Financial Crisis Tests Tolerance of Inequality

  • submit to reddit

John Plender is no flaming radical. He’s a long time senior editorial writer and columnist at the UK’s Financial Times, a former chartered accountant who briefly worked in the British government’s Foreign Office while Margaret Thatcher was prime minister. So for him to come down on the side of the 99% — even tentatively – seems remarkable.

In the first of a series of columns “rethinking capitalism” in the wake of the worldwide financial meltdown, he writes, “Greedy bankers, overpaid executives, anemic growth, stubbornly high unemployment – these are just a few of the things that have lately driven protesters on to the streets and caused the wider public in the developed world to become disgruntled about capitalism. The system, in all its different varieties, is widely perceived to be failing to deliver. On both sides of the Atlantic there is now a risk that reasonable aspirations to equality of opportunity are being undermined, accompanied by a growing threat of political instability.

“Today, the pre-eminent interest group consists of finance professionals on Wall Street and in London. Through campaign finance and political donations, they have bought themselves protection from proper societal accountability.”

You may not agree with everything he says (that, for example, the Occupy movement “is not the product of despair”), but he places our crisis of economic inequality in interesting historical and geopolitical context.

Read the column » (registration required)

  • submit to reddit