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Social Equality? So share the expenses of the wealthy, too.

Assuming socialism is right, the rich should give the poor their money. Why does it not also follow that the poor must also then share in the risks/debts/expenses/hard work/smart work/saving money which the wealthy use to create economic wealth?

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    Apr 3 2013: G'day Joshua

    Where do the wealthy obtain such wealth & could they do it without the average joe blow (person) slaving their guts out so the rich can get richer, many people die because of there jobs so the wealthy can become ever increasingly wealthier. So what's your argument again?

    Forfeiting one's life so the rich can wallow in their wealth is giving a hell of a lot more than any wealthy magnate would give don't you think?

    Love
    Mathew
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      Apr 3 2013: the average joe already got his part. he works for a salary. that reasoning could go either way. what would poor people consume if there were no capitalists? let's then tax the poor, and give to the rich, so they can produce more. this makes exactly as few sense as the other proposition.
      • Apr 3 2013: I think society and individuals benefit if there is a healthy balance between rich making their money and poor/society getting fair share of wealth given their effort and abilities?
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          Apr 3 2013: what is the fair share? what if the free market is exactly the fair share? what if wage and cheap products are exactly the fair share?
      • Apr 3 2013: "what is the fair share? "

        There is not exact answer but not paying taxes and lobbying government for favors and laws that profits them does not seem like a fair game?

        "what if the free market is exactly the fair share?"

        Free market has not stipulation that it needs to be fair. It is a game of demand and supply.

        "what if wage and cheap products are exactly the fair share?"

        Wage is not determined by the employee. Employees have choice to take on job but only to a certain degree as they are limited by demand and so on.

        I think most people and esp. rich individuals don't realize that the whole society is supporting their wealth creation through infrastructure, education, healthcare and so on.
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          Apr 3 2013: by whom wage is determined? before you answer, consider that other question too: by whom the price of a chocolate bar is determined? ironically, the answer lies within your own comment here.
      • Apr 3 2013: "by whom wage is determined?"

        Wage at a private company is determined by what is the minimum the company needs to pay for given position. That is definitely not fair but rather a way to maximize the company profit.

        Things will get worse in the next 10-20 years and eventually society will need to move to a wealthfare system because automation will cause huge unemployment. Because job market is not fair people will either have to work for very small wage or not have job at all. Society will have to distribute wealthy more artificially.
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          Apr 3 2013: sigh. i intentionally left a hint what do you need to consider. to no avail. i will not give up.

          let us use the same reasoning for prices. you say that the price of apples and chocolate is determined by the minimum amount the consumers are willing to pay. does that sound like how things actually work?
      • Apr 3 2013: I think I already answered your question with "the minimum a company needs to pay" which means a) any associated cost, b) market value c) other factors.

        Similarly for products, there is cost, there is opportunity profit and other factors.

        My question is whether this is fair?

        cheers
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          Apr 3 2013: i said i won't give up. what determines the price of a product?

          the reason behind this question is that labor market is the exact same thing as any other market. on the labor market, work hours are the product, wage is the price, workers are the producers, and companies are the consumers. so if we know what determines the price of a product, we can use the same logic to find what determines wages.

          your current claim is that price is determined by cost. it is not exactly what economics tells us. it also does not explain what we see. many products have way higher prices than their cost. and what about art? there is something missing here.
      • Apr 3 2013: "your current claim is that price is determined by cost. "

        I am sorry but you are not reading my reply: a) any associated cost, b) market value c) other factors
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          Apr 3 2013: okay, i said i'm not giving up, but i'm giving up my tactic of asking. let me explain to you instead, maybe it is faster.

          you already said what determines the price: supply and demand. as the price goes up, more and more suppliers show up, but less and less consumers pay the price. at a point, the two are the same, and we have the market price. neither the supply nor the demand alone sets the price.

          producers would like to set the price as high as they can. consumers want to set the price as low as they can. neither of them is the master of prices. only together can they set it.

          similarly, wage is determined by supply and demand. as the wage goes up, you find more and more people willing to take the job, but less and less employers willing to pay it. at a point, the equilibrium is found.

          employers want the wage as low as possible. workers want the wage as high as possible. but neither of them are the creators of wages. they together set wages.

          is that fair? is that fair that an employer and an employee agrees upon a wage and other work conditions? what else would be fair? who else has a say other than them?
      • Apr 3 2013: Yes basically you are describing in more detail what I mentioned: market value.

        It's an agreement but employees have choices in what is being offered. If I am an accountant and because of automation there is almost no accounting job left then am I able to negotiate fair wage?

        Why should employer pay the minimum wage possible rather than sharing a bit more money they make? I agree owners should make the most but that does not mean they should make as much as possible. Why not give employees a bit more than market value to appreciate their contribution?

        And if this happens, prices of products/services that the company provides can stay the same.

        If I, as a worker, now produce more because I am using better technology why I can't share some of the savings the company makes? Or why can't I work fewer hours and produce the same output for the same money?
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          Apr 3 2013: if you want something to offer that nobody wants at all, what is the fair price for that thing? yep, the fair price is zero. if you have a profession that is not needed, so you can produce zero value, under no moral code you are entitled to get anything for doing that. you have to learn something that is actually valuable. is that fair?

          why would employers pay more than minimum? why would customers pay more than the cost? because there are other buyers that are willing to pay more. there are other employers, and they can bid more if it is still in the profitable range. employers will bid up the price of labor up to the point where the profit disappears. we are back to the original question: what sets the wage? not the demand. the supply and the demand together.

          that theory also explains why wages rise with time. as the economy progresses, and we have better tech, more capital, and better knowhow, the upper limit for wages, set by the profitability criteria, rises. companies start to outbid one another, and wages rise too.

          there is no reason to pay more than the market wage. the market wage is the appropriate way to appreciate their contribution exactly to the degree of their contribution. not less, not more.
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        Apr 3 2013: G’day Krisztian

        How did we survive without the rich when we used to live in caves as hunter & gatherers or even when we began to farm but as soon as we had something that could be taken off us what appeared? We created the rich class by becoming farmers because we had something that could either be taken off us or the average person (slave, drone) could be used in some way to attain more wealth in some way & what else stemmed from this? War/conflict.

        It is silly to say without capitalism the poor would go hungry, we haven’t always had capitalism, in actual fact it’s quite new to human history so how did we survive all this time without capitalists taking from us? Don’t get me wrong we need the wealthy these days because they have destroyed the environment we once lived off for what, a few pennies!! I’m not conned in believing we need the wealthy more than they need us, who would they send overseas to die for oil or work in salve shops in third world countries or risk their health & lives working in mines or walking the beat as a cop, who needs who more again?

        Don’t get me wrong I don’t want to take everything from the rich because I know some of them have actually worked quite hard to attain their wealth without fleecing people to do so but this never ending hording of wealth when the average person can’t get decent food or medical treatment because it’s all been structured to make as much money for the rich as possible is wrong.

        You might be interested in taking a look at the following link to what the Icelandic’s did to the filthy rich & manipulators in their country. http://www.wakingtimes.com/2013/03/21/why-did-the-media-keep-the-recent-peaceful-icelandic-revolution-quiet/

        Love
        Mathew
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          Apr 3 2013: "How did we survive without the rich when we used to live in caves"

          barely

          "We created the rich class by becoming ..."

          ... the rich class. the more successful became more rich. the less successful, less rich.

          "It is silly to say without capitalism the poor would go hungry"

          then reality is silly. north korea, south korea. east germany, west germany. china, singapore. china in 1960, china today. how many more examples we need?

          " the average person can’t get decent food"

          where? certainly not in the west. the average fella in the US has car, air conditioning, second car, 80 inch tv, game console.

          marx died a long ago. you still fell for his lies.
      • Apr 4 2013: "why would employers pay more than minimum?"

        Why would employers avoid paying taxes? And what about government, why they don't raise taxes on businesses and wealthy individuals? If we don't want a fair society then lets be more socialist and have more taxes. Is it fair that businesses/rich people are getting extremely rich due to technology and lower taxes/tax avoidance while salaries are stagnant?

        Have a look at these two articles:
        http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/03/taxpayers_helped_apple_but_app.html

        http://mashable.com/2013/03/02/wealth-inequality/


        "that theory also explains why wages rise with time. as the economy progresses, and we have better tech, more capital, and better knowhow, the upper limit for wages, set by the profitability criteria, rises"

        I am sorry but data do not support your claim that wages rises. As you said many times, demand and supply determine wages, not morality, effectiveness or fairness. There was recently a talk at TED 2013 showing how wages stagnates. I saw same data elsewhere.

        " the market wage is the appropriate way to appreciate their contribution exactly to the degree of their contribution. not less, not more"

        I disagree. Yes market wage is determined by supply and demand but fairness has nothing to do with it. For example, in situation a) less people and more jobs leads to increased wage and b) more people and less jobs decrease the wage. In both cases the workers do the same job and produce the same value for the company. But in case a) they unfairly get less money.

        In my mind the problem is more about the fact that if I work for a rich guy why I cannot make very good money if I make the company really profitable through my work? Why the wealthy people pay less taxes than ever before? Why companies are avoiding paying taxes through tax havens thus indirectly robing me of social services I don't receive because government has less tax revenues?
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          Apr 4 2013: i'm glad that you discovered the unpleasant nature of government. it is hard to tell what is more immoral, taxation itself, or the special tax laws that somehow always benefit their friends.

          data does not support wages rising? where are you living? you skipped hans rosling's entire body of work here? don't look the US in the last decade. it is not a place where productivity rises, which was a core to my argument. guess why the productivity stopped increasing in the US. no, not because of capitalism. it raised it for hundreds of years.

          there is no such thing as "number of jobs". it is a hypothetical list that is infinite. there is always things to do. every job pays exactly the amount it worths, provided that it is easy to start new activities. a functioning market economy without artificial obstacles is the best way to create new activities. the more activities we have, the higher they bid wages.
      • Apr 4 2013: Here is also recent TED speaker concerns about raising inequality through wealthy extracting too much value from society:

        http://andrewmcafee.org/2013/03/mcafee-why-should-we-care-about-rising-inequality/

        Also American budget is in disarray because of the greed in top level of American society.

        A few more interesting thoughts from people like Tim O'Reilly and

        https://plus.google.com/+TimOReilly/posts/7E7MwpToMX6

        https://plus.google.com/+TimOReilly/posts/bhKxn9NbJz1 (amazing speech)

        Also very interesting:

        Buffett stated that he only paid 19% of his income for 2006 ($48.1 million) in total federal taxes (due to their being from dividends & capital gains), while his employees paid 33% of theirs, despite making much less money.[145] “How can this be fair?” Buffett asked, regarding how little he pays in taxes compared to his employees. "How can this be right?" He also added:
        "There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning."
      • Apr 4 2013: " the unpleasant nature of government. "

        What about looking at the root cause: companies and wealthy individuals feel entitled for almost everything regardless of fairness.

        " it is not a place where productivity rises, which was a core to my argument. guess why the productivity stopped increasing in the US. no, not because of capitalism. it raised it for hundreds of years."

        US make the largest innovation and technological progress and you claim that productivity in US stopped?

        Have a look at how workers get their share of productivity gains:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Productivity_and_Real_Median_Family_Income_Growth_1947-2009.png

        "a functioning market economy without artificial obstacles is the best way to create new activities. the more activities we have, the higher they bid wages."

        If you leave market on its own you will start seeing monopolies and people will have to work 7 day a week as they did early last century, being slaves to greed of factory owners.

        I don't have much to add to this discussion. I don't agree that free market somehow creates fair wages and conditions for workers or consumers.

        cheers.
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          Apr 4 2013: why would i care what they feel? i certainly don't care. i fear those that have power. and it is the government.

          yes, the productivity in the US is stopped. economic growth is 1-2%, and probably it is fake. at the same time, debt is getting overwhelming. do not get fooled by government propaganda. production is shifted to the east and to the south.

          there are no monopolies on the free market. it is possible that a market gets dominated by a single provider for a short time, but this is temporary and not a monopoly. standard oil never had market share over 80%, windows never had over 90%, walmart also shares the market with others. and this domination rarely lasts more than a decade or two, and always threatened by startups and newcomers.
      • Apr 4 2013: We need the government and government can be important factor not only for people it serves but also for businesses because without government people would not have education, security etc.

        Production is increasing in US and even manufacturing jobs are coming back to US. The problem is that due to greed and unfairness of companies and wealthy individuals the government has huge debts. It is ridiculous.

        "there are no monopolies on the free market. it is possible that a market gets dominated by a single provider for a short time, but this is temporary and not a monopoly. standard oil never had market share over 80%, windows never had over 90%, "

        I disagree. 90% market is in practical terms monopoly. Windows is great example. Before of their practical monopoly, Microsoft was creating bad products with high cost. Their Internet Explorer 5 was one of the worst product they produced both for web developers and users. They had practical monopoly in browser and OS market that stagnated the whole IT.

        Microsoft started to quickly work on IE after 5 years (!) only because finally some competition was able to break in (Firefox and Chrome).

        Another example is telephone monopolies. Until we got competition the long distance rates were ridiculous. I remember paying like $6 per minute what now costs cents.

        Another example: mobile phone companies are creating artificial non-competitive markets and in US and Canada we had high prices even thou Europe didn't. Only recently we start seeing some true competition.

        So where is the market ability to correct itself? Many times it works but sometimes it doesn't and the government have to step in.
    • Apr 3 2013: "average joe blow (person) slaving their guts out so the rich can get richer"

      So... then don't work for a rich guy... You don't have to ya know. Other options include starving, or becoming the entrepreneur that creates the value and creates the jobs for other people. Or being content that there is a person who has taken more time to educate himself, more capital investment, more risks in starting/running a business, etc. and who then deserves a right to the moneys generated by those he created jobs for, who's lives he's funding.

      1.) Would you rather have a job that someone creates for you and then he gets to keep a cut? (PS, you agree to that when you start working for him, so it's not 'slaving for the rich' like you say, you have a choice)

      2.) Or would you rather BE the job creator?

      Either way you choose your own fate, you're not mandated to 'slave' for some 'wallowingly wealthy magnate'. I've done both kinds of jobs and both are good.
      • Apr 3 2013: I don't think it is that simple.

        People are born with various skills and not everyone can be entrepreneur. Being entrepreneur is actually pretty difficult.

        Poor people need to work and they might not have choice in selecting a job that pays well. What other options do they have?

        It is also sad to see how education is being constantly short of money while higher education cost keeps increasing. It is then harder to get education for low income individuals.

        That is why I think fair distribution of wealth (not equal distribution) is the answer?
        • Apr 3 2013: I agree that education plays a critical role. Governmental subsidised schools arent the education that people need though. From personal experience there is PLENTY of marketable knowledge that can be learned on the internet. Most every job I've had I've created for myself by teaching myself, using the internet.

          So maybe it's not getting better education into people's hands, but empowering them to realize that the knowledge they need to control their fate is available online and through peer connections? It's not easy, it takes time, but I think free opportunities to educate oneself should be the Great Equalizer, and leave mandated taxes/other levies out of it. Maybe online education isn't quite there yet, but I think it will definitely be within a generation or two. Thoughts?
      • Apr 3 2013: I also think current education is inadequate. However I don't think online-only education is the answer either. I suggest to combine several different approaches. Students can get both in-class project-based teamwork while for study and more academic education they can access to online resources rich content?

        cheers
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        Apr 3 2013: G’day Joshua

        That’s a silly statement Joshua, become an entrepreneur. So we are all entrepreneurs, who is there to clean your houses & streets & go to war for you & so on & so on? You don’t have to work for the rich to be taken advantage of, anything you purchase & anywhere you go you are working for the wealthy this is the way they have worked the system so no we don’t have a choice!! If we could live as hunter & gatherers living off the land again we wouldn’t need the wealthy to sustain us however the wealthy have destroyed or ruined the land for a few dollars more that we once could live free from the tyranny of the rich, they have us by the short & curlies & they know it.

        We only need the wealthy because they have forced us to rely on them & I’m afraid that is undisputable fact, why do you think we are still getting around in vehicles run by antiquated technology such as the combustion engine which was devised in the late 1800’s? This isn’t because we have no other way of propulsion; we still have the same old technology propelling our vehicles along because the rich want to become even more richer at the cost of our health & the environment. Sorry mate but your argument is a bit silly!!

        Love
        Mathew
  • Apr 5 2013: i wouldn't assume that socialism is right. when people talk about social equality they mean fair pay for hard work.

    say an employer has 10 employees, he pays them $10k a year and he earns $100k a year - that's completely fair, as he's the owner he takes all the risk. so everyone finds ways to boost productivity or efficiency and profits go up 10%, the employees salaries should go up to $11k a year while the boss' goes up to $110k, but what usually happens is the boss keeps most of it for himself and the employees are lucky to get a few percent even though their hard work is worth a 10% increase. that's unequal.

    so why shouldn't employees take a pay cut when times are tough? well that's covered by the employer's higher salary. say the company runs well for 4 years then has an awful year and makes no money at all. after the 4 good years the employees have made $40k each, while the boss has made $400k. in the bad year the boss makes no money but still has to pay his employees their $10k each, so after 5 years they have $50k ea and he has $300k - still 6 times more. that's fair. what's not fair is if the boss fires an employee and makes the others work harder just so he can keep an extra $10k a year for himself. he's already making more than enough to cover his risks and still make many times more money than his employees.
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      Apr 5 2013: G’day Ben

      Yes this is a good point Ben as I see this a lot especially in small business where the employee’s wages are more than the employers drawings. In big business I think employee’s wages should be in line with company profits because if it wasn’t for the employees to start with there wouldn’t be a business or company as the employer wouldn’t have anyone to make him these profits on the other hand, in bad times, these employees should also accept to take a pay cut as well because one should always be thankful to the employers giving them a job in the first place.

      This isn’t socialism but it’s not capitalism either sort of a unison of both & it works.

      Love
      Mathew
      • Apr 6 2013: if the employees are making as much money as the employer then sure they should take a pay cut too, but where on earth does that happen? why should only the employees be thankful? shouldn't employers also be thankful? here in japan all employees get bonuses 2 or 3 times a year depending on company performance. only rewarding the directors is unheard of. this boosts the economy by ensuring that more people have more disposable income - more spending, more sales, more profits. this is the reason japan is the world's number 3 economy despite having zero natural resources. it's a capitalistic society but regulated to ensure that everyone gets their dues and employees aren't short-changed, which would hurt everyone in the long run.
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          Apr 6 2013: G'day Ben

          Yes the appreciation should go both way. In Australia there are a few companies that promote productivity in certain ways as you described here but it's few & far between.

          If we could all take note of what Japan has been doing capitalism would be a lot more viable & we wouldn't see rebellions like with Iceland as I can see this rebellion as being the tip of the iceberg if we don't do something right now.

          Love
          Mathew

          PS It's good to chat with someone who isn't one sided or subjective all the time towards a certain ism
  • Apr 10 2013: There will never be social equality while wealth is determined by how many assets or material possessions one owns, or how much money one has.

    Only when the human race has evolved to a point where we understand that the earth and it's resources are not for private ownership and money is consigned to the history books can equality prevail.
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    Apr 9 2013: I have read several but not all of the responses here, so my thoughts may have been covered. I'm not sure I understand the premise of the question. It sounds as if you are equating social equality with economic equality. Are they synonymous?

    Relative to the poor sharing in the risk, etc. it makes sense intuitively, however, there are very real challenges faced with trying to equalize these things. Money is tangible in that it can be counted and distributed. Terms like risk, hard work, and smart work work are subjective. Who decides and how is it decided that I am working "smart", or even capable of it?

    I've noticed that whenever folks discuss the merits and evils of government or monetary systems the negatives of one are invariably compared to the Utopian of another. Socialism as a concept may be a fine idea in it's Utopian state, but like any system, it's success depends on EVERYONE playing by the same rules. Systems that fail always fail because of corruption; someone is taking advantage of or exploiting rules that others are unable to utilize. Long bread lines come in many forms, but interestingly there are always people who never have to wait in them.

    There is one device common to every form of corruption that fosters separation and promotes privilege. Secrecy. Secrets of the few invariably undermine the "common good".
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    Apr 13 2013: Why are some equating social equality with financial equality? I am financially in the pay check to pay check group, yet I have a few friends who by all accounts are filth rich. They come to my house for the world famous spaghetti dinners I make, I go to their houses and sit in hot tubs the size of olympic pools. it's not about money, it's about friendship. You see, I don't hold their money against them. I am not envious of their wealth. They know I would never even hint that I would take any money from them. We value each other as people not bank balances.

    Yet, there are whole classes of society that are envious of other's success. They are plotting to gain some of it for themselves. Those rich people don't deserve all that they have. Maybe we can support a government policy that will take more from them. After all it is only fair, they have so much and we have so little.
    Of course, there are none of us in this conversation that would support that attitude....
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    Apr 7 2013: Wealth is a relative thing, isn't it? In theory, could everyone be wealthy? I don't think so. Wealth is a zero sum game I believe, in terms of economic theory. For some people to be wealthy, that means that many more people must (by definition) be not-wealthy - either middle class or poor or some variation.

    A number of studies have shown evidence supporting the position that we perceive ourselves as wealthy by comparing ourselves to those we see around us - and sadly, we often look at material possessions as a measure of wealth. In fact, from an economics perspective, the price/demand curve gets inverted for luxury goods and services - called Veblen Goods after the economist who first popularized this. That is, demand for luxury goods increases as price increases. I think the underlying reason for this is so that wealthy people can feel wealthy. I think this often buys a temporary kind of happiness that needs increasing wealth to feed an ever growing appetite. The lottery curse is an example of this in action I think.

    I also am reminded of how none of us takes this kind of material wealth with us when we die.

    I have seen contradictory evidence on whether wealth is correlated with life satisfaction or happiness. I think there is an implicit assumption in this question that it is better to be wealthy than not. After basic needs are taken care of, it takes exponentially larger sums of wealth to achieve greater life satisfaction according to some research I have seen.

    As far as whether it is fair for wealthy people to control more resources, that cuts against the creed that all humans are created equal. Perhaps their souls are created equal, but they are born into different socioeconomic classes with varying abilities and fortunes.

    The American Dream is the dream that anyone can make it rich. However this is a bit of a pyramid scheme, because not *everyone* can make it rich, by definition.
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    Apr 7 2013: I guess the consensus is that the poor should get a share of the wealth without a share of the risk. I guess it is easy and even politically correct to suggest that others give out their wealth be it earned or inherited. I wonder, do people who take this position feel superior or noble? For those who may hold to old moral values, it would seem to violate the 10th commandment. I guess I could say "Bill Gates, you have more money than God, shame on you for not giving it to the poor!"
    I could say that, but I won't feel right about it. It's not my money. Who am I to tell Bill how to spend his wealth. Now, if I heard that Bill made a big contribution to help some worthy cause, I would say "Good for Bill!"
    Maybe there should be a law. Wait a minute, there is a law....tax law. Government takes money from the wealthy...OK, it's progressive rate and gives it to the poor. But not before, the government takes a healthy skim off the top to help find more poor. Sometimes, I think they may even create poor to keep the flow going.
    But, as long as there are a group of those noble folks out there who call for more from the wealthy to help the poor, the government will continue to make it happen.
    • Apr 8 2013: "The poor should get a share of the wealth without a share of the risk" What exactly is the risk to which you refer? If you have nothing, or perhaps are in the position of having something, that something being the means (e.g. a minimum wage job) to barely sustain yourself and your family, what exactly would you suggest that they risk? By the way, Bill Gates DOES give millions and millions to charitable causes. Maybe he gets something that you don't. If you have a high school education, (and don't tell me you think that everyone is college material) try living on your wages from Walmart. First of all they will not give you a full time job so that they don't have to give you benefits. Are you aware that most employees of WalMart are paid so badly that they qualify for government assistance in the form of Medicaid and Food Stamps that cost hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars? Basically that means that your taxes and mine are subsidizing WalMart so that their stockholders can make lots of profit. There are only three choices here. Either something forces WalMart to treat their employees better, or we continue to use tax dollars to subsidize their profits, or we have a whole lot more people who are hungry, homeless, and sick, even though they are willing to work....Think of how well that worked in France before the revolution.
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    Apr 6 2013: Probably the hope is that if the poor get more resources, they will become more creative and contribute more, not just tread water. But it does rather feel like they don't change, they just tread water.

    Maybe the hope is that even if your own life is successful, if the people around you aren't happy, you won't be happy either. So if you give some money away, the people around you will be happy, and then you'll be happier. I think there is something to this.

    Maybe the idea is that it's not just the money you're giving away, the money symbolizes something else, that you're sharing yourself. That seems good.

    In general I'm no fan of socialism. I think the people who work the hardest should have the most. Yet I do think they should contribute to society as well. My favorite idea was George Bush, "compassionate conservatism."
  • mary T

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    Apr 5 2013: You say "...the poor must also then share in the risks/debts/expenses/hard work/smart work/saving money which the wealthy use to create economic wealth."
    I think the poor already do share in this. Consider Walmart, an important store in my community. Its employees are often part-time, they make enough to pay part of their expenses, but their pay is below the poverty level, they get no benefits, and they have to draw on food stamps and medical assistance benefits. In other words, the taxpayers support Walmart's employees, and Walmart makes a lot of money.In this region, there are other large companies who do the same thing. People often have two or three jobs, yet still are not paid enough to support their families -- so we, the taxpayers, support them. I have no Walmart stock, so this flows out of my pocket and benefits me not at all finanically. If Walmart paid its employees decent wages, and gave them health care benefits, Walmart would lose this public subsidy, and why should Walmart do that?
  • Apr 4 2013: We are not in the same frame. In America these rich people rarely do the active duty thing. If one defers to Edward Gibbons in The decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, They are not doing their fair part. They are the slackers.
    • Apr 4 2013: The rich aren't doing their fair part? The rich... aren't doing their fair part? I must not be reading that right.

      Aren't the rich the doctors who save our lives? The entrepreneurs who create and grow new markets? New technologies? Isn't it the rich who have allowed us to have the amenities today which we take for granted? Isn't it the rich who are the big think-tanks that promote our economy? Isn't it the rich who create our jobs, feed our families, buy us health insurance? Isn't it the rich who donate millions to NPOs to do all sorts of social good at home and abroad? Are these the slackers you were talking about? THEY... are not doing their fair part?

      Surely what you meant to say is it's the social-security leeches, the people who refuse to find employment because they'll lose their government benefits, the people who squander their money on themselves, on alcohol, and cigarettes. It's the people who push pencils around at work to 'earn' their measley income and then complain about not having more. It's the people who go into hospitals, expect people to fix their bodies, and then dodge their medical bills once discharged. It's the people who don't educate themselves, the people who don't take advantage of all of life's opportunities. The people who don't help others grow. Who don't give back. Surely you meant it's these who are not doing their fair part. These who are the slackers.

      If you disagree please let me know. Name calling the wealthy 'slackers' and claiming they 'don't do their fair part' seems absurd. I'd sincerely be curious though why I should think differently than that.
      • Apr 4 2013: Okay Joshua maybe I'm exagerating a little as everyone else does especially some of our politicians and business leaders. Remember among ants, bees. etc. different members of a hive have different duties. There is more to life than certain jobs and positions. America has some of the lowest taxes ever and some of the lowest responsibilities ever. Look if you've ever been in the armed forces of the United States you'll see very few people from elite families or universities. Most of the political complaints are about fairly light taxes and regulations. Look also at the recent Lester TED talk. If you read Paul Ryan's reading list except crazy Ann you'll wonder what he is talking about. Adam Smith tells us that man is evil and F. Hayek tells us our bigproblems are patent law and corporations. Okay I am not an expert on deadbeat poor people, but Victor Hugo wrote a book called Les Miserabe dealing with that.
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    Apr 3 2013: "The rich should give the poor their money" - socialism in nothing like that. The theory is that each one must work the average between what he wants and what he actually can and everyone have equal salaries because every job is equally important for the progress of the society. But it supposes honest, unselfish and even divine authority which is impossible because the human nature is too deceitful, selfish and even primitive.
    Not that capitalism is something better. In this system the money is at the same time the capital potential, the ultimate goal and the greatest might. This basis contributes to the spreading of corruption, exploitation, manipulation, emotional degradation e.t.c. One of the ugliest defects is that people are learned to consider those who are poorer also less cultured, intelligent and capable. The real alternative to capitalism is a working democracy aiming at the progress of creative education and true freedom. I am a bachelor of economics and when I say that capitalism is something completely different from democracy I know what I'm talking about.
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      Apr 3 2013: " because every job is equally important for the progress of the society"

      really? please explain me how important kim kardashian is to the society.
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        Apr 3 2013: Kim Kardashian is a product of capitalism not of socialism. I am not a socialist though. I tried to explain the socialist ideology in short. It is obvious that I don't defend it. Nor I defend capitalism - it is also depraved. True democracy is the only way but we are not there yet.
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        Apr 4 2013: I don't claim anything. I am just explaining the general theory of socialism and why it is not workable. My English is far from perfect but man - it seems to me that you definitely experience difficulties with your reading comprehension.
  • Apr 3 2013: True, so there's gotta be a line drawn somewhere, so I'd place less tax protection on people that inherited their money, IE didn't create any economic value while getting the money.

    But WHO gives the other rich their money? WE do. WE give the rich their money. They generally create some product we want, and a bunch of jobs to go with it. Every dollar we give a wealthy person gets turned into much more money, and for more people. I feel like the less wealthy are so because when they earn a dollar, it gets consumed by themselves for themselves: paying groceries, cable TV, consumer debt, cigarettes, alcohol, etc. A rich person (often) continually pours their earnings back into the company, back into R&D, back into job creation and scaling the business, back into creating products we want, to encourage us to give them more money. And we do. Am I wrong?

    So would you rather have a poor person spending money on himself? Or a government inefficiently funding misdirected projects? Or a wealthy person, even though he gets to keep some for himself, giving back the lion's share to creating economic value for others?

    You argue about our military defense, but that would be an absurd economic mistake to send our wealthy over to fight wars. They create way more value for way more people at home.
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    Apr 3 2013: Because politicians sell their soul to get elected.
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    Apr 17 2013: Bart, I got to admit that there are countries, a few in northern Europe, that seem to have a functional socialist government where all is well. It's a societal thing. some groups can do it and some can not.
    I have two problems with what is happening in the USA.
    One: even though our tax rate is relatively small, but what the federal government does get in revenues, it wastes so much. I can regale you with stories, some even true... from my 47 years of Federal Employment.
    Two: there is a social gathering of what I call academia elite who want to get actively involve in the political process to effect their ideas in the management of the federal government. They are smarter then everybody and know what we all need, but they tolerate democracy as a necessary evil. Once they can convert enough of the population to accept their wisdom, they can manage the country much better.
  • Apr 16 2013: Your smug responses are appreciated. And apparently you are selectively listening to what I say, which is your right. Stealing, which is the word we have chosen to describe what the rich have done to the poor, we could use any number of words or phrases, taken advantage of, worked the system, gamed, snookered, etc, they all essentially describe the way the rich have become rich in this county. (yes it is a grossly general statement, however accurate) When the laws written by those in power (rich) and designed to "steal" from the those not in power (blacks were considered 3/5 of a person, that cant possibly still have a economic impact in today's society right?), the equal opportunity argument goes out the window. After hundreds of years with this imbalance we are at a point in our history where the gap is widening at an alarming rate. Systems like welfare and SS, where we "steal" back some of this imbalance are the only thing keeping this country from another depression, riots, and every city becoming like Detroit. I dont like welfare, it rewards some people for doing nothing, but it is the only alternative right now. We need to have socialistic systems in place, without them millions die, and we are no longer the greatest country in the world. "Give me your tired, your poor. But only if they have a well paying job and have health insurance" pretty sure thats how it reads...
  • Apr 16 2013: Mike,
    I think that Stephan is right. Let me explain further about the conditions I laid out in the last part of my posting. The first condition is that the class of people, who contribute the building of the wealth of the nations mentioned there, are also less greedy, not like those in Greece and France, etc. so that the workers in these countries had less exhobitant pays, vacations or pensions, and they don't strike frequently for more and more increase in benefits. I read some report that the wage and, especially, benefits for similar workers in Germany are less than that in France. The second is even more important. By their choice (democratically) they choose the government that is capable of taking their taxes and distribute them reasonably equally to the poor, but not those who are, too lazy but capable to work.(but there are relatively few of those deadbeat in these countries anyway). If the government doesn't carry out its given responsibility, the contributing public could vote these bums out, because they are the contributors of the tax base who willingly want their taxes to be distributed to the poor and the unfortunate. In essence, in order to be successful, the majority of the contributors/workers/voters must be ethical and compassionate, but also are wise to select the good policy decision makers. You see, that's why I stated the the working ethics of the workers is the most important factor in the success of such "socialism" and "welfare" system.
    I also want to say that we probably don't have the same proportion of wise voters/workers here like them in Sweden, etc. You can assess the reason by yourself why it is so.
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      Apr 16 2013: Bart, I love the world you live in, unfortunately it isn't mine.
      Remember when Romney was criticized about the 47%? He never explained what he said. The guy had some good ideas, he may have been a financial wizard, but couldn't sell water in the desert. the 47% he was speaking of were the 47% who were buying into the notion that the federal government was the answer to all the problems our society faces. The 47% who buy into the idea, regardless of their economic status etc. I had to laugh when the ruckus came out about the poor. The 47% included Hollywood moguls and other well heeled "liberals".

      I am know that there are great social problems out there, Illness, poverty, poor education, etc. ad nauseum. I know that the federal government is wholly ill equipped to deal with these problems. That's a another entire conversation. I believe that there is a group of people in the US that believe that they are intellectually superior and they should be in charge of redistribution of wealth and resources to the people of the United States. They want the people to vote into power their cronies and supporters of these political philosophies.
      Once in control, they will be able to bring their idea of equality to all of America. They are 47% there.
  • Apr 15 2013: The free market is a must. However, to completely ignore the fact that we do not all start on equal footing will be our downfall. To pretend that slavery, discrimination, and other ugly trends from our past dont still have a huge impact on our economic distribution is plain ignorance. The wealth should go to those who work for it. However, if the money at the top (some obtained through the dark practices of the past) stays at the top, the "equal" part of opportunity will never happen. A form of socialism is needed to help balance the scales. It is impossible to start over and have everyone start on equal footing and have a true free market where anyone can become anything. Our current system has been carefully laid out by the rich for the rich.
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      Apr 15 2013: So socialism is the cleanser of bad practices of the past. So, how long does the cleansing go on? Bad actions of the last hundred years are in play and all those previous are forgiven? No, I am afraid that socialist will always be calling for cleansing of the harden hearts of those who have wealth and the demand to take retribution. There will never be a time that there will not be someone who deserves a share from others.
      Equal opportunity has been legal since 1776. What you speak of is not opportunity, but success, sharing, or gifting. Sad you are so excited about legal robbery, because that 's all the redistribution of wealth is by any other name. It's like "ripping off" insurance companies, they can afford it. But, It's STEALING!!!
      • Apr 15 2013: Insurance companies are exactly who need to be "robbed" to have the ability to make billions, and be federally insured? And guess who wrote the laws to protect the insurance companies? Congressmen who were "lobbied" by the insurance companies with money. You fail to see my point. I am not arguing for socialism. I am saying that the system we have is not free market any more. The system we have is run by the rich, for the rich, paid for on the backs of the middle class and poor. And you argue that the poor have the "equal" opportunity that everyone else has. We cant sit by and watch the rich get richer and say "oh well, that's capitalism, that's just the way it is". The gap gets wider everyday and we should be ok with this?
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          Apr 15 2013: So, you justify robbery of those that deserve it? I am not going to discuss your moral values, that's between you and your confessor. However, I will concede that there has been collusion between our elected officials and unscrupulous industrialist. That is a problem to be addressed. And it has nothing to do with socialist polices.
      • Apr 15 2013: Stealing from a thief is no more a moral issue than deciding wether or not to use violence to defend yourself from from a violent attacker. And I confess to no one but God, and he's probably on the side of the poor and abused. But at least we can agree that the system is set up for the rich. I am not promoting socialism, what I am saying is that we need some socialistic ideas, (welfare, social security, etc) in order to help balance out the broken system. and I am aware the welfare and SS are broken, and do not perform as desired, but to completely remove them without a better alternative would be a horrible mistake.
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          Apr 15 2013: Sorry, I am still having a problem getting past ' stealing is as justified as self defense"
          everything else you said lost meaning.....
          Let see ... if I violently attack you to steal your wallet we are morally equal when you are fighting back defending yourself....

          I got to work with that for a minute.
  • Apr 15 2013: It seems to me that we are having lot of confusion in the terminology of the word "socialism". Some of us say it is similar to communism, because the first use of the word socialism was by the Socialist Republic of Russia. some say it isn't, and communism is usually connected with dictatorship and corruption. However, corruption existed almost everywhere, especially those who hold power over other people. So the "exploitation of the workers by the capitalists" , strictly speaking, are also kind of corruption. Modern days, it is quite difficult to which country is in which political system. for example, China is ruled by the Communist Party, yet excluding the huge government operated businesses such as banks and stock exchanges and industries like the oil and mining companies, most other medium and small businesses are within the system of free-market capitalism. In fact they have a huge number of filthy rich too. And in addition, they also have quite many riches from corruption.
    It is true that that big businesses got away with low pay to their workers. Sometimes it could be very bad. But there are certain situation which is resulted from international competition. If Walmart pays low wage and benefits to its workers, because it can also open for business in Mexico and China, where the wage and benefits could be even lower than that in the U. S. That's why all those large companies , including Walmart, all outsourcing jobs to overseas, whether they are manufacturing or services business. And as long as the economy here in the U. S. or Europe are not recovering, the pay scales in the U. S. & EU are going to go down, as the wage level has been down or stagnant at best thru the past 5-6 years.
    In my opinion, the few successful examples of relatively even distribution in wealth to most people, rich or poor, such as Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland, are due to 3 characteristics in order of importance: good work ethics, democracy and good taxation and welfare system.
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      Apr 15 2013: You had me until you got to the point about even distribution of wealth. That is my my definition of Socialism.
      Where some "agency" distributes the society's wealth to the benefit of all. In theory it sounds so beneficial, so democratic, so... righteous. BUT, in practice, and we have so many examples of this practice; the agency, the distributors, if you will, who makes those decisions, some times arbitrarily, usually have the force of law or dictatorially to make those decisions.
      The enigma is in all these " agencies ", is that you are hard pressed to find a senior member who is not living the best life of the society that he is distributing the wealth...
      So, unless you can get Mother Teresa to do the wealth distribution, I am skeptical.
      • Apr 15 2013: Sorry, but where did he mention any agency "distributing" wealth. He simple mentioned that he thought those three countries had a healthy wealth distribution. There's a mountain of difference between saying that X is a healthy distribution of wealth, and saying that an agency has to create laws to forcefully redistribute wealth so that it looks like X.
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    Apr 14 2013: I have to believe that the answer lies in a balance. Everyone should have the opportunity of achieving what they consider success. Success is not guaranteed. We should insure the opportunity, like education.

    Public education today is providing too many students little help in gaining success. Head start has become a public daycare center. Public School Systems constantly ask for more funding to provide everything for every child except a better education it would seem.

    Illegal activities that hamper opportunity often go unpunished as demonstrated by swindling of major financial institutions in the past years.

    Government programs to help the poor "out" really help the poor "continue " giving opportunity mostly to government administrators of poverty programs. Since the War on Poverty began, the casualties numbers have grown significantly with no end in sight. Yet in every election, our nominees promise a swift and final victory. Then the elected tell us that they need more time and more taxes to solve the problem. In the mean time, they hire more government employees to serve the growing number of poor.
    Yet, we are hopefully inspired by great rhetoric from politicians that they have the solutions, only to be disappointed again and again.

    This list of failures to provide opportunities goes on for too long, but I hope my point is clear.
    • Apr 15 2013: Are you for equal outcome or equal opportunity?
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    Apr 14 2013: well, assuming the socialism you refer to is the same socialism enacted by governments around the world, the population does get to share in the labor debt and expenses without the benefit of the wealth. so my question to you is, is there an example of either socialism or capitalism that ever worked? seems to me they are two sides of the same coin and when you try to pit one against the other its like tearing a dollar in half then trying to spend one without the other. just my humble opinion...
  • Apr 14 2013: How are you defining risk in this context? Poor people die because of economic risk. They miss out on huge opportunities to better themselves because they are unable to garner the financial resources to match the intellectual or performance resources that offered the opportunity. To be clear, are you equating the financial risk of loss of belongings and/or status among the wealthy to loss of life and safety among the poor as a superior risk? Does it not therefore follow that you value the trade units of human interaction over human life?
  • Apr 13 2013: I believe if you do more to satisfy society or the demands of its people than you should be credited for that. Not everyone utilizes their potential so social equality is a fairy tale. "ASSUMING SOCIALISM IS RIGHT?" What on earth kind of garbage is that? pick up a history book of the 20th century and an Economics book. Theres only to polarities for a large civilization; either a Free Market or a Controlled market. Collectivized or controlled markets dont work for the same reason totalitarian governments dont work. You might be thinking socialism is in the middle but you would be wrong, America is currently in the middle of the spectrum. Socialism is pretty close to total control and will never work, period. sounds good on paper though.
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    Apr 10 2013: I think they deserve whatever they earn, and that the poor should not simply just "get" it. That's taking their earnings away without a second thought to how hard they have worked. That's like legal robbery. Would you want some one taking away your earnings?
    • Apr 15 2013: Considering many extremely wealthy people receive what they "earn" off of destroying public goods, many of them are actually the thieves in this situation. Deserving what you earn is idealistic hogwash in a complex global economy, as it completely ignores the inputs and outputs that are involved in nearly every large business that are currently not represented by any economic or legal entities. The current prices for fresh water and energy do not even begin to take into consideration the broad spectrum damage created by their use. Furthermore, while pollution in some cases is regulated, current economic realities make it obvious that many large corporations are putting millions at significant health risks without paying anything, or relatively anything, for doing so, without saying anything about the destruction of vast swaths of ecosystems that are deemed irrelevant because they supposedly don't impact the only species that we deem important, ourselves. The poor should not simply get it, but when those who have climbed the ladder and reached the plateau are taking every effort, whether intentional or not, to kick that ladder out from underneath anyone else who would attempt to climb it is extremely narcissistic and oblivious to the unavoidable interconnectedness of people and life on this planet. We are supposedly making progress as a species, but when economic mobility is going in the opposite direction, we have some pretty serious issues to address.
  • Apr 10 2013: Joshua,

    I think I understand your premise, but to me it seems to be rooted in some common misunderstandings.

    (1) The economic downturn (i.e. the recession) has actually served to increase the wealth of the top 5% of Americans. They have experienced less risk, not more. The top 1% now owns 25% of all wealth, and the top 5% collectively control 40% of all wealth. This means that the remaining 60% of all wealth are distributed to 95% of people. The downturn has pumped more wealth more rapidly into the upper echelon than before 2007. There is no clear explanation for how this is happening yet, as far as I know, but even people like Warren Buffet are deeply concerned by this trend.

    (2) The idea of wealth is closely tied, if not synonymous to the idea of economic risk. How many middle income families go bankrupt due to a hardship - medical expenses, natural disasters, etc - compared to wealthy families? Wealthy people have much larger safety nets, have access to better health care, access to better financial advice, receive more perks from financial institutions and vendors, and ... drum roll... consequently risk less of their wealth.

    (3) In addition, wealthy people tend to invest their "surplus" wealth - money they don't need to be able to retire, to be able to exist past their working years. This is not true of middle income people or below. Their investments ARE their retirement funds, their "rainy day" funds, and their emergency money. Most need their Social Security money to be able to eat and pay living expenses.

    Sorry Joshua, but I *really* think you're looking at the wrong end of the horse here.
  • Apr 7 2013: In this information age, we are all invited to re-think the existing dynamics you point up. Analysis of quality of life ought to be significant because as we all know although money is better than un money it will not in itself provide happiness.
    Being cracked up as a solvent however it enjoys attraction by those willing to sacrifice morality, sanity and physical well being in order to obtain it, These varying lengths people will go certainly are part of their cost and so part of such a debate.
    A scale then ought to apply where ones personal extensions exceed a wealth measure. How this happens I cannot even begin to say. The wealthiest country in the world and one of the most productive cannot claim a place anywhere near top when it comes to happiness.
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    Apr 7 2013: Are you aware that the majority of the top 1% inherited millions--for starters? money that went from generation to generation. A very high number of people, given such a head start, could also have amassed millions or billions. And the fact is, that most people do work hard, do incur risks, and debts.They just didn't have the opportunity to start with a million and invest that to get a return of 20, 30, or even 50 million. Working hard is not why just 400 people became billionaires while the remaining 7 billion people's "combined " is LESS than that of the 400 billionaires.
  • Apr 5 2013: I live in Michigan the car state and they just past right to work we're all expecting the first Union bust commercial food workers, Meijers workers getting less than minimum wage take home pay.
  • Apr 5 2013: A capital gains tax when Warren Buffet pays less taxes than his secretary you know somethings wrong. The questions not always Capitalism or Socialism there's also how Japan and Germany are corporations are consulted on everything first. In Germany it's Siemens and their high speed rail connects the nations. Korea it's the chaebol and the people showed their anger with them last election.
    I guess it's a whole different if symbiotic elite watch House of Cards. You know the Chinese it may be as many billionaires as we have people. Who knows how many the Saudi have or how that works? How do people feel about Cecil Rhodes does the Westerner have debts he incurred there? Where ever possible local is best adding an indoor farmer green market to my city early mid-summer. Capitalism is changing the meaning of Communism will change as China and Vietnam, maybe Hugo Chavez successor decide Communism will change. The whole issue of Cuba and the mouth of the gulf of Mexico, huge. The Chinese are going to kill us on rare earth elements. They going to change the game.
    I imagine the guy who posted this is well off. A lot of money out their right now invested that's nice. The Fed look'n pretty up beat. Don't worry the Catholics will give you soup. I think there's a lot of fortunes that are going to be made and lost relatively quickly and those few government workers with a regular pension will remain a force to reckon with. I guess where I stand if your making your money in a renewable manner, not living on the margin, you know not running sweat shops home are abroad, a banana republic somewhere good for you and hopefully your as idealistic as Elon Musk from Tesla look him up his talk the moderator's good looks at him funny when he talks solar.
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    Apr 4 2013: G’day fellow TEDers

    If we say capitalism is the best system we have at this point we won’t look for something better, capitalism is all about sending every country & every individual in these countries in to debt but to whom? Multinational capitalists of course to whom we will be answerable to until days end, capitalism seems to have no moral boundaries which is very sad indeed & only serves the minority.

    Love
    Mathew
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    Apr 4 2013: It is not "Their money" rather is is money over which they have stewardship. It is the money that the political economy chooses to allow them to be responsible for. This is just machanics. BTW it's the same for the working poor that have money removed from each and every pay check. So the question is built upon a false assumption.