Imagine we have finally managed to get off this planet properly. Like in Star Trek. Long range ships with gravity and all that good stuff. What would we think if we found a planet where one percent of the ruling beings had control of eighty two percent of the wealth available? (The total population of that race being 7.6 billion.) With forty two of those beings having the same amount of wealth as the 3.7 billion poorest.
Wouldn't the Starship Captain report in their log that the planet seemed a trifle unfair and undemocratic? And what would our explorers think about extreme poverty over huge swathes of another planet? Lack of awareness of environmental damage being caused by the population, threats to use horrendous total wipeout weapons.
I think human explorers would be quite judgemental to say the least. Yet here on Earth, right now, the number of people controlling 1% of all our wealth has actually got smaller, according the latest Oxfam wealth report. The world's richest man increased his fortune by $6 billion in the first ten days of 2017 (Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, in case you haven't guessed). Yes, in just ten days.
I wrote about the last Oxfam report on this blog. Unsurprisingly nothing has changed much in the year since. Other than the gap widening between wealthy and poor. But once again I must also rail against our capacity for accepting this as 'the norm'. We are being conditioned to see huge wealth for the one percent as nothing to be concerned about.
Yesterday saw the first anniversary Women's Marches. I am so glad that momentum is being kept up on inequality and abuse. Now we need the same momentum on redistribution of resources. And on democracy. The 'show' of democracy is often a front for the purchase of elections - whether by candidates or parties, media tycoons, oligarchs or whatever. Electoral systems work against the voters. And in many countries, there is not even an attempt to have democratic participation.
Again, let's think what we would be trying to impose on planets we discovered. 'Yes, [alien race yet to be identified] you must live in this way - so much more beneficial for all, so much fairer.' Because obviously telling other people how to live has worked so well on our own planet.
And we should not forget that currently it is the super-wealthy who are investing in space travel. Unless we take action, maybe in decades to come the Oxfam report will be that one percent of the population now lives off planet whilst the remainder are struggling with smog, skin cancer and lack of natural resources....