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  • Writer's pictureleodoulton

Escaping Earth Within Wealth Inequality

A short thought after attending a conference on space anthropology.

One consequence of growing wealth inequality has been an increasing space where certain individuals can buy examples of a thing but much larger groups of less wealthy individuals cannot even hope to pool together to buy it.

For example, football clubs. In recent years, there have been a number of cases of UK football clubs being sold to buyers against the wishes of their supporters. In none of those instances was it reasonably possible for the large number of supporters to pool together to raise the funds needed to outbid the eventual buyer due to the gross inequalities in both earned income and disposable assets.

Despite the fact that, I suspect, most people would imagine an organisation of community value, which in part derives its value from that community, should be something that the community can leverage control of through money.

This is, of course, one of several reasons why (social) democratic governments function. By pooling resources through taxation, they can buy useful public goods, like railways and hospitals.

Let us unquestioningly trust, for a second, that escaping this planet and becoming a multi-planetary society is a priority for the species.

That is to say, for a very large number of people.

And yet the costs are so great, and the inequalities between the ultra-rich and the averagely-rich (and due to various taxation systems and other factors, governments relying on taxation from the mostly-averagely-rich) so large, that increasingly that chance to say goodbye to the planet is becoming a part of the corporate dystopia promised in 1980s cyberpunk.

How many of us would need to gather together to even begin to match the fortunes being poured into billionaire space travel?

How impossible is a communal way of reaching other worlds now?



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