million is difficult, after that it’s usually quicker, often without much action on the part of the owner. You can’t even prevent this increase in wealth with dictatorial methods like in China or North Korea – even there the elite drives Lamborghini. However, the rich in civilized countries today have to put up with giving away a good part of their gains to the general public.

How much tax is fair, is always the subject of public debate. At the moment it should be a little more. After all, it would only be about the rich getting richer a little less quickly. The slowdown is not harming them, even if the Association of Family Businesses claims the opposite.

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