“We” are richer than ever, but the wealth is very unequally distributed. A small group of wealthy people benefit at the expense of most workers and nature. There is a widespread need in society for a fair distribution of wealth. But change requires power and an alternative ideology. Political economist Vera Vrijmoeth MSc explains the concrete steps that could be taken to make this post-capitalist utopia a reality.
Additional in-depth session 13:20 – 13:50: For those who are interested, there will be extra time for Q&A with the speaker and she will delve deeper into the issue of wealth inequality in relation to wealth accumulation through property, investments, and pensions.
This program is organized in collaboration with B&R Beurs Eindhoven.
From rising inequality to a fairer distribution of wealth
Our wealth is the result of the combined efforts of people, government, and nature. However, the distribution of this wealth is currently highly skewed: an ever-increasing share of the wealth – created in part by the efforts of workers, government investments, and the use of public facilities, and natural resources – ends up in the hands of the richest ten or one percent, mainly shareholders, through ever-increasing profits. The billions in profits reaped by business owners and investors are greater than their own contributions; and vice versa, the wages of most workers are too low for the value they add to the economy. The same goes for the role of government and nature. If the wealth created was distributed according to everyone's true contribution, the world would be a different place. And it should be, because research shows that the majority of citizens have a strong preference for a more equal distribution than we see today.
This change is possible, but it requires regaining power over the economy and changing our belief systems. Workers and politicians need to take more control and ownership of the economy. And we need to change our beliefs about the role of government, the role of business, and of the role of “hard work” in our achievements. In this way, we could come to a different distribution of wealth that is more just, in the interest of the climate, and in the interest of all people.
Vera Vrijmoeth MSc is a political economist. As a researcher at The Netherlands Trade Union Confederation (FNV), Vera studies the democratization of the economy, trends in wages and profits, and income and wealth inequality. Vera studied political science and environmental science at University College Utrecht and completed a master's degree at the International Inequalities Institute of the London School of Economics and Political Science. She also spent a year researching the distributional effects of the housing market in the Netherlands and Germany at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and the Institute for German Studies (DIA). As a participant in the National Think Tank 2019, she explored the role of public values in the digital society.
This lecture is organized in collaboration with B&R Beurs Eindhoven, the student investment society of the Eindhoven University of Technology.
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