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

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

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

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

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

Thanks heaps in advance :)

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  • May 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.............
        • Bob S

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

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

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

          In the Bible!
      • Bob S

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        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
    • Bob S

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      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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