During the recent Black Lives Matter protests, following the murder of George Floyd, the mainstream media has been guilty of sensationalism, focusing on limited instances of ‘looting’ to discredit the BLM movement.
This is a calculated decision. Newspapers, television, and radio are owned by capitalists, the wealthiest people in society, so they are operated in a way that suits their interests.
The media reinforces and distracts workers from the existing inequalities and exploitation inherent in capitalism, be that racism, sexism, homophobia or the wage system.
Rather than focusing on a minority during BLM demonstrations that have taken goods, often necessities, from stores, we should acknowledge who the real looters are: the capitalists who maintain and profit from exploitation.
It is the working class who produce wealth, yet it is the capitalist class, the “1%”, who reap the profits.
Since the COVID-19 lockdown period began in the US, billionaires’ total wealth increased by $584 billion US dollars. That’s almost 20%! In the same period over 45 million people lost their jobs.
Income inequality in the United States is at the highest level ever recorded. That’s no surprise when a billionaire’s wealth can increase so dramatically and quickly. For example, Elon Musk’s wealth grew by 48% to $36 billion in just two months, Jeff Bezos’ wealth grew by 31% to $147 billion.
What else could this be called but ‘looting’? When millions are forced to struggle on meagre unemployment payments at best, during a pandemic, but billionaire’s fortunes surge?
Australia is little different, income inequality is higher than most other developed countries, and it continues to rise.
The richest 200 people in Australia currently horde around $340 billion AUD between themselves.
Data from last year showed that the richest 1% were wealthier than the poorest 50% of Australians.
Imagine what could be done if that wealth, actually created by ordinary people, was put to constructive use, to properly fund healthcare, education and housing for all!
Instead of demonising poor people ‘looting’ some toilet paper or shoes, we should instead be outraged at the looting and plundering of the super-rich!
By Dane Letcher