stone age inequality farmers wealthy

How to Kickstart the UK Economy and Flatten Class
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Cardiff U Shows Evidence of Stone Age Inequality

Progressing from hunting and gathering did not mean progressing to better well-being for all -- and it still doesnít. We trim, blend, and append two 2012 articles from class-ridden Great Britain, (1) from the BBC, May 29 on proto-inequality, and (2) from the Guardian on FB, May 31, on stimulus by Michael Meacher.

by the BBC and by Michael Meacher

A study of more than 300 Neolithic skeletons suggests evidence of "hereditary inequality" among farmers 7,000 years ago, researchers claim.

Archaeologists from Cardiff University led a team who studied the skeletons from across Europe.

They say evidence suggests farmers buried with tools had access to better land than those buried without.

Dr Penny Bickle, of Cardiff University, said community diversity "probably occurred through inheritance".

The researchers claim to have evidence which suggests "differential land use among the first farmers of Europe, called the Neolithic period".

The skeletons' teeth were analyzed for strontium isotopes, and results differed between those who were buried with tools called adzes, and those who were not.

Professor R. Alexander Bentley, of Bristol University, said: "The men buried with adzes appear to have lived on food grown in areas of loess - the fertile and productive soil favored by early farmers.

"This indicates they had consistent access to preferred farming areas."

The team believe strontium isotope analysis also reveals that early Neolithic women were more likely than men to have originated from areas outside those where their bodies were found.

Researchers think "this is a strong indication of patrilocality, a male-centred kinship system where females move to reside in the location of the males when they marry."

Dr Penny Bickle said: "Community diversity seems to have happened very early on in the transition to agriculture and probably occurred through inheritance and kinship systems rather than individuals competing for wealth."

To read more

JJS: So, the difference in health being due to a difference in wealth thatís prevalent today goes way back. And that difference in wealth is due to access to land, which is another way of saying property. Thus, owning land exclusively not only created class, hierarchy, privilege, and its attendant problems but also maintains class and its curse upon the lives of ordinary people up until today.

Fortunately, there is a solution, and it often appears in the press of the very class-ridden United Kingdom.

The wealth of the ultra-rich is far, far greater than most people realize. According to the annual Sunday Times Rich List, the richest 1,000 persons now sit atop of £414bn, a sum more than three times the size of the entire UK budget deficit. The richest 1% of the population, about 300,000 persons with an income of more than £3,000 a week, are estimated to possess wealth of about £1tn. The richest 10% control wealth of about £4tn. To put these figures in perspective, Britain's total GDP is £1.45tn.

Consider first that minuscule group in the stratosphere at the top, Britain's thousand richest. In 1997 they held assets of £99bn, but they nearly quadrupled this to £336bn by 2010. That process of gargantuan enrichment now means that in order to get access to this exclusive club, one needs personally to command assets of at least £450m to get into the top 200, £750m to get into the richest 100, and no less than £1.4bn to break into the top 50.

The richest 1% of the population own a quarter of total UK wealth, and the richest half control no less than 94% of total wealth. Ownership of land is even more skewed: 69% of it is owned by 0.3% of the population.

Yet in the absence of a wealth tax, a mansions tax, a land value tax, or a supertax on excess gains, the super-rich are being required to make hardly any contribution at all to deficit reduction. That is even more remarkable when there has been a real terms 6% drop in the income of the population as a whole since the 2008 collapse, yet over the same period the gains of the richest 1,000 persons escalated by no less than £155bn, considerably more than the current total UK deficit.

The most recent incomes data shows this trend is continuing or even growing. The average annual pay of FTSE 100 chief executives is now about £4.5m, which works out at £84,615 a week. This compares with their low-paid workers on about £240 a week, a ratio of 352:1.

What, then, should be done? In the short term, the most feasible approach is to impose a capital gains tax charge at the current rate of 28% on the topmost layers of wealth, the £155bn gains amassed by the 0.003% over the last three years. That would yield £43bn, more than enough to generate the public investment to create 1.5 million jobs over the next two years. This could then steadily be extended to the remainder of the top 1%, which would provide the funds to widen and deepen the early recovery.

A wealth tax and land value tax, the details of which would have to be carefully drafted, should then follow in the medium term, and would achieve several purposes. They would resuscitate a public sector ravaged by the Tory ideological assault, curtail the grossest excesses of inequality that have disfigured the last three decades, and lay the foundations for an industrial and technological revival without which British living standards cannot be sustained. And all this without burdening the remaining 99% of the population.

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JJS: Since Iím not a huge fan of expediency, Iím not so sure of his policy of going after thems who got it. Further for me, itís not so much a matter of how much one has as it is how one got it. And if they had to earn it, could they have amassed so much in the first place?

While, sure, most enormous fortunes are ill-gotten gains, is that their fault or ours? Those wealthy ones are merely gathering up the common wealth that we leave on the table. Everything that people pay good money for but exists without the aid of anyoneís labor or capital, all those payments should be directed to all of us. Itís the payments for labor and capital that the provider of labor and capital should be able to keep for themselves, untaxed.

When do you ever demand that the socially-generated value of everything from land titles to bank charters be funneled into the public treasury for public benefit? Ever? Get demanding!


Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics and helped prepare a course for the UN on geonomics. To take the ďLand RightsĒ course, click here .

Also see:

China, Inflation & Gold -- and Trade

Palm oil giants target African land

Economism and the Night Sky

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