Wealth distribution and inequality

Discussion in 'Politics & Current Events' started by ArkaneDemon, Apr 13, 2012.

  1. ArkaneDemon

    ArkaneDemon SS.org Regular

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    Just saw this cool video. Discuss.

    I don't entirely agree with his solution for two reasons:

    1) what he proposes is a two-fold solution, the first on a national level, the second on a global level. The first is hard to manage because I doubt that power- and money-hungry corporations and lobbying groups would allow something like that to happen. This is shown through all the efforts made by the preceding to deregulate the market (which led to the 2008 recession); they'd hardly agree with more regulations. On a global level, it would take a lot more time and effort to try to get countries to agree on creating standardized regulations and enforcing them. It'd be interesting to see them try though, just to see what they have in mind. It could still end up having loopholes or other fun stuff.

    2) I am divided on how I feel about it, if it succeeded. Part of me would be happy if the average Joe's life got significantly better. There are some places in the world where living and working conditions are as bad as they were in England right after the Industrial Revolution. So, naturally, it'd be nice for the people who are affected negatively by the state of the economic system to get more out of their life. People in third-world countries who work in those horrid conditions know of their exploitation, while people in first world countries have a bit of a harder time seeing that.

    This is where the other part of me comes in. Too many people become content with their state of affairs even if it is meager and bland. I've met too many people working two extremely excruciating jobs, with barely any money left over after rent and utilities, who barely get anything nutritious to eat because of their lack of money (so they're unhealthy), and they're so worn out after their work that they just go home and watch tv until they fall asleep (or other, similar things). And yet they can't see their direction exploitation through the economic system, after being told "well, you're lucky you're not like those people in third-world countries who have it worse off than you, so you have no right to complain", so they put that on the backburner and just continue with their meager toil and downtrodden existence because they almost feel guilty about it. What I'm trying to get at is that part of me feels as though throwing some breadcrumbs at these people will only ameliorate their condition just a little bit, but it will (perhaps exponentially) do away with any sort of class consciousness they might have possessed in the past. What this means is that these people (who, although not as extreme as the two-job people I talked about until now, are the majority of people, and they live in conditions that shouldn't even be fit for animals, conditions of mindless repetitiveness, blandness, and uncertainty) will become increasingly blind to the inherent exploitation of modern economics, and the system will be continually perpetuated for longer than it would have if class consciousness was higher.

    Also, the most recent census in the US shows that 1 in 2 people are living in poverty. That's a shitty buzz: Census shows 1 in 2 people are poor or low-income - Yahoo! Finance

    Don't get me wrong though, I'm not saying that the majority of people shouldn't be helped, that's the exact opposite of what should be done, I'm just skeptical of how it should be done.

    Those are my two comments on his solution. I have other stuff to say on this topic, but I'm curious to see what others have to say before I continue. Also, I should be studying for my exams right now, so I should probably do that instead of being on sso :lol:
     
    renzoip, Randy and Guitarman700 like this.
  2. Aevolve

    Aevolve Yugen.

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    I'm all for Laissez-Faire capitalism personally (excluding obvious necessary subsidies), so my perception sort-of grants me to accepting income inequality as a naturally-occurring theme. Those who innovate reap the rewards in a competitive market. If you want more money, educate yourself and work hard. :shrug:

    :2c:
     
  3. Baelzebeard

    Baelzebeard Grinder of strings

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    As wonderful as the concept of global financial equality may seem to some, it is an absolute utopian pipe dream.

    Due to human nature with greed and ambition and corruption being normal, almost any equality is impossible between even small groups of humans.

    And, (without researching it) I believe that if all the money was equally distributed among all people we would all end up poor. I'm not sure how that could help.

    My .02
     
  4. Explorer

    Explorer He seldomly knows...

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    Given that the world hasn't even managed to end all slavery, I have my doubts.
     
  5. Vinchester

    Vinchester SS.org Regular

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    I read from somewhere that there's simply not enough natural resources to sustain that level of quality of life for everyone. It's unthinkable how much energy and resource would be needed if even everyone in China start living and spending like people in the U.S... Sounds like we need another wave of technological breakthrough that would ease the limits.

    Your comment on class consciousness is interesting and I generally agree with you that it might make people more aware of the exploitation going on. Nevertheless my brain is not ready to make any more intelligent remarks :squint:
     
  6. Stealthdjentstic

    Stealthdjentstic Banned

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    Well that video was a little pointless to watch, everyone already knows the US has a really fucked up tax structure, especially income tax and capital gains tax. I can't believe they're so hilariously low in the US :lol:
     
  7. TRENCHLORD

    TRENCHLORD Banned

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    Everyone should at least one time read Paul Ehrlich's book The Population Bomb.
    Some has come to pass, some has not, but it all will unless measures are taken at some point.
     
  8. Jakke

    Jakke Pretty wisdomous

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    Total economical equality seems very impractical to implement to me. You would need a sort of communist system where the government distributes wealth, and personally I would not like to live in such a society. However want I want to see is equal opportunity, we have it here in Sweden (or very closes to), but I understand the US is lagging, and let's not talk about it globally.

    There are always going to be people who are more intelligent and/or talented than others, they will of course have the opportunity to earn more money, and that is the model I like. Of course with higher income comes higher taxation, that goes without saying. What I do not understand is how the US can have those extremely low tax-rates (especcially for corporations and really rich people, those who can afford to pay high taxes), and still some whine that taxes are too high. Let's put it a bit into perspective, my parents are pretty much middle class, in the middle of the middle class in fact, yet my father, on his income last year, payed about 60% taxes.
    That is a high tax-rate.
    What the US has is a country going bankrupt because a group that can afford a high taxation has a stranglehold on the congress, and therefore they can pay extremely low taxes, which is contrary to the interests of the whole nation, the few govern the many.

    Yet conservatives scream about communism and taxing rich people to death.
    Bitch, please..



    I should also add that I am far from a socialist, I am a libertarian. But instead of being bat-shit crazy, as some free-market libertarians apparently are, I'm pragmatic, and see the need for resonable taxes.
     
  9. Explorer

    Explorer He seldomly knows...

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    So, although it might be a split decision on whether economic parity is really the best goal... why not pursue freedom parity?

    I've been thinking about this, about the idea that often people will offer economic plans to make people more equal but not about making people equally free. Why is that?
     
  10. Demiurge

    Demiurge Intrepid Jackass

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    Great point.
     
  11. ry_z

    ry_z Ikebana Noise Club

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    Education is extremely expensive.
     
  12. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Going to private universities is expensive, actually learning something, even a trade, is not at all expensive. In many cases you even get paid.
     
  13. troyguitar

    troyguitar SS.org Regular

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    In general I agree with you. However, merely increasing taxes would not really help here. The problem lies in the super rich still controlling everything. Even if they bizarrely decided to raise taxes on themselves, they would just spend that revenue on - you guessed it - themselves.

    Law and government need to be shitty, low-paying jobs just like being a teacher or policeman before we can even have a chance in hell at a decent system.
     
  14. Jakke

    Jakke Pretty wisdomous

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    I agree, taxation is not the only answer, albeit an important part IMO:yesway:
     
  15. flint757

    flint757 SS.org Regular

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    Yeah taxes need to be increased. the most ridiculous part is the money in your bank isn't being taxed so lets say you make 10 million and you pay 1 million in taxes. You now have 13 million in the bank and next year you will add 13 million. you get taxed on money earned not had so in a way a lot of money goes untaxed in the first place if I understand how it works correctly.

    I think equality for now is impossible and things like Zetgeist for instance are just ridiculous, but I do think something needs to change. I think capitalism is a good thing though because the hardest/smartest/most talented person does deserve more than the other guy IMO. After all what is the incentive to be innovative if I make as much as the guy sitting on the couch. Even if I enjoyed my job I enjoy guitar, snowboarding, games etc. a lot more so I wouldn't necessarily work hard for the sake of it. (not me literally)
     
  16. groph

    groph SS.org Regular

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    When you take racism, sexism, all the -isms and all other forms of oppression out of the picture then laissez-faire is great. It is liberty and opportunity made real. Even with my limited understanding I can see how that works. It's just not as simple in reality though, educating yourself and working hard won't guarantee you more money. Education is good if what you're learning is relevant or "economically viable" so it's pretty much tough beans if you can't get a job in your preferred field. If you're in this purely to make as much money as you can, what skills you acquire will be dictated by the market, not by your own aspirations or ideas of the human you want to become. Working hard is no guarantee either. The poorest of the world work their asses off. Now, I guess you could interpret "working hard" in another way, e.g. perseverance, and yeah that's generally a good quality to have in a country such as Canada or the US or a comparably wealthy European nation. So where did that wealth come from; how was that wealth created?

    I guess it's not just capitalism that would cause or create income inequality, though it surely doesn't help. The wealth of the powerful nations today was built through coercion for the most part, surely with a measure of consent but when you're an indigenous people with bows and arrows and suddenly you're met with an armada of cannon-armed ships and thousands of soldiers with guns, you're going to feel more "encouraged" to trade with these foreign people. Yeah, some good will come of it, but it's not a beautiful, free, consensual exchange between two willing parties as the giant fucking armada kind of undermines that. Also the richest places in the world are probably what, the African continent? Direct me to the buzzing metropolises in Africa that weren't run by white people (this isn't meant as an assertion of white supremacy, it's just badly worded). I mean, wealth is "redistributed" all the time, colonial exploitation was "wealth redistribution" as well and one cannot forget that material wealth on this planet is just that - material and finite. The gold in your watch came from somewhere, the plastic in your pen came from somewhere.

    So yeah, I agree that income inequality seems to be pretty much inevitable but it's not because of free markets.

    I've only looked briefly at the Wikipedia article for the book (the first Paul Ehrlich I looked up was a German hematologist and I was all like "dafuq?") and it's saying something about how we can avert crisis if we can bring our death/birth rate into equilibrium or into the negative.

    Now I'm only looking at that assertion alone, I haven't read the book nor have I even gone through a cursory Wikipedia article but I can raise a couple of criticisms:

    a) With an expanding aging population who will be unable to work, what do we do? Force the elderly to work, or do we inflate a social security net which may further bankrupt us, as supply-side theories seem to worry? Obviously we have to replace people as they die to maintain ANY economic system or any form of society. A neutral birthrate will gradually cause the population to become on average, older (eg, as medical technology improves and life expectancy goes up), while a negative birthrate will do the same thing, only faster.

    b) It's mostly in the developing world that is facing huge population problems if I remember correctly. In developing nations most population growth comes from immigration, not childbirth. More educated people tend to have less children as well and this has its impact on demographics. We don't need huge families to get by like you do in a developing country. Yeah, you've got dick all to eat but at least you have more hands to do work with.

    The government does implement population control devices, immigration laws could be interpreted as such, birth control legislation another, and the medical institution could be seen as another instrument of population control although it's more indirect and not necessarily explicitly linked to a government (in the past we've "controlled populations" by spreading disease around and Canada has done this too).

    Look into Michel Foucault's idea of biopower - it's convoluted as all fuck and I don't have a good grasp of it yet but basically it has to do with governments having increasingly greater power over increasingly larger populations - an example again would be the medical institution with its management of global pandemics; basically the concept means "population control." China has/had it's one child policy (that favored male children, which makes it more effective as a population-reducing or controlling measure by ensuring there are less fertile women around)

    Basically, what is the greater relevance Ehrlich and his book has to this discussion?

    To go back to the video, I guess the root of this lies in a discussion of supply-side economics IE the "trickle down" theory. He indirectly referred to how this doesn't work or isn't working or isn't being allowed to work when he said how 93% of bailout money went into the hands of the absolute richest while the remaining 7% went to the rest of us. In theory, the absolute richest would reinvest that money and expand their businesses to either employ more people or increase wages (they could probably do more things with it too) but I'm left with the impression that such money goes into the pockets of business owners and financial elites and the general populace doesn't see a dime of it - that's why he's saying that financial policy has been a failure to America, a nation which tries to achieve equality of opportunity; the money isn't being used to create opportunity.

    Now I'm no expert on this and I gather you're a right-leaning guy so I'll assume you're also an advocate of supply-side, "trickle down" economics so if you can further elaborate I'd like to hear it. I get how it works in theory but apparently that theory hasn't been put into practice. Why?
     
  17. flint757

    flint757 SS.org Regular

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    What I can add is neutral population growth isn't all that neutral when your great great grandparents are still alive. If I was made to replace my dad, well he is still here and so is my granddad. In theory we'd have to be in the negative to really be replacing people as they die without growing as a total population. Of course I could have the concept all wrong too.

    Really though we need more growth because older people aren't necessarily able to work and if the youth pay for the old then we need a lot of youth to cover that I'd think. It has a tinge of downward spiral to it, but the only other alternative is to just forget about the elderly which I wouldn't want ot live in a society like that if only because I will be old some day as well and that is a scary thought.
     
  18. Powermetalbass

    Powermetalbass Powermetalbassist

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    Solution: Tax the rich, don't tax the poor. Another solution get rid of the current capitalist system and have a fair capitalist system.

    Problem: The people in power will not do this

    Problem: Protesting in sit ins/occupy B.S doesn't work.

    Solution: Get rid of the rich people (like actually do it, you won't but if you would like change and don't like the current situation....do something about it)


    On a personal note, I don't care either way. I'm not poor, and I am content with life. So why change anything if you really don't have it that bad.
     
  19. flint757

    flint757 SS.org Regular

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    I think everyone should pay their part, but the high taxes on the poor and low taxes on the rich is ridiculous at the very least it should be a flat rate.

    Honestly I don't see why other US citizens are so against higher taxes (other than the abuse of power occurring in our politics). If we paid say 60% taxes and medical, college as many times as you want, public transportation, good policies when in between jobs, maybe even car insurance and all other forms of insurance were covered in that you really aren't paying very much in taxes unless your super rich and could pay for everything out of pocket.

    However, I do not think that the poor have a right to necessarily dip there hands into someone else's success. Should they trickle down an pay there part yes, but the poor do not deserve everything that rich people have earned. Even if it is inherited someone down the line earned it. What would be the incentive to better ones self if there was the threat of someone just taking it all away. (not referring to taxes, but the actual removal of money) Although, the rich benefit most from politics so then again maybe they should be contributing more. *shrug*
     
  20. renzoip

    renzoip I Am the Table

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    Taxing the rich is a good start, but that alone will not be enough. I think the mean of production need to be either liberated from the small group of people who have their hands on them. Or at the very list, reform the system in order to balance the power relations in favors of the workers. Also, liberating the labor market would be helpful so that not only consumer good and raw material can freely travel across borders, but workers can too. That way, they can freely go out and work wherever they can make the most money.

    Will it be pretty for those of us who have been benefiting from inequality? Not at all. But that's how it is. Socio-economic and political inequality derived from the market is not at all natural, and the free-market itself is not at all free. Justify it however you want, but in the end, it is very obvious that for the invisible hand of the market to work, an invisible fist has to precede, and has to create the conditions for it to work.
     

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