In the world there are roughly three economic “worlds”, the old rich, the new rich and the poor. These can be seen horizontally per region in the world. The old rich regions speculate with value, the new rich countries create some of the value still through industrial process with cheap labor, and then there are the poor that have nothing but themselves. Meanwhile climate changes and pollution of the rich make the globe more inhabitable affecting the rich in their quest for resources using greed, and the poor who are being robbed of their chances for survival. Some try to get to the rich parts of the world by hazardous migration, others just perish, accepting their destiny in some way as inevitable.
This has always been the case ever since industrialization began and even before. Nowadays the old rich suffer crises because they cannibalize on their own wealth, the new rich do not learn the lessons of the old rich and go into the same direction while the poor remain poor, exploited by the rich, die and don’t know much better by lack of reference. What is “rich” anyway? That your children survive beyond age 2 or 5? That you have a car, a house to live in, two TV sets, a mobile phone and access to the supermarket every day? Peace at home or in the street?
Poverty among the rich
Then there is this other way of looking at the same three worlds but vertically, within the confinement of the rich countries. We find the same mix of poverty, wealthy and rich but within the same region. The difference with the general poverty around the world is that this type of poverty has known what it is like to be rich in material sense and sees it around them all the time. In the area of poverty within rich regions we see three ways that people deal with it:
- Solidarity, meaning that fellow people, families, friends and surroundings help the people out voluntarily for their primary needs. Often people who are being helped just need some support because they thrive to be self supported and need no official help. They are the entrepreneurial types of society that do their best. They normally see their situation as temporary and part of life, trusting to be able to deal with it.
- Social welfare, a government caring system to assist people who have entered in some kind of misery until they can find their way back into the system by themselves or through pressure of the government. Often these are people who have suffered a loss, a divorce or whatever mishap. It can also represent a cultural problem of employment diversity. Social welfare is the social cushion that provides them with rest and material peace of mind for a while.
- Criminality and chaos, is when people do not trust the system or themselves anymore and abuse the system through rebellion acts, criminality and chaos, out of mentality or need.
In new rich countries we see governments trying to deal with the newly growing rich, taxation, equality and old poverty through education programs and welfare creation. In the current old rich societies however we see a general raise of poverty that covers all three situations. Yet the mix tends to alter due to the development of the collapsing richness. The crises that the culture and paradigm suffers develops an explosive situation that eventually will provoke a paradigm shift. It is these poor that upset the old system and introduce new conditions for stable progress, but not before some chaos and collapse is created in the community. It is not the money that will change the world, it is the poverty among the old rich.
The traditional solidarity of local people goes to their own relatives or close ones. Many rich countries have opened up their borders so much for the entry of cheap labor that foreign poverty mixes with local poverty, both with a different mentality around scarcity. The local poor start to believe that the chances are being taken away from them by the foreigners. The newcomers come for work and see the rich society as something to take their chances no matter what. Some come with a genuine interest to take benefit, others with a hit and run opportunistic attitude towards the abundance in the materially rich environment.
Crime rises among all populations groups simply because of the masses in jeopardy, the distrust between locals and foreign groups and the declining “can do” culture in the region. When social security funds dry up as the old rich country cannot keep up the old standards the welfare support is taken away gradually and causes more poverty. The solidarity in the community slows down and finally stops because people lose faith and ask their people to take responsibility. They do that by finding ways to rise against the inequality through marches, protest or attacks, yet they also develop new pre-paradigms and paradigms. The significance of have lived through different worldviews as an individual is key for progress. Poverty then is a way to let go of the old securities that the remaining rich try to defend. But this defense, even with the powerful support of the law, is not enough to withhold the demanding forces of the people who want to introduce change. We have seen this happen in Northern Africa and the Middle East. We will see it happening across the globe.
The following questions arises:
- When, with what proportion of poverty in the mix, does a stable economy of old rich collapse into chaos prior to renewal
- Can a country take precaution before? Eg by allowing social innovation by the poor instead of defending the situation of the rich
- Is social welfare always an adequate cushion? Or should it be limited only to the new rich while the old rich should focus on paradigm shift through social investment rather than protection?
As poverty in the rich countries grows we general see the difference between rich and poor grow too. The speculation at the top end of the social pyramid is showing economic growth while the bottom is reaching a point of starvation. The differences grow and so does the social stress. Yet the new poverty has the insight, knowledge and education to produce change that can move the old rich into a new phase of development through fundamental changes. The growing rich out of the old paradigm will try to influence change negatively. I also referred to this in the blog entry of the route of least resistance. The only problem any country deals with in this situation is its governance. What side does government chose? The conservative rich out of tax interests and their influential lobby? Or the innovative poor understanding the need for social innovation? Can a middle way exist?
Looking forward to your reactions……