Our city should look to a cocktail of issues to address social inequality rather than resorting to just one, two or three because, as research and experience shows, the causes of poverty and deprivation are enormously complex. Bristol needs leadership that not only understands this but is prepared to see the necessary action through to craft a pathway to much greater equality of opportunity for all.
What sort of system have we created that relentlessly siphons wealth from the poor to the richest 1%, and in the process deprives humanity of the resources that could bring happiness, contentment and joy to billions of people? When, oh when, will world leaders take concrete steps to remedy this injustice and unfairness?
For every headline act there's a supporting artist. Even the biggest names have started out as warm-up acts: early in his career, Elvis opened for Bill Hayley, and the Beatles once settled for fourth slot on tour. So it is at the United Nations in New York this week, where delegates meet ahead of the main event: the much-heralded UN summit on Sustainable Development at the end of September.
In times of austerity, such policies inexorably exacerbate the already alarming issue of inequality. Britain is currently the only G7 country with wider inequality than at the turn of the century. Right now, the top ten percent own over fifty-four percent of Britain's wealth and Britain's five richest families own more wealth than the bottom twenty percent.
As Mark Carney and others have said, greater fairness is needed, because without it, the social contract that binds us together is weakened. When people feel that the playing field is far from level, that the rules are rigged by those with power and influence to work against them and their children, society begins to feel the strain.
The Conservatives have won this election by painting all deviations from their 'long-term economic plan' as absurd and dangerous, aided by a Labour Party utterly unable to form a counter narrative, a deliciously hypocritical yet depressingly successful manoeuvre. They have, just as Thatcher did, managed to convince just enough of the electorate that there are 'no alternatives' to austerity, privatisation, poverty and inequality to romp home to victory. This clever ploy may have boosted them to a majority in the Commons, but it'll bring the country to its knees.
At emerge poverty free we work through local partners in East Africa to help people lift themselves out of poverty. Sometimes this is through an education project or by provision of clean water, and sometimes it is by establishing a demonstration farm, so that local communities can learn about improved farming techniques and better crops.
The trouble with giving all of your money away in the fashion suggested by Damian is that it wouldn't achieve anything. Sure, a lot of good could come from Russell giving his money away, but the inequality would still be there... only Russell Brand would no longer be in the 1% and he'd no longer have the means, nor the voice, to bring about any change.
Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat, wrote a blog piece recently about the disturbing practice arising at some book festivals, where authors are not paid for appearing. Her rallying cry was taken up by the Bookseller and the Society of Authors, which recently published guidelines about the level at which authors should peg event fees.
Inequality is growing nationally and globally. It is corroding social cohesion and democracy. It is creating division. It is also holding back economic development and growth. However, too few politicians seem to regard inequality as important. Indeed, some of the Coalition government's policies have directly increased inequality and there is no indication that the Government has any strong desire to reverse this trend.