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Capital drives inequality

December 16th, 2023 | Tags: Dickson C. Igwe economics BVI Virgin Islands capital
Dickson C. Igwe. Photo: VINO/File
Dickson C. Igwe

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, is a useful cliché in revealing the tendency of capital to drive social and wealth inequality

The reason the wealthy appear to exist in a rarefied place is not that they possess two heads. The wealthy own the capital that drives the growth and concentration of wealth and power, and that capital, passes from one generation to the next. In today’s world, capital ownership is the main factor defining social class and who belongs to the elite; then, there is learning and talent.

Capital and its ownership is a culture that a minority inhabit. The power of Supply Side Economics is the reality that production – the supply of consumer goods and services for consumer demand- drives up profits of producers, and their agencies, concentrating wealth in the hands of the few. In 2023, corporate stock ownership is the deciding factor in who joins the 1% Club.

Inequality is nothing new, and neither is capital. In ancient times, the owners of land, and the implements and people who worked the land, including the seafaring vessels that opened up foreign lands to barbarian conquerors, were the holders of wealth and power. It is the same today.

That capital has always appreciated is also nothing new. The steady rise in the stock market price is a reflection of the increasing value of capital. In fact, the success of capital to move through the centuries, adding value as it travels, has allowed for the establishment of wealth and power in the hands of the minority: European royal households, US industrial barons, owners of financial and corporate stock, business magnates, autocratic leaders, and today’s tech billionaires. 

Capital is a beast that adopts the features and cultures of the historical epochs it passes through. It takes on the ideas, sciences, and technologies at each stage. Capital discards and adopts, as it moves through history.

Today, capital has arrived in the time of artificial intelligence. Pilotless aircraft, ships without captains, driverless cars, robots, drone technology, trains with no navigator on board and the list goes on. Where it ends, no one knows.

Capital is energy and motion. It is the flux and flow of the capital mix- wealth-making assets and enterprise- towards establishing value to those who control that mix. Capital is dependent on human effort, exigence, and enterprise for value.

Capital appreciates because of the dynamism of human effort in satisfying the demands of life on earth. Abraham Maslow decided there was a hierarchy of needs from the most basic such as food and water to the most incredible such as space travel.  Capital provides the inputs and outputs for every human need and purpose.

We live in the Age of Capital in that the capitalist creed drives global society and economic culture. Science and technology reign supreme in driving up the value of corporations and their owners. Any assessment of inequality will reveal that the owners of capital have an advantage in the wealth stakes. Capital is power. That is not a revelation. History has evolved that way.

Dickson Igwe

16 Responses to “Capital drives inequality”

  • don (16/12/2023, 11:25) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Good morning but so does socialism
  • GateKeeper (16/12/2023, 12:49) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    Capital singularly does not lead to inequality. Unequivocally, across the global spectrum, race and the unjust, uneven distribution of a nation’s wealth, power, resources, etc drives inequality. Universally, a dominant group lived in privileged conditions with almost 100% ownership and control of a nation’s wealth, power, businesses, and all levels of government support and resources..The dominant group has a monopoly of ownership and control. The monopoly of control resulted from centuries of abusive exploitation and expropriation of a weaker group’s labor. Lack of power and leads to abject poverty , and poverty leads to powerlessness. This powerlessness and lack of power and control is purported by the dominant group by stripping the weaker group(s) humanity, almost all their worldly possessions,restricting their freedom and liberties, keeping them hopeless, non-competitive and powerless..

    Moreover, in the US, the dominant group , the supposed upperclass, used a protective government, ie, constitutional protection, legal and extralegal activities, etc, to amass wealth, power,,and resources, etc. All the wealth and power amassed, they employ a ‘pull up the gangplank ‘ mentality, ie, keeping the wealth and power and control amassed, and structuring the system to keep the non-dominant group(s) from progressing. They rigidly oppose any effort to correct the disparity of wealth,resources and power distribution. Importantly and of note , is that the dominant group’s amassed wealth is passed from generation to generation , creating generational wealth. Further, the dominant group used its power, control, wealth , capital , government protection, etc , to use the tax system, debt ( the wealthy loves debt) , economic crises, war and other conflicts , etc to get richer and wealthier , while the poor gets poorer.

    On the other hand, the less dominant group(s),ie, Blacks whose exploited labour was the engine which drove the US’ economy into the #1 economy in the world but still owns less than 0.5% of the national resources. The dizzying profits from exploited black labour not only built the economy but also other industries, ie, Wall Street, banking, insurance, transportation, Telecommunications,etc. Though the focus was on the US, it can be also be applied across the pond and beyond.
    • @GateKeeper (16/12/2023, 13:51) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
      @GateKeeper, good read but politically correct with the Dominant group identification. Just say white and done with it, for their feelings don’t need or deserve protecting..Be blessed bro…
    • NPolitico (17/12/2023, 00:04) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
      he supposed upperclass totally blame Blacks, the permanent, suppressed underclass for the deplorable conditions and lack of progress showing , for they fail to take advantage of the available opportunities. When in fact, it is the class , caste , system, inequitable justice , etc were some of the suppressive factor limiting upward mobility, ie, redlining, voter suppression, nullification and subversion, centuries discriminatory policies, restricting of educational and economic opportunities and access to capital. I capital runs things and one does not capital and access to capital is limiting what gives. The living conditions of the suppressed and marginalized people tend to reflect their status and power within the greater society. Lack of capital leads to poverty, marginalized and deplorable conditions and for the most part that is status they operate in, living in an impoverished and powerlessness state. In a racially competitive society. Hopelessness can lead to extreme what I got to lose behaviour.,,ie, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, etc. Our schools don’t teach basic finance so all this economic talk may find many out of their depth. Perhaps a more basic economic and finance series may be more beneficial and may create more interest and buy in.
      • @NPolitico (17/12/2023, 10:12) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
        To NPolitico, “ The living conditions of the suppressed and marginalized people tend to reflect their status and power within the greater society.“ Deep, and profound real talk. This is lived conditions of the poor and powerless. Another blogger noted a truism, lack of capital leads to poverty; poverty leads to powerlessness. And the rich and powerful desires and engineers the system to keep the underclass and marginalized powerless by keeping them poor. Slavery was successful due to the strict control, lack of hope, lack power and resources, etc. Nevertheless, slaves were so tired of being sick and tired that they failed to effectively deployed their most effective weapon, ie, resistance. Patrick Henry said give liberty or give me death. George Hegel also said, he who values life over liberty is the—-SLAVE—; and he who values liberty over life is the—MASTER. The Masters whether slave masters, colonialists,,etc, don’t have health, safety, well-being,,etc at heart; their MO was/is about self.
      • School Call In (17/12/2023, 14:18) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
        @ NPolitico, it is like school(college level) is in session. The following quote is powerful and applicable to life in the VI for Virgin Islanders :” The living conditions of the suppressed and marginalized people tend to reflect their status and power within the greater society.” Virgin Islanders status, lack of power ( the Governor has unilateral power consistent with colonialism philosophy.) indeed living conditions reflects and is a function of their current status and lack of power. It is as if they are afflicted with the Stockholm Syndrome.. Nonetheless, some of our people seems to have acquiesce to the colonialists faux doctrine. The colonialists deeply believed in their fake doctrine . MLK powerfully sates: “ Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance.” It is time for Virgin Islanders to liberate themselves from the centuries of subjugation.
        • Sambo (17/12/2023, 22:31) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
          @ School Call In, good read with applicable,, powerful, and supporting quotes. Lots of valuable info to mine in the discussion..Hopefully, a clearer understanding can be had about the current reality, what needs to change to plot the way forward.
      • Manjack (18/12/2023, 06:56) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
        @NPolitico, “ he supposed upperclass totally blame Blacks, the permanent, suppressed underclass for the deplorable conditions and lack of progress showing , for they fail to take advantage of the available opportunities.“ This is in line with George Hegel philosophy to blame the slaves , the oppressed for the deplorable conditions in which they find themselves: “ If a man is a slave, his own will is responsible for his slaver… the wrong of slavery lies at the door not of of enslavers or conquerors but of the slaves..and conquered themselves.” That is rich, dark, convenient, and pure hog wash. Who has the power in the Master-Slave situation??? It is not the slave. The position and logic is clearly unjust and twisted.
        • Socrates (18/12/2023, 10:49) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
          It seems Hegel was trying to rationalize and legitimize the colonialists and imperialists exploitation and expropriatioon of labour, land and other resources ; deprivation of liberty, freedom, and the blessings of basic humanity. Where are the ???

          Here they are:
          1. Did slaves disarm themselves and proclaim they want to be enslaved?
          2. Did slaves volunteer to work from sun up to sun down to enriched the masters, along with providing for their comfort?
          3. Did slaves decide to work free for the masters so that they could live in abject poverty while the masters build generational wealth for their offspring ?
          4. Did slaves decide to forego acquiring capital and wealth?
          5. Did slaves decide to be currency for masters?
          6. Did slaves volunteer to be a) dehumanize, b) abused, c) raped, d) exploited, e) build nations’ economies and power, and not be able to partake in voting, and engaging in civic affairs, f) deprive themselves of quality healthcare, employment , education, etc.
  • Lb (16/12/2023, 22:29) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    I believe people are better able to manage their own money than governments is
    • RealPol (17/12/2023, 09:51) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
      To LB, can you elaborate on people are better at managing their own money than government is. I’m a little slow and dense, so I’m not clearly getting the point. Are you saying that people should be allowed to manage their own personal finances, not government? Agree. Or that government should not collect taxes and fees to deliver non-rival and non-excludable goods and services, which the free market will probably not provide, ie, education, healthcare, roads, social services, etc? The free market will only provide a good or service if it is profitable. And if many in the community cannot genuinely afford to pay for the service but needs it who will and who is looked to provide it?

      True,,government is wasteful in expending public resources; it delivers low productivity and low productivity comes at a high cost. It (government) does not exemplify maximizing budget efficiency. This occurs because of (1)the structure of our system of government, ie, Westminster system, which promotes the Peter Principle, viz, promoting people from a level of competence to a level of incompetence, and (2) citizens disengagement from civic and public affairs. For change, the citizenry must get engage and hold government accountable and responsibility for inefficiency and ineffectiveness in expending public resources. It should reward those who demonstrate effective management of allocated resources to get positive outcomes, and kick the poor performers to the curb. Rewarding poor performers exacerbate an already bad situation. The electorate must send the right message, ie, if you perform well, you will get its support; poor performers, kicked to the curb. We need to stop recycling poor performers, for that is insanity. Our political and civil service must foster succession planning. Currently, the BVI suffers from a dearth, lack, of effective succession planning. The BVI should have a cadre of qualified people trained, experienced and ready to grasp positions of increasing responsibilities. It does not, resulting in non-managers being put into management positions and then expect positive outcomes. Here is a news flash. Policy expertise is not the same as effective management. We need to stop conflating the two, for they are different skill set.
      • Eagle and Buffalo (17/12/2023, 22:10) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
        To RealPol, as always, real talk. Good practical governing priciples for the way forward. Others have also contributed to a good discussion on the reality in the BVI.

        [Let’s lead as Eagle leads, not careen of the cliff as buffaloes do].
      • @realpol (17/12/2023, 22:42) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
        To RealPol, you hit the nail on the head about government performance /underperformance: “ True,government is wasteful in expending public resources; it delivers low productivity and low productivity comes at a high cost.” This is constructive criticism which government should embrace and take the necessary action to improve performance.
  • Bush Professor (18/12/2023, 05:04) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Money creates power and power creates wealth which creates income inequality. Moreover, wealth buys influence and invisible governance, which the many may not see nor understand. Though the many may neither see nor elect the invisible government, it exists and is functional . The golden rule says, “ he who has gold makes the rules or makes the golden rule . Rule making is often camouflage as being for the public good, but the reality it is influenced by he/she who has the gold through a labyrinth of clandestine maneuvers. This influence though can be throttled somewhat by the vote, but the many hardly vote, for their dissatisfaction with how government functions, believing that their vote does not matter. Nevertheless, in a functioning democracy voting matters and every vote counts and can make a difference. Nonetheless, voting has to be coupled with active civic engagement to bring about desired outcome.


    Manda School Alumni
  • Top of Mind (18/12/2023, 12:25) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    I have perused the comments to the Capital Drives Inequality. The comments were qualitative and quantitative, delving into capital driven inequality, exploiting of the weak and powerless, expropriating labour and land, the pain and suffering and hopelessness of the exploited, enslaved, marginalized,,etc. Nevertheless, though these comments and issues are of utmost importance and should not be ignored, neglected and forgotten and cast aside, but my top of mind issues are a) improved accessible and affordable healthcare, quality education, ie, full of STEAM; securing a porous border, arresting of increasing violent and property crime, diversifying the economy, investing in and constructing a First World physical infrastructure, viz, electricity, roads, water, sewage, drainage, ports( air and marine), telecommunications, public safety ( fire, police, security), social safety nets, revised less dependency, more democratic and enhanced self-governance constitution, etc. let’s roll and geh ah dun .
  • Quiet Warrior (18/12/2023, 19:38) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Writ large Europeans conquered far away lands outside of Europe, and colonize them. And then commit genocide of local populations , exploit and expropriate labour and land and resources to amass and control all the capital, wealth, power, resources, and control of government mechanism..To protect the amassing of all the capital, other resources and control, they set up and acquired control of the courts and other institution. Part of control included keeping the former enslaved, marginalized , poor, powerless,etc as a permanent underclass. The marginalized groups can only progress as far as the White upperclass let them.

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