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What are some realistic and creative ways to reduce wealth inequality?

I am a a third year student completing a degree in Social Work in Hamilton, New Zealand. I am currently doing a paper on Social and Community Development where I have to consider a topic of interest and then form a plan based on a theoretical perspective to eliminate or reduce a social issue.

My chosen topic is: Then impact of wealth inequality on social cohesion within New Zealand.

I would love to hear some creative and realistic thoughts around reducing this social issue which is a rapidly increasing, world wide issue. If anyone is well versed around topics such as this, stating your political ideology/perspective/basis of your ideas would be a great help so that I am able to further research the good idea's!

The primary focus will be on reducing wealth inequality as by doing this, social cohesion will increase. Despite this, I do hope to develop a small scale plan to increase social cohesion as well to strengthen the assignment.

Thanks heaps in advance :)

  • May 25 2013: In every capitalist society there are those who create wealth - pretty much everybody - and those who amass wealth, just a very few. This is not, as you may think, really a problem. It's the next step that is a problem; the passing on of great wealth, by those who amass it, to their chosen heirs. These are that class of people who neither create wealth nor amass it; it just comes to them as an accident of birth.

    I suggest that we can change this. I think that when everyone dies his wealth ought to be put into a common pool. That pool then ought to be shared up equally among all the children born during the same period of time when the death of its original owners took place. This can be done every 3 to 5 years.

    Since the vast majority of wealth is held in the form of shares of corporations, let it stay as such. Let it earn its usual dividends and let this wealth be held in trust for the children until they reach the age of 20. At that time every child will get his "birthright inheritance" as a member of that society, and be fully able to educate or train himself in any field that is of interest to him instead of educating/training himself to earn top dollar as a wage slave. His birthright will ensure sufficient funds for him to do as he wishes without fear of being unable to care for himself properly.

    Those who wish to pursue amassing of wealth can do so with the blessing of the society. They can enjoy that wealth to the fullest until they die. Then it returns to the society that created it. It gets put back in circulation to be used by all of the members of the society instead of just the elite few.

    This would result in everyone being benefited by the wealth created by his forebears as well as having the opportunity to do as he wishes with his life - including amassing great wealth if he so chooses. But he won't have a head start at that. He'll have to compete on a level playing field.

    It seems to me that this system would result in much greater wealth parity.
    • May 26 2013: Great idea!
    • May 26 2013: The big problem with this is it's a violation of freedom. The wealth accumulator has a right to control their own wealth (if it was obtained ethically) and give it to whomever they please, even if they express this desire prior to their death in the form of a will. So, no. To me, the above is posthumous theft.
      • May 26 2013: .
        You conveniently ignore the fact that "the accumulator" of wealth does not, by mere accumulation, contribute to the well-being of the society - just to the well-being of himself.

        Every member of a society plays a role in creating the wealth of a society. Some play one role while others play another. Those with the talent to accumulate the wealth created by a society also play a valuable role - at least, it's as valuable as those who consume product without producing it. But my product is of no use to me if it is sitting in my warehouse. Without consumers, I'll soon be out of business.

        It is obvious therefore that any wealth that is "accumulated" is wealth that has been created by the whole society. Upon the death of the accumulator that wealth ought to be shared among the progeny of those who created it in preference to it falling into the hands of a lucky few, usually his own non-contributing progeny.

        This has nothing at all to do with the accumulator having "the right" to do with his fortune what he pleases. Does he have the right to use his wealth, created by the other members of his society, to harm the very people who created both the wealth and his opportunity to accumulate it? Did the Boston bombers then have "the right" to purchase the ingredients of their bombs and to make use of them as they saw fit, no matter who it harmed? Your philosophy, sir, has some serious flaws.
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          May 27 2013: ROFL................biggest load of crock I've come across this week!

          Q1. Why does any wealth accumulator owe anymore to his society than the legitimate taxes the Govt of the day has imposed?

          Q2. Where is it written that a wealth accumulator should/must/has to feel guilty if he just considers the 'well being of himself? ...... Because lets be totally honest here........that's what your really alluding to.

          Q3. Further, fact of the matter is not ALL wealth is created by the 'whole society' as you would like us to believe.Or claim it is obvious, is I suggest pure squat. What is a fact and totally obvious is that some in society create no wealth and just feed off society. Who's fault is that besides their own or do you believe the world/society owes them or you a living/anything? And if so why?

          On the one hand you state............'Upon the death of the accumulator that wealth ought to be shared among the progeny of those who created it in preference to it falling into the hands of a lucky few, usually his own non-contributing progeny.' and in the same breath you state this..............'This has nothing at all to do with the accumulator having "the right" to do with his fortune what he pleases.'

          Suggest if you were totally honest you would concede that's exactly where your at...........your a looter looking at using a dishonest argument to loot somebody elses possessions.

          Suggest your pithy points about use of wealth to harm and the Boston bombers are just stupid emotive red herrings that have squat to do with the right to possess and use ones accumulated wealth within the legitimate constraints of society.
          Suggest your philosophy is based on jealousy and envy and you want to benefit from somebody elses endeavors of risk and intellectual property.

          Last time I looked the number of millionaires was increasing 'daily'.........Whats holding you back?

        • Bob S

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          May 27 2013: @bladerunner:
          Q: “Why does any wealth accumulator owe anymore to his society than the legitimate taxes the Govt of the day has imposed?”

          Because the Government of the day has been bought by the wealth accumulators, and as a result, the taxes on wealth imposed by this government are nowhere near legitimate.

          “Q2. Where is it written that a wealth accumulator should/must/has to feel guilty if he just considers the 'well being of himself?”

          In the Bible!
      • Bob S

        • +1
        May 27 2013: @RayGivler: There is no absolute freedom. Just like I am not free to drive my car on the wrong side of the street because it would endanger other people’s lives, a small minority should not be free to hoard wealth in a way that prevents the majority from living a decent life. The Earth has limited resources. As long as wealth (money) gives you control over these finite resources, there must be limits on how much wealth an individual (or a family) can hoard.
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          May 28 2013: Hi Bob...........RE:

          Q: “Why does any wealth accumulator owe anymore to his society than the legitimate taxes the Govt of the day has imposed?”

          Because the Government of the day has been bought by the wealth accumulators, and as a result, the taxes on wealth imposed by this government are nowhere near legitimate.

          “Q2. Where is it written that a wealth accumulator should/must/has to feel guilty if he just considers the 'well being of himself?”

          In the Bible!

          Re your A1................and perchance you would be the legitimate arbitrator of what deems as 'legitimate'???

          Re your A2..............Suggest the Bible has been far from a success story since its creation by man and over its many years on the planet, it can take little credit for making the planet 'heavenly' and its adherents/believers and administrators of the 'Faith' have over that time h been guilty of many a crime against humanity. Amen.
        • May 28 2013: .
          Blade Runner,
          You must be an accountant; your need for lists is showing ;)

          1- Thank you for your kind compliment.

          2- Come, come now sir, those "questions" are at the core of predatory greed's fundamental philosophy. Which does not, so far as I know, prevent them from being, "un-emotive, objective and direct to the crux of the matter questions."

          3- Of course you owe the duly levied taxes. But you also owe your whole society for providing you with the means to accumulate wealth. On top of which, you owe future generations, whether directly your progeny or not, the same opportunity that you had. To me that means doing my best to leave this world a better place for future generations than I found it.

          4- True enough but certainly not limited to greed-capitalist economies.

          5- Typical supply-side argument. Customers must do a great deal more than "deem fit" a product/service offered; they must have the ability to buy. No money = no sales, no matter how much the product is wanted.

          6- I doubt that any one thing is totally responsible for the financial fitness of everyone in a society.

          That said, it becomes apparent that one of the jobs of the social system is to broadly determine what the population requires by way of income for them to fulfil the role of consumer. It is to the advantage of the producer to know that his potential customers at least have the funds necessary to buy his product. It is likewise to the advantage of the individual to have the funds necessary to meet his requirements in life.

          I have never understood why supply-siders cannot see this point. Since things like off-shoring jobs, increasing population, and automation are reducing "jobs" it behooves us to begin to consider other means of ensuring that the population has an adequate income. It's time to begin separation proceedings (if not divorce) between employment and income. A basic income must be assured. Above that? Well sir, that's what competitive capitalism is for.
      • May 27 2013: .
        Blade Runner,
        To respond to your last paragraph first: I made millionaire the first time in 1989; the second time was in 2004 (Yeah, I pushed it the first time and got handed my head).

        OK - Back to the top: (A great collection of predatory greed-capitalist questions!)

        The taxes imposed by the govt of the day reflects the need of that govt for money. It has nothing to do with what one owes society. As a member of a society, one gets a number of benefits; not least of which is both a market for one's goods/services and a work force which actually does the work which creates the wealth that the "accumulator" accumulates. Plus a safe social environment in which to start and operate a business; no small consideration!

        I grow weary of explaining to the half-aware proponents of supply side economics that production serves no purpose without its equivalent rate of consumption. Goods piling up in a warehouse and services not made use of, are not wealth producing. Production does NOT stand alone. It NEEDS consumption. Only when the production/consumption equation is relatively balanced is wealth available for accumulation.

        This means that the society which, not only creates an opportunity for producers to produce, but also provides a market for what is produced has a vital stake in the outcome of that production. It MUST be able to consume the production. It is NOT a matter of some non-producers "getting the same" as the producers. It is a matter of making sure that consumers have the wherewithal to consume those goods and services that create the profits the accumulator accumulates.

        You can see now that, far from it being detrimental for non-producers to have an income, it is in fact necessary for all members of a society to be able to consume the goods and services produced by those engaged in that production half of the equation in order for the producers to make a profit.

        So yes, ensuring the financial health of all IS necessary for the good of the producers.
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          May 28 2013: If that are true then why is the economy on it's ass? Benny has been workin real hard to make sure there is plenty of cash for all.
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          May 28 2013: Hi Larry............

          Let me take your reply one para at a time for ease of reference...

          para1. Congrats and good on you for venturing and risking.

          para2. Come now Larry, three questions is far from a great collection in anybodies book.:)
          As for being 'predatory greed-capitalist questions', I disagree and contend they are
          un-emotive, objective and direct to the crux of the matter questions.

          para3. Re: 'The taxes imposed by the govt of the day reflects the need of that govt for money. It has nothing to do with what one owes society.' ......suggest that still amounts to the Govt of the day being the controller/representative of the said society which in turn makes a determination that if you are an income earner in that society, you owe your society x$ in taxes.

          para4. Suggest consumer markets can not be 'relatively balanced' (as you put it) by any known means to produce predetermined economic outcomes and the continium of the never ending boom-bust cycles attest to that. Business folk/entrepreneurs make decisions/take risks on what they believe the consumer will buy. Not all end up winners.

          para5. Suggest the existence of a society/people/customers has the potential to create a market only if the potential customers deem it fit to buy the products.........having a product does not guarantee sales.

          para6. No producer would not argue that the more potential consumers there are, the more chance he has to sell, but as to who is responsible for the 'financial health' of all of the consumers on the planet or how many consumers there should be on the planet is when the arguments start to get emotive.

    • May 27 2013: Laree wanted a creative approach, and you certainly provided one. I love it!
      • May 28 2013: .
        I'm impressed by your comments here and would like to correspond with you by e-mail. Do you have a blog page or URL site where I can send you a private message containing my e-mail address?.......Larry
    • Bob S

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      May 28 2013: Larry,
      Your proposal seems to be similar to the guaranteed basic income described here

      I am curious to know how you envision that unpleasant, hard, or dangerous work (e.g. working in a coal mine, picking lettuce for 10 hours in 100-degree weather, collecting garbage, or mowing my lawn) would get done. Under capitalism, this work is typically done by people who don’t have any other option for making living. Who would do these jobs and why would they do them if everyone received their birthright inheritance?
      • May 28 2013: .
        Bob S,
        Are you saying that slavery (i.e. coercing people to do work they otherwise wouldn't do) is alive and well in our society? If so.... I wholeheartedly agree. And yes, I think that my suggested system would do away with that financial coercion. But I must point out that EVERY possible solution to the problem of great income disparity also lessens or eliminates such coercion.

        I doubt very much that my birthright inheritance scheme would provide people with much more than a decent standard of living. Most people have a great desire for more - much more!

        So there you have a lot of people wanting more, for which they need to earn money.... and you have jobs available which need doing. No problem so far.

        In our present system the need for an income is so great that the mine owners can get away with paying as little as possible - someone is always needful enough to take the job.

        In my system the mine owners simply could not treat their workers like that. People will not be starved into taking dangerous/unpleasant work for anything less than very good remuneration, proper safety measures, and respectful treatment. And all without unions! Think how labor relations will change!

        I'd suggest to you that once employers understand that they MUST treat their employees with fairness and respect, they'll learn to do so. Or find a way to do without employees. And if they do that, and increase profits, they'll up the value of their company's shares and thus enrich the whole society whose basic income is derived from corporate shares.

        You may begin to see that a great many of society's present day ills will actually be converted into plusses for the members of the society that operates on Citizens' Capitalism instead of predatory, greed-capitalism.

        That the playing field is levelled will enhance the ability of capitalism to provide the "good life" rather than destroy life for so many as it does now.

        The only good capitalism is fair capitalism.
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    May 25 2013: 1. Nobody should ever be allowed to determine their own salary or bonus. It would be better if both shareholders and employees could have a say in top incomes. Why employees, because the top incomes tend to forget they can only do the big stuff, through the podium created by all others, including their private nanny.
    2. Use scientific research and agree upon its findings, we convincingly know big bonuses don't work (wasn't that a TED talk?) and apparently above 10 million people lose scruples and ethics. This is damaging their decision making and our society. Lobby the government about this, create a viral protest. 10 million is enough for everyone to live out their lives very comfortably.
    3. Create new values and make them hip. Old value looked at differently: the top is lonely. The palaces of the rich are not palaces of wealth, but the exorbitant hummers of human traffic, estranged from life. New values could include: celebrate heroes for most contributing to society (not like Bill Gates first overcharge billions and than giving a bit away), created the most difference for people in need. Push the press to portray the most magical lives, rather than the financial most successful: performed at Carnagy Hall, helped children in Indian slums and walked 4000 miles to raise awareness for wounded veterans. And most of all put these new heroes on stage at TED!
    4. Support swarm intelligence. Show at TED how banks fall if they lose the trust of the masses. And that this trust is not based on spin doctoring and marketing, but of a general feeling that organizations are really of service or not.
    5. Support the Green revolution. If everything is replaced with healthy, conscious sustainable buildings and products than there will be work for millions.
    6. Answer at TED this question: How can it be we have enough work to do, enough food and houses for everyone and still so many don't have work or a house or enough to eat? What rules need to be changed to fill the gap?
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    May 21 2013: how do we know that inequality is a social issue? it is alarming how few and how weak are the reasonings put forward in favor of inequality being a problem. most people just think it is. some felt the need to go a little more deep, and they dug up some quasi-statistics that not only stink, but does not prove the point either. yet, we just wave a hand, and continue with the assumption that inequality is not only a problem, but one of the biggest, if not the biggest problem of our time. we go so far that many people analyze its roots in the human psyche in detail, and looking for a "solution".

    so please tell me, if we have a hundred men, all having one sack of potato, or we have a hundred men, 99 having one sack of potato, and one having a thousand sacks of potato, how is the latter any worse than the former?

    usual replies:
    1, because it grants him power ... how exactly?
    2, because it makes people envious ... sure, so work on that instead, because it is wrong.
    3, some research indicates life quality dropping ... it is hard to take such studies seriously, but okay, how? why don't we work on the mechanism?
    4, unfair ... how exactly? what if the rich person does not do anything immoral, just makes good decisions? how is success unfair?

    the best way to increase social cohesion is peer-to-peer business. if my fellow man is my business partner, his success is my success. his ideas make my life better through better and cheaper goods. his wellbeing is important to me, because he provides some good for me. division of labor makes us a huge cooperative collective in which everyone can find his place, and everyone can contribute and improve.
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      May 21 2013: I suppose what I would argue is that they should all be given equal opportunity.
      It greatly depends how this one man gained his "potatoes".
      "it's who you know not what you know"
      Considering your situation very rarely happens. That not all are (in-fact) given equal opportunity.
      That one man who owns the potatoes would have had an advantage over all the others, which the others might not have been able to gain through sheer hard work.
      However it is worth mentioning that you do raise an interesting point about how we compare scenarios. :-)
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        May 21 2013: the single greatest counter to this who vs what issue is the free market. if people are making decisions about their own property and time, and the stake is their own wellbeing, they tend to maximize efficiency. efficiency does not allow favoring friends. as an entrepreneur, you want the best employees, the best contractors and the best products from the market. an entrepreneur favoring his friends will lose in the competition.

        the man who owns the potatoes does not have advantage, as he does not have anything else. he is the potato farmer or farm owner, which means he needs to trade potatoes with people having chickens, computers, cars, etc. or time. people having nothing but time are called employees. and their time (multiplied by knowledge) is just as valuable on the market as cars, potatoes or anything.
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          May 21 2013: The farmer who has the most potatoes doesn't have an advantage?
          He can live longer on the potatoes he got alone, and increase his material well-being. Considering he can eat more potatoes, while the others may have to ration their potatoes.
          Consider this :
          The man who gained the most potatoes worked hard, yet he just got a good harvest.
          While all his friends who worked equally hard, didn't get a good harvest.
          Is that fair?
          Interesting how my story has no mention of Creativity or intelligence...
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        May 21 2013: how come then, that not the potato farmers, but for example software developers have higher living standards? you certainly can't eat a software, they should die in hunger. but it is not what happens. what happens is that people receive according to their contribution. if you help more people to be a little more satisfied, you get more in return. this is how a modern market economy works.

        good harvests and other natural phenomena are outside of the realm of fairness. one man gets sick, another does not. one man is smart, the other is not. one man is strong, the other is not. one man has an idea, the other does not. we can't level the playfield. all we can do is to gain knowledge and technology and build capital to combat the hardships nature puts on us. technology, knowledge and capital grows in freedom.
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          May 21 2013: Now that's a different story. A completely different story.
          Regarding software, I do agree with you (in terms of "eating software"). However there software in turn may be "lucky". However I don't know enough about computer sciences to comment, or coding for that matter.

          "other natural phenomena are outside of the realm of fairness"
          From that logic I could claim all the economics was unfair. Considering there may be genes which make you more prone to work harder, or if intelligent was mostly genetic. And intelligence is required to do well in business.
          Then you could argue that the whole world we have created is unfair.

          Hasn't your first point now become slightly redundant? :P
          Considering you yourself have said :
          "how is success unfair?"
          Then you go onto to say :
          "one man gets sick, another does not. one man is smart, the other is not. one man is strong, the other is not. one man has an idea, the other does not. we can't level the playfield."
          Isn't this a inconsistency in your own logic?
          Or have I just misunderstood?

          So I ask you what is the purpose of all this "technology, knowledge and capital"?
          To be happy? I think I remember discussing this matter with you before, yet material gain doesn't guarantee happiness.
          Watch "Dan Gilbert: The surprising science of happiness" :

          "if you help more people to be a little more satisfied, you get more in return."
          So basically reciprocity? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reciprocity_(social_psychology)
          I view we should help people, not out of self-interest, because it is the right thing to do.

          On a side note you may enjoy watching "Michael Norton: How to buy happiness" :
          On the matter of how spending money on other people, and charities, can increase happiness more than spending it on yourself.
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        May 21 2013: here is that part: "if intelligent was mostly genetic. And intelligence is required to do well in business.
        Then you could argue that the whole world we have created is unfair."

        we did not create genes. genes are natural. god given, if you will. so we did not create this unfairness. we got this, and have to live with it. we have to make the maximum out of it.

        i don't buy any of these studies. c'mon, money does not make you happy, get real. but even if it was true, it still would not make sense to redistribute it. worthless things are worthless even if redistributed.
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          May 21 2013: However we don't do a great job of making it fairer?
          Do we?
          So now you have admitted that some success isn't fair (to me anyway).
          "money does not make you happy"
          What do you mean by this?
          That an increase in material gain (the things money can buy) doesn't make you happy?
          "it still would not make sense to redistribute it"
          Yes it would. To make other people happy. :-)
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        May 21 2013: i don't think we have to make it fairer. i don't know if it is better or not, i don't even know if we can measure if it is. but even if it would be better, i think we should focus on making life better in general and not fairer.
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          May 21 2013: Ah!
          So now you admit the economic system isn't fair.
          Then why did you say " how is success unfair?"
          "i think we should focus on making life better in general and not fairer."
          By making life fairer you can make life better.
          And better for whom?
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        May 21 2013: there is unfairness, but it does not come from inequality. it comes from nature. if nature would not give us any unfairness, and we had inequality, it would be perfectly fair. it would be a result of work.

        in a real world, inequality comes from two sources, the randomness of nature is compounded with work and effort.

        that said, it does not logically follow that we need to counter natural unfairness. it is a choice, and it needs further consideration if it is a good idea or not. but it is certainly a bad idea to force that decision on others against their will.
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          May 21 2013: "it does not logically follow that we need to counter natural unfairness"
          I believe we should. For it the right thing to do.
          Considering many have the potential to do amazingly under the right circumstances.
          And we (humans) can shape these circumstances to increase maximal good. Which thus encourages fairness.

          So are you basically saying that because nature gives us unfairness and inequality we should embrace it?
          This seems extremely cruel to me.
          To me it is like saying that if someone is born with a disability, then we should let that person fend for themselves, and slowly die. Rather than trying to find the cure for their troubles. All due to it "not logically follow that we need to counter natural unfairness".

          " it is certainly a bad idea to force that decision on others against their will"
          I agree. However you could argue it would be a "bad idea" to (ironically) force democracy on people. Is this a "bad idea"? (This point is quite hard to put into words...)

          Regards, :D
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          May 22 2013: I really wish that you could explain that to our president.
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      May 21 2013: Hmm, You have some very good points! I would have to argue that human's tend to go too far with control when it is granted.
      I dare say that any human having too much of one thing while others struggle to manage the limits they have been given is a very unbalanced situation. Along with this, the more quantity one has, the more they tend to want. The less a human has, their behavior is more appreciative and realistic towards their situation. So let's talk a little about control and consumption.
      Reduce the amount of control and consumption one is given, and your wealth of inequality will decrease. People might be a little bit level headed than being blinded by their ego perception.
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        May 21 2013: "is a very unbalanced situatio"

        now you have introduced a new term "balanced". without definition, this is too vague.

        " the more quantity one has, the more they tend to want"

        i disagree. or rather, i agree only in additional terms. if i don't have bread, i want a bread badly. if i have one bread, i probably still want another bread, but not as badly. this is nothing but the law of diminishing returns. we humans tend to always want more, but i refuse to see that as a failure, only in extreme situations. what we need is to put a price tag on everything. if you give something for free, people will want infinite amount of it. if you assign a correct price, the demand will fall to the appropriate level.
        • May 21 2013: is it true to say they would want an infinite amount of of it? You can scale the traits of human nature up to its vanishing point but I wonder if the conditions were correct if it wouldn't stabilise somewhere more acceptable. Its not the having of the potatoes thats the issue as much as the hoarding of them.

          Apple for example are apparently sitting on £95billion in cash reserves. Good luck to them, they are an incredibly creative company in terms of their ability to make products people want and their ability to make them want them. And they have done that where I have not, so why should I demand to spend their money?

          But that money isn't working very hard, so rather than take it off them cant we take a portion of the interest and feed it to the government to provide health care or social housing or education? In a UK current account thats around 3billion a year. It would make not one stroke of difference to the Apples or whoever to take 1% and give the other 2% to put to good use – and thats assuming basic investment levels. The same goes for UHNW individuals. They should be allowed to earn their money, as much as they can, and continue to do good work employing others. But to absorb more and more of it just by virtue of having it seems perverse to me. It could make a huge and real difference.
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        May 21 2013: it is a level of genius to put forward an argument that is false, but if it would be true, it still would be false.

        i clearly was talking about a free market, and freely cooperating individuals. lobbyists and politicians are outside of what i called "peer-to-peer" business. they are oppressive forces.

        but even if we accept the existence of politicians and oppression as part of a free market, we can still observe an impressive progress in the living standards of the poorest men. in 1800, average(!) income in the US was like 1500-2000 dollars per year. today, below 11000 or so you are on foodstamps. and this does not include free use of roads and police and other state granted services. it is very hard to say that even the poorest US citizens "do not have potato".
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        May 21 2013: if we are looking for a solution, it automatically means that the current situation is not satisfactory. so nonexistence is not really a counterargument to a proposed solution, is it? so far, formal logic.

        continue with basic math and common sense. if at a certain time, the average is 1500, how can you redistribute it to get an average 50000. please note the use of words here. i said average, and not common or median. that is, the total divided by the number of people.

        a free market is very much realistic. we don't even need to go to exotic places. 1800, united states. taxes were in the few percent range. tariffs were minimal. regulations were negligible compared to today's levels. and the annual growth was a stable 4%. entire populations were lifted from poverty. the science is solid: welfare and economic freedom goes hand in hand. and nothing else worked so far.
        • May 27 2013: It is true the average cannot be changed by redistribution. However, the median can be changed. if 99 people have 1 dollar and 1 has 9901 dollars the median is 1 dollar and the average is 100 dollars. If 100 people share 10000 dollars equally the median and average is 100.

          The problem is the word fair. What is fair? How do you take the 9801 from one person fairly?
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        May 21 2013: yeah, and the nonexistence of women's suffrage in 1900 is a proof that it never worked ... jeez. heard of a term "progress"?

        my numbers does not apply? those were actual real data.

        please tell me how statement A, "taxes were a few percent" and statement B, "taxes existed" contradict each other? formal logic? no?

        what i support is rather irrelevant. what is relevant is my actual point. it is either true or false.
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        May 21 2013: you moved the goalpost midgame, which is a known fallacy, and a dishonest method in a debate.

        what difference does it make from what? fyi it is from gapminder.org

        i don't have to show that the free market exists. my point is that it is good, therefore we should implement it. if it existed, we would not have to implement it, would we? duh.
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        May 21 2013: "If you claim something would be good you need evidence that it has been successful."

        before i make something, i need to try it? well, let me just say, it does not take a degree in engineering to see why this does not work.

        i understand the free market. i have studied it. i have read 12 books on it, and listened to over 50 ours of audio lectures. and it pretty much covered all the falsehoods you put on the table about it. arguing them is less entertaining, more like routine. an entire bookstore could be filled with the works that explain how regulations and the "welfare state" cause the problems you list.
      • May 21 2013: So whats your solution?.. communism? you choose to focus your tunnel vision on those rich people who do bad. You are aware that the rate of moral/social deviance is only like 5% in every society so you think rich people somehow defy that fact and are demons. Dont you think there are a lot of good rich people who use their wealth and influence to do good? how many American billionaires are philanthropists? Wasnt the American founding fathers all rich aristocrats who had everything to loose by signing the Declaration of Independence? why did they do that? wasnt it rich European Aristocrats who ultimately ended the strangle hold the church had in Europe and brought about the Enlightenment under the threat of death?.. tell me where is the common mans role in capitalism? There are many smug Liberals whos oppose capitalism ideologically but still have Chase Bank accounts and wear designer clothes from companies whos products are made in sweat shops. what ever happened to voting with your money and not giving money to companies whos policies you disagree with.. walmarts only rich because of its consumer base period.
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        May 21 2013: "Your potato model shows you do not understand the complexities of an economy."

        it can also show that you don't understand the argument.
      • May 21 2013: "It is the power that wealth provides that leads to wealth inequality as the wealthy can use that wealth to buy out all competition, control resources, control government, create laws and even own armies to stop any rebellion that might threaten their wealth."--- if thats not Marxist rhetoric than i dont know what is?

        "Yes we have improved the lives of poor people but the system that does that is a system of taxes, minimum wages and social welfare programs designed to reduce wealth disparity so your argument supports the reduction of wealth disparity!"---- Thats not only socialist anti-capitalist think it also is completely false. Free-markets work when they are free, taxation deincentivizes workers and bussineses alike. The competition and incentive provides by free enterprise systems is what continually increase humanities standard of living. Whos going to put all the time and effort engineering new drugs and technologies if there wasnt a pay off and a competitor who motivates drive to innovate faster... The facts are there every country who has established a certain level of legitimacy in government and economics has a standard of living and average anual income rate that is perpetually increasing.
      • May 21 2013: What do you mean by regulations? Obviously markets need to be policed to an extent and need minor top down implementation but that entirely different than subsidies and fiats. You probably have not a single idea of economics do you? First of all, arguing the side of justice, its your regulations that make American style economics unfair. Your regulators tax and regulate which stifles growth of small business while simaltaneously implementing huge corporate welfare policies benifitng large enterprises. Oh and if you knew the politics behind subsidies and corporate welfare you would see that the legislators pass these laws under the pretense of helping the average joe because our genious regulators believe that companies like Wal-mart not only employ many Americans but also provide goods and servces so they shouldnt pay their fair share.. How do you expect somebody to strive for success as an entrepaneur when big companies have unfair legal advantages and are getting taxed 25% of their profits while Wal-marts and jewels are getting taxed like 5%. ALso whos going to be motivated to do something with their lives if they can just collect welfare checks, section 8, and food stamps and not have to do anything. Dont you think the welfare state and the corporate welfare state are like government being a bad parent and enabling their childs bad behavior?
      • May 21 2013: you think im enforcing your point but thats because you have not a clue about encomics, period. You probably couldnt give me one example of a government subsidy and how its used theoretically to protect
        a market and its consumer? You cant because you are politically, legally, and economically illiterate. You cant even grasp my point without distorting it. My point; Legislation passed under the pretense of helping
        ends up hurting because the very policies have loop holes and stipulations that favor big enterprises.. for example the housing market between 78 and 02. Your a big environmental guy and i bet you agree with the governments percieved attempts to maintain agriculture and create green jobs while totally ignoring who is really benefiting..
      • May 21 2013: You have selective perception or something because your not comprehending. subsidies are not FREE market but actually the opposite and yes although some subsidies are lobbyed for on a complete financial basis many if not most are lobbyed for on an ideological basis. Governments in many cases intervene with the best intention but it backfires so Get Government out of the way and let the markets be free of restraint.. thats what im saying.. Government shouldnt have a finger on the dial hence keep markets free.. policing a markets a differant story, two different things. Supply and demand should dictate the markets and not government subsidies which create artificial variables. Why do you think im arguing against free markets when im arguing clearly against government interventionism?
      • May 21 2013: Actually the market can and does regulate itself thats the very argument for capitalism as put by Smith. I think markets should be 95% free with 5% regulation and that regulation pertains to trust and monopolies as you put.
      • May 21 2013: wow.. i thought we were getting on the same page, guess not. It was regulation that cause the economic collape.. if banks and mortgage companies didnt get leverage from government authorized fiats the situation would never have existed to manifest the vulture capitalism which ensued. 52%of all mortgages given out between 78 and 02 where under government subsidation. what that means is those lenders would never have loaned the money had government not backed these lenders with fake assetts and derivatives. The banking system itself is centralized by fiats and had a lot to do with the collapse and thats not the free market thats government protection and legislative authority. China is a perfect example of governmentism. Its the chinese government which works with corporations to legally bind its people into working in sweat shops.

        Companies can self regulate if left alone its when government steps in when it create conditions which are unnatural to the system and are manipulated. Does coca-cola only follow safety guidelines because the law forces it to or do you think its in their best interest to satisfy its consumer so therefore not poisoning them. The same principle is in effect everywhere unless government steps in a protects and manipulates the organic system which is capitalism.
      • May 21 2013: Banks and mortgage companies are corporation but are backed up by FIATS and therefore have special authorities and privileges given by government. First of all banks are so far away from a free-market enterprise in many ways for many reasons i dont feel is necessary to get into however with mortgage companies, banks where protected and given authority by government to do many deeds very contradictery to your typical free-market model. If banks and mortgage companies where left to be just corporations and not government arms than yes they would self regulate like other companies.
      • May 22 2013: corporations may want government to do their bidding but unless the government actually does than no evil happens. Lobbying would end too if the governments just stepped to the side, but they dont, and like i said before governments call upon corporations to do their bidding as well. Having a law to protect society from corporate wrongdoings is totally different than a government determining the factors that make up a market. so like i said governments should police a market but not have their butts in the way that markets operates unless its interfering with the rights of another person or enterprise.
      • May 22 2013: i think i agree with you totally. Lobbying is a huge problem and definitely undermines the principle of democracy. Governments have a monopoly on force and true constitutionalism and Libertarianism is about limiting the way government utilizes that force. The danger is that the government deploys that force under the pretense of doing good and its absolutely doing harm. And like you pointed out when money making enterprises are in allegiance with the consolidator of force then there is real trouble.
  • May 31 2013: We must get back to a foundation built on morality and empathy, i.e. try to get our "needs" met vs our "wants". But once greed grabs hold, it is a never ending escalation of basic immorality. Then revolution and starting over again becomes necessary...either that or mass extinction of the greedy human race.
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      May 31 2013: Curious here M-L Reifschneider ..............like to bench mark MORALITY and EMPATHY for us please?

      Likewise NEEDS and WANTS?

      And while your at it, also what deems greed as apposed to higher attainment/achievement?

      Just asking............
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    May 29 2013: This is a subject that comes up on a regular basis with my husband, John and I. John works a 45 hour per week job, only to have his paycheck chopped up with taxes. We live in a very tiny home, with a high rate interest only mortgage, (so we'll never own it) and drive a14 year old vehicle. We also have extensive medical bills as I have had a very long history of major illnesses. But we have clean clothes and food in the fridge. Now, John is a proud and calm person, while I am angry and I'll tell you why. We have a neighbor, names Rachel. Rachel has three illegitimate children and lives in a larger house than ours, only she is on section 8 housing and pays nothing for her home. She also receives food stamps, so her food is free. Rachel does this for a very simple reason, because she can! So why does my husband pay taxes, a mortgage and all of the rest of our living expenses and we get no help from anyone? He says that I should be proud and happy, but I am not. There is so much inequity and that is on this very small level. Now, I'll tell you about my brother. He just purchased a 10 miilion dollar plus mansion, but our mother still has a car payment. So, my point here is, if you can't even have equity on the same block or in the same family, what makes you think you will ever see it in the world?
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      May 29 2013: Well Amy.............suggest your undermentioned.....

      "We have a neighbor, names Rachel. Rachel has three illegitimate children and lives in a larger house than ours, only she is on section 8 housing and pays nothing for her home. She also receives food stamps, so her food is free. Rachel does this for a very simple reason, because she can!"

      Is a classic case of where the socialists rob John & Amy to pay/support Rachel!
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      May 30 2013: Amy I hear you and of course it is outrageous.

      You cannot control Rachel, if you try you are going to lose. Just see things as they are and just control what you can control.

      Otherwise your illnesses are just going to get worse.
    • May 30 2013: Amy, I agree with both Pat and BR on this - completely outrageous, and proof that the system is faulty. What you experience, happens here too.
      Sounds like you are caught between two extreme examples of financial flukes - Rachel thinks she has a good thing going, but her lack of integrity and authenticity by taking advantage of the system will eventually be her downfall. Your brother can justify taking a huge financial risk in investing in material possessions and status, and convince himself his decisions have nothing to do with the welfare of your mother. I can't help but think, this decision will become his downfall as well.
      I am impressed with your integrity and strength. Although you're aware of the inequity around you, you say "we have clean clothes and food in the fridge". What more do you really need?? Your health. The inequity, as atrocious as it is, will always be there. You have the misfortune to see it on a daily basis, which makes it harder to filter out. It seems to me, your priorities are clear - your loving husband, your health and your home. Your 'poor' brother, and 'poor' Rachel, may never get to know the importance of these simple things that you have a firm grasp on, because they are too wrapped up in status and deceit.
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    May 28 2013: It all starts with education. As early as possible we need to be teaching children to want a fulfilling life where they can have a profession that is contributing to their community, not teaching them to crave a large paycheck. I read a quote recently on the Earth Charter Initiative website that said, "We must realize that when basic needs have been met, human development is primarily about being more, not having more."

    Its hard to say what realistic we can do to something that is already so devastating to our global village, but if we get back to basics, we can set a better example for future generations.
  • May 28 2013: so long as there are differences in ability, grit, drive, there will be wealth inequalities. All we can hope for is reasonable equal opportunity. today, equal opportunity is not always there.
  • May 26 2013: The most realistic way to reduce wealth inequality is a free-market economy - historical evidence throughout the world supports this view. The US does not have a free-market; it has cronyism - corporate favors doled about by government and laws that keep poor business leaders in their jobs and poorly run businesses operating. Read Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt (free .pdf online). Go to the learnliberty website and learn about concepts like individual rights, property rights, and legal plunder.

    The impact of wealth inequality is also proportional to a society's belief that wealth inequality is bad. As long as there is inequality in demand for various marketable skills, there were be wealth inequality (currently, wealth is not proportional to marketable skills because of the aforementioned government intervention). So, basically, the current distribution is bad and unethical, but even an ethical distribution would result in fast inequality in something of a bell curve/normal distribution. Unfortunately, many unskilled people don't think, "Gee, I had an opportunity for 12 years of public education but blew it. I can't read. I can't even make change. My skills are in the bottom 0.1%, so I really can't expect a job." Instead, they think, "Wow, this is unfair. That guy has $1 million and I have nothing. Someone should take from him and give to me."

    Those who think wealth inequality is bad are already free to organize and redistribute their own wealth and talent to try to help others to obtain more (for instance, by encouraging reading among disadvantaged youth). However, many are not satisfied with that and are sucked down the immoral path of voting for those who establish policies of stealing wealth from some citizens and giving it to others - that's an inherent violation of liberty and property rights (assuming the wealth was obtained ethically and not through cronyism).
    • May 28 2013: If you study history, you will find that the primary inherrent downfall of capitalism is that ultimately "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer". Then there is revolution and we start all over again with a society whose foundation is built on moral principles, as ours once was.
  • May 25 2013: Men do not come together as societies in order to enrich a few and enslave the rest. We create societies which we expect to benefit all members of that society. Societies have two main components: a social system and an economic system.

    It is the job of the social system to determine the goals of the society.

    It is the job of the economic system to provide the financial means by which the society may achieve those goals.

    Once that is understood we can examine things much more easily. Our social system is responsible for laying out the goals of the society. Do we want everyone fed, housed, clothed, healthy, content, educated, unthreatened by lack of income, etc.?

    It is the goal of a capitalist economic system to amass as much wealth BY ANY MEANS POSSIBLE as it can. An economic system is like fire. It just does what it does; it has no conscience; it has no brain. It MUST be kept under strict control if it is to serve us well. At present it is out of control. It has forced economic rules upon the social system that make it easier for it to operate as rapaciously as it does. This is the tail wagging the dog. It's upside down. The social system must regain control of this raging fire and put it to work serving social goals for the good of the whole society.

    The obvious inequality of wealth has to be brought to an end. A very serious redistribution of wealth is indicated and necessary. A great many people know this already. The chief alternate to our present system seems to be a communal society where all is shared by means of ownership of the wealth a society creates being vested in "the people" by way of its governing bodies.

    I think this stinks. Ownership of this sort is NOT ownership by the people. We've seen this tried and it didn't work. People want their fair share of the wealth of the society as their own personal property; to do with as they wish. To increase if they wish and to spend as they wish.

    My next comment will state how I think this can be done
    • May 26 2013: No. Above is the common confusion of capitalism with cronyism. Cronyism is government promoting monopolies and allowing companies to poison water, air, and people. Allowing fraud. Breaking contracts and investment rules for political payoffs and all that.

      Capitalism requires free markets, which we don't have - especially in areas like healthcare and education. Please folks, educate yourselves in the concepts of classical liberalism.
      • May 26 2013: .
        Absolutely wrong. You confuse capitalism with a social system. It ain't no such animal. It is an economic system and, as such, it needs to be strictly and completely controlled by the social system that makes use of it.

        Allowing "Free Market" (laissez faire) capitalism to operate with no controls is like setting your house alight to keep warm. That fire will indeed keep you warm - too damn warm for your liking in just a few minutes! You don't set an economic system free to ravage your society for the same reason your don't set fire free to ravage your home; both will seek to consume everything in sight.

        Both fire and capitalism are great - but very dangerous - tools. Both offer the potential of great good to us. But both, if they obtain mastery of us, will destroy us in a twinkling.

        A society DOES NOT exist for the mere purpose of feeding an economic system. The Libertarian, Ayn Randian notion that it does - or ought to - is what brought down the USSR. It disturbs me to see that same notion, now applied to capitalism, being promoted.

        Human societies exist to serve their human members; NOT to serve an economic system.

        Economic systems exist to serve human societies. Economic systems have no existence outside of a society. And that, my dear sir, is why the social system of a society absolutely MUST get, and keep, full control of the economic system.
  • May 22 2013: I can think of two approaches: 1) Teach sciences to the poor and 2) Teach social sciences to the rich.
    Poor will be able to earn and hopefully, rich would be able to understand their moral responsibilities towards society.
    In addition, as someone has pointed out, if non-homogeneous distribution of money is not actually a problem, the approach I have suggested will have no impact on it as no monetary policy related changes are involved.
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    May 21 2013: Have a serious re-think of what it really is that makes us 'wealthy'.

    Then we can work on 'inequality'. We may even find that inequality disappears all by itself without any prompting, if wealth had a different identity.
  • May 21 2013: education does help:)
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      May 21 2013: I would add to that teaching the importance/benefit of Self-Reliance.
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      May 21 2013: Well said Edulvor.

      Education is the key. It might not make you rich but it sure does make you a better person. Ithink education should be first cure to all diseases.
  • May 21 2013: A couple thoughts:

    1) On empowering the poor: Since New Zealand operates on the capitalist model, I would say that one route to narrowing the gap between rich and poor may be to empower the poor by creating programs to encourage small scale entrepreneurship. This may entail setting up a micro-loan system (Look up Muhummad Yunus, Grameen, Kiva) , educating people about basic business principles, and community building through social programs that would aim at reducing/eliminating the negative effects of poverty (drugs, crime) that would interfere with the healthy growth of a business community.

    2) Thoughts on social cohesion: Poverty carries a stigma. It is a vicious circle: poverty, crime, drugs, health problems, social and psychological problems....stigma (not necessarily in that order...I'm wingin' it!). To achieve greater social cohesion, I would think that this stigma would have to be overcome. One way would be to involve successful business people in the process. Another way would be to have community programs (sports, health, spiritual) such as you may find in a community center (at least here in Canada).

    You may also want to look up Gabor Mate. He is famous in Vancouver (at least) for his ideas on the subject.

    Hope this helped. Good luck:) KM
  • Delta M

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    May 20 2013: Remove wealth as a monetary concept (cash, gold, diamonds, etc) and reimagine wealth as the stuff of life: clean water, nutrition, safety, scientific knowledge.

    One can accumulate monetary items such as gold, and the more one acquires the more one is capable of acquiring, but why is gold valuable? What does gold actually benefit the individual who owns it, except that it is given a worth, a value by someone else who themselves wishes to own it?

    You can not drink gold, nor eat it, nor protect yourself with it, so as a basis of wealth, it is baffling and useless. Gold is only that which people wish to have, it has no other use as wealth apart from being desired. Now, gold has functional uses, especially in electronics, but as a basis of wealth it is really quite useless.

    Remove the concept of ownership of wealth and instead let people work towards the idea that what benefits them will also benefit those around them, and what benefits those around them benefits themselves as well. Then it is not the idea of gaining wealth for yourself, which its by nature is depriving another of that same wealth, but that gaining wealth by extension gives wealth to others. By creating access to clean water, all can benefit. By helping to create bountiful harvests of food, all can benefit. By working towards a safer society for yourself, you create a safer society for everyone - all can benefit. By exploring and creating knowledge, all can benefit.

    If we could see these things as the true wealth, as things which truly give us all a better life, then perhaps the petty fight over gold could at last be relegated to the past as humanity's struggle out of the 'dark ages' into a truly "civilized" culture.

    Imagine a world in which the scientist and the student, the farmer and the well-driller, are the celebrities that everyone looks up to, the ones who create real wealth for all to enjoy.

    Is this likely? Probably not. But it is possible. If we could only do away with 'money'.
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    May 20 2013: It is said that there is sufficient on earth for every one's needs but not for the greed.

    Greed is a quality we humans posses in plenty.
    We hoard for the so called benefit of our future and our future generations

    . Actually we are going to leave a depleted earth for our future generation.
  • Jun 3 2013: Hi Laree,
    Thanks for starting this conversation.
    Someone may have posted on this below, but have you looked into the Living Wage movement in New Zealand? Details at www.livingwagenz.org.nz.
    This movement calculates a 'living wage', which reflects the cost for a worker to live with dignity and participate in society. They then invite employers (public and private) to pay this living wage to all direct employees and contractors. It's making tracks in Hamilton!
    A very practical way towards alleviating income inequality, and generating discussion around fair wage levels.
    Good luck with your assignment!
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    Jun 3 2013: I think it would help if it was ingrained in children at a young age that greed is bad and that empathy, caring, and kindness are good. Also, higher taxes could be imposed on the wealthy.
  • Jun 1 2013: "Needs" = basic needs to sustain life, i.e. food, clothing, shelter, basic education, as much healthcare as is affordable to the average human, love, companionship...without harming the environment.
    "Wants" = a bigger house, car, vacations, "adornments", excess money beyond what's basically "earned". Spas, jewelry, hair dressers and unnecessary items to sustain life.
    "Greed" the selfish pursuit of taking more than what one's labor is worth. I'e. politicians who spend most of their energy on re-election campaigns, business owners and CEO's who sit behind a desk basically just shuffling papers, "juggling" figures and making unsubstantiated judgement calls, athletes and stars" being paid outrageous sums for "playing" etc.
    "higher achievement" should be based on harder and increased work benefitting society, not only himself. I have nothing against compensating for higher achievement, that is a lofty goal. But spending one's time trying to figure out ways to juggle accounting figures, spams etc. is NOT higher achievement.
    "Morality" is doing the right things, even when not seen. It is based on what is deemed "good" standards by society at large..
    "Empathy" is the capacity of putting oneself in another's shoes, as much as is possible. It is the capacity of understanding another person's views, even if we should then decide they are wrong.
    Hope this answers your questions? It is a layman's opinions, not based on dictionary definitions.
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    May 31 2013: Whens the last time a scientist was president? Or a philosopher? or anyone that wasn't a soulless money addict? When people become more important than profits the problem will solve itself but for now its just going to get worse. IN MY OPINION!
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      May 31 2013: atheist lesbian electric engineer for president!
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        Jun 1 2013: Theres your candidate "Blade Runner". And she'd probably run the country better than anyone you've ever laid eyes on.
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          Jun 2 2013: You wouldn't like to enlighten us with the specifics/facts of that claim?

          Nope? Didn't think so! :)
      • Jun 1 2013: President doesn't matter...he's only a pawn of Big Business just like Congress! Democracy has lost its moral foundation as that's been surpassed by selfish materialism...the only eventual downfall of democracy.
        My point is that I don't think changing the man makes any difference; it's the whole system which has become corrupted.
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          Jun 1 2013: I completely agree with that M-L but if we put someone in that wasn't as easily corrupted and manipulated I think it would make a slight improvement at the least.
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      May 31 2013: Jah.......And a Scientist or philosopher would make a better President because?

      Oh btw , what type of scientist or philosopher.........do you have in mind?
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        Jun 1 2013: Some things you just gotta take on faith LOL why not give it a try? Where do most politicians come from? Most are born with a silver spoon and molded into what they are going to be from day 1. Their a product of their surroundings. Their surroundings are not the same as 99% of other peoples surroundings though. Give someone with some humbleness and experience in the REAL world a shot and see what happens. Some one that knows poverty and knows how we are slacking on the people from first hand experience. We live in two different worlds. There's a rich world and there's a poor world. Things that affect me, for instance, most likely wouldn't affect Bill Gates in the slightest. I don't know though, I'm no genius or political mastermind, i just think we should change it up since this obviously isn't going to well. Everything except war has been on the decline since WW2.
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          Jun 2 2013: What faith would that be?

          Suggest your a product of half 'baked ideas' and many misconceptions.

          Suggest your reliance on the word 'most' is lacking in critical thinking and knowledge of the facts.............ie Obama's silver spoon was held by? and likewise your idea that poverty is some sort 'better' yardstick for leadership is laughable at best.

          Suggest you do some more history.
  • May 31 2013: I have two suggestions.
    a) Read a book called "The Trouble with Billionaires" by Linda McQuade
    b) Check out a website/culture called The Zeitgeist Movement

    You won't regret it.
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      May 31 2013: yeah! venus project comment of the week! i started to miss it.
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        Jun 1 2013: I'm so happy i see this idea going around this site! Awesome!
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        Jun 2 2013: Ah the Venus project........

        Had a look at a youtube vid ......


        Yep..... heard the talk, saw sketches, saw the 'elitism' of the concept and pondered on who the inhabitants might be..........................

        Noticed no pics of the human service drones required to build, service and maintain such complexes ...........................And remembered once again..............'Some pigs are more equal than others!' :)
  • May 31 2013: Laree,

    I will suggest choosing a different topic for your paper/project or doing a bit of research into your premises. If your premise is that social cohesion will increase if wealth inequality (totally different than wealth inequity) any decent professor would likely mark your paper "FAIL" without reading further. Now IF you can cite to authoritative proof that this premise is factual, go for it and just remember to properly cite. No good research starts without being able to support its assumptions. We stand on the shoulders of those before us. We don't just imagine ourselves in some place of our own creation and go from there. At least not if you are doing science.

    If you read Wilkinson, you may think it is a done deal. But Wilkinson's work is not good science in my mind and al lot more like wishful thinking and trying to advocate for some utopia by cloaking personal musings in a "scientific paper". Be sure to read Muntaner and Lynch, Lynch and Kaplan and several others that slice him to bits - and with good or at least better, science.

    The roots of the problem you address go far further back into fundamental human nature. Greed existed many thousands of years before overpopulation. In a world where we eliminate the free market, greed manifests in climbing the ladder of leadership within the political construct that enforces the "equality". Think Soviet Union, Communist China before "Communist" became an empty label and Germany under National Socialism (yes, Hitler was a socialist and do you doubt that he had absolutely all of the "wealth" - read power?)

    What I would find infinitely more interesting would be research to discover if there is a difference between true poverty and perceived poverty. This planet STILL has millions living in true poverty where the means for an individual to rise above there birth status exist only through superhuman effort or unflinching brutality.
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      May 31 2013: Bill, I made the same recommendation to Laree early on that she research the relationship between wealth inequality and social cohesion rather than simply making it a premise. In fact, I provided links she might start with using Google Scholar.

      I had hoped she would report back.
  • May 31 2013: I just read the following report in the BBC News. But I believe that you could find more details in UN web pages:

    "UN urged to embrace 2030 goal on ending extreme poverty

    'Squandered opportunity'

    Among 12 measurable goals set out in the report are an end to child marriage and equal rights for women to open bank accounts and own property.
    The panel also recommends bringing together development and environmental agendas, with targets for reducing food waste, slowing deforestation and protecting ecosystems.
    It also stresses the need for countries to give citizens confidence in their governments by promoting the rule of law, free speech, transparency and cracking down on corruption. ….....
    "They get to grips with tackling the causes of poverty - weak institutions, corruption and a lack of basic freedoms - as well as setting out an ambitious vision of ending things like hunger, illiteracy and violence against women," he said. ...........
    "Billions of people risk being left behind by economic growth, and in a world of finite resources the wealthiest cannot continue to expect more and more without hurting the rest," said its senior policy advisor Katy Wright.
    Save The Children said it was up to all UN members to commit to these "world-changing and ambitious measures without watering them down or losing the focus of the report".
    The Millennium Development Goal for access to clean water has already been reached, but others on reducing poverty and improving access to education are unlikely to be met, with progress hampered by the global economic downturn and growing pressure from population increases. ..........."

    I do believe that wealth equality and social cohesion will never be achieved without the establishment of basic human rights and individual freedom in all the countries of the world.
  • May 28 2013: Gross inequity comes about when society's general morality is overcome by greed and selfishness. Society degrades to the point where it loses it's sense of compassion and empathy and becomes stupidly psychotic. I say stupidly because, in the process, the ruling plutocracy forgets that their very existence depends on the satisfaction and financial wherewithall of the majority and when they tax the majoirity ou of existence, they too will die. Democratization has to come from the ground up and cannot be dictated from above as in imposed Marxism, Communism etc. These are my thoughts after having studied all the major, various forms of government.
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    May 28 2013: This entire premise is to determine how best to rob Peter to pay Paul, without Paul complaining to much. On social grounds there is much said about inequality, wealth deserved, compensation levels, poverty, etc. Let's address the moral issue.
    Wait, there is no moral issue.
    There is no morality is setting up a system that takes from one and gives to another.
    All through history, there are cases of people with much giving to people who need more. It was referred to as charity and is attributed to a morality of character.
    Let's look at the recipient of such charity. Some would would not accept value not freely given. It's a moral issue.
    Others would take all they can get, it's called greed/ In fact, greed was such a prevailing flaw in human character, that it was noted in the laws of Moses, some 2500 years ago, No 10. "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods" or words to that effect.
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      May 28 2013: Come now Mike.............your starting to point to the crux of the matter and there's a whole load of folk out there that cant handle the truth and some will even withdraw into denial.

      You naughty, naughty person. :):)

      Keep up the good work!

  • May 28 2013: First and foremost, as an "independent", I feel it is essential that we get money out of politics. Being a politician used to be an honorable profession; at present in the US, being a politician is synonymous with being a greedy, selfish part of the ruling plutocracy. Our government is no longer a democracy where the average man is represented; it has been taken over by Wall Street. Campaign finance and tax reform are urgently needed; perhaps then the plutocracy will realise that they are our employees, not the other way around. No more tax "perks" for the wealthy.
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    May 28 2013: If there's a right answer, I'm sure it will come to the surface in the time available. Good luck!
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    May 27 2013: * basic income for everyone (i.e. give all citizens a monthly amount of money. Equaly)
    * negative tax scale
    * luxury weighted consumption tax
    * demand complete transparency of income once it exceeds 20 million a year. Any false gain of money will be severely punished
    * inflation/deflation: give everybody a new currency equally and let the old currency inflate very fast.

    * Actually: printing a lot of money and sharing it inversely to the people... might reset everything

    * re-introduction of the sabbatical year

    * agree to abolish heritage
    * go spartan
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      May 28 2013: Curious...would that be called a Brave New World, Big Brother or Police State?

      Is it soma time, any time soon...........the stress is building! :)
      • May 28 2013: .
        Blade Runner,
        I couldn't find a way to add my reply, to your recent comment, after that comment. It appears a few comments above my previous comment; the one to which you responded about 2 hours ago. Hope you can find it......Larry
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          May 28 2013: Hi Larry......................Nope..........not an accountant, just that I find this forums 'working system' is IMHO crap compared to IMHO the user friendly systems on some other forums that allow for quoting which makes for an easier continued reply and I found by numbering items herein its easier to reference and keep track. So................

          1. Give credit where credit is due.

          2. Firstly cut the 'Sir' crap, I'm not a knight. As for the rest, am I to assume charity does not begin at home for you?

          3.Suggest technically I owe zilch to society because as you stated earlier its my taxes to the state/society which enables the state/society to make available 'any benefits'!
          No taxes = No state/society = no benefits! I've paid my debt.
          And where is it written/deemed that one automatically owes something to the future especially as one had no say in being placed in the present?
          And whatever guilt or responsibility you carry/feel for the planet or anything else is your load/burden to carry.
          And I always get a chuckle when humans have the preordained arrogance to think they have on their departure left the planet a better place and others might contend that's only the case because they have departed. :)

          5.Suggest that begs the question: Are the suppliers especially the multinationals so stupid that they would allow their consumers to become 'no existent' ?

          6, Suggest society and everything else on this planet runs on the 'chaos principle'.

          And personally I don't have a problem with that because as I see it if everything was totally secure and neatly organised and down pat the planet would be stifling, non creative and as boring as bat sh*t and we would all be taking our soma at the daily prescribed time.

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          May 29 2013: "I am curious about the idea of not taxing income but taxing consumption instead"

          Well, the basic idea is that tax on labour seems unfair to me:
          1) you work: you get taxed (i.e. a penalty, punishment)
          2) you don't work: you get money (well, in European countries like Belgium, we do) , so you get rewarded.

          This seems so illogical to me.
          I do think that we need social support for the weak and the unfortunate, so I wouldn't giving people monetary support to live (not in luxury, but at least have sufficient to provide food and shelter).
          If you don't tax labor, you can't have fraud on that account, so you can save tax evasion remediation on that side (and use the people for other fraud like consumption tax fraud)
          If you tax consumption, you can apply different levels of taxation, depending on the pollution component (i.e. foodmiles and CO2 tax, health tax,... can be included), as well as a general tax component for government expenses. You can differentiate between healthy and unhealthy products and basic vs luxury products.

          If you, as a company think that the tax on your product is unfair (as the estimation is an approximation), you can try and prove your product is less polluting (e.g. part of recycling), healthy (vitamin content, clinical studies that prove it is healthy) or necessary (rice bread, water, internet,...) In which case the government adapts the tax rate of your product.

          As such, consumption might drop, but that is not a bad thing. We need to save our planet, and consumption does not make us happy. Nor is it a dogma in economics.

          As luxury products (yachts, jets, a second or expensive car) are taxed 200 or 300 percent, you can easily see that you can reduce inequality.

          &c &c.

          please note that I did not take everything into account, but if you have any objections to this theory, first think how you can solve some problems (by estimation, correction factors, adjustments). If you do find fundamental flaws in this paradigm, let me know
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        May 28 2013: They did ask for an opinion on wealth inequality, mr Blade Runner.

        That said, the connection between BNW, BB or a police state and what I wrote is quite far fetched, although I understand the hyperbole you are making.

        I am not saying that introducing alpha's and epsilons will create more equality. I'm not saying all power and money should go to a heavy structured and all seeing government. And I'm not saying police should survey everything for any kind of possible mischief and corruption they are up to.

        As for my opinion on reducing inequality: As numbers show: inequality-size is one of the best predictors of health, crime, hapinness,... &c, in moderate to high developed contries more than gdp (that hase a close to 0 correlation).
        This means that we do need to keep inequality within boundaries, while at the same time provide competition and forms of true meritocracy.
        I am a proponent of abolishing tax on income and having tax on consumption instead. If there is abundance, it might as well be shared, and if we are capitalizing our planet for the future, we do need to pay for it now, and not leave it to our children to be poor, sick and clean up the mess.

        I hope you see the differences with the novels and ideas you pointed out.
        • May 28 2013: .
          I am curious about the idea of not taxing income but taxing consumption instead.

          I know that those who have very low incomes do not pay income taxes on that pittance and are thus able to stretch our their dollars to better meet their needs. How would you enable those of low income to survive if their purchases are heavily taxed (I presume that such a tax as you advocate would be added to already existent sales taxes). Would you not also need to introduce a minimum wage that is about triple present minimum wages and that would increase as inflationary, and other, factors increased the cost of living?
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          May 28 2013: Well Chris..........don't know about your neck of the woods, but in mine we already have income tax, sales tax, GST (Goods & services tax) stamp duty on land and vehicle purchases just to mention a few and suggest that has not made any difference to inequality. in fact it. I suggest has just added to the inequality by creating a bigger division between those that can afford to buy and those that can't.

          As for the books I alluded to..............Suggest both Orwell and Huxley had a better insight into the human condition and where and what the 'state' had done to or for the masses both then and now, than you do.

          Suggest when you set out to rob Peter to give to Paul because of Pauls 'inadequacies' then you quickly find out that Peter is no longer interested in putting in the extra to support Pauls thieving.
      • May 28 2013: .
        Blade Runner,
        Well sir, it's been fun but it has become all to clear that you did not come to this discussion to put forward ideas that would help Laree to gain some understanding of how to reduce the income gap.

        I find it interesting that you, with your enthusiasm for a society based upon a particularly nasty form of predatory greed-capitalism, have either succeeded in doing very well for yourself or have hopes to do so.

        I, who have also done very well for myself, advocate a society based upon the concept that the proper purpose of a society is to serve the needs of its members instead of serving the needs of its economic system. Whatever that economic system might be.

        We share a liking for capitalism but in your form of it competition starts at the level of bare survival - cave-man style - and in mine competition starts after basic necessities are guaranteed by the society and prefers the competitors to start on a relatively level playing field.

        You feel no obligation (other than paying a few taxes) to the society that has, or will, provide you with whatever opportunities come your way. You take but only give back what is demanded of you by law.

        I suspect that you are a great deal younger than I and have yet to compare the reality of a dog-eat-dog society as compared to a combination co-operative / competitive society. You may not even have recognized that the model for the society that I advocate is very similar to the model of a corporation where the members must co-operate within the company for the company to be successful but yet they compete with each other for promotion within the company also.

        Co-operation and competition are not mutually exclusive.

        Cheers back at ya......L
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          May 28 2013: Ok Larry.............here we go again..............your:

          para1.Firstly I see you are still doing the 'Sir' bit and Chris has started with the 'Mr' bit.... curious are they in that context supposed to imply some sort of demeaning?

          Anyway, moving along and as for Laree..............I would have thought by now it would be plainly obvious to her (especially if she perchance has some historical knowledge of the planet) that wealth equality (which really equates to possessing more of something than the next person) is just a stupid pipe dream that barely makes passing dinner table talk for the realists who understand the motivators of the human psyche.

          para2. Firstly......suggest its not that I have an 'enthusiasm' for what you are labeling a ' particularly nasty form of predatory greed-capitalism', its that I'm a pragmatic realist and know a 'little' history and see the way of the world for what it actually really is..........there are winners and loosers.
          Ponder this....If there is a heaven, and if the believers of that heaven end up there, they, I suggest will quickly discover even heaven champions inequality. :):):)

          Further suggest my status of having or not having done well for my self or any plans to do well for myself have zilch to do with the concept of the topic.

          para3. Always found it interesting that some of the tribe, that after having feathered their nest decide they need to 'save the world' or label it as giving something back and others deem its just a cleansing of their guilts for feeling 'bad' because they have done better.

          Para 4, Suggest survival is at the root of it all and how much 'tinsel' you want to add to your tree of life depends on ones skills and concentrated efforts.

          para5. Suggest as they are only 'opportunities', not guarantees my taxes have paid for such because the rest is up to me.

          para6. Suggest wrong again! One more strike and your out! :)

          para7. Sure, if its beneficial to both parties.

    • May 29 2013: .
      I'm not sure that I can work this site very well yet so I hope this appears in the right place.

      First off, don't take anything I say to you as a personal attack. I try NEVER to attack any person who doesn't attack me. BUT... ideas are fair game!

      Your idea of a tax on consumption rather than on earnings is about as bad an idea as I can imagine. Let's look at a few facts.

      1- Low income earners spend pretty much 100% of their income in order to survive.

      2- High income earners spend only a fraction of their income for their survival.

      -- Your idea would mean that the high earners would pay only a very tiny fraction of their income on taxes while the low income earner would pay a much bigger percentage of his income on taxes. How do you see this as fair or helpful to reducing income disparity?

      3- The problem of income disparity is built into the socio/economic system that we happen to use.

      4- As a systemic problem it cannot be solved by band-aid solutions such as you propose.

      -- If you read over the comments that I've posted in this blog you'll see the beginnings of a systemic solution. It involves making certain changes to our entire system. The economic system that our society uses - predatory greed-capitalism - has gained the upper hand over our social system. It is busily re-organizing our social system into the kind of dog-eat-dog system that is so great for that form of capitalism.

      But the rules that make an economic system very successful do not make a social system successful. In fact they can destroy a social system. They are destroying ours.

      We need to empower our social system so that it controls the economic system and makes it work on our behalf. Instead of us working to enrich the economic system, it should work to enrich us.

      ALL of us work in the economic sector NOT just an elite few.

      In a properly organized society citizens should not need to pay any personal taxes; sales, income or otherwise. Only profitable corporations should.
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        May 30 2013: Thanks for the reply.
        I think it's good to attack ideas, especially if they are flawed. Your input is much appreciated...

        The problem of the lower incomes is solved if you provide a basic income for everyone... which means that if you don't work, you spend 100% on survival, and every penny you earn above it, will be completely spendable on extra's
        As for the very rich: there are still options to tax property or "resting money" or speculation &c,
        As luxury produce are heavily taxed, they will pay a lot (factor 3 or 10 if needed).

        On the other hand, people's wages should go up as well, as the total cost of an employee stays the same (and is untaxed).

        The social system is good in Belgium, so I can't share the same experience as you when it comes to dog-eat-dog mentality.

        taxing corporations seems a good idea. I guess you'll need a global government or import tax for multi-national organisations; as they will try and evade taxes
        • May 30 2013: Chris,
          Yes. Many people have recognized that if all people have a decent basic income then that solves a whole host of problems. The difficulty appears when the question of where that money is to come from arises.

          It has been suggested that the rich should be taxed heavily to pay for that since the survival of the rich would not be threatened by having a bit less money. But people like the idea of gaining wealth and don't want it drained away and given to others who don't gain it. I can understand that.

          My proposal allows anyone who cares to do so, to amass all the wealth they can. But there are some rules too. Since no wealth could be amassed (earned or not) without a whole society providing the means for that to be done, any wealth amassed should therefore benefit the society as well as the individual.

          Other systems pit society against the individual in a fight for that wealth. Mine says, let them amass it to their heat's content. Let them enjoy it for as long as they live. But when they die, let it return to the society which provided them the means to get that wealth so that the society can see a return equal to the opportunity it provided and thereby continue to offer that opportunity to others.

          Since about 80% of government employees and budgets now support huge number of people in need of assistance to survive, that would cease to exist when they own shares that provide them with a decent income. A drastic lessening of both the size of government and its cost to us. Taxes on business profits would meet government needs easily, so NO TAX on any kind of personal income would be necessary. Those trying to amass fortunes should LOVE that!

          Those who evade taxes can't profit from doing so. What can they do with what they save by doing that? If it goes into their own pocket, then, when they die it comes back to the society anyway. Let them cheat! Who cares? It all comes full circle back to the people no matter what the greedy do!
  • May 27 2013: It depends on which way you want to look at it. Either make the poor richer or make the rich poorer. If its making the poor richer, then things like free tertiary education, free health benefits and other encouragements of factors that cause higher wage. Look at some development economics from Duflo and other development economists (note: they try to understand how to make people living in poverty richer). They will have little to no effect in the short run, but will encourage greater developments in the long run. If looking at making the rich poorer, then a stricter progressive tax or something like that will do fine. Make people with over $100k pay 50% of their income or something (with the proposition of, "why the hell do you need so much money"). Disregard political trash and everything seems easier to handle.
    EDIT: If you are worried about budget deficits or whatever, they are just garbage political talk. A debt only means you value consumption now over consumption of tomorrow. It's just a matter of willingness of investing a big amount now or slowly investing it over a longer span and what to consume. The intensity of effects in the short run may deem to be different, but over the long run (which I assume you are considering) should have minimal effects.
    EDIT 2: Isn't this more of a economic topic? Like macroeconomic and microeconomic policies to solve an economic problem?
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    May 27 2013: I don't know if it's realistic, but:
    If the super-rich believed in something else than controlling their econonomic power and priviliges I think it would help a lot. If some of them started sharing their wealth, not taking part of charities, but really sharing their material and social wealth, from their heart. And if the ones who did that were individuals who the other of their group admired and wanted to be friends with.
    We all want to belong and we all mimic the people closest to us, mirror if you like that word better.
    There are a number of social theoretical models that talks about change of behaviour, if you want that kind of reinforcement for your argument...
    So a number of super-rich individuals could start, just enough to ignite that spark and keep a small flame of love and awareness burning...
    And we could all be transformed by that fire of love.
    That's my dream and many real things started as dreams...
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      May 27 2013: Realistic you ask...........................ponder this................

      'I always find it interesting how the solution is as simple as SOMEBODY ELSE pays for it!'
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        May 27 2013: Blade Runner- many poor persons pay for others riches, every day, not with money but with their lives. This is also someone else, who pays.
        That solution, to let them continue with that, might also look simple, because it does not require any change.
        I am not that poor, but really not that rich either. If my way of using material resources of this planet was more widespread in Europe and the US, a lot of material wealth would be freed for other things. All of us do not have to have children of our own. For example, me, my husband and many of our friends do not. We spend time with our nieces and nephews, with other family members and friends of all ages. I am not perfect, moral or a leader in any way. Just a fellow human being who suffers when I see other suffer.
        With a dream, that I think many share.
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          May 27 2013: Curious Anna..........these poor people you speak of that daily loose their lives as payment so that others have riches are exactly where and are they slaves perchance??

          Still curious....how would your usage of material resources determine an outcome of freeing up material wealth for other things and specifically what are these 'other things' you allude to?

          I thought material products were manufactured primarily because there was a market/demand for such and once there no longer is no demand, production ceases and a fair amount of items/resources are recycled these days.

          I also fail to see what relevance your comments about kids or lack of kids has to do with the topic of wealth inequality or are you perchance alluding to there being some inequality with those that have kids as opposed to those that don't.

          As for 'perfect, moral or being a leader'.................suggest they are all subjective.

          Dreamers dream!........................Doers do!....................And one doesn't have to imagine that!

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        May 28 2013: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contemporary_slavery

        Just open your eyes, your heart and your ears and take a good look around you. It is good to perceive before doing. Our brains need to dream or we go crazy.
        So look again: Who takes away your garbage? Who cleans the streets where you live? Who takes care of all those things that are dirty and dangerous and not that glamorous? Many times it is someone who is more or less forced to do so. We could share those chores...
        I had a very small cleaning business for nearly ten years, just me doing all the work.
        If all the cleaners of the world quit today, we would be in trouble.
        And guess what: I dreamed while cleaning!!!
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          May 28 2013: Suggest you failed to answer my question about your claims about folk dieing to enrich others.

          So I suggest you read my copy and paste from the Equality discussion on this forum..........and then dream some more................

          "My point is that we have a system in place that incorporates a whole spread of social strata or caste system which perform certain required tasks to keep the wheels of our society turning.

          Now if we educate everybody to their full potential how disruptive or beneficial is that going to be to society?

          How many rocket scientists do we need compared to toilet cleaners?

          But then again Time Traveler so kindly reminded us in one of his posts as I recall ....... 50% of the population are below average intelligence, so I am guessing we won't be running out of toilet cleaners anytime soon even though some folk herein feel everybody should be going home with the same size pay packet. :)"

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        May 28 2013: If you view your fellow human beings as pieces needed to keep the wheels turning and yourself ( it seems like, by your arrogance) as someone entitled to more than the majority of the human race, then I can understand your logic.

        It's just not very intelligent. While running my cleaning business I also volunteered, for free, in a meditationcenter. I did that because it allowed me to work the hours I wanted to work.
        I come from academic background. My grades have always been far above avarage. I just didn't make the traditional career. Because I refused to take part in the rat race, where everybody is cutting each others throats in order to climb socially and earn more money.
        I just don't see that it makes anyone happy.
        Through life I have had friends that have been both rich and poor. I have seen the insides of some places where very rich people move. It has not made me want become one of them.
        If existence would throw an enormous amount of money my way, I would try to find ways to use it in a creative way.
        Today the war industry, the drug industry and the trading of humans are a big part of our global economy. Many rich people are not aware of how their money helps destructive forces to stay in power. It is a fine balance, how to use your time and energy wisely, for the benefit both of yourself and others. And that needs more intelligence than creating a career other can be jealous of.
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          May 28 2013: Well Anna, take off your rose coloured glasses and you will see we are all a commodity in one form or another.
          And nope, not arrogance but the belief that what I have earned by my effort and intelligence remains mine (after having paid my deemed taxes) to do with as I deem without guilt or beholding to anothers moral code.
          You made your choices and when you claim...........'I just don't see that it makes anyone happy.', maybe it just gets down to different strokes for different folks.

          And as for 'creative'.............well that's even more subjective and obtuse methinks.

          And the world is what it is ....................

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        May 28 2013: You really seem very unhappy, the way you perceive the world seems very lonely and sad, to me.
        But I agree with you that different folks need and want different strokes. I just wonder what made you jump in to the conversations you have been posting in here. Do you get your strokes from this activity?
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          May 29 2013: Ah another unqualified, unemployed profiler looking for work.:)

          And you believe my few posts, gives you the insight to conclude that 'sad and lonely' is how I perceive the world..............................suggest its much more complex than that and btw this thread is not about our discussing our personal expectations or failures.

          But yes, I do like a discussion/debate amongst my other vices and if you the amateur profiler gets your jollies off, by coming to that conclusion, so be it.

          And at my point in life I have been told such activity stimulates the brain.:)

          So Anna profile for us whether the discussions herein are getting more stimulation than me or vice versa and why is such the case?