There’s just no getting away from class.
Not even for PRI’s The World, which ends it series Beyond Class: Societies in Flux with the following observation: “In Britain, and elsewhere, there may be no getting beyond class. “
Now, I know that class is not the same as economic inequality or, for that matter, the idea that the future prospects of someone are determined by the class they’re born into (I’m partial, as readers know, to a Marxian surplus-labor theory of class). But the stories compiled by PRI (in association with the BBC and WGBH) are telling.
So, is Bloomberg’s report on the “billionaire People’s Congress” in China.
The richest 70 members of China’s legislature added more to their wealth last year than the combined net worth of all 535 members of the U.S. Congress, the president and his Cabinet, and the nine Supreme Court justices.
The net worth of the 70 richest delegates in China’s National People’s Congress, which opens its annual session on March 5, rose to 565.8 billion yuan ($89.8 billion) in 2011, a gain of $11.5 billion from 2010, according to figures from the Hurun Report, which tracks the country’s wealthy. That compares to the $7.5 billion net worth of all 660 top officials in the three branches of the U.S. government.
Again, income and wealth are not the same as class. However, the existence of such enormous concentrations of individual wealth—in a country where, in 2010, the average income was $2,425—is indicative of an enormous ripping off of surplus by a tiny minority at the top from the majority who are actually doing the work in the cities and the countryside at the bottom.
And that, my friends, is class.