Power/wealth disparity

Problematically, thanks to our bizarre financial system, money has been able to accumulate in the hands of a very few. And for those of you who didn’t quite get the point that the Occupy movement is trying to make (which might be quite a few, because the media seemed pretty intent on obfuscating it), 1% of the US population now hold one-third of the net wealth (this video is a great demo) of the world’s wealth. And that should be a concern for all of us who are not super-rich (the other 99% of the world), because that means that things are not nearly as equal as we believed.

The biggest problem with this scenario is that in our world, money equals power. So those who have money have the loudest voices. And because of the way western legal systems usually work (and let’s face it, a fair proportion of non-western ones too), it also effectively means a small section of the very wealthy are in many instances not accountable to many of our laws.

Let me explain. To someone very rich, a parking fine of $10 (or even $100) has very little meaning. This is obviously not the case for those of us living far closer to the poverty line. This is only a small example of inequality. Let me give you another; the richest people can hire the best lawyers. The best lawyers can win the cases – they’re the guys who take advantage of loopholes, use their charisma to win cases, and some of whom use very tricky methods to win cases. (If you wonder what kinds of things I mean, watch Murray Richman, the infamous mob lawyer, being interviewed in Errol Morris’ excellent interrotron-produced First Person series where he talks in some depth about tactics he used to get men off from (often very violent) crimes he knew the were guilty of committing.)

This is a problem, because if you can throw money, or lawyers, at a problem and make it go away, you have no accountability. Without accountability, it’s very difficult to develop a strong system of morality.