Opinion: On the growth of inequity in society

The ever increasing gap between the rich and the poor


I did not think the day would come in my lifetime when I would find myself agreeing with a speech made by a Pope.

There are many issues unresolved about his church and many nasty things that it remains responsible for.  It is one house that needs to get so many things in order before it can be credible on the world stage.

However at least on the topic of inequity this Pope seems to have hit the nail on the head.

There are many quotable quotes being used from his December 2013 speech, including this one:

While the earnings of the minority are growing exponentially, so, too, is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. The imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation…. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules…. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything that stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.

There is a very good report on the speech by the New Yorker – click here.

Talking of actions required, it was great to see Barack Obama use his recent national speech to place a special focus on inequity in the USA. The USA leads the world on the levels of inequality. Of course the President has the hostilities of the Republican Party that dominates the legislative processes. So best of luck there!

Optimistically the US President seems committed to doing something using his limited executive powers. At least he has placed the topic on the agenda. There’s a BBC report on his speech here – click here.

On the topic of inequity, I had previously reviewed a very good read by Andrew Leigh. His book Battlers & Billionaires (2013) examines the stages of the growth of inequity in Australia and makes the point that recent decades have seen the gap between rich and poor grow out of all proportions. It remains a must read for anyone dealing with any society issues in Australia. click here.

Andrew has also written an excellent piece in the newspapers today pointing out that Australia is a low tax nation but the current Rabbott government continues with mad statements as if this is not the case. Click here for that article.

Josh Bornstein writes a very good piece in the Guardian Australia on the growing inequity within Australia and that the present government is not dealing with this. In fact its actions so far have increased the likelihood that the disadvantaged will be now worse off, while the business and the rich will be provided with more opportunities for less tax and more government benefits.

Josh finishes with this:

As I write, Abbott’s government is fiercely resisting a law suit which seeks to restore the pay of 10,000 disabled employees after it was illegally halved. Some of my clients in that case currently earn less than $1 per hour. If inequality is going to get better in this country, first it’s going to get worse.

Worth a minute or two to read the whole piece – click here

rabbott01Things are not looking good for the moment. But at least if everyone can get talking about the inequities and then, just maybe, we could see future elections include this issue as one to be dealt with by the next government.

As for the Rabbott Government, let’s not hold our breath waiting for them to even identify that this is a priority, let alone plan to do anything about it. Actually, it is doing lots about inequity. It is about to put in place many programs and changes many pieces of legislation that will increase the levels of inequity in Australia.

We all have a few years of advocacy ahead of us to get some actions from a future Australian Federal Government.


Paul Costigan, 6 February 2014



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