Editorial: This greed will backfire

By Richard Moore

2 comments
A new report predicts that more than seven million jobs will be obsolete by 2020, leaving many unemployed. Photo / Shutterstock
A new report predicts that more than seven million jobs will be obsolete by 2020, leaving many unemployed. Photo / Shutterstock

After an almost perfect weekend of warmth and blue skies I find myself thinking about what a world we live in.

It can be truly beautiful.

And yet a story I read took me down a dark path where wonderful summer days count for naught, because the societies on our planet are just so incredibly warped.

Looking around at the growing gap between haves and have-nots in this country - and beyond its borders - I wonder if the rich and filthy-rich bother to see the big picture.
Richard Moore

It could well have been my delayed reaction to a snippet of news that said 62 people own as much as half of the world's population.

I like that people are successful, but to that extent? It struck me as being too lopsided for words and then it began to sicken me.

It isn't right and it gives those individuals too much power and influence over a globe filled with craven governments and a host of people who would eat their own children to get footholds in the halls of the uber-rich.

Don't get me wrong, I like having money and the good things of life, but the older I get the less interested I am in making more money than I need to have a comfortable life.

Looking around at the growing gap between haves and have-nots in this country - and beyond its borders - I wonder if the rich and filthy-rich bother to see the big picture.

To them it would be making more money.

As a historian and commentator I see troubles brewing.

How many times throughout history have we seen social imbalances end in blood and violence? The French Revolution and Russian Revolution are two prime examples of inequality leading to massive bloodshed.

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Yet those at the society-shaping end keep ignoring what I see as danger signs.

The first is the increasing and obvious inequality.

When someone does really well at something and makes a lot of dosh I say good luck to them. Work hard, have a bit of luck, good on you - it's deserved.

Many people, however, are envious of that person's success.

They will moan about it and make snide comments but, overall, they'll go on with their lives working and making ends meet. The bigger the gap, though, the more discontent there will be.

Now what happens when that large group of disaffected people are hit hard by misfortune - such as losing their jobs, or homes, or the ability to feed their families?

They go from jealous to angry and that anger often leads to violence and, if things don't improve, to revolution.

Sure there are many steps along the way to social upheaval, but the path is clear to see.

A number of decades ago the age of the computer was heralded as something that could make the world more efficient and productive and would give people more leisure time.

That has happened, only calling it leisure would be a euphemism.

As computerised production lines improve and machines continue to eat people's jobs, more and more folk spend time at home - unemployed.

They are no longer able to support their families as they once did and their self-esteem gets hammered. Their anger grows.

The really worrying thing about this is a report called The Future of Jobs that predicts millions of jobs are about to disappear in the next four years. And I mean disappear as in obsolete.

The report estimates 7.1 million paid positions will no longer exist by 2020 as technologies do away with the need for human input. Only a quarter of those sacked will find new work.

I guess some bosses would be thrilled at that - a better bottom line to keep the beancounters happy. But at what cost?

I've always been savagely amused by companies that reduce staff to save costs only to find their sales also dip. Why, they ask?

The answer is pretty obvious to me. The more unemployed people out there the less money is available to spend on their goods or services. It isn't brain surgery is it?

Fewer jobs, more discontent, a growing resentment towards those better off, rising crime leading to an increased chance of instability such as food or job riots.

It isn't a pretty picture, but unless those at the top see the bigger, human picture, we are in for some terrible times ahead.

And the really sad thing is that it is all so easily avoidable. Those at the top have to be less greedy and share more with those at the bottom.

Remember Madame Guillotine...

- Richard@richardmoore.com

Richard Moore is an award-winning Western Bay journalist and photographer.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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