Interesting article regarding effects of income disparity

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of angie angie 3 years ago.

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  • #57860
    Profile photo of GarySFBCN
    GarySFBCN
    Participant

    I hope this isn’t our future:

    “The increasing ability of computers to perform ordinary tasks will inexorably transform America into an income oligarchy in which the top 15 percent of people—with skills “that are a complement to the computer”—will enjoy “cheery” labor-market prospects and soaring incomes, while the bottom 85 percent, that is to say, 267 million out of America’s 315 million people, will be lucky to find Walmart-level jobs or scrape together marginal “freelance” livings running $25-a-pop errands for their betters via TaskRabbit (say, picking up and delivering a pair of designer shoes from Nordstrom) or renting out their spare bedrooms (if they have any) to overnight lodgers via Airbnb.

    That is, if they’ll be working at all. “There are many other historical periods, including medieval times, where inequality is high, upward mobility is fairly low, and the social order is fairly stable, even if we as moderns find some aspects of that order objectionable,” Cowen writes in his new book.”

    “Master and servant. Cornucopian wealth for a few tech oligarchs plus relatively steady but relatively low-paying work for their lucky retainers. No middle class, unless the top 5 percent U.S. income bracket counts as middle class.”

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/silicon-chasm_768037.html

  • #118701
    Profile photo of logan
    logan
    Participant

    Wealth is relative to your circumstances and aspirations. Not everyone seeks a life of financial or material accumulation, even though they may have the ability so to do.

    Boris Johnson London’s Mayor said yesterday “that inequality is essential to fostering “the spirit of envy” and hailed greed as a “valuable spur to economic activity”.
    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/nov/27/boris-johnson-thatcher-greed-good

    Well that’s the kind of statement you may expect from politicians whose naked ambitions seem often to cloud his judgment. However it does beg a philosophical question on the nature of inequality.

    There are many forms of it. Intellectual inequality, social inequality to name but two.

    There is a preconception in western culture that financial superiority automatically cancels out these two and leads to a form of nirvana. It does do not. In fact I would go as far to say that financial superiority over others leads to a form of poverty of the soul.

    Most people require some form of incentive to motivate them. Our capitalist societies cleverly try and provide a road map for that. Striving for superiority over others is one very powerful driver. Yet many of us choose personal fulfillment over material security and lead very satisfactory lives. That does not mean less intelligence or a lack of ambition more the excising of freedom and personal choice.

    It’s very often the already rich and powerful such as Boris Johnson who try and incentivize the rest of us. To follow their lead by suggesting if you do not you must be intellectually challenged. I think that indicates a form of deep insecurity as well as being plain wrong.

  • #118705
    Profile photo of GarySFBCN
    GarySFBCN
    Participant

    @logan wrote:

    Wealth is relative to your circumstances and aspirations. Not everyone seeks a life of financial or material accumulation, even though they may have the ability so to do.

    Boris Johnson London’s Mayor said yesterday “that inequality is essential to fostering “the spirit of envy” and hailed greed as a “valuable spur to economic activity”.
    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/nov/27/boris-johnson-thatcher-greed-good

    Well that’s the kind of statement you may expect from politicians whose naked ambitions seem often to cloud his judgment. However it does beg a philosophical question on the nature of inequality.

    There are many forms of it. Intellectual inequality, social inequality to name but two.

    There is a preconception in western culture that financial superiority automatically cancels out these two and leads to a form of nirvana. It does do not. In fact I would go as far to say that financial superiority over others leads to a form of poverty of the soul.

    Most people require some form of incentive to motivate them. Our capitalist societies cleverly try and provide a road map for that. Striving for superiority over others is one very powerful driver. Yet many of us choose personal fulfillment over material security and lead very satisfactory lives. That does not mean less intelligence or a lack of ambition more the excising of freedom and personal choice.

    It’s very often the already rich and powerful such as Boris Johnson who try and incentivize the rest of us. To follow their lead by suggesting if you do not you must be intellectually challenged. I think that indicates a form of deep insecurity as well as being plain wrong.

    Interesting and thoughtful post, logan. One major issue I have with debates about inequality is that most people seem to assume that there is equal opportunity at birth. There are cities in the US where the economic and social justice disparities are so great that it affects every ‘stage’ of life. At birth, the difference in ‘life expectancy’ between two adjacent neighborhoods can be as high as 17 years, which means that a child born on one side of the street is expected to live 17 years longer than a child on the other side of the street (according the analysis of age at death by geographic location, weighted for variables). So someone from one of these poor neighborhoods paying into the Social Security pension system does not really have any hope of collecting – because they will be dead – and they are actually making the system more stable by forfeiting their ‘share’ for the sake of those who usually are not as poor.

    And there are recent studies that demonstrate that the toxic hormonal physiology created by constant levels of stress associated with poverty can permanently affect the development of children by age 2. The health effects of this economic and social justice disparity usually follows one throughout life: Low birthweight babies have higher rates of heart disease and diabetes as adults; access to healthy foods is limited because grocery stores do not exist in poor neighborhoods, leaving people to buy unhealthy food a convience stores and fast food restaurants, etc. Then there is the insidious economic exploitation: Banks charge high fees to the poor, leaving them to use ‘check cashing franchises’ to cash their paychecks, losing 10% because of the high fees charged by these places. The list of Dicken’s era injustices is disgustingly long.

    We’ve all read success stories how someone overcame some horrendous adversity to become a millionaire etc. But almost nobody acknowledges that in many of these cases, luck – being at the place at the right time, and having ‘connections’ was also involved with that success.

    I’m tired of the myth that poor people don’t work hard. I’d say that a majority of poor people work harder than their wealthy counterparts.

    And I’m appalled that ’empathy’ is now nothing more than a quaint artifact seen in a minority of people, usually over a certain age.

    Back to your point – knowing what motivates people to produce and contribute to society is important. I am attracted to Spain because their approach to life and wealth appears to be so different than it is in the US, and frankly, it is more consistent to my own beliefs. I’ve never wanted to be wealthy. I just want to live comfortably, and hopefully, I have achieved that goal.

    I posted the article about Boris Johnson on my Facebook page. From the comments posted, I learned a new word: Tosser.

  • #118733
    Profile photo of logan
    logan
    Participant

    I believe the key driver of the wealth creators is the personal need for power and capacity over other peoples lives. That power can take many forms. Like nineteenth century industrialists, modern billionaires in America tend to become philanthropists. That is a form of excising power. It is not empathy with the human condition or particular cause, so much as a craving for a sort of immortality.

    Even billionaires need meaning to their lives. That is because wealth in itself is unsatisfying as a destination. Most humans crave it but few actually arrive there. When they do their disappointment becomes palpable.

    Real meaning to life has to be obtained elsewhere. Power as Kissinger once said is the ultimate aphrodisiac. Self made wealthy individuals tend never to stop creating the stuff, never retire and are almost never motivated to change the direction of their lives.

    The realisation or creating of money is not the end in itself, merely the beginning of a form of dominion over their fellow men.

    Social politics used to even out disparity in incomes. Charity has now become the new taxation.

  • #118735
    Profile photo of angie
    angie
    Spectator

    Interesting points about Boris Johnson, I’ve met so many Tories who think the sun shines out of his botty, they ask me what I think of him assuming I will agree with them, I immediately think/say ‘buffoon’, ‘bully boy’ ‘Bullingdon elitist Club at Oxford’ etc. We have recent Oxford Uni history in my family, but I dislike the Bullingdon side of things. It reeks of snobbery, but the Uni itself is wonderful. Of course Boris has a track record for mistresses in spite of his weight and not good looks, but it’s the power thing and door opening that attract the ladies 🙄

    He will be going for the role of UK Prime Minister when the time comes 🙁

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