By Gwydion M. Williams
- Why Millionaires?
- Millionaire Factors
- Capitalism’s True Believers
- New Right Falsehoods
- A Twisted Economy
- Making a Bigger Cake?
- Hard Facts About Millionaires
Do millionaires earn their gigantic fortunes through skill and hard work? Millionaires certainly think so. Likewise their right-wing boosters. But when you look at the sums involved, can you believe that they deserve so much? Could anyone be hundreds of times better than the rest of us?
A Briton making £100,000 a year might have earned it. The average household income is nearly £30,000, though many get much less. The richest 10% have incomes starting at maybe £60,000. Most of us accept that as fair: including me, though I never got even half that much. It includes people like airline pilots and surgeons, whose skills we need and who have a long hard training.
But let’s split the richest 10% into two. On top and with most of the real wealth and power we find a Millionaire Class, the richest 1%. And a long way below them are the Next Nine, who are well-off but not millionaires. Or they maybe have just one million, perhaps from an ordinary house with inflated value. But I’m not going to switch my attention to a Billionaire Elite. People with 2 to 999 million form a vast and powerful elite. Billionaires are not distinct, and they number only a few thousand. Without the millions of multi-millionaires, many of them elected to be representatives of ordinary people, billionaires would count for far less. They might even get taxed down to more sensible levels of wealth.
I’d also suppose that most of those with at least one million but less than two would identify with the multi-millionaires, and might indeed be on their way to join them. So I’ll speak of a Millionaire Class, even if its lowest reaches are just outside the 1%. And even though a few individuals would qualify in terms of wealth, but feel no part of it. Most of them have a common interest, and know it.
The Next Nine loosely match the older idea of an Upper Middle Class, though in Britain that was more about social habits and origins than actual income. They have a decent claim to be a real Meritocracy. There is no possibility for the foreseeable future of Britons electing a government that would level them down. Labour must make it clear that this is not the aim.
Taking on the Millionaire Class is another matter. Levelling them down to the more modest wealth they had in the 1960s is legitimate, and likely to be popular. Millionaires are not a Super-Meritocracy. They don’t on average show an admirable excess of the qualities we’d want to reward and encourage. The only possible exceptions are in the various arts – singers, actors, painters. But are super-rewards even good for them?
I was never a fan of Michael Jackson. But I thought it tragic that he managed to overspend the vast income he’d had, and worked himself to death trying to clear his debts. And the earlier matters over possible child-abuse only arose because he was offering as a private project something that should be social welfare, tax-funded and carefully supervised.
Just one of many sad stories about people showered with praise and money early on. Who often find their status sinking as they get older and as fashions shift. Much more so with women than with men, but both sexes suffer.
Reagan and Thatcher and the New Right policies from the 1980s have done very little for the Next Nine. The total wealth of the entire economy is greater, but not unexpectedly greater. No ‘economic miracles’ of the sort that the so-called Keynesian era promoted in West Germany, Japan and Italy. The overall wealth we have in the West as of 2021 is nothing astonishing. It is no more than could have been achieved if the successful system of the 1950s and 1960s had been fixed rather than denounced. Maybe less. Certainly, nothing that justified the pro-business anti-state changes after the crisis of the 1970s.
Wealth creation has continued. In Britain, though not the USA, middling workers are better off. But almost everywhere, a much bigger share of the wealth has gone to the Millionaire Class, at the expense of 90% of the population.
People who still vote for more of the same, sad to say.
Allowing for inflation, the last US President who was never part of the millionaire elite was Harry Truman. He was in power for a few vital years from the last days of World War Two. He was important in creating the so-called Keynesian system that flourished in the 1950s and 1960s. A system that was an expansion of the USA’s own New Deal from the 1930s. A system that certainly borrowed ideas from Mussolini’s Fascism. A system more accurately called the Mixed Economy, though this phrase has strangely vanished from most discussion of the matter.
The Keynesian or Mixed Economy system had a run of vast prosperity. It also had a much higher rate of economic growth than the capitalist successes of the pre-1914 system. These mostly got growth rates of 1% or 2%: astonishing when most societies had far lower growth rates or might even be shrinking economically.
The Mixed Economy also boosted the incomes of the 90%, at the expense of the Millionaire Elite. And they deeply resented the loss of their advantage, even though they had much more wealth than similar people in the 1920s or before 1914.
Sadly, later Presidents were quite willing to do what damage they could to the Mixed Economy system, and call it a failure. And for them, the changes were a success. They were either already in the millionaire elite, or soon joined it.
From a Wiki listing of such things, we learn that Obama has 40 million. Bill Clinton has 75 million. Biden has 9 million. They are part of the class that has sucked up wealth from ordinary people, but no doubt they consider that they have earned it.
But have they really earned it? If they have much greater wealth, do they deserve it? Is it something that would never have existed without them?
Bill Gates came from a rich family and a family with several generations as businesspeople. His father was a very successful lawyer, and the son of a furniture-store owner. His mother came from higher up in the business elite: her father and grandfather were very important bankers.
He went to an expensive and superior school, where he was able to work with computers. Back then they were remote well-guarded machines, and school-child access was very unusual. Later on as a rising businessman, he was ‘Mary Gates’ boy’ to one IBM executive at one critical moment.
His big advantage over other pioneers is that his company wrote the original operating system for IBM’s highly successful Personal Computer. He might have lost it, but was helped by someone who vaguely but positively knew his mother from work on the board of directors of another company.
He was also left in possession of this operating system, when he’d have been ready to sell it if IBM had wanted to consolidate. It was only because of earlier complaints about monopoly that IBM refrained from buying the operating system that was the basis of Microsoft’s later dominance. They also let a medium-sized company called Intel keep ownership of a line of ‘x86’ microprocessors that they profitably sold to IBM’s rivals.
All this was before Windows: a radical new approach that borrowed ideas that Xerox developed but never made much money from. These ideas were made familiar by Apple, with a failed machine called the Lisa and then the very successful Macintosh. But Gates could offer Windows as something on top of the existing operating system, and still running existing software.
I used both in their early days, and Windows 3.1 was much inferior to what Apple had. But machines running Windows were cheaper, and were what I used at work. I found it easier to use them at home as well. Many other early users must have had similar histories.
Gates gained massively, because a number of companies unconnected with him found legal ways to produce machines that would run software made for the IBM Personal Computer. A system that pushed out almost all rivals, with only Apple surviving as a system for personal computers. But which IBM lost control of. The ‘clones’ dominated, and IBM eventually sold their own division to Chinese IT giant Lenovo. But it was an understandable error by IBM: in the days of their IBM 360 and 370 machines, some people made clones of IBM mainframes: but they were never much of a threat.
I’d agree that Gates has talents worth rewarding. But also a lot of advantages he was born with, and a lot of luck in where he began and how things turned out. So does he merit the tens of thousands of millions that he’s got?
It would be a nice exercise to check the fates of everyone who was in the same year studying maths at Harvard as Gates. Who on the face of it had similar talents, but I’d assume most had much less glorious and well-rewarded fates. I’m not a journalist and have much else I want to work on: I offer the idea to whoever wants it.
When we complain about millionaire privilege, right-wingers call it ‘politics of envy.’ But when well-off people seem to have earned it, they are generally accepted. What gets resented – but not nearly enough – is how much the Millionaire Class has grabbed since the 1980s.
Let’s imagine another world in which hairdressers got 20 or 30 times the incomes they had in the 1980s, yet did a rather worse job of cutting people’s hair. They would be resented by many who have nothing against them in their current role.
Millionaires are in practice the same people who’d have been chieftains or barons or warlords in earlier eras, except that many more of this elite come from poor or middling backgrounds. But there were always some who were self-made. And even now, only a minority actually come from humble beginnings.
The New Right either ignore the effects of power in gaining wealth, or want the stronger to win. And then make the naïve assumption that the winners are the best.
The Next Nine include much of the talent that needs rewarding. How much they get will vary between societies, but socialists looking to win elections should say simply that the present set-up is acceptable. Our loud complaints should be about the vast rewards that have gone to just a small elite. We should say that such people do not need or deserve much more than the Next Nine get.
Hard Work is found all over. As are various mixes of ingenuity, skills, a gift for handling people, a good memory, and high intelligence. I would agree that these are found more often in the most prosperous 10% than in the rest. But talents are found all over, and not always rewarded. Often worse rewarded than before the New Right took over, since they tend to view anything not generating cash returns as burdensome.
They don’t actually speak of life as a burden on money. But it seems to me that this summarises the core idea. They certainly promised that millionaires not burdened by taxes or pointless regulation would generate far more wealth than under the ‘burdensome’ Keynesian system. And this of course is not what happened. The former successes in the West suffered setbacks. People’s China has always been much more of a state-dominated Mixed Economy than any Western economy was.
What they promised has not been delivered.
What we do have is a lot more injustice. The New Right exploit the natural good feelings of people like medical workers to keep their wages low. The new system gives vast rewards to selling and advertising, which get cash returns but mostly don’t make the society any better or richer.
More importantly, I’d deny that genuine merits are more often found in the richest 1% than in the Next Nine.
Looking at real details of real people, I found that some had inherited their wealth and done nothing much for it. And those who were self-made mostly had a mix of good luck and good connections, as well as talent and hard work.
Specifically, things that improve an individual’s chances of being part of the Millionaire Elite include:
- Rich parents
- Educated parents
- Parents with practical experience of commerce in the modern world
- Parents with useful social contacts
- Social displacement – where you live is not where you are accepted as definitely belonging
- Membership of a minority subject to definite but limited discrimination
- Being in the right place at the right time
- Being a hobbyist in something that turns into a profitable industry
- Being saved from a setback by sheer luck
- Obsessive concern with a particular interest
- Sociopathic attitudes
- Personal tragedy
- An obsession with power
- Cunning dishonesty within the law
- A willingness to take big risks
- Cunning dishonesty that extends to grey areas like tax avoidance
- The inheritance of vast wealth
- Cunning dishonesty that is blatant illegality, including tax evasion.
Most actual multi-millionaires have a selection of these. Bill Gates I would credit with 1 thru 4, 7, 8, 10, and 14 thru 17. Now suppose he had lacked his earlier experience of computers? Or had not chosen to drop out of university and pursue this as a business? He would probably have become a professor of mathematics at some minor university, as biographers have suggested. He’d then have inherited millionaire status in 2020 when his millionaire father died. (His mother had died much earlier.)
Harking back to my idea of checking his Harvard classmates, someone could do a nice short story set in 2020 in an alternate world. A world where the life of Bill Gates has been obscure, and he regrets having not pursued his early computer dreams. He could very plausibly have been exactly the same person, but stayed in the Next Nine for most of his life. And someone else would almost certainly have turned early computer dreams into the powerful business model that was made by Microsoft under his leadership.
He was also one of many IT pioneers who just happened to team up with someone equally obscure, but whose skills were different and meshed nicely with his own:
“Bill Gates and Paul Allen for Microsoft, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak for Apple, Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin for the beginnings of Facebook, replaced later by Sean Parker.”
Looking back to lost worlds that existed four decades ago, there was Sir James Goldsmith. I read up about him in the 1980s. At that time he was famous, and was noted for warning us about the terrible peril from the Soviet Union, a few years before its abject collapse. The seriousness with which the Soviets were viewed before their sudden fall has been written out of history by the New Right: yet it is there for anyone who bothers to look. Or who have kept their memory clear, if they are part of my own Baby Boomer generation.
The same people who put Make Orwell History on their t-shirts seem unable to notice when their own people do it. I detail later how Western liberals were all for Beijing suppressing its Uighur dissidents when many of them were part of an alarming surge in hard-line Islam. Things changed when ‘Isis’ lost most of its power, and when China became the most obvious threat to the privileges of the millionaire elite. With no real explanation, all Uighurs became innocent victims and Beijing a wicked oppressor.
Most Western accounts in the last few years don’t even mention the existence of a strong secessionist movement. I’ve not seen any recent Western article that mentions the terrorism that some Uighurs did within China before Beijing moved against them.
Orwell himself was a thoroughly dishonest writer, as well as being a glib and sometimes-accurate chronicler of the sins of others. I have written about this before, and plan to write more.
To get back to millionaire merit, Goldsmith had the first four Millionaire Factors, and then 5, 6, 9, and 11 thru 17. His wife died young, giving him a reckless gambling attitude to life. And in his autobiography, he explains how he was saved from bankruptcy by sheer good luck. He was given time to cover his debts when the staff of every French bank went on strike for the first time in twenty years. And he himself says that in that era, no one could become wealthy by lawful means after having gone bankrupt.
Relationships are obviously complex. Social displacement, tragedy, obsessions, and risk-taking are things that are more likely to produce poverty and failure than riches. Which to me suggests we’d be better off without them, if social regulation could manage this.
More importantly, the millionaire class has got far more than it deserved since the 1980s. Too much wealth and too much power, including the power to thwart reforms that stop them grabbing even more. They probably already had too much back then. But loose talk about ‘freedom’ led to economic setbacks for most people in the West.
The radical attempt to set the 99% against the 1% has so far failed, for several reasons. One is that far too many people imagine themselves to be part of the winning elite:
“An opinion poll a couple of years ago found that 19% of American taxpayers believed themselves to be in the top 1% of earners. A further 20% thought they would end up there within their lifetimes.”
That’s why I prefer to say millionaire. You’d need to be slightly more than a millionaire to be in the 1% in Europe or the USA, but at least non-millionaires know what they are. And it’s a convenient term for those who work with dollars, euros or pounds sterling. Less than it once was, but still significant:
“One would need to have almost thirty million dollars today to have the purchasing power of a US millionaire in 1900, or more than 100 million dollars to have the same impact on the US economy.”
There are vast numbers of them, by any definition. Using the awkward term ‘high-net-worth individual,’ which is close to the actual 1% of Anglo cultures, there are 13 million globally. 4.7 million in the United States. 348,000 just in New York City: enough to seem like ‘public opinion.’ And yet still a small minority, and a selfish minority.
It is foolish to preach against inequality as such. Moderate inequality is necessary in a society where most people have a lot of selfish impulses. I do not see this as a permanent condition, since it varies a lot across the centuries and between different human groups. But a big reduction would need centuries.
A small reduction could be much quicker. The average Baby Boomer is more selfish than their parents were. The most recent generation to come to maturity in the West has some hopeful signs. But of course the Baby Boomers mostly started out with excellent intentions. And we can’t just denounce inequality without saying what we seriously hope to change.
Anyone who has done a serious job knows that some people are better workers than others. Also some are harder workers, and some are more reliable and dependable; and some are easier to get on with. The qualities are different. There are many grades of skilled and unskilled workers. I focus on the Next Nine, who have broken even in terms of income share since the 1980s. They are part of existing inequality, but most of the voters see it as acceptable inequality. They should not be the focus for socialists. If you think a lesser gap between the richest 10% and the rest of us would be a good thing in the long run, which I’m inclined to, it still makes sense to concentrate on fights that you might actually win.
It is also foolish to denounce ‘Baby Boomers’ as a whole. My generation have mostly been foolish and greedy. We have mostly not gained from right-wing economics. And we did establish a lot of personal liberty that had not been there before.
The scandal is how the richest 1% have gained at the expense of the 90%.
Britain never entirely accepted the ideology of capitalism. It was strongest in the Liberal Party, when it was one of the two big parties dominating politics. It was mostly Tories who introduced basic protection for workers and for the environment from the 1840s.
Britain’s Liberal Party fell apart after World War One, but its fragments entered both Tory and Labour parties. The heirs of these fragments managed to get hegemony in both parties in the 1980s and 1990s.
Hegemony based on a false understanding. 1960s radicals wanted extra freedoms, and were helped by the USA making loud noises about Freedom as their grand merit. At the time, the Soviet system seemed stronger. They had even won the early stages of the Space Race. A useful book called The Right Stuff describes the fear that existed then in the West. When Chairman Mao in 1957 said that ‘the East Wind prevails over the West Wind,’ many hoped or feared that he was right. It may have encouraged him to try the unsuccessful Great Leap Forward in 1958.
The Right Stuff also foolishly hypes and concentrates on the heroic individuals who flew into space. They were bold, riding what was almost a gigantic firework. Ascending rockets can explode, and so far have killed seven in a single terrible blow in the first Space Shuttle disaster. A bigger danger is return, which has claimed nine lives so far, and three more during preparations for a return. It remains very dangerous, despite the growth of Space Tourism. But The Right Stuff plays down the vast social network that allowed their achievements. A network that included the neglected and downtrodden African-American female mathematicians featured in the book and film Hidden Figures.
The Right Stuff speaks mostly of an elite who were male, white and mostly north-west European: what’s sometimes called Nordic. Something reflected also in Science Fiction of the time, even the fairly progressive first series of Star Trek and the much more dramatically successful Star Wars. But right-wing ‘truths’ have moved on since then. Written in 1979, The Right Stuff naturally lacks the later New Right view of the Soviet Union as always a hopeless failure.
With hindsight, we can see the loss of the Space Race as a sign of the stagnation and decline that Brezhnev presided over. But the Soviet Union before Brezhnev was growing faster than the USA. Its client states in Eastern Europe were vigorous and hopeful rather than the shambles they had become by the 1980s.
Back then, belief in capitalist economic superiority was a fringe belief. But being much milder with opposition politics, the USA could pose as a defender of Freedom. Which left it vulnerable to protestors who pointed to limits on freedom that the West upheld.
Global Leninism in the 1960s was superior on practical freedoms for woman and for non-whites. This alarmed the elite, then very much more white and male and near-Nordic than they are now.
Sadly, the demands of 1960s radicals were put in terms of an abstraction called Freedom, rather than making sensible changes to existing limits on freedom. The appearance of homosexuals demanding equality rather than mere acceptance surprised most of the heterosexual radicals, but was hard to resist. Likewise women pointing out that men had most of the top jobs, even among 1960s radicals. Freedom for drug use was in the longer run seen as another matter, as was under-age sex, where rejection became vehement. (And correctly so, in my view, once we learned how many had been damaged by such things.)
Just as necessary, in my view, are curbs on individual freedoms that lead to pollution and climate change. These curbs and calls for more are growing ever stronger. You do get libertarians and even a few leftists claiming that there is an inherent Human Right to spread infectious diseases that may kill their neighbours; but they are a minority. Even a ‘dying breed’: there have been plenty of individual tragedies in the Covid-19 saga.
All of these changes happen with utter vagueness about why Freedom can be seen as absolute some of the time, but not all of the time.
Most 1960s radicals never properly understood the society that had produced them. They are likely to die in continuing ignorance. The post-war system commonly called Keynesianism had given them the free education and generous welfare that made their new lifestyles possible. Freedoms that most of them voted to take away from later generations, when the Baby Boomers grew up and became tax-payers.
When Thatcher said that society did not exist and that the reality was just individuals and families, this sounded familiar to people who’d previously have despised whatever Tories might be offering. All of them failed to see the whole society as an interlinked productive organism. Or that within it, new members of the society are the most important product.
You might object to humans being treated as products. I’d agree that we should treat them as humans with rights, as well as useful products of the wider society. But the New Right tend to neglect the economic and material benefits of education given out for free.
Because we now have human labour that can mostly go where it pleases, the economic value of such labour is not allowed for. Economists mostly fail to see that it is an immensely valuable product, even if basic ethics means that it cannot be treated like other products. There is no immediate cash return for producing educated and skilled individuals, so many even on the left treat it as a burden on wealth creation.
This false thinking has not even been intelligently selfish. It has led to a decline in the West, or at least to less improvement than the 1960s promised.
1960s radicals as parents were often disappointed in the new individuals that their generation actually managed to produce. But failed to understand why.
The nice sentiment ‘Why don’t you all f-fade away’ comes from a 1965 hit called ‘My Generation’. It was very popular with those who were then in the vigour of youth and resentful of those senior to them. It was named the 11th greatest song by the magazine Rolling Stone in 2004.
The song also said, ‘I hope I die before I get old.’ Had the more selfish members of my own baby boomer generation actually done this, Jeremy Corbyn would have become Labour Prime Minister in 2017. The young mostly voted for him. The now-elderly Baby Boomers mostly voted against. And most of them just moan and fail to understand what they did wrong.
Paul McCartney was an admirable exception, singing ‘When I get older losing my hair / Many years from now / Will you still need me, will you still feed me / When I’m sixty-four?” But though it was released in 1967, he wrote it as an unimportant 14-year-old. A lad with few reasons to expect his later wealth. And according to the Wiki, the song is sung by a young man to his lover, and is about his plans for them growing old together. The Wiki lists three wives and one earlier ‘partner’: not early enough to have been the subject of the original song.
Most Baby Boomers have grown more selfish as they aged and got more prosperous.
Most of all generations fail to understand that we are not units of The Individual defined by our DNA. Fail to realise that our notions of freedom are a product of our culture.
I’ve not seen any other Western commentator try to cope with the newly victorious Taliban seeing their rule as freedom and liberation. Obviously, it’s not my idea of freedom: but my ideas on freedom and many other matters are my ideas. Similar to mainstream Western ideas as at 2021, and not Absolute Truth. Hopefully the closest humans have so far come to truth – but we’d also be expected to feel this if we were badly wrong.
Our ideas of freedom are not things you can expect people from different traditions to easily accept. That’s why I felt it amazingly foolish and wicked to inflict years of suffering on Iraq in the hope of making them get rid of Saddam Hussein. Even worse to invade when they failed to do so. Saddam was the person most likely to impose Western values on the mix of peoples whom the British Empire chose to group as Iraq. I’d have wished to leave them free to sort out what they did want for their future. I still wish this, though I’d not expect it to be anything I’d wish for myself. I’ve no idea what it will now become, but definitely nothing Western.
For most Westerners, people doing things differently from the West are inherently defying freedom, and it should not be so hard to teach them better. So the USA in 2001 signed up a gaggle of Afghan warlords and a small number of real idealists, mostly female. Twenty years of corrupt government failed to create a body of men with guns who found the US-designed system worth dying for. I’d suppose there were no women with guns: I think the radical Kurds are the only people in the Islamic world who now have female fighters.
Relying just on money and self-interest usually fails badly. The New Right thought otherwise, and the New Right have failed. As have those on the centre-left who treated their foolishness as wisdom.
There’s an old joke about the one sure way to go gambling in Las Vegas and return with a small fortune. You go there with a large fortune.
The New Right in the 1990s had a ‘large fortune’, with the USA seeming to have no rivals. And now it is a small fortune. And still being frittered away with nonsense like nuclear hunter-killer submarines for Australia.
We are people, only because society makes us so.
We have wealth, only because we can work together.
We have a coherent society, only because not all of us are selfish.
We have decline and despair in the West, mostly because of four decades of false thinking about social duties, wealth, and freedom.
Seeing the society as an interlinked productive organism need not mean the state controlling it all. Marxism indeed imagined the state withering away, and today’s Orthodox Marxists can’t understand why this didn’t actually happen. I plan to do another article explaining why I think I do understand. Why I would call myself a Post-Leninist: someone who sees Leninism as having been necessary to make what we have, but something that has now played itself out. But I am definite that the state always sets the tone once we get beyond tribalism. I am certain that reducing the role of the state mostly creates something worse.
I hold that Leninism in the Soviet Union could have continued to flourish, had it not made a gigantic error in not easing up the controls when the society had been changed. It could and should have advanced with more moderate controls at a time when most ordinary citizens accepted Soviet values. And I’d blame Khrushchev as much as Brezhnev: Brezhnev and his colleagues were mostly raised to the top levels by him. Khrushchev crushed Hungary in 1956, making a precedent for Brezhnev crushing Czechoslovakia in 1968. For later taking direct power from pro-Soviet Afghans. Some of whom lasted a couple of years after the Soviets left, while the USA’s supposed friends fled or changed sides even before the last US troops flew out.
I also insist that there was perfect continuity between Lenin and Stalin: that Khrushchev’s attempt to treat them differently was bound to fail. It was Lenin who broke with standard West European notions of political liberty. They shared a belief that it was more important to give actual liberty to ordinary people. Suppressing opposition was the price of making gigantic real changes.
The post-Stalin Soviet Union became a mistake, because of Khrushchev’s foolish belief that there had been some ideal Leninist order that Stalin had ruined. Solzhenitsyn neatly showed that this was rubbish. But Solzhenitsyn had no solution except nostalgia for the last Tsar – I am working on an article showing how this is foolish. And regardless, that old world is thoroughly dead, helped into oblivion by the New Right. And now the New Right have also failed.
Socialists should not just protest. We should go on the offensive, and treat ourselves as the Wave of the Future. Ridicule the New Right and their liberal-left lapdogs. Call them bunglers who have wasted the lives of many who trusted them.
Reducing the role of the state from the 1980s created something much worse than the imperfect system that people had been protesting at. Any idiot can protest at a system being imperfect. It takes gifts and a clear vision to make it better. The New Right and the surrender-tendency of Blair, Clinton and Obama have made a world worse for most people. Better only for a millionaire class who have grabbed excessive wealth, and which many current leaders are part of.
Applying a more vigorous version of the New Right creed to Russia created something worse again: a shrinking economy. An economy in which swindlers and gangsters took over much of what was still sound from the stagnant Brezhnev Era. Eastern Europe, which might better be called Middle Europe, was saved by being let into the European Union. Those places that were left out, most notably Ukraine, are much worse off than Putin’s Russia.
The Wikipedia, mostly reliable and not at all pro-Russian, gives Russia’s average wealth per head as $11,654 at the official exchange rate. $29,485 by Purchase Parity – most goods and services are cheaper. Figures for Ukraine are $3,984 and $13,943. It could be summarised as ‘trust the West and be less than half as well off.’ Russian voters, who can see this for themselves, mostly still stick with Putin.
The Western world’s crisis of the 1970s was a crisis within an outstandingly successful system. The decline of the Soviet system in that same decade, and China’s relaxation after Mao’s death, led to a major wrong turning on the economic front. Also a triumph of liberal-left values on the social front: that much is a permanent gain. Economically, the West has made many errors.
The attempt to revert to something older and worse has basically failed. And it has cost the West what was left of its cultural hegemony. An outcome which has considerable costs, particularly for women in the Islamic world and for non-Hindus in the Republic of India. For many others all round the world. But in the longer run, there may be rather more benefits.
Commerce mostly creates wealth. Capitalism without social controls more often destroys it. And Britain’s breakthrough in the Industrial Revolution was led by people who valued ‘Improvement’ over profit. Loosely supervised by a ruling class that saw industry as vulgar and needing regulation.
Commerce comes naturally with the rise of agriculture. When most people are small independent producers, it makes sense for some to specialise. This almost certainly started as gift exchange, which is basic to our nature and aimed mostly at building friendship.
The Trade Routes found by archaeologist – things like Baltic amber and lapis lazuli from Afghanistan – were almost certainly chains of people making nice gifts to neighbours. Getting other gifts and friendship in return. Only gradually would self-interest take over. And even now, anyone trying to sell you something will make a big act of also liking you. At a face-to-face level, quite often they really do like you. Cynical calculations are left to higher managers and accountants.
Gift-giving seems so natural that I’ve yet to see anyone write in defence of it. We take it for granted that it is a good thing.
Whatever needs fancy justification is a thing that goes against our nature. This includes lives dominated by commerce. The thirst for profits in capitalism. But also the opposites of these: state authority, and the punishment of offenders. None of these are exactly welcome: but life without them might be worse.
Or might be better. It’s a question of getting the mix right.
And of knowing how it all began. When drafting this article, I began by going right back to the Neolithic. This got too big and is now separate: Elites In History. Here I will talk mostly about the last century or two.
Commerce tends to downplay friendship in favour of self-interest. But never completely. And Adam Smith was twisting history when he pretended that economic life was just about self-interest.
The libertarian promise was the world as a gigantic network of suburbs, with fair competition between hard-working families. Low taxes and a small state.
I’d be flatly against such a system, if it were possible. But to preach against it in the world of Covid-19 and Climate Change is not a priority. I’m not sure it ever had a serious chance, even had things gone better in the wider world. Small producers are normally dominated by the millionaires, because millionaire status is what they almost all dream of gaining. And none are clear-minded enough to devise a system in which millionaires as a class are curbed. Only socialists have ever managed that, and then with difficulty.
I’ll quote a rather good account from someone who independently worked out what I already knew – that the whole thing was phoney:
“Thatcherism is the big Tory scam that still distorts our politics
“The Iron Lady actually grew the state and put up taxes. But in her time, as today, high earners won and the poor lost out…
“Thatcher wore her anti-state feelings on her sleeve. One of the very first white papers published by her government in 1979 claimed public spending lay ‘at the heart of Britain’s economic difficulties’. It wasn’t just a financial crusade – it was a moral one. Government was Nanny, and taxes reduced individual freedom.
“And yet, over the course of her 11 years in power, neither the tax taken by the government nor the amount it spent actually fell. Thatcher’s enemy may have been supposedly big government, but under her it got even bigger.
“Let’s start with taxes, because if there’s one thing everyone knows about Mrs T it is that she cut them. Except she didn’t. Although she grabbed front pages for slashing income-tax rates, especially for top earners, she also jacked up national insurance contributions, and VAT for shoppers… ‘The total value of central government receipts was 30.4% of GDP in 1979; by 1990, this proportion had risen to 30.9%.’ Taxes actually went up under Thatcher, and the increase fell hardest on the less well-off…
“Thatcher did not roll back the state. Instead, she changed whom it serves and what it can do, in ways that still shape our world. Under her, high earners won big and finance became the UK’s boss industry. At the same time, the state began using tens of billions in public money to pay for Thatcherism’s consequences.”
Thatcher also failed to improve the economy. Probably because the fault lay with British management, not its workers or its governments. This was indeed unexpectedly admitted in the pro-business Economist, during a moan about the decline of the stock market:
“How to revive Britain’s stockmarket
“London’s once high-flying bourse has spent the past decade tumbling back to earth…
“London’s high-flying stockmarket has spent the past decade tumbling back to earth. In 2006 the companies with shares listed in London were worth 10.4% of the global equity market. Today, that figure is 3.6%. London has lagged behind even the laggards: its share of Europe’s total market value has declined from 36% to 22% over the same period.
“One reason for Britain’s abysmal bourse is the underperformance of large British firms. Too many, from BP and GSK to HSBC and Tesco (average age 169), have dropped from the top tier of their industries owing to the chronic British disease of poor management. That has dragged down returns and made some firms vulnerable to takeovers. The entire asset-management industry, which has the job of supervising other firms, is badly run. Britain’s most valuable fund manager is now worth less than 10% of America’s largest. British pension schemes have spent years loading up on bonds and selling shares in a myopic quest to eliminate risk. They now have too little exposure to economic growth or wealth-creation.”
This matches exactly what was said by the late Nina Fishman back in the early 1970s. She was then a leading member of the British and Irish Communist Organisation, which has since become the Bevin Society in Britain. She explained that the big British failure was poor management, and insiders knew it.
Sadly, Nina never properly wrote this up, as far as I can recall. She went off on other lines that the rest of us viewed as futile. Most on the left showed no interest in what any of us were saying. And Thatcher managed to triumph with the opposite message – that Britain’s brilliant managers were being hampered by state power and greedy Trade Unions.
Britain and the USA saw slightly lower levels of growth than in the 1950s and 1960s, the best years of the Keynesian or Mixed-Economy system. By some measures, even the despised 1970s were better. And for Japan, Italy and for West Germany expanded to be United Germany, the society as a whole did much less well when New Right ideas were pushed onto them.
Society as a whole did much less well. But society is not a whole. A millionaire elite dominate, and they have subverted democracy. They have found ingenious ways to get ordinary people to vote for rich politicians who serve millionaire interests. Most leading Tories are part of the millionaire class, with vast fortunes that they either have or can expect to inherit. Other parties often have leaders who either come from the millionaire elite or else climb into it. True of Tony Blair, and of the Clintons and Obama. I detailed earlier that the last US President who never was part of the millionaire elite was Harry Truman. Of course they defend a system that has been so nice for them.
Just now – early October 2021 – we have had a fresh wave of revelations of the links between top politicians and the ultra-rich. The Pandora Papers show how rich some of the elected leaders are, and how much they conceal this wealth. And how keen they are to preserve the various legal dodges that let rich people shift the necessary burden of taxes away from the rich. Including a legal but decidedly strange dodge that saved £312,000 in stamp duty for multi-millionaire and former Prime Minister Tony Blair. This happened in 2017, when ordinary Britons were being hurt by austerity based on a supposed inability to find money to pay for the needs of the needy. And with most of the Blair-shaped Labour Party bitterly opposed to Jeremy Corbyn insisting that they money was there and that Tory cuts must be opposed.
From the 1980s, the West has had a seriously twisted economy.
Thatcher and Reagan were dedicated to removing all of the safeguards that had been put in place in reaction to the disasters of the 1930s and 1940s. They ignored the way in which the pre-1914 system of Classical Capitalism had visibly fallen apart after a superficial recovery in the 1920s.
As I said earlier, the restoration was phoney. The half-forgotten crisis of 1987 almost stopped it in its tracks. But few people now remember or know about the global, sudden, severe, and largely unexpected stock market crash of the 19th of October 1987.
The immediate reaction was a brief return to tax-and-spend:
“The degree to which the stock market crashes spread to the wider economy (the “real economy”) was directly related to the monetary policy each nation pursued in response. The central banks of the United States, West Germany and Japan provided market liquidity to prevent debt defaults among financial institutions, and the impact on the real economy was relatively limited and short-lived. However, refusal to loosen monetary policy by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand had sharply negative and relatively long-term consequences for both financial markets and the real economy in New Zealand.” 
Brief, because in 1989 the Soviet empire began coming apart. A long slow collapse, culminating in the Soviet Union voting itself out of existence in December 1991. That happened with Yeltsin in Russia and his allies in Ukraine and Belarus abandoning what had always been a Russian-dominated state.
As I said earlier, in the 1980s there were still influential people like Sir James Goldsmith who saw the Soviets as a global menace about to triumph. But afterwards, history was remade. The old anti-Soviet joke – you never know what’s going to have happened yesterday – turned out to be just as true for our ‘free’ West.
Unlike the Soviet system, you are not often punished for giving the unapproved version, or a version that used to be official but has been changed. But you will probably be excluded from the mainstream. And a multitude of voices that ignore off-message facts manage to change public memory.
The rich are keen to subsidize and boost such voices. Including a Swedish bank somehow persuading the overseers of the greatly-respected Nobel Prizes to allow the creation in 1968 of a Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. A prize commonly lumped with the others, which have been awarded since 1901.
I found it interesting that they also put a ban on themselves creating any more such extras. So I can’t help wondering if some of the Nobel Committee were influenced by offers of officially-unconnected grants that were given to research they cared a lot about.
If you do know, it might be a good time to Tell All. Anyone involved in shady dealing has probably now died of old age. Hundreds of thousands of others are definitely dead before their time, because of the trashy ideas that this ‘Nobel Prize’ helped to give respectability to.
Trashy ideas that include fancy maths that would be valid only if people cared only about money, and always had a perfect knowledge of what would gain or lose them money. This is not economic reality, but it passes as such.
And that is just one strand of the methods used to get ordinary people to vote enormous unearned wealth to the millionaires.
Considerable Soviet achievements up until the 1960s are never talked about, so many people even on the left failed to realise that such achievements ever happened. Likewise people came to think that it was the USA that won the war against Nazi Germany. People who’d lived through it never doubted that the back of German military power was broken by the Soviets. Official figures show that more than half the total German military dead were army casualties on the Eastern Front: 1,105,987 out of 2,001,399. Likewise more than half the missing or POW: 1,018,365 out of 1,902,704. And the Eastern Front was entirely Soviet, whereas the USA were merely the largest contributors on other fronts.
The pro-Millionaire media also did all they could to make sure that the serious Western and capitalist crisis of 1987 was forgotten.
Why the left let it slip is less clear. But a vast number of them had been Moscow-orientated, even when they were not members of any Communist Party. They were now confused, and some surrendered to New Right nonsense.
The main alternative, the swarm of small and mutually hostile Trotskyist groups, were dedicated to the idea that the whole Mixed Economy venture had been just another face of capitalism. That it should be bitterly opposed as standing in the way of True Socialism. And they mostly said that the Soviet Union became a failure once Stalin took over.
Trotskyists also dedicated themselves to rooting out the belief that the Labour Government elected in 1945 had achieved anything. And were amazed that the result was Thatcherism, followed by the massive surrender of New Labour. But surviving Trotskyists seem to have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.
Far too many on the left have preferred to talk about what the Soviet Union failed to do, rather than remind everyone how much it got right. Very few notice that Moderate Socialists did a lot better in the 1950s and 1960s, when the Soviet Union was a formidable rival. When the onus was on the West to show it could do better.
Now in the 2020s, People’s China is emerging as a formidable rival. But far too many Western leftists let themselves get diverted. They have swallowed the story that Uighurs are being picked on for no good reason. But back in the 2010s, they were freely identified by mainstream Western media as a separatist movement that had done some vicious terrorist acts. These included a 2013 bomb in the heart of Beijing that killed two innocents, one of them a female tourist from the Philippines. And in 2014, the BBC freely reported a wave of Uighur terrorism, including 39 people killed in a car and bomb attack on a market in the Xinjiang capital Urumqi.
In 2015, the liberal-left Guardian wanted them to do more about Islamic extremism. (Joining the fight against Isis would be a huge test for China.) Then in 2017, the independent Dutch-based International Centre for Counter-Terrorism was clear about what Beijing was moving against, saying:
“Uighurs, specifically individuals of Turkic decent from China’s northwest province of Xinjiang, have become a noticeable part of the constellation of globally active jihadist terror groups. Uighur jihadists first came to the world’s attention when the United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001. While continuing their cooperation with the Taliban under the banner of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), Uighur jihadists have now spread to Southeast Asia and the Middle East.”
This report is still on their website. But not among those conveniently present on their list of articles about ‘Countering violent extremism.’ Surprised?
You can still find it if you use the search option in the top right-hand corner.
China has successfully crushed Uighur terrorism inside China. But then suddenly the violent background stopped being mentioned in mainstream Western media. Instead, dedicated Uighur separatists were reported as credible sources when they made wild accusations against the Beijing government that had defeated them.
I’ve not seen anyone deny the earlier violence. But by not mentioning it, it somehow slips out of public consciousness.
Making a Bigger Cake?
Low taxes were a false promise. A smaller state was a false promise. Most New Rightists played down the notion of bigger incomes for the rich, though they certainly wanted this. And this flow of wealth to the already-powerful has been the basis of New Right success. The rich are delighted with their gains, and keen to defend with money and media power the people who are on their side.
The final claim was Trickle-Down. Give more freedom to the rich, and we’d all be better off. It was loudly trumpeted by the New Right in the early stages of their take-over. Particularly by the Reagan administration. And it was utterly untrue:
“A 2020 working paper by London School of Economics and Political Science researchers compared the results of countries that passed tax cuts in a specific year with those that did not, over a five decade period from 1965 to 2015 in the 18 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. It found that contrary to the claims of trickle-down theory, tax cuts for the rich had no ‘significant effect on employment or economic growth.’ They found no evidence that the cuts induced ‘labour supply responses’ from high-income individuals (i.e. ‘lead to more hours of work, more effort, etc.’) that boosted economic activity. They did find evidence of a ‘sizable’ increase in income inequality. ‘Major tax cuts for the rich increase the top 1% share of pre-tax national income in the years following the reform. The magnitude of the effect is sizeable; on average, each major reform leads to a rise in top 1% share of pre-tax national income of 0.8 percentage points.’”
But somehow the majority of the left let it slide out of public consciousness.
Note also that even if it had been true, the 90% might not have gained. You could ask ‘is it better to have a larger slice of a smaller cake, or a smaller slice of a larger cake?’ But the answer is that it is anyone’s guess, unless you offer reliable figures.
In business, the classic admission of ignorance is ‘how long is a piece of string?’ I had no talent for a personal role in business or management, nor any wish to succeed at such things. Things which up to a point can be learned. But as a computer analyst in the business sector, interacting with Middle Managers who needed my run-of-the-mill IT skills, I got a fair picture. A much more realistic view of the business world than most leftists ever get.
I also like to do my own figuring. Suppose your share is 10% of something. You get offered either 9% of a cake that is 10% bigger, or 11% of a cake that is only 90% of the original.
You actually lose a little either way. But you might accept less of more, if you were generous.
Try doubling the change: 8% or 12%. Less of more is even more definitely less, obviously. But more of less is a clear selfish gain.
The actual gains by the rich have been much bigger.
It could work the other way. Supposing the increases in inequality are less drastic. Make them 9.5% and 10.5%.
Now this is a genuine example of good behaviour being automatically rewarded, and bad behaviour punished. Likewise if the gains are large:
But ‘rational’ economics persistently ignores every solution that does not cater to their prejudices. A deep silliness: whether this is poor thinking or intentional dishonesty is secondary. Probably a mix of both; but for any particular individual you can never be sure.
The pundits ask, ‘can we afford it?’ Or rather, they ask it when the millionaire class would sooner not pay:
“‘The world discovered that John Maynard Keynes was right when he declared during World War II that ‘anything we can actually do, we can afford,’ writes Adam Tooze. ‘Budget constraints don’t seem to exist; money is a mere technicality. The hard limits of financial sustainability, policed, we used to think, by ferocious bond markets, were blurred by the 2008 financial crisis. In 2020, they were erased.’”
In 2008, governments covered the gambling debts of the Millionaire Elite. Existing rules would have protected the modest bank deposits of ordinary people, if some banks had failed. A failure by Hedge Funds would have hit only the rich, who are supposed to be risk-takers. But while the Millionaire Elite will allow a few unlucky members to crash to oblivion, they are good at defending their common interests.
President Obama was persuaded that if bail-out funds were given to banks rather than small businesses, that money would magically multiply and the needy would get much more help. That sounds like a garbled version of Fractional-Reserve Banking. In good times, modern banks lend a lot more than they can match with assets. But you’d not expect them to do this when they faced a risk of collapse. And indeed, the banks destroyed many needy small businesses by denying them loans or extensions of credit. Their assets were sold and gave the bank secure assets, which was better for the survival of the banks.
Far too little attention was paid to this. Those who try to defend small businesses have almost always been fooled. Most on the left don’t care.
There is always enough money to fight wars, unless the rich decide it is a losing prospect. They did cut their losses in Vietnam in the early 1970s, and just recently in Afghanistan. But massive spending on weapons continues.
Ronald Reagan produced uplift in the USA by glib words backed by some real achievements. But while he talked New Right dogma, he managed to do a lot of tax-and-spend. Borrow-and-spend, rather, with a huge deficit built up. And the spending was mostly on gigantic new weapons systems. Several vast new Aircraft Carriers, and a ‘Star Wars’ anti-missile program that never really worked. Yet it did not need to be militarily useful to boost the economy.
Anti-spending rhetoric was ignored for things the rich wanted, or saw as necessary to defend their shared interests as a global elite. Needed to give them global ‘clout,’ which mostly translates into economic advantages for companies intertwined with governments possessing that ‘clout.’
The rhetoric of tax-cutting was used to move real taxes away from the rich. To leave the burden on the bulk of the society, because modern economies make a vast tax-funded state a necessity.
I earlier asserted that the 1% did not on average have more intelligence or giftedness than the Next Nine. And that vast numbers of similar gifted people were to be found among the 90% who have suffered under New Right economics.
I write as a single individual, with leisure time only because I am retired, and still healthy at age 70. With enough to live comfortably and buy books, only because I get a work pension of the sort that has mostly been abolished for younger people. Also a modest inheritance from Raymond Williams, my famous left-wing father.
I write as a member of a small organisation, the Bevin Society.
But what I write should be of interest to the wider left and labour movement.
Labour in Britain must hammer away at the gigantic gains made by the Millionaire Class. And do not say 1%, since all sorts of non-millionaires imagine they are part of it. They fear that it is their modest wealth that the wicked leftists are after: and of course there is a vast network of newspapers and television encouraging this view.
Remember the old US survey I mentioned, which found nearly two-fifths of the population thought they were part of this 1%, or almost were. Britons are probably not that gullible, but it could easily be 6 or 7 percent.
Yet it seems that you could be a genuine millionaire, in pounds or dollars or euros, and still not be in the real 1%. Not just the oddity of an ordinary family whose house is in an area of rising prices: it can also apply to businesspeople. One recent suggestion for taxing them wanted to start at a wealth of £3.4 million. Another study says the 1% start at £1.5 million: this same survey has many useful details in a long and careful report on wealth. For certain, anyone with less than a clear million in Pounds Sterling is not in the 1%. They are merely near the top of the Next Nine.
Labour and left-wingers elsewhere must emphasise that the status of the Next Nine is accepted. Give the income bands – I reckoned the richest 10% start at about £60,000 a year. Translate it into monthly income, £5000. Most voters should notice that this is not them.
Avoid loose talk about ‘ending inequality.’ Say that some inequality is to be expected, which is the standard Moderate Socialist position. It also has in practice been the case in Communist societies even at their most hard-line. But say repeatedly and loudly and firmly that unfair wealth for millionaires has got vastly worse in Britain since Thatcher came to power.
And also commission a survey to see how measured IQ and paper qualifications match to income and wealth. Neither are perfect measures of what an individual should be paid: and they are certainly not good measures of what any human is actually worth. But most of us also think it is not the business of the state to decide what any human is actually worth, apart from honouring or rewarding some of those with unusual merits. Probably not harassing or punishing those who live lives that others see as worthless, provided no laws are broken.
Incomes and profits are a social concern, mostly regulated by custom or state power. Never ‘free’ in the way that libertarians claim. But the rich have the advantage that they can move their business half-way round the world, while being protected by state-enforced Intellectual Property Rights. And the wages of workers tend to go down when there are not strong Trade Unions protecting at least some of them.
People who thought they needed no Trade Union now get lower wages, because unionised labour is now much less of an alternative for workers who’d like another job.
Social power, not personal merit, is the main thing that gives gigantic riches to the rich. A shift in politics gave the rich a much bigger share of the wealth than they had in the 1950s and 1960s. And it hasn’t actually improved wealth creation.
Measured IQ and paper qualifications are objective facts. They can be used for number-crunching. They ought to vindicate my assertion that millionaires are not visibly better than the Next Nine in the qualities we ought to be rewarding. And it would be nice to include questions about as many as possible of the Millionaire Factors that I mentioned earlier.
There is already hard evidence of an excess of sociopaths among top managers. Among the people who award themselves million-pound bonuses for their brilliant management of companies that then mysteriously collapse under a burden of debt a few years later:
“People with psychopathy crave power and dominant positions, experts say. But they are also chameleons, able to disguise their ruthlessness and antisocial behavior under the veneer of charm and eloquence…
“Roughly 4% to as high as 12% of CEOs [Chief Executive Officers] exhibit psychopathic traits, according to some expert estimates, many times more than the 1% rate found in the general population and more in line with the 15% rate found in prisons.”
As an easier beginning, it would be nice if members of the High-IQ society Mensa would confidentially declare their incomes and wealth, as well as the score that Mensa gave them. I’d expect it to be more grist to the mill, though with a likely bias. When I did my own membership test, along with others and under supervision since no one is trusted when just self-testing, it seemed to me that there were a lot like me. Clever, but not even in the Next Nine: I rate as part of the Second Decile or Top 20%. Probably with a job they were not deeply committed to, and with less recognition and success than they were hoping for. People seeking objective proof that they were smart, as well as the hope of finding intelligent company.
And maybe smart enough to note that the 90% have been cheated. And that the Next Nine are not rewarded anything extra for their recognised talents, beyond what similar people got in the 1960s.
Separately from this, and not specifically left-wing, I would love to see a Mass Survey of Talent and Genius. A grand survey across the world to see how far IQ and paper qualifications match to income and wealth, and to other factors. This would include marital status, sexual orientation and actual sexual practice.
Among other results, I’d expect it to confirm the widespread view that there are more gifted individuals than you’d expect among the homosexual minority. Which gives an obvious target audience for people likely to fund it.
I’m not the person to organise such a thing, but perhaps someone out there will pick it up.
I’d suggest also trying to get Sweden’s four separate Nobel Committees to sponsor it. The survey would involve personal details, but no one has ever accused them of being excessively open in their deliberations about who gets their cherished prizes. The secrecy they mostly manage is impressive. And regarding sex, popular notions of sexual freedom in Sweden are exaggerated, but certainly would help get honest answers.
If you were wondering ‘but aren’t there five Nobel Prizes?‘, you are right. You might even think six, with the spoof prize in economics. But the much-respected Peace Prize is given by people selected by the Norwegian Parliament. No need to include them. Parliamentarians are often too close to the Millionaire Elite, and sometimes come from it or hope to join it. Ordinary academics are generally in the Next Nine.
What should be solidly proved is that the Millionaire Class had far more than they merited even before the New Right got going. And that taking away a huge chunk of their gains would be entirely just, and good for at least 90% of us. And moral, which most of us care about.
From 11th Sept – 2412. 13th, 4788. 14th, 6185, SPLIT, 17th, 1300 retained. 2526.
18th, 3422. 19th, 4667. 20th, 7086. 26th, 7536. 27th, 7961. 2nd Oct, 8626. 3rd Oct, 9121. 5th, 9347. 12th, 10,609. 13th, 11,038.
 https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/personalandhouseholdfinances/incomeandwealth/bulletins/householddisposableincomeandinequality/financialyear2020 and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_in_the_United_Kingdom
 Islamist group claims responsibility for attack on China’s Tiananmen Square, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/25/islamist-china-tiananmen-beijing-attack
 The Economist, September 6th, 2003
 https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/121559. As far as I remember, it is not mentioned in The Right Stuff.
 See https://labouraffairsmagazine.com/m-articles-by-topic/42-china/china-three-bitter-years-1959-to-1961/ for why this was much less of an error than Western sources now say.
 https://mrgwydionmwilliams.quora.com/British-General-Election-the-Old-and-Failed-Outvote-the-Young-and-Hopeful. Also https://labouraffairsmagazine.com/problems-magazine-past-issues/why-labour-lost-in-december-2019/.
 The UK’s wealth distribution and characteristics of high-wealth households, Page 12. https://www.resolutionfoundation.org/app/uploads/2020/12/The-UKs-wealth-distribution.pdf. A similar starting-point is suggested in another study, Total wealth in Great Britain: April 2016 to March 2018, https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/personalandhouseholdfinances/incomeandwealth/bulletins/totalwealthingreatbritain/april2016tomarch2018
All issues of this magazine can be found at https://labouraffairsmagazine.com/problems-magazine-past-issues/.
An archive listing of many articles by topic can be found at https://labouraffairsmagazine.com/