Is too much not enough?

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Although I have no idea who you are, innocent reader, scrolling through my early-morning thoughts, it’s a fair bet that you are amongst the wealthiest people to have ever set foot on this planet.

At whatever page you open your history book or your atlas, your own riches will be greater.

More people supply your needs than the slaves of an Egyptian pharaoh. You have more clothes than a Gatsby and you enjoy a more lavish diet than a Greek god, replete on your mattresses of feather in your extravagantly-heated palatial home.

Should you wish you can travel more widely than Marco Polo and enjoy more comforts than a Persian king. You have more choice over potential wives or husbands than the Aga Khan, more leisure than a Jane Austin heroine and a greater choice of what to do with it than a Japanese emperor.

In short, it is unlikely that you will ever, ever, be in need of anything.

Never will you face more than a tiny fraction of the hardships of your ancestors, nor will you know the meaning of hunger, deprivation or any prolonged discomfort.

If you tire of the extraordinary conveyor belt of wealth brought to you from around the planet, you can command more at the click of a mouse; should you ever become bored with the indolent ease through which all of your wants are summoned, you can join a club, you can sign up for a course, enrol at a gym or, dare I suggest it, get a job.

And if all of that is just too much effort, don’t worry, just turn up the heating, tune in the TV, lie back, relax and think of England, because whatever you do, or don’t do, no-one in this country will ever let you starve or go cold.

Despite this, few people give more than a passing thought to the process, or to the people involved in this mammoth operation that can bring you a teabag from a remote Indian farmstead, via land, air and sea to your amusing novelty mug for less than a penny.

And, although you may not want to admit it, this phenomenal good fortune is nothing to do with you. It is just luck. You just happen to have been born at the right time and in the right place. In Britain today we all are.

Of the 100 billion people who have ever lived on our planet, virtually all eked out miserable, blessedly short existences, tormented by pain, squalor and hunger. Until now.

Yet the march of time has not been universally generous and the bounty of progress has not been fairness. There are 7 billion people alive today but the vast majority can only dream of the wealth that you enjoy. In Britain over 30 million people count themselves amongst the world’s richest 10%. If your assets exceed £500,000, the price of a large flat in Clifton, then you are particularly fortunate and you are amongst the top 1%. The remaining 90% plus look on with awe and increasingly with anger. Yet many people in Britain would still rather buy a lottery ticket than donate some of the jackpot they have won simply by being born here and now.

Britain gives a measly 2% of our obscene riches to less developed counties. Last year to add insult to injury we threw into our dustbins perfectly good food and clothes of just about the same value.

In 2017 there are 264 million young people without access to primary or secondary school. Around the world 40 million people live in slavery. Not only are they making our T-shirts and trainers, harvesting our coffee and manufacturing the chemicals we find too unpleasant to handle, they do it cheaply, discreetly and until now remarkably quietly, so that we can pretend they don’t even exist. Victorian children used to be told that babies were brought to them by the Stork: where do we tell children that their clothes come from?

Some of these modern-day slaves live in Britain, but our laws forbid it so most are conveniently located in countries, or parts of countries, that we are unlikely to visit. Out of sight, out of mind. Most UK companies are keen to avoid an association with child workers or slave labour, but they still farm out manufacturing to countries where minimum wages, labour laws and worker protections don’t exist.

But that isn’t really the problem is it. The problem is that we all know this already, and do nothing.

We say it would happen anyway. We make our excuses and we turn the other way. We are the collaborators. We are the receivers. We are all accomplices to theft. We are the war criminals in the battle against poverty.