Johann Rupert is the son of South African Tycoon Anton Rupert. His wealth, combined with his family’s, is estimated at around $7.7 billion. He is ranked by Forbes magazine as one of the 5 richest people in Africa. He is also the CEO of the Swiss-based luxury goods company, Compagnie Financiere Richemont.
This year at the? Financial Times Business of Luxury Summit in Monaco, Rupert made an alarming prediction.
He confessed to losing sleep at night thinking about how robotics and automation will eventually put hundreds of millions of people out of work. He said this,
?How is society going to cope with structural unemployment and the envy, hatred and the social warfare? We are destroying the middle classes at this stage and it will affect us. It’s unfair. So that’s what keeps me awake at night.?
?We cannot have 0.1 percent of 0.1 percent taking all the spoils. It’s unfair and it is not sustainable.?
Many people remember the “Occupy Wall Street” and other “Occupy” demonstrations that started in 2011. For many Americans they saw the protesters as nothing more than whiny, spoiled, rich white college kids, combined with dirty hippies and socialists. To be honest they were not completely wrong, but there were also thousands of working class people who joined in on those protests.
Just imagine what happens when the “blue collar” conservative voters get fed up with the capitalistic model. What happens when health care, college, housing, food, gas, and other essential costs become too much for most to be able to cover?
Many conservatives dismiss this kind of talk, saying that there are plenty of good paying jobs out there, and that there will always be good paying jobs for those willing to learn and work. However, the wealth gap between the rich and the poor seems to indicate otherwise.
It amazes me how many conservatives don’t see a problem with these numbers. They have iPhones and new cars, and think of prosperity as something attainable for all. But what if that’s just wallpaper? What if just beneath the surface of our material wealth there is a growing mildew that’s going to make us all sick?
It’s a fact that people are working harder, longer hours, taking fewer vacations, and earning less than their parents and grand parents. While many will dismiss Rupert’s warning, the numbers continue to climb. I would say that the math does not lie, and that something will have to give. A new “social contract” will be made, one way or the other. Rupert said this,
?We are in for a huge change in society. Get used to it, and be prepared. Hopefully we will survive it, because we’re planning for it.?