The Super-Rich and Us, BBC 2 9pm, written and directed by Jaques Peretti.

rich v poor

It’s no longer enough to say people are rich. We don’t for example say: the super poor and us. There’s nothing super about being poor and it’s less easy to play with such words and quantify meaning by adding another layer of description. Let’s just say that if a hypothetical me existed on less than £8K a year and Peretti is on about say ten times as much, for example, £80 -100K a year, he’s still classified as US. The super-rich are billionaires. Peretti tells us Britain has more billionaires per head of population than any other country in the world, yet we are one of the most unequal societies in Western Europe. In simple terms, and for photo shoots, it’s the tail that wags the dog, the 1% that owns the 99% of wealth. Money flows increasingly from the poor to the rich. We subsidise their extravagant lifestyles.

Ideologically, Peretti likes to think he takes on those that proposed the economic nostrum of trickledown effect- whereby the rich act the Samaritan to the poor by spending increasingly large amounts of their well-earned cash. We give them more. They spend more. Let’s just say there’s been gains and losses and all of the losses have been on the side of the 99%. Wealth flows at an increasing speed upwards and if the rising tide has lifted fewer boats during the Obama years, as one wag put it, the ones it has lifted has tended to be yachts. Robin Hood in reverse, stealing from the poor to give to the rich. Piketty charts this much better than the picture-book approach of Peretti, but the latter does interview the rock-star of economics. Piketti suggest taxing the rich. Seems like a good idea, wish I’d have thought of that.

Peretti did visit the spot where Madame Guillotine was introduced as a quick and efficient way of dispatching the 1%. I’m sure that approach would be considered too radical by some.

Fast –forward another 100 years and go back almost 100 years to January 1919 and a mass demonstration in George Square that called for such radical aims as a 40 hour working week were met by police brutality, backed by 12 000 troops, six tanks sent to the Cattle Market and machine guns set up in post offices and hotels.

The 1% have never failed to take a radical approach to protecting their wealth. David Cameron and George Osborne have done a damn good job for their chums so far. I’m sure when re-elected they’ll continue with their scorched-earth wealth re-distribution policies. Read Piketty. We live in interesting times.

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