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The inequality virus – Le Mauricien

Whether you are rich or poor, whether you live in the city or in the countryside, whether you are young, old, black, white, man, woman, atheist or believer, COVID-19 affects us all, indiscriminately, although in varying proportions, of course, depending of course on our geographical area, our degree of “involvement” in the world economy and the health policies put in place. It’s a truth: when it is in a position to contaminate, the coronavirus contaminates. Without worrying about who he touches. In other words, “viris pa get figir! “.
However, it is unfortunately different with its consequences other than health. Because with the pandemic, social inequalities have exploded, even becoming more and more intolerable. In this sense, we are reaping the (rotten in this case) fruits of our system. Of course, the phenomenon is not new in itself, because if there is a truth admitted for ages, it is that the rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer and poorer. Not to mention that the “club” of the wealthiest is becoming more and more hermetic, having in fact not hesitated, when it gave in to the sirens of neoliberalism, in the 1980s, to close its borders with the daily life of the rest. the world, in this case the vast majority of the planet on which its fortune depends.
Before the Covid, in fact, 1% of the richest already had as much as the cumulative income of the poorest half of the planet. This can be explained by an outrageous policy of exploiting our resources, whether natural or human, but also by the liberalization of economies, the reduction in taxation on high incomes and on capital, or even dismantling of social protections and public services. But while we would have thought that the arrival of the virus would “restore order to all this disorder”, it is the exact opposite that we are witnessing today. This “new standard” will indeed paradoxically have allowed the richest to see their incomes soar more, while inexorably plunging the poorest into even more… precarious precariousness.
This is notably the observation of Oxfam which, in a recent report, highlights the increase in social inequalities, with a frightening conclusion to say the least, namely that while a large part of the planet is plunged into poverty, a small elite will have been able to take advantage of the crisis “beyond the imaginable”. Because unlike the physical consequences of the virus, the economy prefers to “choose its partners”. Thus the income inequality gap, which was already articulated before the Covid on social inequalities due to gender and skin color, is widening even more today.
It would obviously be tempting to think that “the world before” was not really different. Which is partly true. Except that the virus will have had an accelerating effect by multiplying these same inequalities more than necessary. As proof, Oxfam explains that the wealthiest billionaires have regained their pre-crisis level of wealth in less than… nine months. And we are obviously not talking about those who directly benefited from the crisis. Like Jeff Bezos, the boss of Amazon, who “could pay a bonus of USD 105,000 to each of his 876,000 employees while remaining as rich as before the crisis”. It is also pointless to mention the case of players in the pharmaceutical industry, like Pfizer, which, thanks to its vaccine, has seen the value of its course rise by 10% over the last three months alone.
To this, we must add the financialization of the economy. The wealth of large fortunes being mainly made up of financial assets, they have in fact been able to protect their money by taking advantage of the advantages linked to government strategies aimed at flooding the economy with public money and policies at the very least. “Accommodative” of central banks. However, all of this will not last forever. Except that in the meantime, inequalities will have widened further. In other words, it is more than ever time to question “the order of the world” in the face of the challenges to come, starting with the climate emergency, which promises us even darker days!

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