I came across this interesting post by Ida Ince at Critical Legal Thinking about the “Wealth Clock”, which purports to display wealth distribution in Germany.
Following in the traditions of the Doomesday and US National Debt clocks, the Wealth Clock, is an attempt by some “German trades unions, academics, and militants” to push the government into new taxes on the rich. As the author notes:
…the Wealth Clock itself discloses a dialectical motion which sets over against the boundless growth of Germany’s private wealth amongst its richest 10%, the likewise “boundless” impoverishment of its poorest 10%. Two differences united in their difference by an underlying notion. The implicit argument of the Wealth Clock is that it is in the reciprocal unification of these divergent series at a higher level, that of the capitalist process, that the relevant political transition boundaries can be located. For the unions promoting the clock, it is the spectre of such a transition which should spur Merkel’s government to institute a 1% wealth tax on personal wealth starting at 500,000 euros.
The author goes on to make an interesting (and much clearer, if incorrect) point:
The Wealth Clock sees itself explicitly as a political counter-proposal to the notion of taxpayers’ Federal Debt. It wants to show how great wealth is in Germany. DGB Hesse [one of the sponsor labor groups] conclude that what can be easily seen from these figures is that the public give away money by waiving appropriate taxation of high asset and income levels — money that is not then available for reducing debt and for important tasks, for example in education and training.
It’s fascinating that the author think the “public” is giving away money, since this implies that all the money not being taxed belongs to everyone in Germany, which is a ridiculous notion. The reason this statement is interesting is that it shows, yet again, that sooner or later, those left behind in economically developed countries will wake up, and that in the absence of real dialogue all sorts of ideas can fill the void. Thus, the Wealth Clock is, I think, important because what it’s really signaling, is that those fortunate enough have the lion’s share of the wealth, be it through their talent and hard work or the luck of a timely inheritance, should also wake up and start to discuss what that that outcome, good for them but not so good for others, means.