Bill Clinton and friends dine out on inequality

DOES anyone else share my sense of irony that former US president Bill Clinton can claim – within the space of a couple of hours – that the “enormous, staggering amount of inequality within and between countries” is one of the biggest threats facing humanity and then sit down to dinner with 575 of the elite, each of whom paid €2,500 for the privilege?

€2,500 – that’s the amount a 23-year-old unemployed person has to live on for four months – is quaffed away on a meal of “Atlantic salmon, Connemara lamb and lemon posset, washed down with Chablis Domaine de la Mandeliere 2007 and Chateau Les Roches Gaby 2001”.

But at least we know that while they quaffed, they pondered on the inequality of it all. It’s not just ironic, it’s downright disgusting. Economic inequality is clearly the biggest injustice in society today. In Ireland, 1% of the population own 34% of the wealth. No doubt at least some of that 1% supped with Mr Clinton last Thursday night.

We need a serious debate about the extent of this inequality and about how it can be tackled. The political and economic path being followed by all the mainstream political parties, and in the vast majority of public debate, presumes ordinary people must shoulder the burden of the economic crisis and that the 1% must be protected.

In order to attempt to stimulate and contribute to such a debate the ‘1% Network’ has organised a political walking tour through the heartland of the ‘Golden Circle’ on Saturday next, meeting at St Stephens Green at 1pm. The walking tour will visit the residences of billionaire tax-dodgers, the headquarters of failed banks and the offices of the lobby groups that protect the interest of the wealthy. The 1% Network takes its name from the fact that 1% of the Irish population owns 34% of the wealth.

We hope all those who agree that this economic inequality must be ended will join us on the walking tour and contribute to the debate about how this can be achieved.

Gregor Kerr

1% Network

Dun Laoghaire

Co Dublin

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