Were the Mayans right? Is the world about to end?

January 30th, 2012  |  Published in Andrew Katz, Business, Featured, head2head, Theo Pui  |  1 Comment

Strap yourselves in, rich people: it’s apocalypse time

By: Theo Pui

Is the world is going through a great equalization?

Theo Pui

After some intense research obtained from the all-knowing Internet source called Wikipedia, it seems that the whole Mayan Calendar 2012 Apocalypse was merely a media-hyped hoax–and a horrible movie starring John Cusack. It seems that us simple humans are quite gullible to media spectacles: recall the Y2K bug and Tickle Me Elmo.

Or, perhaps the Mayans were onto something and our fate has been written somewhere among the stars. The Mayan calendar highlights a cyclical conception of time with 2012 being the end and beginning of a new cycle (7,885 years).

Look at the world. Years of poor fiscal policy has left First World governments bogged down with debt. In the Eurozone, Greece, Italy and Spain are struggling drastically to meet bond payments. After their credit rating was cut to AA+ by S&P, the American Dream has been reduced to 3 kids, no job, and luxurious government housing. Japan and its stagnating economy saw 2011 as the year of the tsunami.

Now look at the Third World, and at the so-called BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, and China). These emerging nations are snatching up jobs as multinational corporations move overseas in search of cheap labour. Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Tunisia have all overthrown their dictatorships, and are ready for a new start. Mexico: once somebody wins that drug war, it’s party time!

As these countries prosper, it is the First World that suffers. First World jobs are disappearing and unemployment is high. This has lead to the amalgamation of the declining middle class and its lower brethren, which is quite indicative of the oh so popular 99%. The trend over the past 50 years is that the rich have gotten richer and the poor are still waiting on that lotto ticket. The last time the wealth gap was so evident, we called it slavery. What happened to slavery? It ended. Enter 2008. The global financial crisis saw the rich lose billions and the poor lose well… hundreds.

What am I getting at? Perhaps it may be a coincidence with the Mayans or it might just be science, but it looks like the world is undergoing a great equalization. And to the rich, it may as well be the end of the world.


Don’t Cry for the Rich

By: Andrew Katz

Andrew Katz

One has to be very careful when one talks about the rich and poor, much as one has to be careful when talking about the Mayan calendar and the year 2012—it is easy to sound foolish. Much is said about the rise of the global middle class: in a nutshell, it has to do with jobs fleeing overseas to countries like Brazil and China. However, this rise is probably more of a long overdue equalization than a catastrophic event. Indeed, as wages increase in countries like China, the transfer of jobs will slow and eventually stop, and in some cases might reverse.

Let us all be clear here. Nowhere in this transfer are the rich suffering. Jobs did not spontaneously move from the West to the rest. Large multinational organizations headed by the rich elite moved them there. And they profited tremendously.

Income inequality has been growing, which can be a result of the middle class getting poorer, the rich getting richer, or both. In the West it seems to be both. In developing nations, however, income inequality is also growing. In China and India, a burgeoning middle class is developing but a small super rich elite is exploding.

The Atlantic’s Chrystia Freeland documented this explosion one year ago, in an article titled “The Rise of the New Global Elite”:

“…between 1820 and 1950, nearly a century and a half, per capita income in those two countries [India and China] was basically flat. Between 1950 and 1973, it increased by 68 percent. Then, between 1973 and 2002, it grew by 245 percent, and continues to grow strongly despite the global financial crisis…  Though China’s middle class has grown exponentially and tens of millions have been lifted out of poverty, the super-elite in Shanghai and other east-coast cities have steadily pulled away.”

The situation is more drastic in the US. The changing global economic landscape has benefited the wealthiest the most. “Between 2002 and 2007,” Freeland points out, “65% of all income growth in the United States went to the top 1 percent of the population.” There was a brief period in 2008 where this reversed (see: financial crisis) but it seems the rich are recovering faster than the rest of the population.

If the end of the world is coming for the super rich it is not going to be because they are losing money. It will be because huge wealth disparities cause social upheaval and the poor get grumpy and head-chopper-offy when there is no more cake to be eaten.

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