Last night, I watched a programme on Channel 4 called How Rich Are You? It was quite an interesting show, with a studio audience, guests and expert guests whose area of expertise was the distribution of wealth in the UK. Not only was it interesting, but it was a proper eye opener.
Firstly, it plotted a graph of the distribution of wealth in the UK, and you could work out your place on the graph according to your salary. Whilst this graph didn't seem to take into account whether you were a property owner or not, which must have an important bearing, I found the results, which I won't go into here, as I can't quite remember them in detail, quite shocking. It transpires that the top 1% of earners earn more together than 3/4 of the rest of the population.
Whilst in itself, this figure wasn't a total shock, as I do recall hearing of similar statistics when studying social sciences twenty years ago, I assumed that 10 years of a Labour government might have altered this ratio and created more equality in the UK. How wrong I was.
The programme went on to consider how wealth begets more wealth, and how the majority of money earned by the population of the UK is then predominantly handed over to the major corporations such as energy providers, telecommunications providers, supermarkets, and other large companies creating huge profits for these organisations. It was this aspect of the programme that got me thinking the most.
What if we all stopped spending quite so much of our hard earned money with these huge corporations? What if we spread it around a little bit more, as many people already do? I realise that not everybody is in a position to ignore the bargains available at the supermarkets, but I would like to take some steps to change my spending habits which I have posted about previously. I must admit, however, that I always tend to fall back into my old supermarket habits, born of convenience and give little thought to where my money is going.
Now, I know that the supermarkets and other corporations are important employers in this country and provide lots of jobs, but do I really want the majority of any money that I spend to go to the same few huge multinational companies. I'm not sure that I do.
I live in an area that has lots of local independent shops, artisan food shops, well stocked green grocers, small corner supermarkets open all hours selling a multitude of foods to cater for everyone's needs and preferences. Not to mention the availability of items that can be bought on websites such as Etsy and Folksy. I'm not saying that I'm going to change overnight and do all my shopping in these actual and online small shops, but perhaps I could make an effort to spend more money this way, if I could just get into the habit of doing it regularly and keep it going. Even it if is just buying bread from our local bakery or fruit and vegetables from the local green grocers, it would be a start at least and my expenditure could be dispersed around a wider range of businesses.
Check out the programme on iPlayer if you can and let me know what you thought.