TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

What is wrong with the 1%?

My assumption is that we all benefit from wealth creation. How do we encourage its creation if we cast those who accumulate it in a negative light? Is it not societies reward mechanism for entrepreneurship, innovation and good management? Would it be fair to suggest the issue raised by the 99% is more one related to the ostentatious display of wealth and the lack of transparency as to how it was earned? Is this a reflection of consumer versus societal values? Should wealth be confiscated or should society encourage it is used in a manner that does not cause social unrest? If so how?

Share:

Closing Statement from Thor Hempel

I would like to thank everyone for their contributions. One of the findings that surprised me was how much our responses are possibly influenced by moral issues such as covetousness and greed. The current global economic issues beg for solutions to resolve the conflict between the 99% and the 1%. What surprised me when doing some research were the wise words from the past. Tragic lessons unheeded?
"Of all forms of tyranny the least attractive and the most vulgar is the tyranny of mere wealth." Theodore Roosevelt

"An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all Republics." Plutarch

"Of all the potential perils to the new American republic, the prospect of concentrated power . . troubled the intellectual leaders of the Revolutionary generation. Familiar as the founders were with old Europe . . they understood why the accumulation of inherited wealth led to inequities and imbalances that inevitably corrupted any system of government." J. Conason

"Market forces have no intrinsically moral direction, which is why, before he wrote The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith wrote The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Ethics should precede economics. But it doesn't have to. . . We know this because we've seen the results of capitalism without conscience: the pollution of the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat; the endangerment of workers; and the sale of dangerous products - from cars to toys to drugs. All in pursuit of ever-greater profits." A. Huffington

"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." F. D. Roosevelt

"Of course I believe in free enterprise but in my system of free enterprise, the democratic principle is that there never was, never has been, never will be, room for the ruthless exploitation of the many for the benefit of the few." H Truman

"If there are men in this country big enough to own the government of the United States, they are going to own it." Woodrow Wilson

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Jan 10 2012: I would say that lack of transparency is the primary issue. It is easy to look at someone and not understand how they got to be the way there are. It is easy to make assumptions. It is easy to presume that someone else has it easy, while you have it hard. You cannot look at a person who you think is rich and automatically see who they are, how they behave, or how hard they may or may not have worked. The problem lies in the ignorance of assumption without evidence.

    The secondary issue is in a general lack of education and conscientiousness in regard to how to effectively budget whatever capital you control. This is partly the result of people being creatures of habit, and when you get acclimated to spending a certain amount in a certain way, it is easy to continue to do so at your own future detriment.

    A tertiary issue lies in ethics and morality. Too often do people see something shiny, and want it, only because it is shiny, and for no other reason. Other times, they believe having something will make them popular or chic, and they may often begin to dwell on it and lust over it, especially if it is unattainable. At some point, they may no longer seek to actively work to attain possession, but will do whatever is necessary in order to obtain it. Money is a good example of this. Too many people are slaves to their desires for a piece of paper that has merely been blessed by the treasury department.

    There is an expression which, if considered and followed to its logical conclusion, may be taken as a partial remedy to all of these issues: "Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries."

    The problem is not with the "1%", but with the probably 1% who decided there was a problem with a different 1% and deign to speak for the other 98.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.