United Nations: Extreme Inequality Is Destabilizing The World’s Democracies
A new report from the United Nations found that rampant inequality is chipping away at trust in democratic societies, which is now paving the way for authoritarian and nativist regimes to take root, according to The Washington Post.
The findings note that solutions, which include social safety nets, a redistribution of wealth, and protection of workers rights, “have been recommended for decades” and are well within the capacity of the world’s wealthy nations.
But initiatives have been blocked by “economic elites” in many countries, such as the United States, because they challenge the interests of certain individuals and groups, according to the report.
The 400 richest Americans now have significantly more money than the 150 million Americans in the bottom 60 percent of the population.
“People in positions of power tend to capture political processes, particularly in contexts of high and growing inequality,” the report states. “Efforts to reduce inequality will inevitably challenge the interests of certain individuals and groups. At their core, they affect the balance of power.”
When the wealthy elites of a country shape their nation’s institutions to reflect their own image, trust in those institutions declines, which creates a vacuum for authoritarian and nativst regimes to fill in. “The central message of populist movements has historically been that the common people are being exploited by a privileged elite, and that radical institutional change is required to avoid such exploitation,” the report noted.
Populist regimes since 1990 have primarily shown characteristics of corruption, self-dealing, worsening inequality, and political violence.
The U.N. report states that leveling the playing field would involved strengthening the minimum wage, reinforcing the social safety net, and ensuring universal access to health care in places that currently lack it.
Such a plan would require the redistribution of wealth downward, via a wealth tax, yet the individuals that currently hold the majority of their country’s riches have identified those policies as a threat to their interests.