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The Attack of Corporations and the Rich on the Rest of Society

by Heinz Steinert Friday, Jan. 07, 2011 at 8:41 AM

In the last decades, wealth has concentrated in a few hands. The increasing inequality does not offend us; this inequality is the result of an active policy. The rich prevail; they are subsidized and relieved from contributions to the social infrastructure while social benefits are cut.



By Heinz Steinert

[This article published at, December 2010, is translated from the German on the Internet,]

According to official statistics, we live in one of the richest societies of the world. The inconceivable sums provided by European states to bailout banks from bankruptcy confirm this. The enormous incomes paid to managers and directors in the financial industry despite the crisis also confirm this.

But at the same time many hunger and freeze in this Europe. People who live and work here are sent off in the cold or put in jail. The homeless are left to themselves and private charity. They are unscrupulously punished and incarcerated. Simultaneously proper care in youth prisons is reduced through personnel cuts. The poor are under suspicion, called parasites and mocked as worthless.

In the last decades, wealth has concentrated in a few hands. The increasing inequality does not offend us; this inequality is the result of an active policy. The rich prevail; they are subsidized and relieved from contributions to the social infrastructure while social benefits are cut. Working conditions become precarious; the state revenues that are reduced from the top are paid by the rest. The new political class of foreigners is without political rights and treated as a waste product after they are used up. Competition is fomented between “native” and “foreign” workers, especially between the poor.

This rich society has become merciless and bureaucratic, envious, ruthless and malicious. The rich triumph and despise the others as failures (“loser” has become a common German swearword). The young are driven to prepare for harsh competitiveness in kindergarten. Childhood and youth as phases of experimentation and experience are abolished. Seniors are decried as “too many” and superfluous. Whoever is friendly and in solidarity is held to be weak. The rich join forces and isolate themselves from the rest of society. The “security” necessary for this is continuously strengthened with much technology and cheap personnel.

In part, the new political class belongs or wishes to belong to this closed society of the rich. Some of them understand their political activity only as a chance to personally enrich themselves with the people’s assets that are governmentally administered. The spending for the bank bailouts in only the last four years shows that tax funds are understood as comfortable padding to cushion the losses of corporations. The tax-paying population has to raise these funds. At the same time savings are achieved with the physical and social infrastructure.

The rich should not be envied. Their lifestyle is not a model that can be generalized. What is understood in this society as wealth is the accumulation of goods. To gain the money for this accumulation, some do untiring paid work and others through restless nerve-wracking speculation. How satisfying can be a life in service to endless money multiplication without greater meaning and understanding – even if one can buy a villa, a yacht and a hotel stay in St. Moritz? How much more meaningful is a work whose product directly benefits oneself and others, a work that is used by someone? That much necessary and useful work does not bring any money reveals a repressed knowledge of this society about what is really “unaffordable.” It is high time to realistically change our understanding of wealth and work.


The production of goods inflicts more damage than benefits – through poisonings and waste, consumption of resources that will be soon used up and harmful by-products that create new problems. These damages were traditionally exported – to the domestic poor and the poor of the world. The attack of corporations and the rich on the rest of society is manifest in wanting to maintain this possibility of “export.” Let us not be made into fools! The rich largely succeed in their project. They can still protect themselves from the consequences of the plutonium- and dioxin-industries, climate change and the complaints from the population in this country and other world regions. But the methods become more brutal.

The price is great: competition and exclusion are intensified above and below. A society arises in which everyone cannot feel good and which we do not want to pass on to coming generations. The thought that we are creating this – at the expense of the future – is not really comforting. Many know this is not a good life and some seek for another better way of life. Supporting this search and encouraging everything that points in a new direction could be a task of politics. The rich could facilitate projects that help compensate the damages of the dominant way of life and develop new ways of life. There are many initiatives for solidarity and resistance in the population. The corporations and the rich must desist from their selfish economies and accept responsibility for society again.

So say Amen to all this!


Video: California Deficits, January 2011

Video: Johnson, Robert: “A World Upside Down: Deficit Fantasies in the Great Recession”

Mueller, Sebastian: ”Growth Madness”

Reich, Robert: “The Shameful Attack on Public Employees”

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