Poverty and inequality

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We are living in turbulent times. Across the globe, regimes have been toppled and people in unprecedented numbers are taking to the streets in protest as austerity politics sweeps away their jobs and their incomes. The notion that individual debt-fuelled consumerism could provide both the economic drive and the social glue for a rampant capitalism unchallenged in the globe has proved to be disastrous. In the midst of one of the most serious crises of global capitalism, a crisis that is both economic and political, even the most cautious analysts have to face up to the fact that something new is happening in the world. The poor are stirring and rising against their punishment for an economic crisis not of their making; they are angry because the perpetrators are left free and untouched; they are increasingly sickened by the extraordinary disparities in wealth and income; they are insulted by the conspicuous greed and consumption of the rich as their own living standards and well-being decline, and they have had enough of being ignored.

Such stirrings are necessary. Because as well as ‘impoverishing the many’ capitalism is also plundering the earth’s resources with no regard for the human and environmental carnage it brings in its wake. The clock is ticking for the human race. It is a time for clear thinking, strong words and action. It is time for social workers – both academics and practitioners – to speak out and act against the human destruction we are now witnessing.

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