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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 :)

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  • May 21 2013: In my opinion, you could reduce this gap between the rich and the poor by getting the rich not to part with their hard-earned money, but with sharing their skills, almost like apprenticeships. For me, the wealth lies in what skills you have and specialised you are in a particular field. In theory, the more specialised you are, the higher the wage. In turn, the more you know, the greater the chance of getting a job and a highly paid one at that!
    If this imparting of knowledge from the rich to the poor were to exist, I believe that it would take away any prejudices that come with being rich or poor and would shrink the gap of inequality between the rich and the poor both in terms of wealth and socially.
    Hope this helps and good luck with the assignment!
    • May 21 2013: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation invests in education. This is just one way in which the rich are trying to share their skills.

      This may not be exactly what you had in mind, but it is worth mentioning.
    • May 27 2013: .
      Alexander,
      With all due respect sir, your comment is arrant nonsense.

      "The rich" to whom you refer, if you refer to "wealth" and not just "money," belong primarily to two groups. The first, and most wealthy are corporations. Corporations already have an abundance of "apprentices" - they're called MBAs. They're taught to make the corporations even more wealthy from the basis of a few $-billion. Lessons from them would apply to the average man creating a business about as much as learning to fly a kite applies to driving a car.

      The second are those who have inherited great wealth, usually in the form of shares in the corporations mentioned above. What, "apprenticeship" training is possible in the lucrative field of "inheriting," pray tell? I can assure you sir, that the instant it's offered, I'll be the first to sign up for that apprenticeship!

      These notions, encouraged by the wealthy and their minions, are intended to lead people to prepare themselves to be valuable wage-slaves. They have nothing of real value to offer to Mr. Joe Lunchpail.

      Even if we supposed that such apprenticeships could be established, how on earth do you propose that we "get" the rich to do so?
      • May 27 2013: Larry,
        Unfortunately I do not understand your stance in regards to providing a solution to reduce wealthy inequality.

        I believe if you approach this question on a more individualistic level, we see that corporations are made up of the rich / wealthy. And yes, I do agree that offering apprenticeships in that light might be seen as a form of 'paid slavery', however, I am sure that you would agree with me, that these apprenticeships offer people with little or no skills to acquire skills, which means later on down the line, they don't have to be 'paid slave'.

        I do also have to note that corporations are made from businesses, and businesses are made up of skilled individuals, therefore, I feel that such an outlook on corporations is quite pessimistic as, from what I understand, you have now linked skilled individuals which in my opinion can reduce wealth inequality (as the more skilled the individual, the higher the wage, therefore more likely to own assests) to organizations which takes advantage of low-skilled individuals, and keeps them at such a level.

        Well, a way of possibly implementing this model of the rich giving skills to the poor is to introduce tax benefits. But, however, do you think that people wouldn't help others who are in need? I am sure that many wealthy people in the world do have a heart and want to share there knowledge and skills with others, and so if we connect them to the people that truly need it, then certainly this is a possible way to reduce wealth inequality?

        How would you solve it?
        • May 27 2013: .
          Alexander,
          Your comment dumfounds me. I cannot think of how to explain how capitalism works to you in the small space allowed here.

          I am one of those people who left school after Grade VIII (but went back later and even got to university) and who went from a working class family to millionaire - twice. I know that you are right when you say that many of us who did this are willing - even eager - to share this knowledge with others. I tried; Lawd knows, I tried.

          I offered knowledge of how to do this. I offered financial backing. I offered to pay for education where I thought it would be helpful. I even offered to bring them into my business as a junior partner to give them the chance to learn how to do it.

          Of the approximately 2 dozen that I offered this to, only 2 took a shot at it. One was just trying to see how much money he could squeeze from me and had no intention, I eventually realized, of actually doing the work to make something of himself. The other did well enough to get more than half-way to being worth a $-million. Then alcohol got hold of him and ate him alive.

          I'm now 72 years old, comfortably retired, very content with how things turned out, and I spend my time working on a social system that I call Citizens' Capitalism. I've been working on this, on and off, for about 42 years. It has the same goal as the topic of this TED blog - to fairly and equitably share the wealth of our society among the members of that society.

          I suggest that you read over the comments I've made in this thread so far. That will give you a very brief peek at the direction I'm heading. I am no "pie-in-the-sky" utopian. I don't have all the answers. I'm a hard-headed businessman who sees the problems of our society and am willing to offer what my experience and thinking tells me might be a solution to some of them, if not all. My "solutions" are definitely "outside the box," however. I do not subscribe to either silly socialism or to predatory greed-capitalism.

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