Putin’s palace or not, 90% of Russians have nothing

As expected, Vladimir Putin declared that the mega-palace from the new documentary by the dissident Navalny does not belong to him. But it has to belong to someone. And at the same time, 90% of Russians have no assets, or no assets worth mentioning. Let’s imagine a mega-palace worth 1 billion euros being built in the US and the traces would lead Joe Biden. The “alternative” media in particular would go nuts. But with His Holiness Tsar Putin I everything is fine, of course, because his intelligence services have spread the misinformation that he is fighting a leftwing world conspiracy.

In his study “The Coming of Neo-Feudalism” Joel Kotkin shows that the three superpowers are becoming more and more alike in terms of inequality in the distribution of wealth, the exploitation and impoverishment. Most Russians have no significant assets, i.e. neither real estate on a larger scale, nor stocks, companies or cash, but somehow get by, have to constantly pay bribes for all kinds of things, have no quality health care and a low life expectancy.

An estimated 111 billionaires control nearly a fifth of the country’s total household wealth. Russia is similar to the United States today in terms of income inequality. About 65 percent of Russia’s net worth belongs to the 10 percent of “top earners,” according to the World Inequality Database, those who own apartments in Moscow with properties worth more than 3.72 million rubles, or $ 56,185. The poorest half of the population own less than five percent of the country’s net worth. Rich Russians have just as much financial wealth stashed outside the country as the entire Russian population inside Russia itself.

The wealthiest 3 percent of Russians owned 89 percent of all financial assets in 2018, according to a joint study by the Higher School of Economics and state-owned VEB Bank. Wealth inequality in the US is similarly bad; Recent Internal Revenue Service data showed that the gap between the richest 1 percent and the rest of the population is the largest since the 1920s. It is estimated that the share of the top 10 percent of the population in national income increased from 27 percent in 1978 to 41 percent in 2015, while the share of the bottom 50 percent fell from 27 percent to 15 percent.

In 2015, the bottom 50 percent in China earned about 15 percent of total national income, compared with 12 percent in the US and 22 percent in France; while the top 1 percent earn about 14 percent of the national income, up from 20 percent in the US. A few more years and all three superpowers could easily be officially merged because they have become very similar despite their different ideological orientations.

Moving to the city can be a step towards a higher livelihood for young Chinese, but the most important thing is getting a job in the first place. Local officials are encouraging the younger generation to seek work in the cities, especially in the cities along the industrialized southeast coast. For decades, rural-to-urban migration was the standard way of improving livelihoods: around 236 million people in China are migrant workers, according to government statistics. There is no privately held land under Chinese property law. Urban land is owned by the state, which grants land rights for a number of years. Reforms in the late 1980s and 1990s allowed urban land transactions to be made so that citizens could sell their land and buildings, or take out a mortgage to borrow, while still remaining state-owned. Rural land or “collectively owned land” is leased by the state for a period of 30 years and is theoretically reserved for agricultural purposes, housing and services for farmers. The farmers have long-term obligations as long as they sow the land, but they cannot pledge or sell the rights of use. Everywhere we are approaching conditions like in the novel series “Hunger Games”: Putin is like President Snow. The US elites are like Snow. The Chinese party officials and billionaires are like Snow. All three superpowers can blame the COVID pandemic for further economic problems and the inequality of wealth distribution. And of course each other. American media have already accused China of covering up a laboratory accident, Chinese media accused the US of causing the pandemic itself in Wuhan, and Russian media accused the US. What is noticeable is that no one has ultimately produced conclusive evidence, despite extensive espionage programs. Dissatisfied dissidents or activists in the West often hope for help from the Putin regime, but are never really given reliable information of very high quality. Neither 9/11, nor COVID, or any other subject mattered anything from the Russians. If it was a Bill Gates conspiracy or a fake pandemic, Russia shouldn’t have had a hard time collecting hard evidence and disseminating it in some form through any middleman. Many industrial jobs in the west had been relocated to China in agreement between the two superpowers and now we have the so-called “gig economy” with people who drive taxis for large corporations like Uber or Lyft and can barely make ends meet. Driving is a solid service, but the low pay, the high taxes and the devaluation of money give the impression that in the future one will have to live on the level of an Indian rickshaw driver. This gig economy in particular was hit hard by COVID, while the large technology groups such as Apple, amazon and Google achieved great success and pulled the S&P 500 share index up again with their own hands. In 2020, food insecurity for U.S. households reached its highest reported level since the Census Bureau began collecting data in May. Nearly 30 million Americans reported that at some point in the seven days leading up to July 21, they did not have enough to eat. In 2018, 35.3 percent of households with incomes below the federal poverty line were affected by food insecurity. Food insecure households include households with low and very low food security. Food insecurity rates for single parent households and for Black and Hispanic households were well above the national average. Food insecurity was more common in large cities and rural areas than in suburban areas. In Russia, too, there is greater centralization through large corporations. Almost half of all Russians no longer have any savings due to the corona crisis. 44.6 percent of the 145 million inhabitants now have to get by on less than the equivalent of 180 euros a month. Unofficial salary payments are also falling. Before the pandemic, the unemployment rate in Russia was relatively low at 4.5%.

At the beginning of May, the number of unemployed people doubled compared to April. There were 1.4 million officially registered unemployed in Russia. Even more people are currently without an income during the pandemic period (although they are not officially unemployed). But by the end of May, only 10% of companies had received emergency coronavirus aid, while 60% doubt they will ever get out of this crisis. If so, it will certainly increase the share of large, state-owned companies in the economy. Short-term impacts could be followed by deeper, longer-term impacts characterized by irreparable losses, such as learning at critical ages, deterioration in chronic health conditions, permanent job and skill losses, and small business bankruptcies. It also shows that smaller cities and rural areas could suffer from the spread of the virus a few weeks or months later. Sectors that were initially unaffected, such as agriculture, could be affected in later stages when disruptions in the availability of migrant workers, internal logistics, international trade or financial conditions make it difficult to resume full production. This process – a departure of Russia’s smaller service-oriented companies – could also be exacerbated by the pandemic policy response, which has focused support efforts on the country’s largest firms, leaving smaller companies and entrepreneurs largely on their own. Once the initial crisis has been overcome, “the dominant actors” – oligopolies and monopolies – will have an even greater competitive advantage over all others. U.S. allegations against China over the virus may exacerbate trade wars while sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis continue. Trump and the Republican Party claim they were on the right track with Jobs, but a communist (world) conspiracy with COVID would have screwed everything up. Countless forms of activism and the typical ideologies are constructed in such a way that ultimately an exacerbation of feudalism results. Both left and right, as well as libertarians and middle-class groups, are encouraged and paid for their activism by billionaires like Finck, Soros or the Mercers, who live in a completely different world. “The Coming of Neo-Feudalism” by Joel Kotkin recalls how peasant serfdom worked by the nobility: 80% of Europeans never moved more than 20 miles from their place of birth because they were chained to their farms and had no time or opportunities to travel. Espionage was necessary at an early stage in order to be armed against peasant revolts and espionage by competing noblemen. In the West there was the peasant liberation and a new (secretly dominated by the nobility) capitalism mainly because more wealth could be created and tapped through taxes. After World War II, an economic miracle in the US and Germany through funding programs (and hard work) created the new middle class who could afford spacious homes, four children, cars, and vacations without necessarily having to graduate from university. From the 1970s onwards, a lot of industry moved abroad, the middle class stagnated and the super-rich grew dramatically. From 1945 to 1973 the top 1% in America had 4.9% of income growth. In the following two decades, the rich caught the majority of the growth. 400 Americans are now more wealthy than 185 million Americans. This development could never have worked without the directed (political) activism to slow down, confuse and incite people against each other. Everything was cleverly interwoven and interwoven:

The Conservatives took over the role of capitalists who would strive for jobs and order. Conservatism is the opposite of socialism. The mantra was that one should not give in to the demands of the left for a reduction in inequality, otherwise capitalism and prosperity would be endangered. Libertarians are always dissatisfied with the conservatives, but for fear of the socialists the libertarians cling to the conservatives again.
The socialists, in turn, asserted that they were the only ones who could really consistently reduce inequality. If you didn’t promote socialism, inequality would only get worse.
The establishment just needed to control all major ideologies and parties, and promote bad activism on a massive scale. Sometimes social democrats rule, and then conservatives again. Either side can tell their frustrated voters that the other side is to blame for things not going as they should. At times, a conservative-libertarian segment of the “alternative” conspiracy media in the US was the only group to expose this left-versus-right pattern. The Texan Alex Jones was later recaptured and is now promoting Trump and the Republicans. Activism is forbidden in Russia and China, which is why these classic regimes are very lifeless. Russia’s economic performance is a bad joke, while China needed the largest possible subsidies and technology from the West to even build an efficient economy. Cheap products “made in China” enticed western customers to buy, but this in turn weakened the domestic economy, which in turn lowered the value of money and led to higher taxes, which in turn created more incentives to buy cheap products from China. The elites control science and top universities, which enabled a shift to technology companies such as Google, amazon, Apple and Facebook, which mainly employ highly specialized engineers and coders. The population was told that you should simply “learn to code”, which is out of the question for most people of working age and would only work if customers buy expensive Apple phones forever and every nonsense on amazon to buy. Prominent tech billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk advocated a welfare state with an unconditional basic income, paid for by the middle class. California, as is correctly explained in “The Coming of Neo-Feudalism”, is in many ways not progressive at all, but is in part like in the Middle Ages. The US state is ruled by a small ultra-elite class. There is a high rate of poverty and those who can barely pay their bills despite a lot of work. Classic industrial jobs are disappearing and IT companies simply don’t need that many employees in terms of numbers. 40% of the tech workforce in Silicon Valley are foreigners with work visas. Even some Google employees live in their cars or trailers because house and rental prices are astronomical. Even technology magazine Wired admitted that Silicon Valley is just “feudalism with better marketing.” The bottom 40% of German adults also have no assets worth mentioning. The US Federal Reserve found that young Americans with university degrees earn about as much as their parents who did not have a university degree. 40% of the graduates work afterwards in jobs that do not require any qualifications. There are fewer and fewer homeowners; Families and children are declining and 28% of people live alone. In the Scandinavian countries it is 40%.

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