The view that over-consumption and pollution by the rich is the real problem, not over-population, seems to be beginning to take root. The Guardian’s Andrew Simms makes some interesting comments on inequality, seemingly arguing that there should be more re-distribution of wealth from the rich to the poor to avoid so much over-consumption. Simms comments:
Andrew Haldane at the Bank of England estimates that the ratio of CEO pay at the biggest seven banks compared to the national median wage in the US was 100:1 in 1989 and rose to 500:1 in 2007.
I am certainly an advocate for letting the market work and providing appropriate incentives for people to work hard, because it is often these people creating jobs – however, there certainly must be a threshold where a level of pay becomes out of step with the work actually being done and is far more than any person needs.
Simms also repeats what the Economist last week and others have been saying already when he comments:
The current economic system against which the “occupation” protest across the industrialised world are directed, both creates and depends on unsustainable consumption, and has driven income and asset inequality within and between nations. Fred Pearce, author of Peoplequake, argues that an obsession with population distracts from the real issue, overconsumption among the rich. He quotes Stephen Pacala, director of the Princeton Environment Institute, who calculated that the world’s richest half a billion people – about 7% of the global population – account for half of the world’s emissions. Whereas, the poorest half of the world’s population account for just 7% of emissions.
With the financial crisis and protestors across the world demanding change, is the answer more tax on the rich? Countering this view, Greece seems to be in a mess largely because of so much tax evasion and a large black market – and this sort of problem only gets worse with high taxes bringing with the incentive to evade or not develop new businesses and projects which stimulate the economy for some.
Regardless, we need to move away from the economically crippling pressure to have no children to reduce carbon emissions (see all the problems this is causing in other posts on this blog!) and move to other environmental solutions. I hate this new tendency to see precious new babies in terms of a number of carbon emissions.