Green Left fighting fund: Mega-rich get richer


According to new research, Australia's richest 1% of taxpayers — those earning more than $197,000 — accounted for 9.8% of total income in 2007-08, up from 8.8% in 2002-03.

The analysis by Australian National University economist Andrew Leigh and Oxford University's Tony Atkinson also found that Australia's mega rich — those 15,000 "Aussie battlers" earning more than $693,000 — accounted for 3.6% of all taxable income, up from 2.7% in 2002-03.

The April 8 Sydney Morning Herald said Leigh explained that one reason behind the rich getting richer was "cuts to the top marginal tax rate which had given high income earners more scope to invest in property and financial markets".

The study also found that, between 1993 and 2009, CEO earnings increased by an average of 7.5% annually, while salaries across the economy increased by an average of just 3.7% — less than half.

Leigh told the SMH: "In 1993 the average earnings of CEOs in the top 100 Australian firms was about $1 million. By 2009 this had risen to around $3 million."

But if you're struggling with rising interest rates or increasing rental payments and think this is all a bit unfair, just listen to the soothing words of Michael Stutchbury, economics editor with the Australian. He explained on April 15 why these findings were fantastic, and how the wealth gap benefits us all.

"But ordinary Australians can share the rewards by investing in the businesses of the rich, working for them, or from the taxes they pay", Stutchbury said.

"Through history, artists have relied on benefactors. Australia would be enriched if the world's most generous philanthropist, Bill Gates lived here, even if that increased measured inequality."

There you go. For all you people living in abject poverty, just invest in the businesses of the rich! And if you do find yourselves getting poorer, just live in hope that Bill Gates will fund a mural somewhere near you.

Enough of this. Rising inequality is evidence of the system failing "ordinary Australians", no matter how you spin it. This failure is more evident considering that the wealth being accumulated by the rich is generated by others — working people and the poor.

We need to struggle, not just to pay next week's rent or rates notice, but to change the order of things.

Green Left Weekly is committed to that struggle. Not only do we expose inequality and injustice, we fight against it and help build grassroots movements that can achieve change.

But we need your help. So far this year, we have raised $72,065, roughly 24% of our ambitious $300,000 fighting fund for 2010.

You can help us make the target by donating online today at . Or direct deposits can be made to Greenleft, Commonwealth Bank, BSB 062-006, account no. 00901992.

Otherwise, you can send a cheque or money order to PO Box 515, Broadway NSW 2007 or phone in a donation through on the toll-free line at 1800 634 206 (within Australia).