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Rhome Balmeo

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How do we lessen the gap between the rich and the poor?

Economic and social disparity is quite apparent in third world countries such as the Philippines. We hear that education is the key to a better future and may perhaps shorten that gap between the rich and the poor. We see however, men and women who are school drop outs but became completely successful in business and other lucrative fields. Thus, aside from education, what is there that can contribute to the alleviation of poverty? Is there anything cultural, psychological, philosophical or whatever factor that makes the rich become richer, and the poor become poorer? How do we lessen this gap between the rich and the poor?

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  • May 11 2012: Thank you for this interesting question, First I would like to state a few things:
    a) Social and Economic disparities are correlated with cultures. In general, European countries tend to have more income redistribution, and South American, and South African countries tend to have a bigger gap.
    b) Those gaps come from lack of social mobility and from weak social governments.
    c) In general, as richer a country is, as fare it distributes it income to the population. (the bigger exception are the USA)

    Education, like you sad, it's highly important do decrease that gap, but education is not everything. People need to be able to climb to higher social levels, and there is were social mobility enters. In the past, America was considered the best country to get wealthy. But nowadays it only happens to a group smart or lucky people, a really small group, while the rest of the population remains poor.
    Countries like Denmark and Norway have high levels of social mobility, due to their investment is higher education, so if you want to live the American Dream, go to Denmark.
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      May 12 2012: Thanks for the inputs, Marco.

      Did I get it right that when you say "social mobility", you are referring to the increase in one's income (through variety of means, such as jobs, trade or businesses) that consequently raises their level in the economic and social strata, e.g., from lower middle class to upper middle class; or from poor to lower middles class? You see, this is interesting because I watched a special on TV (on Oprah if I am not mistaken) about how Denmark has the highest tax imposed on individuals but they are considered to be the "happiest" in the world. I surmised that Denmark's government use all of those collected taxes back to the people through services and critical infrastructure. Needless to say, this type of situation is only possible if there is very minimal if not totally nil of graft and corruption.

      Government plays an important role since the conducive environment for business and generation of jobs for the people to accomplish "social mobility" are the responsibilities of government. So what you are saying is that make the "weak" governments strong! I agree, 100%.

      As for the correlation of the disparities with culture, we may need to examine this further. In Asia for instance, the gap between the rich and the poor in Thailand is not as wide as its neighboring country like India. Can you share more of your thoughts on the relation of the gap with culture and how we can address in closing the gap? I imagine it would be very hard if it's rooted with culture....

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