Population growth is surging; our natural resources are time-limited. As the planet nears 7 billion people by year end, our capacity to produce energy (and in turn food) will be burdened perhaps beyond what we can even imagine. The poverty index in America is the highest it’s been in 50 years. One out of 6 ½ of our citizens is at the poverty line. Six percent of American households own 50% of the country’s assets. The middle class is being eroded slowly, but surely. Real life wage increases (corrected for inflation and COLI) have been flat for nearly two generations. The average net-worth of Caucasian families is 20 times greater than the average net-worth of Black families in the United States.
The handwriting is on the walls, and the protestors are tuning us in. Economies and societies can only thrive if they are sustainable, and if they have vibrant, enlivened markets. No one makes any money in a vacuum, and the mega-rich can only live off the multitudes for a finite period of time in today’s world.
The Empire of China perhaps best represents the power and strength of a world where for over 700 generations, one household (the Emperor’s) owned 99% of the country’s assets. In today’s world education, the internet, freedom, distribution of wealth, reasonably equal opportunity, and the rule of law mitigate against that model. The viability and sustainability of a modern economic system needs to be a tour de force unto itself.
The Occupy Wall Street movement draws our attention to these important matters. They cannot be ignored. We are all in this together. We are co-owners of public corporations, and co-inhabitants of our beloved planet. Socially responsible investment and socially responsible management of our economy go hand in hand.
To contact Christopher Bayer directly, please email Christopher.Bayer@TheShareholderActivist.com.