My Facebook feed has been full of people delighted to hear Bloomberg promise to meet America’s Climate Change commitments and why not? It’s good to see people speaking out against Trump’s isolationist and dangerous policies which affect everyone. It’s great when the rich and powerful are on ‘our’ side. And when the headlines are so gloomy it’s comforting to have a good news story, saying how we will stand together. Forbes leads with the headline, ‘Zuckerberg, Benioff And Other Billionaires Sound Off On Trump’s Decision On Paris Climate Accord’, the writers tag tells us she ‘tracks the worlds wealthiest people’ and an advertisement asks us to click on it to read ‘The Little Black Book of Billionaires Secrets’ and we are offered a glimpse into the world of the important elite, those who ‘move and shake’ the world. And something doesn’t feel good however glad I am that people spoke out against Trump, depending on one billionaire rather than another isn’t any way to run a democracy, a gathering of nations and certainly isn’t sustainable.
Phillip Shepherd states,
‘Wealth measures your ability to live irresponsibly’ (New Self, New World)
The New Economics Foundation (NEF) makes this more tangible in it’s report, A Bit Rich in which it found that,
‘While collecting salaries of between £500,000 and £10 million, leading City bankers to destroy £7 of social value for every pound in value they generate….For every £1 they are paid, childcare workers generate between £7 and £9.50 worth of benefits to society. …[They] estimated, however, that for every £1 [hospital cleaners] are paid, over £10 in social value is generated. [Yet] For a salary of between £75,000 and £200,000 tax accountants destroy £47 of value for every pound in value they generate.’
You get the picture…and it says that the nagging feeling that there is more wrong than simply, ‘I hope the Billionaires stay interested in the Planet’, the whole paradigm about wealth is the opposite of the way we are used to thinking about it. While we dream to be rich so we can have choices, be influential, save the planet we are putting ourselves in a passive role, binding our struggle for independence with the cause of the difficulty. While we could be serving, creating, freeing and blossoming we are deluded into waiting, holding back, accruing. If we successfully make a surplice there is not way that we have not produced a deficit somewhere else, if we are comfortable someone else is compromised. The economic system fails to have space for holistic thinking while producing the systems which by their nature cause climate change, poverty, war and degradation of resources and spirit.
Let’s celebrate Bloomberg’s generosity but not forget the people around the world today who perform vital public service for free or close to and go unacknowledged. And as we see the platform for the Billionaires to speak out against other Billionaires know that the conversations we are having are as important, even if they are not televised. Democracy and Sustainability begin inside ourselves, our bodies and our relationships and we can have great power to change our lives and communities without great wealth.
The NEF goes on to gather 10 myths which we need to remind ourselves of regularly because all the information we take in accidentally is telling us the opposite. Armouring ourselves with them so we are ready to question not just other people but also that tendency which I/we certainly have to feel relief for being rescued. In fact rather than grateful we could be equally enraged that some people have allowed themselves and been allowed to accrue such great wealth FROM other people and the planet. And horrified that people such as Bloomberg can make these decisions which affect us all, for good or ill, because even though this time the direction was helpful the capacity to make it undermines all our freedom. Instead of waiting to be rich, lets be free today – because we are free and able to serve in so many ways. We know it in our bodies and we don’t need Forbes to validate it!