Cull the One Percent

Cull the one percent (a suggested process against inequality)

‘Under the Company’s beneficent influence, our customs are now steeped in chance.’

With the recent report from Oxfam confirming the obscene and growing inequalities of our current societies, I wonder whether it is time to institute a solution inspired by Borges’s short story ‘The Lottery in Babylon’.

Oxfam and others, such as Thomas Piketty, suggest modest increases in wealth tax to manage the curve of increasing inequality. Even if this succeeds, it will do little to remedy let alone reverse increasing inequality, nor truly condemn, punish or discourage it. The one percent will continue to connive to increase their ownership of our thoughts, dreams, bodies, labour, loves, stories, spaces and time. The lowest percentages will sink ever deeper – literally, as we now know – sending a message of subservience to the rest. We need much more dramatic signs and numbers: a symbolic cull.

In each nation, a lottery will be held each week among the 10 richest citizens. The winner will lose half of everything; the fortune reverting to the state for aid to the poorest ten percent. If you can get yourself out of the top 10 before the start of the month, by giving away part of your fortune through the state, you will be exempted, until the cull reaches your level again.

To avoid evasion, any citizen holding funds offshore will immediately forfeit all wealth and the offshore state will be charged a matching amount to be put in a global climate breakdown fund.

Without the rest of us the one percent would have nothing: Amazon with no customers, no internet and no roads. Their fortune is ours. The disparity in wealth is morally untenable; a barrowload of fruit next to a starving child. There is no harm in the Lottery. The rich merely lose half of too much. The redistribution, from savers to the very poorest spenders, will encourage sustainable growth, driven by simple collective improvements, rather than rent-seeking by those already too rich to consume their wealth without extravagance.

A global referendum should be held on a new Babylonian Lottery. Naturally, the one percent can participate in the secret ballot. Their control of nearly all the world’s media, most political parties and governments gives them a head-start requiring careful counterbalances. The result will hold for all states, independent of results at a local level.

‘[The Company] pointed out, doctrinally, that the Lottery is an interpolation of chance into the order of the universe, and observed that to accept errors is to strengthen chance, not contravene it.’ J-L Borges ‘The Lottery in Babylon’