Although I usually talk about the wealthy Few and the increasingly poor Many in an American context, such inequality is part and parcel of what has become a capitalist global civilization. Aaron Task interviewed Canadian writer Chrystia Freeland, author of Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, in the Daily Ticker story The Rise of the Super-rich Is a Global Phenomenon (video below).
As the title suggests, "the increase in income inequality" in the U.S. is not just a domestic development but "is happening in all Western industrialized countries," Freeland tells the Daily Ticker in the accompanying interview.
"And crucially you're seeing the same phenomenon in the big emerging market economies."
Freeland says globalization is at the root of income inequality around the world. Both capital and labor are global therefore businesses leaders must maintain a global perspective, says Freeland.
"Inevitably that means the super-elite see themselves as citizens of Planet Earth" rather than as a citizen of their home country, which means they are less concerned with the health of the middle class in the U.S. or any other country they call home.
In the U.S. the gap between the very rich and everyone else "is wider than at any time since the gilded age," says Freeland...
As for the plutocrats, Freeland says if they confuse their own self-interest with the common good, they threaten the very system that created them.
You might also look at Freeland's story The Self-Destruction of the 1%, which appeared in the New York Times Sunday Review on October 13, 2012. In the video Freeland describes the situation as "winner take all" on a global scale, and agrees with Task's observation that we appear to have Social Darwinism writ large.
We should not be surprised to see this enormous wealth gap. When has unfettered Capitalism, given free rein over markets and labor, ever led to a different outcome? The promise is always the same, and might be summarized as a rising tide lifts all boats, a phrase first used by Jack Kennedy in a speech in 1960. The free flow of capital which gives us this "winner take all" situation justifies itself in the great prosperity many ordinary people (labor) will allegedly achieve, although these people don't have access to capital and markets. So we see right away that the world is smoothly divided up into the Those Who Make The Magic Happen (the global capitalists) and Those Who Benefit From the Magic (global labor).
A rising tide lifts all boats—if you have a boat, or temporary access to one. And that's the way it has always been. Deng Xiaoping, who has the led the liberalization of markets in China, bought into this philosophy—
Let some people get rich first.
What is different now is that for the first time in history, the "rising tide" is occuring outside the normal boundaries created by nation-states. As the Daily Ticker notes, these global bloodsuckers capitalists view themselves as citizens of Planet Earth, not as citizens of some particular nation. They are not citizens of Brazil, France, China, India, Russia or the United States, although they may have a base of operations in one of these places. As such, the new global super-rich are operating totally outside the laws of any particular nation.
If one country does not give them what they want, they can play off that nation against others to achieve their goals. Factories are moved, jobs created elsewhere. If these global capitalists don't like living in some place, they can move to another. Social Darwinism, indeed.
In so far as the "developed" (OECD) nations are hopelessly indebted, and their economies have stalled and will be stagnant in the foreseeable future, capital has flowed to the so-called BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and other "developing" countries. Consequently, these "emerging markets" are experiencing the same wealth and income inequality we have in the developed world for the same reasons.
There is much more we could say about this subject, so I shall return to this subject in the future. One more important point needs to be made about the rise of global super-rich and the fall of everyone else—don't expect this situation to change, either here in the United States or anywhere else on Planet Earth. There are no global institutions with the power to control it, and if there were, those institutions would be "captured" by the super-rich.