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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: .
        Ray,
        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?

          Cheers.............
        • 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!
      • 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.

          Cheers..............
    • May 27 2013: Laree wanted a creative approach, and you certainly provided one. I love it!
      • May 28 2013: .
        Jim,
        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
    • May 28 2013: Larry,
      Your proposal seems to be similar to the guaranteed basic income described here
      http://www.ted.com/conversations/14456/why_basic_income_should_become.html

      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" :
          http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy.html

          "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" :
          http://www.ted.com/talks/michael_norton_how_to_buy_happiness.html
          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
          Bernard.
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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: .
        Ray,
        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
  • 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.
    Cheers
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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 ......

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68Y363-gPX8

        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!

      Cheers..................
  • 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.

          Cheers.......................
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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: .
          Christophe,
          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.

          Cheers...................:)
    • May 29 2013: .
      Chris,
      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!

          Cheers.............
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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. :)"

          cheers......
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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 ....................

          Cheers................
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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?

          Cheers..................
  • May 27 2013: I have a Google blog entry on a subject close to this. It is far too long to post here, but here is a very brief synopsis:

    I have no harsh feelings for rich people in general. However, when their tremendous wealth comes either directly or indirectly from the sweat and labor of others, then I believe they have a moral obligation to help those people who helped them make their billions.

    Here is my basis for bridging the socioeconomic gap and opening the doors to a more cohesive society.

    Education leads to better communication.
    Communication leads to better understanding.
    Understanding leads to better cooperation.
    Cooperation leads to better results.

    To accomplish this, I propose a government-sponsored college-level education for all citizens in the lower socioeconomic groups, coupled with a government-sponsored public works employment program to provide actual work experience for permanent employment.

    Needless to say, a program such as this would be quite expensive. However, I believe that we will be making a huge investment in our country's future, along with many other benefits. It should also open the lines of communication, understanding, and cooperation among the various socioeconomic groups, breaking down barriers, destroying prejudices, and promoting social cohesion at levels we have not see in this country for more than 200 years.

    If you are interested and want more details than I can post here, you should be able to find my blog site by doing a Google search on "Restoring Democracy: The Road to Social Cohesion," and my blog on this subject should be at the top of the list.

    Good luck on your paper. You seem to be getting some very good perspectives here on the subject.

    Jim
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    May 26 2013: I studied Entrepreneurship and Social Sciences in college, and have been evaluating solutions to some of our largest problems over the past few years.

    One of the easiest ways to solve current inequality surrounding wealth would be to change the way large corporations are governed and managed.
    For starters, any business with over 40K employees should automatically give their employees stocks and a say in the shareholders meetings (allowing employees to vote on such things as executive pay, appropriation of dollars, etc. will prevent greed on top by establishing ground rules from top-to-bottom to prevent greed on top).

    Next, redistribution of wealth. There is absolutely any acceptable excuse for any CEO to earn over $250 per hour just like there is no excuse for a non-managing VC to have ownership in any company over 15%. This factors are a huge issue in the distribution of wealth, and in establishing a democracy in businesses we can very quickly and practically redraw businesses from being private and draconian like, to being civil, democratic, and operating healthy.

    Mind you, government supports monopolies because our government taxes profits. A solid, healthy competitive market will see little to no profits. That is where the question over what the purpose of government becomes a huge questions. For instance, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. have to do with nothing more than resources and ideology. These are two big businesses in the US. So, the best way to counter this is through free-trade agreements that override the governments ability to declare war, to provoke war, and to do anything outside of defending the rights of man (including women because women are men just with different parts physically - the mind of man and woman vary).

    In order to actively dissolve this inequality found in society, we won't need much. We just need policy makers, and we must begin with education on the ground-floor supporting scientific based studies unlimited.
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      May 26 2013: I studied two semesters of social sciences and other subjects too. And what did I learn. That we have no reason, rational or basis for saying that anyone has no excuse or reason or whatever to earn more then $250 per hours or any salary. Unless we pay it. So, as to your point, why are you paying your CEO so much?
      Is that your company with over 40 K employees that are receiving stocks. Great incentive. Many companies offer stock options to employees and a number of companies are fully employee owned.
      I like better education with emphasis on science, but let's not forget the arts, humanities, civics and history as well as language arts. I think people should learn to write again. Cursive writing. It teaches patience better then any thing I know of.
      I am skeptical of policy makers. They tend to make policies that are more likely to benefit themselves.
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    May 26 2013: There isno shortage of money. Poverty is not about money. Wealth is not the effect of money. Poor people are poor because of a weak misdirected life condition. The cause for poverty lies in the human heart. Simply giving money to the poor more than likely would exacerbate suffering. We must devise a way to address the multidimensional root causes for poverty so that each person can benefit from financial fortune and enjoy the benefit and responsiblity of financial abundance. Nurture healthy perspectives of love and respect for self, others and environment. Build coping skills and teach positive outlook and goal setting techniques. Give support and mental health treatment as needed. Replace a monitary value system with a productive value creative system. Deminish fear based influences and highlight empowering influences in society. We are not victims of our circumstances we are creating our reality with our thoughts wods and deeds eiither directly, indirectly through comission or omission. Permanent change can only begin inside and effect the outside. The difference between someone living in poverty and someone living in abundance lies in the internal workings in their heart.
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    May 24 2013: Well im not well versed in this topic, but i think i can help you, giving you example of bests practices on reducing wealth inequality.

    One of the most exacting examples is Israel. What do they do to be one the most wealthy countries? Protect and promote technology investments, they have a "Chief Scientist", its a very important person who take care about reseach and develpoment industry. The country have leading companies in Defense, Agriculture, Energy, and others important markets.

    That makes the difference, high level of incomes, high level of education, well payed workers, a solid economy low dependece on markets movements.

    Andorra, have combined two strengths, a very competitive tourism industry, specially sky resorts, and a very low level of taxes with a high level of secuties, becoming the residencial country for a lot of wealthy people.

    I hope this two example can inspire yourself.
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        May 27 2013: This 1.5 billions is because of the military expenses Israle have, not because his economy.
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    May 24 2013: I suggest we start by giving everyone the same grades on tests.
  • May 23 2013: Let me present some historical data on the wealth equalization system. We can list them by the degrees of success in the social policies:
    1.The most "successful" equalization in:
    Cuba, Bulgaria, N Korea etc. by means of government compulsory redistribution. There are no private big businesses or industries-made rich capitalists. Argentina, by high inflation. And Greece, by debt crisis and fled .capitalists. Somalia, because of no strong government. All the nations, unfortunately, now have high unemployment, thus low GDP, almost all poor.
    2. The moderately "successful" equalization in well-run welfare systems in:
    Northern European countries with relatively strong industrial bases. There, the welfare systems are well run and yet there are a few capitalists who contributed part of their wealth by taxes. Then there are Australia and New Zealand where the governments purposely de-emphasize industrialization, thus the wealth gap are probably less.
    3. The most industrialized, but having the largest wealth inequality in:
    The U. S. of America, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, China and India. We have the highest concentration of super-rich capitalists, but have less of welfare programs. However, the average GDPs are, in general, still higher than the other countries in the world.
    So, we have a dilemma here. If we want equalization of wealth, it may actually reduce the total wealth of the country. For instance, An average citizen in N. Korea, say, is probably much worse off than his neighbors in Japan or China.
    I don't have any magic formula to be presented here, only try to show the factual data with my analysis.
    Wish you good luck, Laree.
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      May 24 2013: ROFL............quote:1.The most "successful" equalization in:
      Cuba, Bulgaria, N Korea etc. by means of government compulsory redistribution.

      Suggest crock......................like to tells us about the equalization of the incomes and living standards of the 'Commissars' in your aforementioned countries compared to the general population and peasants they control.

      And you will see that All the 'pigs' do not benefit equally from the equalization you mention.

      And while your at it you might like to enlighten us on the no democracy in Cuba and N Korea and the failure of democracy in Bulgaria.

      Just asking.

      Cheers......
      • May 24 2013: The purpose of the quotation mark on the word "successful" is exactly meant as a sarcastic modifier for the kind of redistribution of wealth in these countries. Of course everybody should know that the "commissars" in these countries could be as rich or even richer than the capitalists in other countries, but I thought everyone usually knows it.
        I do have a statistical argument (I am a professional statistician); the standard deviation of the wealth distribution in these countries are far smaller than the other groups of countries I listed because there are far too many dirt poor people, say in N. Korea, even with very few of the "leaders" to increase the variation, but not enough to be comparable with the rich countries.in which there so may "variations" in all kinds of people with varied personal wealth.
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          May 25 2013: Thanks for your clarification Bart.

          Do however suggest my avatar would be a suitable reply to your.....'but I thought everyone usually knows it.'

          Cheers......................
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    May 22 2013: Teach more people how to generate wealth. Some people are lazy and will not attempt to gain financial security. But others would if they understood how to do so. Wealth is more about how we use our financial assets than the actual money we earn. Wealthy people use their assets to generate more assets. Poor people just use up their assets. The greatest asset is your imagination, determination to succeed, and belief that you can succeed. Even the poorest person can improve his financial situation by using his assets wisely. It would be helpful if those with extra assets would lend a helping hand to those who are trying to get a start but ultimately not necessary.
  • May 22 2013: Wealth inequality is the popular situation in the world, not only in New Zealand. Our country Vietnam has been suffering from this gap in a recent time. The rich becomes richer, the poor becomes poorer. I am also just a student and at a loss....
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    May 22 2013: Reducing wealth inequality and increasing social cohesion is a difficult but not improbable, if society changes its mindset and comes out of the rut of interest. In Quran it is called Qardan Hasanah - Good Loan.
    Example. I have lost a job, have a family to support and am known to you personally, or through Organisation of Institute, whatever. You have surplus $10000 in bank earning a paltry interest. I have an idea, you have done the feasibility report and are convinced that my business idea or model will work and will help me generate modest income, at the same time I will be able to pay back in small installments your loan, and thereby be able to run my business or whatever. Just the crunch is, you will not be seeking any interest or share of profit. You will provide interest free loan.

    By this method in a very small way you will be helping me in increasing the wealth - the wealth disparity between you and me, will be reduced a wee bit and social cohesion will increase. Don't you agree ? Just give a try.

    In our Community this concept has been Institutionalized with proper safeguards, laws etc: and is working fine.
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    May 22 2013: If businesses were to close the gap between their highest and lowest paid employees, then wealth inequality should, in theory, be reduced.

    And because some people might need help understanding this:

    Obviously you wouldn't pay a janitor the same salary as a corporate executive officer.

    However, it should also be obvious of what the effects would be for the economy, and "social cohesion," if you were to pay the janitor a little bit more and pay the CEO a little bit less.
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      May 22 2013: ROFL. Suggest you have a 30 sec ponder why that is the case in the first instance.
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        May 23 2013: ROFL! Is that all you got?

        How about... no. And, since it SEEMS I don't know much about it at all, if you could please, explain to me why that is "the case".
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        May 24 2013: Blade Runner,

        As I thought, you've got much of nothing (as your comment implies).

        And have you taken the time to consider that you yourself might be member of the general population that doesn't know that they (as in you) don't know much about anything happening at all?
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    May 22 2013: Yeah,that's righ.To some extent,the gap between rich and poor is generated by government...I think the action we should take is encouraging poor to improve the capability of earning money, that can be made lots of ways...The supporters should be government or individual...
  • May 21 2013: " 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!" - tell me what is this about?.. If you want real answers you have to look at real results and data. what you think some belief system has the answers or do you agree that the truth transcends ideology?

    Heres the truth if you want to diminish the wealth gap then you must free the market from government, union, and other beauracratic restraints and encourage people to strive for success. Taxation and redistribution of wealth are not going to solve any real problems. both taxes and welfare disempower people to work hard and invest in themselves and the market. Corporate welfare and any other form of government fiat and subsidies are also necessary to eliminate.
    A fair tax code can help, one unlike the existing one in the US that favors the wealthy. I can keep going on but the point is the resolution to the problem is not the government but in the people and in the market.
  • 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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    May 21 2013: as your topic raises the question of the relationship between inequality and social cohesion, my first stop was Google Scholar to see whether there is recent empirical work in which this question was investigated in various countries. Here is what I found on that search: http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=inequality+social+cohesion&btnG=&as_sdt=1%2C48&as_sdtp=

    I think it is an excellent idea to begin by determining whether there is a relationship and what the structure of that relationship is.

    I suggest this because some people care very much about the quality of life for their families (including health, safety, and the ability to educate their children) but really don't care very much what "the Joneses" or anyone else happens to be consuming. Other people's happiness is closely connected to a comparison between their own well being and other people's.

    The research ought to shed light on that question at the root of your project.
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    W. Ying

    • +1
    May 21 2013: .
    .
    Try the easist way :

    (1)
    Quit all invalid (harmful) happiness
    making about 90% of total happiness.

    (2)
    The 1% loses harmfulness;
    The 90% gain equality.

    (3)
    The "wealth inequality" disappears.


    (from Be Happy Validly!)
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    May 20 2013: The premise is specious. But if you must study the great equalizers in history Kim Jong il, Staline, Mao. Perhaps not creative but certainly effective at equalizing.
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    Jun 3 2013: How about instead of worrying about wealth inequality we worry about reducing poverty. Is there a correlation between inequality and high levels of poverty or is the opposite true.
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    Jun 2 2013: People have a serious problem, particularly in this country, where they believe that "stuff" is wealth, when in fact, all of your stuff could be your worst problem. For anyone who has ever seen the show hoarders, you cannot deny that all of the purchases that these people have made did not make them happy or cure whatever issues that they were going through. Dr. Phil has a saying that you don't cure money problems with money - and to a certain extent this is true. For example, if you spread the wealth evenly for those who have nothing, (the homeless unemployed and dead broke) - just throwing out a number here - and everybody gets $500,000 check to "even things out.". If I take my check and purchase a $125,000 home (plenty big enough my husband and myself), then furnish it and prepay the taxes for a year - now we're at about $150,000. I could then go out and carefully choose a reliable used vehicle and have it checked out by a mechanic and prepay the insurance for a year. Now I'm at $175,000. I could then invest $5,000 into some classes in order to prepare myself to apply for a job that would start putting the money back in so that the numbers start going in to plus direction. Now, I have a home, a vehicle some useful knowledge, and insurance to protect it - Sounds like a wonderful plan to me. However, the plan has a flaw - and that flaw would be the people that took their $500,000, rented a mansion at $12,000 per month and then took a two month trip over seas for a hundred grand to see the pretty sights of Paris, then returned home and purchased a Ferrari, but saved money buy skipping a call to insure it. A week later, they wrap the car around a telephone pole and now they have two months rent in the bank, and no plan after that. What do we do, give him another $500,000. How is that fair? When people make choices based on reality and not their dreams, they will find things aren't so unfair. We need to stop having what we want and want what we have.
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    Jun 2 2013: I'm not going to answer this question until you define what you mean by "realistic", Is it realistic to eliminate money as a whole? or is it realistic to tax the richest 1% 10 times more? Or to go full communism? (I didn't mean to be rude).

    The problem is that inequality is inherent in the capitalistic system and it's also growing more and more, which is also inherent of the system, the only reason we don't have one person sitting on ALL the wealth in the world is regulations, governments are here to provide some (or a sense of) equality.

    So we either need (MUCH) more regulations or a different way of measuring wealth (I'd go for a "resource based economy").
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      Jun 2 2013: What is a "resourced based economy" and how would it work on a global scale? What would be the universal medium of exchange and who would control it.
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        Jun 2 2013: Hi Mike,

        A resource based economy is best described here http://www.thevenusproject.com/en/the-venus-project/resource-based-economy and it's was coined by the founder of "The Venus Project".

        Here's an abstract but you should read all of it to get the full picture
        Or watch this TEDx clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mkRFCtl2MI
        "The term and meaning of a Resource Based Economy was originated by Jacque Fresco. It is a holistic socio-economic system in which all goods and services are available without the use of money, credits, barter or any other system of debt or servitude. All resources become the common heritage of all of the inhabitants, not just a select few. The premise upon which this system is based is that the Earth is abundant with plentiful resource; our practice of rationing resources through monetary methods is irrelevant and counter productive to our survival."

        There would be no universal medium of exchange, I really don't think that it's needed just because it's the way things are now...

        If you haven't heard of The Venus Project or the Zeitgeist Movement I suspect from reading some of your comments that you'll find it quite interesting so I'll provide some links for you to use if you wish.

        The Venus Project (full Documentary): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zn8MRKOskw
        The Venus Project (website): http://www.thevenusproject.com/
        Zeitgeist, Addendum: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EewGMBOB4Gg
        Zeitgeist, moving forward: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Z9WVZddH9w
        Zeitgeist, Website: http://www.thezeitgeistmovement.com/

        There are some realistic alternatives if you ask me...

        Now, I know that I just provided you with about 6-7 hours of video and a general information overload... use whatever parts of it you will...

        Hope you enjoy it!
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          Jun 2 2013: "If you haven't heard of The Venus Project or the Zeitgeist Movement "

          On this site I haven't heard of it more than 3 or 4 hundred times.
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          Jun 3 2013: that is an accurate statement to say it is best described on the cited page. it does not mean, however, that it is described at all. it remains a vague buzzword loaded with romanticism. but it is true that you can not find a better description than that. it does not exist.
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        Jun 2 2013: Wow, that's great Pat! ;)

        I gather you've also looked at the movies and read up on the whole idea then?
        Tell me what do you think of this idea you hear so much about?
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    Jun 2 2013: Why are we still equating wealth with MONEY. Money is simply a medium for exchange. Some of the wealthiest people I know have not much money. Then again, There are some who have much medium of exchange, I would say have little wealth.

    Then there is the matter of poverty. There people who live in areas of Africa, under bridges in New York, who are besieged by aggression, harsh environments or addiction, mental illness and other debilitating conditions. But, most of the impoverished we describe here seem to address those who are uneducated or in jobs described as demeaning. I would separate the two.

    For the uneducated, why are we not addressing public education and the failures there. Public education at least in the USA is the is more costly then ever and the success is basically flat if not falling by most accounts.

    For the other poor, why are we not addressing so called safety net programs that supposedly catch people when in reality are nets that hold people down. Consider the thousand of bureaucrats who would be out of work if people got off of welfare. It isn't going to happen.
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    Jun 2 2013: Well Guys..........here's another slant for those that reckon society = Govt = citizens have some sort of 'high moral obligations' to society/govt!

    'The “Social Contract” with the Government is a Fraud'

    http://www.dailyreckoning.com.au/the-social-contract-with-the-government-is-a-fraud/2013/05/29/
  • Jun 1 2013: Tough one, but worth working on,. Socialism, Marxism and various other 'isms' have been attempts (very flawed) by governments to find ways to spread the wealth. They fail because these concepts take away incentive, creativity, even altruism.

    Really, we are not all created equal as Lincoln or various religious dogma expound.

    The answer is not to take from the rich and give to the poor. Soon, if one goes that route, there is no one left to 'take from' and of course there is no way to ascertain the poor will use the 'gives' reasonably.

    In the end this needs a more complex and challenging solution. Some people are born into poverty, some lead lives that almost assure they will be penniless due to bad planning, governance or just bad luck.

    Education is the best hope we have. Can you make folks take advantage of learning though? Countries with the most impoverished populations are usually the most backward. Burgeoning populace with seemingly no way to stem that tide surely creates poverty.

    We need to encourage family planning and schooling thaty serves the purpose of teaching life skills. That concept would have to start early on and changes need to be made to curriculums.

    Personally, as I write this, I am not hopeful because the variety of lifestyles, religious, and stilted views on how best to exist, make it difficult to get the message out. I hope you find some good answers; I'd be interested in hearing them.
  • Jun 1 2013: “We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”
    –Louis Brandeis
    U.S. Supreme Court Justice (1856-1941)

    Some people are smarter or work harder, ie doctor, the guy that works 70 hours a week at Ford. They are rewarded for their abilities. Others, are lazy or not as smart, or lack the opportunities. Is it "Fair" to take from one to take from one and give to the other in the name of equality?
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      Jun 1 2013: So its now 72 years since the death of Louis Brandeis and the wealth of America is still in the hands of a 'few' and this begs the question is America still a democracy or not and if not what is it?

      And if the quotes of 'notables' are worth something or squat, then how true does this ring...............

      Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper's bell of an approaching looter.
      Ayn Rand

      It only stands to reason that where there's sacrifice, there's someone collecting the sacrificial offerings. Where there's service, there is someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking of slaves and masters, and intends to be the master.
      Ayn Rand

      Hey.........just asking!
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    May 31 2013: Solution to wealth inequality. DO AWAY WITH MONEY AND WORK FOR WHAT YOU WANT NOT WHAT YOU NEED! Its completely possible but the majority of people don't make choices for the majority. The choices are made by the elites who have most of the wealth and can just sit back so why would they want to change that and have to work for all these unnecessary things they want?
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      May 31 2013: ROFL.........curious..........who would you work for to get your 'Hoodie'................the person growing the cotton? the person harvesting the cotton? the person processing the cotton? the person making the Hoodie? the person selling the hoodie? the...... the...
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        Jun 1 2013: The point is you would work for yourself. Grow the food you need, build the house you need, ect.. and depending on your skills you'd probably trade with people. Oh i want a "hoodie" i think I'll ask this guy what he'd trade for one. Why is your comment so focused on cotton? I feel like i'm talking to a person that is just here to "troll" since you don't even want to put up anything close to a real name.
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          Jun 2 2013: ROFL big time...............Re:

          'The point is you would work for yourself. Grow the food you need, build the house you need, ect'

          Might work to some degree if your a 'peasant' in a third world country, suggest you try that modus operandi in London, Paris,New York or maybe the Bronx just to mention a few.

          As for my 'cotton' usage.............It was to point out the chain of production required to produce your hoodie as most hoodies are cotton unless perchance yours is Panda fur? :)

          Further what has names got to do with squat?..............how does I/anybody know that yours or anybodies name is real ?

          Oh and btw If the 'Guy' says I want a gold coin for the hoodie where does that leave you?
  • May 31 2013: Tell everybody you meet that it matters.
    http://youtu.be/cZ7LzE3u7Bw
  • May 31 2013: Isn't overpopulation the major reason for poverty, everywhere and everytime?
  • May 31 2013: You must have enjoyed Chaos Theory. Good Education and career guidance would be the best long and short term solutions. Career guidance needs to be a big part of all students education. People that are successful are driven because they know that's what they want. People that are doing what they are driven to do are happy, and happy people produce more. Higher education as it stands is out of control, we need to base line education. I know some really stupid "rich" kids and some really smart "poor" kids. people should get their education earned through hard work and dedication not because of their parents influence and status. We need to enforce one simple truth within all of our children, we have what we have because we earned it. Besides spoiled kids dont make good people :)
  • May 30 2013: Free Education, to lessen the inequality (1)

    Free Healthcare, health is a very important determinant in social status (2)

    Basically, allow for equal opportunity.
    Now before the “rob Peter to pay Paul” or “who is paying for this” comments start.
    Remember that “money” is an invented symbol, wholly maintained and supported by its keepers.

    Do the principals of basic rights fit in your moral structure? Do you apply these basics rights to kith and kin? If so then expand that right to mankind.

    Change the symbol.


    (1) Sean F Reardon “No Rich Child Left Behind”
    (2) "Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?"
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    May 29 2013: I believe in time, machines will become most of the work force and thus must be address now if there is going to be fairness for those not born with money. Thus I propose to this discussion that a 50% tax on all proceeds made from machine’s labor be imposed to lower the incentive to automate people out of work. Granted the best would be that we all profited from this automation but alas not to be.
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    May 29 2013: S H A R E

    MAKE SHARING MANDATORY
    MAKE HOARDING CRIMINAL.BY LAW
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      May 29 2013: Well adesh could you kindly post up a list of your 'goodies' so that I can check if you have something I might like to use/enjoy.

      Cheers.............
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        May 30 2013: Dear first make the rules and make it a level playing field..

        Make it mandatory for every one to share and not haord.

        Do you think it is realistic?
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          May 30 2013: No way!
        • May 30 2013: Adesh,
          my aunt is a hoarder, it's really a terrible ailment. A hoarder by definition cannot share, they simply cannot part with the stuff they have accumulated, even if it means the destruction of relationships and their very beings.
          People who are willing to part with 'things' will be able to share. But how can you enforce this? Who decides who has enough to share with others? Will those who really have nothing except the bare essentials, be required to share what they have as well?
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        May 30 2013: There is enough for every one's need but not for the greed. Gandhi
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        May 31 2013: I totally agree with you blade runner. Practice what you preach.

        Please ,please... Sonia Gandhi, Indira Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are not related to Mohan das Gandhi in any way except they share the surnames. They are antithesis of all The Mahtma stood for.
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      May 30 2013: very good. what is your income? because i happen to know that people in madagascar lives on 500 usd a year, so you might want to transfer some money.
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        May 30 2013: I already share my income with some organisations who deal with deaf and dumb, physically handicapped. i wont mind sharing it with some people in Madgascar.

        Compared to Bill Gates who is sharing his wealth through Melinda Gates foundation, my contribution is negligible..

        .but i believe it will make a difference if a critcal mass of people decide to share their wealth. May be i am unrealistic but that is what i believe.
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        May 30 2013: Well Krisztian if folk can live on US$500 pa in Madagascar, Living in Madagascar must be a lot easier/cheaper than in my neck of the woods. :) :)

        Whats their 'secret'?

        How's that for a rationale?? :)
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          May 31 2013: during my years on planet earth, i learned that there is no secret. the best you can do is to consider the general price levels in an area, what leads you to PPP adjusted dollar. using such technique, madagascar people live on 1000 per year. there is no other tricks around. they really consume that much less.
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    May 29 2013: Rob from the rich, give to the poor! Viva la revolucion! And good for Obama!
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    May 29 2013: Make inheritance illegal.
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      May 29 2013: i hope we will never live in a world in which people can enforce their half baked ideas on others.

      oh wait. we already live in that world.
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        May 29 2013: Yep .....and those free sex vouchers still haven't arrived. :)
        • May 30 2013: forget the free sex vouchers... I'm still waiting for my Silver Jumpsuit. :)
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        May 30 2013: Suggest you check with adesh saxena, he may have one in his 'goodie sharing list' he will be posting up shortly. :)
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    May 29 2013: Larry Lawson
    posted to me
    30 minutes ago: .
    WRONG AGAIN!

    Strike three...... You're out!

    Bye-bye loser......
    ..................................................................................................

    Q. Accordingly................Curious, would I be correct to assume that when folk resort to name calling, their arguments are no longer rational or have no worth? If not, why not? Do they have a problem?
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    May 28 2013: What are some realistic and creative ways to reduce sex inequality? Lack of sex is not healthy, so say experts. Sex also deepens the social connections between people. It is in the interest of society to grant every members opportunity to have regular sexual intercourse. What are some practical ways to achieve that?

    Try to use any of the proposed answers about wealth inequality to this question, and see how that holds up. Then think about the validity or generality of your arguments.
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      May 28 2013: Yeah well, I'm all for more sex. Will the free sex vouchers be arriving in my mail box anytime soon? :) :) :)
  • May 28 2013: yes, it is . But it's not a report, it's a hugh database. I would not recommend you try to download the whole database even if available and clog up your computer. It's best you download may be 2 communities you are intersted catalyzing projects. The database contains information on all 50 states, and each county or city within that state. Amazing amount of valuable information if one knows how to use it. I just downloaded the info for Richmond, VA and Fairfax County, VA for comparision and "twining" between these two historically linked communities in Virginia that are also the 2 larges urban communities in USA.

    This database was created by a federal govie agency DOLETA.GOV. If you are interested in Fairfax, VA and Richmond VA and/or Tidewater VA, I hope we can have a conversation that is mutually beneficial. Thanks.
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    May 28 2013: Social cohesion would imply social homogenisation, as for something to be cohesive it needs to be integrated into a whole. There have been many quality answers here, which I believe have created for you many avenues for fruitful research. My take is merely to add to the information pool and then your job is to make sense of it all and ideally implement some real world application.I think if there are common themes that keep cropping up in posts, then these are statistically significant.
    From my cohesion opening sentence, I believe the key here is education! Though this is only part of the answer.People do come from a wide variety of socio economic backgrounds and while the goal here may be to distribute wealth equally, intelligence isn't. Now that is not to say that just because someone is smarter than someone else that they will be necessarily more financially better off than someone who was nowhere near as smart as them. Also it has been statistically proven that if someone won for example $10,000 that they would not be 10 times happier if they had won $100,000.
    Another factor is ample examples abound of average Joes winning the Lotto, who then within a short space of time find themselves financially back to where they were before their "Life changing win".Peoples attitude to money also play a part, some are frugal, others have a easy come easy go attitude, or live for today, gamble, do drugs or just party to excess.In this respect we are all created equal but in life we are all equally diverse. So how does this address the fundamental issue? Wealth equality. For the above reasons even if all wealth was transferred equally, some people would invest/use theirs more wisely than others and like intelligence, dare I say there would be a bell shaped curve/spread from the top 100% all the way down to the 1%er. So in philosophical terms wealth equality in my view is as likely as everybody being the same! But with education I think you could adjust it measurably! :D
    • May 29 2013: .
      Time Traveller,
      I wonder if perhaps you might be giving education a lot more credit than it actually deserves as a factor in narrowing the gap between the wealthy and the poor. It is merely information. Think of it this way; intelligence is a weapon - education is its ammo. Intelligence without education is like a gun with no ammunition. And education without the intelligence needed to make use of it is like ammo without a weapon - pretty much useless.

      America has a moderately good education system. It is, just barely, in the top half of education systems of the world. The vast majority of Americans are better educated than the people of some countries where there is not such a great gap between the elite and the poor. Better education would, I'm sure, be good for Americans and for America. But it isn't going to solve the problem of income and/or wealth disparity.

      And just as an afterthought; the statement that half of the people are below average intelligence is wrong. Average intelligence is not calculated on a bell curve. It is calculated by determining the intelligence of the majority and assigning that the value 100. Then tests are devised that will yield a score of 100 for most people. Those who score more than 10% less than 100 are actually quite few in number and, of course, those who score more than 10% higher than 100 are also quite few in number. The further you go from that 100 score, the less people you find. This is why "average" IQ is usually given as "between 90 and 110".
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        May 30 2013: Hello Larry, I really enjoy reading your posts, they always come across as well thought out and articulated. I think that you provide a very positive influence for constructive thought and idea development.
        Naturally in order for me to save face with respect to my 50% of the population is below average, I would counter with this. If 10% of the population is above the 90-110 mark and 10% is below the 90-110 mark, then 20% of the population is accounted for leaving 80% of the populations scoring at the 90-110 mark which therefore represents 80% of the population.
        The range 90-110 is 20 so if the spread remaining of the 80% population was on average divided into this figure we would have a ratio of 4:1, that is 4% of the population would have scored on average at each range thru 90-110.
        Further, the average between 90 and 110 is 100, so therefore, my 50% of people would be below average would imply that there are if you considered the population of the world, 50% of people who had scored a mark below 100 was 50% and those that scored a mark above average was also 50%.
        Notwithstanding, the implication that the majority of people are pretty close to average, given that average falls between 90-110 means further backs my education viewpoint, in my opinion.
        I did like your ammunition and gun analogy, however if someone can make an informed choice I always feel that it will be a smarter one. Let's use your gun and ammo quote to the teach a man to fish one. I think you had implied that education and intelligence without each other were useless, however, your own statistics had stated that 80% of a population were within range of average intelligence.
        This implies that if the majority of a population was educated, then they had 80% on average of the population who would be intelligent enough to understand it, which contradicts what you had proposed in your gun and ammo anolgy given that in fact 90% of the population would be intelligent enough! If people knew what to do, :D
        • May 30 2013: .
          Time Traveller,
          Naughty, naughty! You've assumed an even spread for those between 90 and 110. Not so. About 50% of those between those two numbers are within 1% of IQ 100.

          If I implied that (formal) education and intelligence were useless without each other, then I owe you an apology. Education has definite value to everyone. Intelligence too has value to everyone. The gun might, without ammo, only be a club but it can be used as that in a pinch. Not its best use but perhaps better than empty hands. Ammo too can be taken apart to provide a supply of explosive that can be made into bombs. Again not the best use of ammo but a use nonetheless.

          When understanding socio-economic situations it is surely best to be both intelligent and educated. Yet it is often those with no great abundance of either or both of those things, who propose useable solutions. Experience plays a role in that. Perhaps intuition does as well. Even such a hard thing to pin down as "common sense" can offer solutions.

          What I tried to make clear is that education alone - valuable as it is - is not enough to make people change from liking a dog-eat-dog predatory system of organized greed to people who see the value of co-operation among men to achieve common goals.

          Can you understand the broader implications enough to forego playing with stats? Or are you a bean-counter whose whole understanding of life is embodied in niggling little numbers?
  • May 28 2013: Convert society from fear-based to joy-based. Pay people in accordance with the value of their service or product. Accord a base money amount to all that allows for healthy, dignified living. We can accomplish this goal. We will all be better off, when others are better off. Truth works. Positive words and actions work to achieve positive goals. Let's do it.
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      May 28 2013: Not another .....get somebody else to pay for IT!
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    May 28 2013: Really? If everything was equal, electricity would not have a direction to go in. The "food chain" applies to everything from krill to stars in the event horizon. Should a black hole be forced to give up it's gravity?
  • May 28 2013: Your Project Summary for reducing wealth inequality on a community level:

    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.

    Conversation: This is a valuable project initiative. Thank you. I have been thinking deeply to do demo projects on a community level relating to this topc. It's an issue of deep concern to our urban community of 2 million in Fairfax County Virginia, as part of Washington DC Hub. Recently a U.S. government agency released an extensive update and report on who is really poor in America by State and by county or city within a state. it's a most valuable info available to any citizen of USA to examine this issue you are addressing.

    I did that for Fairfax, VA and Richmond, VA and found while these two are the wealthiest communities in Virginia. We also have the largest no of poor people as wel. Single mothers are the poorest of the poor.

    Plesae Search my published conversation on internet at Fairax Underground Community Forum:

    "Fairfax Resolve On Mother’s Day__Dignity For Mothers at Bottom"
    • May 28 2013: Avi, is the report you mention in your comment available online?
      If so, do you know the link?
  • May 28 2013: An entirely self sustaining economy could reduce the importance of an existing form of monetary wealth by accepting a more social form of wealth. Food and clothes for services; services for services; government appointments for free shelter and food; penalties and fines paid by work for the government. This is a subversive way to create more equality by creating a social makeup of alternative wealth in the form of family, health and happiness and ignoring the paper and metal that people currently think makes a fuller and richer life. I am currently a middle class american citizen wondering what all the fuss over shiny metal is.
  • May 27 2013: http://www.MainStreetValues.com
    try it... you'll like it
  • May 27 2013: 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


    Hello Laree, Are you suggesting that good ideas would be judged by the political perspective of the commenter? I am disappointed. Do we have to politicize everything? That is how we got in this mess.

    Why not present all sides and pick out the good ideas that work from each?
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      May 27 2013: I understood Laree to mean only that it would be useful when people put forth possible solutions for them to share also any theoretical underpinnings of the idea. For example, particularly as she is doing a paper for school, she might be interested in whether there is a certain economic perspective or theory of justice or moral philosophy that underlies a particular suggestion that she might also look up.

      I did not interpret her question as asking people to identify their political or social affiliations.
    • May 28 2013: Robert, I will jump in here and say, that she probably chose those words because it is part of the criteria she is supposed to include in her paper. The question is for a research paper at school.

      When I read that part of the OP I immediately thought.....oh well, there goes my participation in this conversation. :P
  • May 27 2013: There is a recent report about the unrest in Sweden, it is likely to appear in most newspapers all over the world.
    "The disturbance (in Sweden) with echoes of urban eruptions in France in 2005 and Britain in 2011 have pushed Sweden to the center of the debate …. about immigration and the tensions it causes during an ECONOMIC RECESSION. ..the unrest has shaken Sweden which has a reputation for welcoming immigrants and asylum seekers and regularly ranks as one of the world's happiest places....
    The Left(Party) which dominated Swedish politics for decades and devised the cradle-to-grave welfare system has blamed reduced state benefits and a modest shift towards the privatization of public services for the unrest, pointing to an erosion of the country's tolerant egalitarian ethos.....A recent report by the OECD (of the UN) said that income inequality in Sweden had grown faster than in ...other industrialized nations between 1985 and 2010, although it REMAINS FAR MORE EQUAL THAN MOST COUNTRIES.....”.
    I must point out that the reasons for this unrest may consist of the increased immigration due to the severe economic recession in many of the Euro Zone countries. But the same recession problem also caused the Swedish economic recession too because of the shrinking of its export trades with the Euro Zone countries. That may be the reason for the Swedish government to privatize certain public industries and services to gain efficiency in order to compete in the open trade market. Common sense says that a country with a well established welfare system is not likely to go back to private free market unless it has to adapt for purely economic reasons. In other word, in order to pay for all the welfare money, the government has to have enough fund to import some necessary commodities and pay the price from their exports, which must be competitive with the exports from other countries. This is the reality of economic life for anyone, and to be prepared for good/bad economy also
  • May 27 2013: Have you read 99 to 1: How Wealth Inequality is Wrecking the World and What We Can Do About It by Chuck Collins? There's a lot of good information in it and it's a quick read.
  • May 27 2013: Thank you for asking this question. It kind of builds on some thoughts triggered by other discussions I've seen here: What makes a good judge? And the role of global companies in local economies.

    In a free society wealth accrues to those who serve it most efficiently. That is because every time a person lets go of their money, in a free society, it is because they choose to. For example: Michael Jackson got rich because people chose to give him money for his music.

    Wealth inequality stems from high barriers to efficient social service (in a form that people can choose to support by freely giving money in exchange for the service).

    Let"s look at what these barriers to efficient service might be:

    1) Vocabulary- When someone hires somebody to do a job, they want them to 'get it' without a lot of explanation, or doing it wrong several times in attempt after attempt. That is not efficient.

    2) Certified know how- how long does it take to learn how to do something? With YouTube it is faster than ever before. If you look at the Mastery tools they use on Khan Academy, there is a path to certification there. At least hints of a path. Certified know how is a more spelled out definition of education. There you have vocabulary, again.

    3) Access to raw material at competitive prices - If someone is committed to serving society, they will need more than just know how. They will need access to a supply chain. A free, fair and public market, where prices paid are public knowledge (no price discrimination). Everyone needs to know, "This is worth that" so they can make efficiency decisions on what raw materials to use or how far to travel, or how long to wait. The Internet helps here but the software could be constructed to be a little more 'directional' for the users.

    4) A path to reputation -When I was choosing what to do, my dad said, "Business is about who you know. Engineering is about what you know. You don't know anybody. You better go into engineering." See 2.
  • May 27 2013: There is no realistic way to get from your present position to where you
    want to go. Water just doesn't run uphill.

    Wealth inequality is not going to become a thing of the past, just to
    increase social cohesion.

    You might try by asking New Zealand's government to grant
    Limited Liability to all social groups impacted by wealth inequality.
    Somehow, I cannot see them doing that.

    ===
    In the USA an example of sorts, although I might be off-base with this.

    Let's just pick on a poor plumbing contractor who needs a sewer district
    created so he can later benefit from the installations, and operations.

    At a first election he might ask voters to approve a 'very small' mill levy,
    to start up a small sewer district, and see if a sewer is feasible..

    At a second election, the Sewer District itself, might ask voters to increase
    that mill levy to pay for a 'study' of the "Now a Sewage Problem" by hiring
    outside consultants.

    And, at the next election, the Sewer District itself, might ask voters to increase
    the mill levy again to fund the Sewer District and for legal counsel, some salaries
    for a few board members, and staff, and a few more of those outside consultants...

    The Sewage Problem as now endorsed by those outside consultants will be used
    as the lever to get needed funding from governmental sources.

    By having people in favor of a sewer, be on the ballot, to be board members,
    it becomes a 'done deal'.

    The voter/residents, will then get the costs of the project laid before them.
    Settling ponds, road constructions, pipe laying, connections to homes, etc.

    None of this is wrong, if the sewer is actually needed.
    Our poor plumbing contractor might be a sooth-Sayer in disguise...

    Our two nations have different governments but some of this might fit.
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    May 26 2013: Why is it that social scientists, et. el. seem to have solutions on wealth (economic) distribution and MBA's stress wealth as a good life, with friends and family. It just seems backwards to me....
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    May 25 2013: I am going to presume that you are speaking of economic wealth. I would maintain that a wealthy man is content in his life, has the means to be relatively comfortable, enjoys family and friends and is relatively independent in his society. There is no way to change wealth inequality in society. Some have the ability, work ethic, knack, dumb luck, and a host of other unknown qualities that seem to attract an inordinate amounts of money.
    There are others who can't find a dollar to pay for their next meal. I am not sure if it's nature or nurture.
    Whatever.
    Over the years, some found this inequity troublesome and have gone to great lengths to correct it. Usually, the correction has involved a superior governing body to effectively take wealth from those that have and give it to those that have not. This method has not proved satisfactory to those that have.
    I don't believe it is possible to address this inequity except to allow wealth to flow. For example, Recently,
    I was very fortunate to be the guest of a very wealthy individual at a wedding reception in very exclusive restaurant in Los Angeles, CA. The dinner was under the supervision of a well known Chef seen on national Television. The serving staff was impeccable and there appeared to be more staff then guests.
    It was a grand dinner reception. As I think about that evening and all the people that made it possible; waiters, sommeliers, hostesses,, and who knows how many I didn't see behind the scene of that festive occasion. I am sure they were all paid and probably well paid. Were they as wealthy as my host? Probably not. Were they content in their lives, I would have to think so, or at least most had their lives under control.
    Would they be better off if government taken the wealth of my host and sent each of the staff money without them have to do their jobs? I am not sure that is a true statement. I beleive there is an honor in work regardless how menial and to earn the salary.
  • May 25 2013: What are some realistic and creative ways to reduce wealth inequality?
    Invest in education. Make people eligible to work anywhere in the world.
    Cut down cost and live with tight budget.
    Have a attitude of savings from day -1
    You are there.
  • May 25 2013: And Invest in PROGRAMS and infrastructure that build community by enhancing relationships across generations and income groups, provide for healthy recreation opportunities, and take the emphasis away from isolated pining away for purchased commodities. 
  • May 25 2013: Increase investment in truly innovative PK-12 education that elevates the opportunity and re-visions success and contentment for kids

    Revamp national extension PROGRAMS to teach and maintain self sufficiency with respect to producing food and energy at the household level

    Invest in low income self sufficiency - grants and 0% loans for alternative energy, home gardens, $ efficiency and home ownership. 
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    May 25 2013: I'm working on the same issue at: http://anewgaia.ning.com/profile/Objector
    I will have more info and diagrams soon!
    If you can use anything take it!
    • May 27 2013: I checked out that site and you apparently have to join it to use it. They ask for far more personal information than I am willing to provide to somebody or somebodies I don't even know.
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    May 25 2013: a very sympathic item and i very important one. I only want to let know you; i have no specific creative ideas. I should bring it to good TV programs In Holland e.g. is a program 'De wereld draait door'(The world is turning further). It is like a familytable where all things can be discussed.
    Louis.
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    May 25 2013: I think that most who are not very wealthy agree that inequality is not a benefit to society in the long run. The US was founded in part to get away from the arbitrary rules and enforcement of Royalty (including the collusion with the Church).
    What I see now are the super-wealthy becoming the new Royalty as they are in a postion to create the rules to their benefit. In fact, it's even better than being royalty in that they can, if they so choose, to remain anonymous: money allows one to build ever bigger walls and gates.
    It's a given that just about all of the "big" money made is amassed by corporations of some sort or another. The big problem as I see it is that the primary legal obligation of a modern corporation is to generate profits for it's shareholders. This allows the humans in charge (yes, they are mere humans) to justify cost savings in any way, which leads to the race to the bottom for, amongst everything else, wages for the workers.
    As long as this mindset is in place, the accumulating of vast wealth will continue to be morally justified. What I think we have to do is to have a system whereby it's more beneficial to the wealthy for the money to flow back into the system rather than to sit in a bank account somewhere.
    It's amazing to me that "sit on your ass" investment earnings are taxed (in the US) at a lower rate than earnings from actual work. Changing that would be a start.
  • May 25 2013: The one undeniable advantage a rich person has is that they can sit back do nothing and let their money earn them more money (given they invest wisely).

    The one undeniable disadvantage a poor person has is that without a marketable skill they are subject to working for a wage that isn't sufficient to live on.
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      May 25 2013: Undeniable you claim Brian.....yep have to agree especially after stocking the Bud in the fridge, the weekly supply of cigs, having 3 Iphones in the household, paying for net access, the repayments on the 56" plasma oh and nearly forgot the new 20" wheels I've just added to the repayments of my pimpmobile, its hard to buy food and brand name clothing for me, the wife and 4 kids. :(
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    May 25 2013: Wealthy people continue to create new wealth because they are very good at convincing you to take the money out of your pocket and put it in theirs. Hence, the solution: everyone needs to keep their money in their own pocket and quit giving it to the wealthy. Due to the expensive life style they enjoy, it shouldn't take long to erode their savings accounts. Pretty soon, they will be only as rich as the next person and equality will abound.

    It's called upside downsizing.

    It's like trickle down theory, but due to the accelerated rate of the increasing drain on their savings accounts, it soon becomes a deluge down event, finally settling out into an even distribution of the wealth because everybody has to eat. The poor farmer can now exchange real product for real labor by putting formerly rich people to work picking apples which the farmer exchanges for other commodities like, corn, wheat, etc. or the crafts I make in my woodshop. Using this method, we get rid of the real culprit, paper money.

    The basic items I need to sustain my household are not very different from what my grandmother needed but I'm paying much more than she did, 50 years ago. What happened? In a word: Inflation.

    Inflation is not only prevalent but companies and governments have developed methods to hide it's true value by dumping worthless money (paper really) into our economies, without backing it up with anything of real value.

    All a country has to do is print some paper money, make an entry into a ledger account and presto.... you have just created real wealth. They give you paper, you agree to pay them back real money in exchange for the debt, they allege you owe because you signed a paper, agreeing that you own them the money. Of course this only works if everyone agrees to do it this way. So all we have to do is find enough people to control a government, create new money, loan it out to people cheaply and we have a booming economy... for a while.
  • May 24 2013: Perhaps if someone is born unable to walk, everyone else should have their legs broken, now thats creative..
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    May 24 2013: reducing wealth inequality is like saying we want everyone to have the same intelligence.

    I think that you are looking at the wrong aspect of wealth, since people who work harder than others deserve what they work for. If it wasn't, people wouldn't work hard.

    What i think you should really concentrate on is perhaps the idea of increasing the minimum average income of the people. and this ties in with education, work and health. If its a Robin Hood scenario, things like this wouldn't work.
    • Comment deleted

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        May 24 2013: any statistics supporting it? gates? jobs? zuckerberg? walton of walmart? your statement lacks any basis whatsoever.
        • May 25 2013: To Krisztián Pintér
          Your suggested need for statistics is correct.
          I cannot agree with you about the list of those you've named.
          Try again son, try again.
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        May 24 2013: LaMar,

        I'm sure you heard the line "a fool and his money are soon parted"
        I feel for the most of the time, this holds true, and the people with the better skills tend to manage getting the money, unless in cases where the previous generations made certain types of investments that even with less knowledgeable descendants, they will still have lots of money.

        If however, your forebears found ways to make money, and passed that onto theirs decendants, and further on down the generations, money would really only stay with them if it is sustainable. If not, other people would be able to get their hands on it.

        If you feel that people with money don't deserve it, their actions should take care of it, instead of a feeling that a person has that they don't deserve it.

        An example would be like the major mines that are owned by foreign owners all over Africa. Nowadays, the people are taking more of an initiative to keep the resources for themselves by introducing many other alternatives. This is happening in my country with the gold market.
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        May 24 2013: i asked for some support for your claims, not a rant. 149 out of 400 is not even half, let alone a "large percentage". and it is worldwide, many countries being kingdoms of effective kingdoms. as usual, you just drop in claims with no basis
        • May 25 2013: Krisztián Pintér

          LaMar is correct. Pay attention lad.
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        May 24 2013: Tax is a way for governments to get money, not people.

        People who don't know how to manage money eventually get swindled for it. Since not all accountants or worker would do the best to keep someone else s money safe.

        Lets just say that from the time history began, i do not know of a family which has exclusively had money through all their generations. Perhaps you know of some?
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        May 24 2013: Curious................do you have a problem with people inheriting ?

        If so why?

        You have zilch to look forward to?
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      May 24 2013: There is no reason why everyone should not have the same intelligence, as well as wealth. Humanity has the power to grow neurons, and understand how to heal people with any type of neurological disorder. With gene therapy, we can help anyone.

      It is about the money. Wealthy people are becoming more wealthy and powerful, and they are ones who can decide where the money goes.

      However, it is not always the wealthy who create problems. Corrupt people ruin it for everyone. Unethical people ruin for everyone...
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        May 24 2013: Having intelligence is not the same as using it. People use it differently.

        Who are the people who have the worst sentiment towards rich people?
        Who are the people who give the most charities?
        Would poor people deal with this money better? Clearly not, that's why they're poor.
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          May 24 2013: Wow, I have never argued with someone from South Africa! Cool :) (nice to meet you)

          Tell my friend with Cerebral Palsy and who has a difficult time working...that he is poor because he can't deal with money.

          The people who do most for charities are not the wealthy. Most of the wealthy I know throw money live in fear of being taken advantage of...mostly by other wealthy people. The people who do most for charities are the people who put time and love in, not just money.
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        May 24 2013: It's a pleasure sharing views.

        Fair enough, time and love does count, but money gets results as well.

        When would you say is a wealthy person spending enough for charity then?

        The guy with a health issue is of course an exclusion, so I'll state there are some exclusions, eg if a person has cerebral palsy.

        My point, you don't solve being poor by taking away from the rich. You solve it by empowering the powerless with tools such as education, responsibility, jobs and healthcare.
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          May 24 2013: I like that question, when is enough...actually enough? Only a higher power would know...?

          That would be a good debate!

          I agree it is not fair to take anything, from anyone, unless the person stole or was corrupt or unethical.
          My way of fixing wealth disparity would be to abolish and break up any large corporation, spread the money and opportunity around. A restaurant does not need to be a chain restaurant. Only one is needed. An automobile company should only have one factory. That way we have thousands of choices of cars. I would like a car from South Africa instead of South Korea. Or better yet, I would like a car made in Lesotho. I would like a computer from Yemen, and gene therapy from Madagascar.
        • May 25 2013: Yusuf, I agree with your last paragraph about the "empowering the powerless with tools such as education, responsibility, jobs and healthcare." also, let me quote from a report in today's Wall Street Journal about a book written by a Chinese economist; Yang, who was telling the horrible story about the so-called "great leap forward" movement under the idealism of wealth equalization.
          "...it was in 1958 as Mao initiated Great Leap Forward, demanding huge increase in grain and steel production. Peasants were forced to work intolerable hours to meet impossible quota ,.. employing disastrous ag methods inspired by the quack Soviet agronomist Lysenko. The grain that was produced was shipped to the cities, and even exported abroad. (but) with no allowances made to feed the peasants adequately. Starving peasants were prevented from fleeing their districts to find food."
          "Thirty six MILLION Chinese (peasants) succumbed (died) to FAMINE between 1958 and 1962. ..There were no major drought or floods in China in these famine years. Rather, they were all man-made, (by Mao and his followers) "
          Let me also supplement the report about the steel quota; the steel produced in the BACKYARD FURNACES of people's homes, most of them were unusable because of inferior quality.
          Therefore, the calling for wealth equalization must not be based on policies of unrealistic expectations. They should not be done by government bureaucracy. They must be done by a well planned strategy, voluntarily contributed by the entire society without coercion. They must get the capitals by PERSUASION & COOPERATION from the rich, instead of breaking up a large company into single entities. The latter approach would only increase the cost of a Big Mac in a sole-ownership of a McDonalds restaurant. Same problem would occur when we want to buy a car from Lesotho, or a computer from Yemen. Moreover, I doubt that the car or computer will even work at all, similar as the steel produced from China in the Mao era.
        • May 26 2013: Gentlemen,
          I have enjoyed your back and forth debate greatly. All of you seem to have your heads on pretty straight.

          However........ (you knew that was coming, didn't you) you have made a classic error in your thinking (and I mean you no disrespect whatsoever; even well educated economists make the same mistake). You have not separated, in your mind, "wealth" from "money" and "jobs" from "income."

          It is essential to your understanding that you do so. You see, gentlemen, a large corporation that is worth $100 million, does NOT have $100 million dollars. Same is true of a "rich" man; he doesn't have millions of dollars in "money" lying about.

          The corporation's total wealth surely includes the money it has BUT.... it also includes its land, factories, machinery, other equipment, etc. Very often these holdings are added to by the corp. also owning shares in other corps.

          While all this is indeed "wealth" as we understand it, it is NOT money; it cannot be spent. It can't be used to pay better wages or offer other perqs to its employees.

          Once you see this, you'll understand that taking the wealth away from the wealthy (whether individuals or corps) is not so easy as you might imagine. Even if you find a way to do so, what guarantee have you that this wealth will be distributed among the rest of the population?

          While we hear much about jobs being required for the poor to pull themselves up, we must realize that the wealthy don't have jobs. The rich obtain most of their money from their shares of successful corporations. In fact, many of them earn so much money this way that they can live extremely well while still having large sums to invest in further shares.

          My 2 comments up above, in this thread, show how I'd put profit-earning shares in the hands of EVERYONE so that all can earn income from the success of our corporate citizens. It DOES NOT require "taking from the rich." All it requires is a change in how wealth is inherited and by whom it's inherited.
  • May 23 2013: 100% socialism doesn't work, because if you get the same no matter what you do, you might as well not bother. similarly unbounded capitalism has produced the situation we have today, where the "work hard and you can be rich" dream is impossible because the result of hard work is the boss gets even richer than you do so no-one moves up.

    the answer then is clear - we need a salary cap. say $10m a year? and anything over that is taxed at 100% in every country. this means that individuals can strive to reach the top, but when they get there they are no longer able to keep going, which deprives others of their opportunities - remember every dollar one person has is a dollar another person doesn't have. a good historical example is benjamin franklin, who, on reaching the point where he was wealthy enough to live an extremely comfortable life without working any more, retired to work instead on his interests.
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      May 24 2013: Yep socialism has been proven not to work/be sustainable or attainable as shown by the biggest adherents ala Russia and even China, who has seen the light/benefits of Capitalism.
      Or as Margret Thatcher said...............Sooner or later you run out of spending other peoples money!

      And Ben........I just love this one of yours................'100% socialism doesn't work, because if you get the same no matter what you do, you might as well not bother.'.... which begs the question of why aren't you willing to put in 'the extra yard' for the betterment of your fellow man? And I further suggest that is a prime example of humans not being interested in equality.

      I remember every dollar I have, is a dollar I have earn t and accordingly I am entitled to have and any other person has no claims to my dollar. Now that is a clear answer.

      Ever thought of striving to become a boss or is it a road to hard?

      Cheers.............
      • May 24 2013: blade brilliant question. i used to think the same thing that we all should just chip in to help our fellow man and everything would be better for all, but while that's a great ideal, it doesn't work in reality because it enables cheats. it's actually an interest in equality that prevents people from becoming more altruistic. it works really well in small groups, but it happens so often in wider communities that there's someone somewhere who only takes and never gives, and the other members can't stand being the 'sucker' who does the right thing while someone else doesn't.

        every dollar you have, but not every dollar everyone has. for example say there was a small business employing 10 people. they all worked hard and so their profits went up by 20%, and to reward their employees' hard work the boss gave them a 5% pay increase. why if they've produced 20% more do they only get 5% more? they have legitimate claims on the money the boss kept for themselves.

        me personally i prefer working for solutions and improvements and don't care for management and administration. i don't thin it's something i couldn't do, it just doesn't hold my interest.
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          May 24 2013: Yep.. the real world is long stones throw from the altruists, the naive philosophers and academics in their cloistered towers of idealism.

          Suggest your ten employees only have a legitimate claim to anymore pay increases/payments beyond the 5% if they are 'shareholders' in that business by having put their money on the risk/investment bench with their employer.

          Accordingly if the same business was making a loss and the boss/owner could not meet the monthly installments on the risk he took by buying new high tech machines to hopefully stay in business and competitive, should his 10 employes help with the installments?
        • May 25 2013: What percent of people are 'cheats' in your view? What percent is tolerable? Do people who take more than they should do so in all cases?
      • May 24 2013: why should they accept the risk of the company? the employer has a much higher salary to cover his risk, so even if his company makes no money and he still has to pay his employees, he still has more money than they do.

        say the employees are making $10k a year and the boss makes $100k. that's 10 times as much but that's right and fair because if the company fails, the employees lose their jobs but he loses his business. imagine for 2 years everything's fine and good, the company makes $200k a year so the employees get $10k each and the boss gets $100k. after 2 years then they have $20k and he has $200k. then disaster, the main client is lost and the company makes $0 profit for a year. the boss still has to pay the employees $10k for the year but he gets nothing. end result of a complete disaster is he has made $100k over 3 years while his employees have made $30k - he still made 3 times more money than them. why should they have to take a cut on top of already making less than he does?

        if an employee has produced 20% more profit why shouldn't he be entitled to a 20% raise?
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          May 25 2013: Ben.........suggest you examples may have some basis of argument based on the hypothetical figures/scenario you tendered if Socialism was the order of the day ..............however they totally ignore the case scenario I tendered where a company has gone into debt to keep up with the technology and then finds it is unable to meet repayments.

          Your contention and figures are totally based on the premise that the company/owner is making a sh*t load of money and when that is not the case, I suggest your argument/case does not hold water.

          Further suggest the reason businesses, especially small business owners are entitled to the higher rewards is because they have had the balls to take the risks, put in the extra hours and did the hard yards.

          Suggest if it wasn't for the risk taking entrepreneurs/business minded people the planet would still be in hunter gathering mode.

          Suggest it also begs the question as to why anybody should have any claim to anything beyond the terms of the agreement they have entered into?

          cheers................
      • Comment deleted

        • May 25 2013: yes bounded capitalism continues to show the best results the world over.

          a lot of people who promote the libertarian argument don't understand the interconnections in society, and can't understand that free health care actually costs less. we each personally benefit when everyone else has good health, safety, and can get around freely.
        • May 26 2013: .
          Ben,
          That is an extremely important point!

          It points out clearly the role that the social system plays in taking care of the citizens and how the economic system needs to be owned and firmly controlled so that it provides the financial means of the social system reaching its goals on behalf of the citizens.

          BUT.... those citizens who are members of the governing body must be of such honour and honesty that they cannot be bribed to pass laws favourable to the economic system but unfavourable to the social system (citizens) as has happened in most (all?) "predatory greed-capitalist" countries such as the UK, Canada, the US, Australia, etc., etc.

          It is not that capitalism is an unworkable economic system; it is that capitalism is merely a tool. It must never come to set the rules by which the social system operates. The social system (the citizens) must at all times own and control the economic system - no matter what economic system any society uses. Always.

          Capitalism, by its very nature, tries to consume all around it. In that respect it is like fire. It is a useful tool but a very dangerous one. Once we lose control of either fire or our economic system, it can, and does, run amok. We see the results of that in today's world.

          Again..... it is not capitalism itself that we need to rid ourselves of - it is uncontrolled, predatory greed-capitalism - capitalism without proper control, that is doing us so much harm, just as an uncontrolled conflagration would.
      • May 25 2013: blade what case study are you referring to? i don't see it. however it is the boss' sole decision to go into debt to keep up with technology, so why should his employees be liable for any losses incurred? if they were equal partners i'd totally agree. but employer/employee relationships are different.

        do you really think company owners aren't making close to 10x what each of their employees are? the standard franchise owner can expect to make $75-125k a year, and that's after paying a large portion of profits to the franchise owner. a small business owner can expect to earn much more than that because they don't have those costs (but of course with more risk).

        i agree that owners are entitled to higher rewards for the reasons you've given, but not increasingly higher rewards. a 20% increase across the board means the boss gets a bigger raise because he earns more. you understand that giving an equal percentage raise means an unequal dollar amount right?

        if the boss gets 20% more why should the employees gets less than 20%? they're already on a lower salary. they may not have a contractual claim but surely they have a moral claim? fair pay for fair work.
  • May 22 2013: To me, wealth means power and vice versa... when you have power, you don´t want to lose it, so you reform the superestructure so that you are the one that takes decisions and to me, that is the state of the world. And what if you empower the poor? you do what Cuba did once and was isolated from the world or you do what Chavez did in Venezuela and you are seen as the villain.
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    May 22 2013: Hi Todd Cee ........curious here re your..............'Blade, might I suggest that your comment came off a little disrespectfully. But I digress, i'm not the TED police LOL!"

    "Disrespectful' you say/claim...........kindly enlighten me of the error of my ways in that Nisarg Shah made a number of statements/claims in a debate/discussion forum and I asked for clarification thereto ....................why is that anywhere near disrespectful?
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    May 22 2013: Well Shoaib Saleemi suggest your unsubstantiated claims are worth squat.

    Begs the question though why did you even bother telling me there was no point in telling me about them?

    And you know what I need or don't need because?

    And as for as you put it...'making a difference' ...........suggest the last time I looked this was a discussion/debate forum, not a come on and brag about supposed 'differences' one is making and accordingly your self serving red herring, ala 'I doubt you will make a difference.' is just a cheap shot attempt at denigration because I asked some questions it appears you didn't want or felt shouldn't be asked!

    cheers.
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    May 22 2013: I have the answers to most of these questions, I just don't see any point in telling you about them, the weakest ties, the poor need my help more than you. I doubt you will make a difference.
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    May 22 2013: Curious Nisarg Shah ...would you like to share with us what those moral responsibilities are that you speak of, that the 'rich' need to understand towards society and why such is the case and by who's deeming that is the case?

    Oh and kindly define rich for us.

    And while your at it, would you kindly like to tell us what moral responsibilities if any the poor have towards society?
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      May 22 2013: Blade, might I suggest that your comment came off a little disrespectfully. But I digress, i'm not the TED police LOL!

      Anyways Laree, this is such an enthralling subject. Equality is something that many societies strive for, but will it ever be reached? I think social equality here is a direct effect of the financial inequalities. If we do away with one, the other will follow! I might suggest that cities could hire homeless people to pick up trash around their neighborhoods, and there could be monetary compensation for doing so. Everyone wins!

      God bless!

      -Todd C.
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        May 22 2013: Why do they strive for it?

        Typically the politicians creating a straw man (the upper 1%) which they will battle on your behalf in order to get elected.

        I recommend this book:

        "Equality, the Third World, and Economic Delusion"

        by P.T. Bauer of the London School of Economics
      • May 26 2013: .
        Todd,
        First of all, no two people are "equal" in any real sense of the word. What we ARE however, is "equally human."

        What this means is that we can never expect that every one of us has the same abilities to do certain things that the next guy might have, but that we ought to all be able to count on having - and giving - the same respect toward each other as fellow human beings.
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    May 22 2013: Laree I recommend this book on the subject

    "Equality, the Third World, and Economic Delusion"

    by P.T. Bauer of the London School of Economics
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    May 22 2013: The best way I can think of doing this is to work outside the global economic system, creating a system that through incentives and culture prevents the kind of wealth inequality from forming in the first place, that you seek to change in our current culture. History is strewn with the litter of failed attempts to achieve this ideal. Yet those failures do not imply this is an unworthy goal to pursue.

    However, you will be challenged as far as obtaining sufficient natural resources to sustain a population if you work outside the current global economic system. You would need to set up an independent community, which would be hard to do in today's global, interconnected business and culture. Unfortunately, all the good land on the whole earth is pretty much spoken for so that's pretty much not a realistic, sustainable option.

    Which leaves revolution, or some other world changing event. In short, I don't think it's possible to do in a meaningful way. The wealthy will not voluntarily give up their wealth, unless they are so inclined to set up a Gatesian style foundation.

    I believe the concept of wealth relies on a zero sum economic game in which there are a few wealthy people balanced by the vast majority of poor and middle class. The extent to which we are controlled by this system is rather sad, and I do hope for a world with more wealth equality one day, however we can achieve that.
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    May 22 2013: A good topic sharing...I will continue focusing on it.
    • May 22 2013: A good topic, but the question presumes people truly want wealth equality. On the surface, people say they want things. But, in reality, they are not willing/able to create wealth or equality. People are created differently, and some of our differences include desire/ability/circumstances. I don't think any social program will change people's competitive spirit. Rather, I would suggest that the real issue is creating an environment where rich and poor can just get along with each other. How is that accomplished? No easy task. Bringing people together for common interests that don't involve money is a start (such as family, the environment, etc). Yet we realize that wealth can creep into any issue, since its a way for some to compete. Wealth is often just an outward expression of those who have played the game of life well. Money is the scorecard. I too wish that someone could install harmony where it is needed. Spelling bees are fun, and don't cost much.
      • May 26 2013: .
        Robert,
        Yes, people do indeed have a competitive spirit. We make much of competition in our society. But, we also have a co-operative spirit too. We make little of this in our society.

        Let me suggest that were we to make more of our co-operative spirit to ensure that all have the basic income necessary to obtain a decent standard of living and THEN engage in competition for the "goodies," we'd have it made; security plus competition!

        Remember too, competition must, if it is to be a true competition, be relatively fair. This means that we do not put a whole healthy well-trained competitor up against an ill, one-legged, untrained competitor. The "assets" of each competitor must be relatively equal.

        In economic terms this means that if one competitor starts off in life with a huge economic advantage, it is ridiculous to pit him against another whose start in life was/is in poverty. That isn't competition - that's just slaughter. That the occasional poverty stricken competitor actually puts up a good showing is used as an example of how all could do so. This is bull-twicky. In almost every instance where this has happened, that unexpected good showing is the result of the poverty stricken competitor getting much assistance from outside his wealth level.

        In real life, that doesn't happen very much at all; the poverty stricken stay that way. Wealth is NOT "an outward expression of those who have played the game of life well." It is the MEANS by which they've been able to "play the game" at all! Those without it can only cheer from the sidelines (if they can even afford a ticket to the "game of life.")
        • May 28 2013: I see your point of view. However, unfortunately for all of us, humans are not "relatively equal." If they were, I suppose we would not be talking. I'm focusing on differences in ability and desire. A teacher may be smarter than a successful business person, but have no desire to compete for economic wealth. Being a teacher is all the wealth they need. Regarding "assets", well that too varies widely just like one's ability or desires. If you take away the assets from people with ability, and transfer them to the poverty stricken, those with ability will find a way to recapture their assets.

          From a policy perspective, its important to set laws that add fairness where needed (such as minimum wage, safe working environment, national health care, social security, etc). An ethic of the region's economic system should include provisions to improve those who need it. Just as we educate our kids, the system can educate those who need business skills. Perhaps the education can be paid through a sales tax, and offered through the local colleges/trade schools.
  • May 21 2013: One start is to balance education with cooperation. If the main human development venue is all about competition and neglects cooperation, you will get a 1% versus 99% outcome where just a few win and everyone else loses.
  • May 21 2013: Wealthy people often give. And if they are wealthy enough, start a philanthropy. I think wealthy folks would do a lot more if they could see their money making a difference instead of disappearing into possible corruption or simply going into a top-down paternalistic aid program that treats the impoverished as a class where projects wind up just perpetuating a poverty trap--people "get" stuff and use it up and stay just who they were i.e. needy and poor. People however are not all the same. Some impoverished see solutions but have no venue to borrow or even petition a charity. Microfinance is a recognition of that and its envisioner won the Nobel Prize for implementing it where the poor can get small uncollateralized loans if they substantiate a solution or create a business that benefits the people around where more than enough economy is generated to pay back the loan. I think that this should not be limited to just the destitute in India or Africa but every secondary school everywhere where students can perform local intelligence-gathering and substantiate cases for some better solution that saves the society money and makes opportunity for economy--all while following a unified methodology that keeps the financial books open. If wealthy people could see how their money could make that difference and actually get paid back if not with interest, you have a synergistic society. It's a disgrace to see a wealthy person suddenly die and find air craft hangers full of Rolls Royces and just massive wealth dead to the world in someone's vain shrine to themselves when it doesn't even have to be given away. It can facilitate millions of people and make even more wealth for that wealthy person. This is not an easy thing to do, but with one willing angel investor, some good luck and a lot of salesmanship, many of those now simply monopolizing wealth will put it into a dynamism that facilitates those who reach upward.
  • May 21 2013: Sounds like socialisim to me! Which is a great thing. BUT it doesn't exsist. Free market societies ride on the backs of those willing to do the work. When we all have the same stuff and there is no incentive to get ahead we grow stagnet. Why would I want to go to school to be a doctor if I could stay at home playing video games and receive the same reward?
  • May 21 2013: I have been trying to make sense of this growing inequality, and it occurred to me that in the wealthier countries the 99% have little economic motivation to pursue more wealth; they already have enough. In the USA even poor people have cars, telephones, etc. Perhaps the 99% have started to pursue other values, like more time with their children, and more time at the local museum. (When there are too many potatoes, the excess just rot.) Perhaps the 1% is so small because they are different from the majority, having a need to pursue wealth that is in excess of their needs.

    There seems to be an assumption that everyone would pursue great wealth, given the opportunity. This is simply not true. Many people turn down opportunities for increased monetary wealth. In my case, I repeatedly turned down opportunities for promotion to spend more time with my family. I do not think I am exceptional, but rather normal. The middle class is so popular because it represents a more balanced life, not because the middle class lacks talent and opportunity. Many posters here on TED are choosing simpler life styles that involve less acquisition and a smaller environmental footprint.

    I am far less concerned with the economic imbalance itself than with the resulting imbalance of power.

    Another aspect of this economic imbalance is philanthropy. Many billions of dollars are going into private institutions where private individuals are making decisions about the best use of these resources. The public has absolutely zero control or even influence over these decisions. This is a time honored tradition, a consequence of property rights that most people consider moral and usually benevolent. Increasing economic balance (equality) will decrease philanthropy.

    We should all understand that the alternative to gross inequality is not equality, but increased balance. Pursuing that balance will certainly have unintended consequences which will require more adjustments.
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    May 21 2013: Remind people of their "moral duty"?
    "RSA Animate - The Truth About Dishonesty"
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBmJay_qdNc
    Or teach people that they have a false view of happiness? That material gain (natural happiness) won't even guarantee them happiness.
    Dan Gilbert: The surprising science of happiness :
    http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy.html
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    May 21 2013: For something this big, it seems like the solution would need to be even bigger than the problem... To understand the problem may be as simple as redefining or clarification of what evil is... I think even a 5yr old knows keeping all the toys in a room full of other children is unjust.

    Is this child born evil..? Taught evil..? Or did a force of nature take over the child..?

    I don't see any good vs evil in nature... Nature is about balance... Evil is a condition of man and a fight for unbalance.
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      May 21 2013: With your specific example about the child in reference to being evil: I do not believe evil is inherited. We are creatures of habit but also we learn our behavior. I also think that a child who is deprived of attention grasps on to any object as a symbol of "I have control of this object cause I have the authority to not share it". This happens psychologically and not necessarily verbally. So starting off from the beginning, yes, education is key to building a society that is more in tuned with their community. I think we just need to be ok in not always having control of the situation and allow ourselves to feel uncomfortable about life on a constant bases as to grow in becoming understanding individuals.
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    May 20 2013: Too many people think reducing Top-1%’s wealth is how to reduce inequality, instead of focusing increasing the 99%'s wealth. And not by give them wealth, but instead by removing obstacles in their way of them creating their own wealth. And I agree with Delta M, in the wealth should not be view in monetary means, but instead we should ask How do we reducing quality of life inequality?

    There are many different obstacles that people face, so the first thing we need to do is to Shut-up and Listen.
    http://www.ted.com/talks/ernesto_sirolli_want_to_help_someone_shut_up_and_listen.html

    Desertification is a common obstacle, so teaching holistic management may be a way many could create their own wealth.
    http://www.ted.com/talks/allan_savory_how_to_green_the_world_s_deserts_and_reverse_climate_change.html

    Poor Education is anther common obstacle, so the creation of an international online education system so all can have access to prodigious classes. Online-classes in combination with groups like One Laptop per child.
    http://www.ted.com/talks/nicholas_negroponte_on_one_laptop_per_child_two_years_on.html and http://one.laptop.org/map

    Quality sanitation and electricity are other improvements that need to be addressed.

    Although I believe that there should be no limit on monetary wealth anyone can have, we should address those gaining wealth via wrongful means. Like monopolies, slavery, wars, thief, government corruption and etc.