I was thinking about this idea of income disparity and the rich getting richer, the poor getting the shaft, “a level playing field” and all the rest of the junk that’s come across the web indicating that unless the government does something to address this, we’re all going to hell and in a very bad and painful way.
Um, shit, where do I start.
From what I know of the world, regardless of income or location or social strata—actually any filter you want to apply—people will generally seek to; a) associate with people similar to themselves, b) shun (or avoid) people who are not similar to themselves, and, c) exploit any advantages that they have in order to do either ‘a’ or ‘b’.
OK, the idea that it is hardwired into our DNA for people to exploit advantages over other people is pretty clear. Evolution has pushed us to respond to competition for resources by making us very self-centered when it comes to survival and the self-centricity makes us seek advantage wherever we can. That is not to say that we didn’t also evolve into social groups where helping others has become an important aspect of humanity. No, that is true, it’s just not as important “within us” as personal survival is. Of about 100,000 years of evolution, only the last 3,000 or so had a social component therefore the overall effect is very low.
Seeking advantage in the modern world is not about the best berry fields, the best fishing spots or where the most abundant game animals are…no, it’s about the best schools that lead to the best jobs that lead to the best “lives” because we no longer judge ourselves on simple survival. We judge ourselves on our comparative “success” because more and more of us no longer think in terms of “survival”. Not that large populations don’t (hell, look at sub-Saharan Africa) but that the first world (what we are talking about) doesn’t…or not much.
If you could pass a law right now, this very instant, that everyone in the US is only allowed to make one specific wage (lets choose $100,000 a year) regardless where they live, who they know, who their parents are, what color or gender they are, etc., etc…do you know what the consequence would be?
Go ahead, take a guess.
Not much different than the social strata and impenetrable echelons we have today. Sure, I’m assuming that there will be less hunger and less homeless and less strife (because of the other two) but people themselves will still be the same. They will still seek to exploit advantages in order to self-select their social groups, to self-deselect other groups. People will still live in gated communities and people will still ignore the problems of any other group but their own.
Income equality solves only a very, very few problems and even then it doesn’t solve them well. People who are irresponsible will continue to be irresponsible. People who don’t give a shit about others will continue to not give a shit about others and on and on and on…
…income equality will not open some magical door to a Utopian future because, by necessity…
…people will have to be a part of that future.
And we have some evolving to do.
Believe. Go. Do.