inequality

Income Inequality and the American Dream

I think most Americans would agree that one aspect of the quintessential American dream is the ability to make something of yourself – whoever you are, whatever your circumstances. While we don’t expect everyone to get rich, we do believe that if someone works hard they should at least be able to improve their lot in life. However, a number of recent studies about the state of our economy reveal that poorer Americans are needing to work harder and harder if they want to move out of poverty. Two recent economic studies indicate that the places in our country with the highest income distribution gap are also the places with the lowest economic mobility – that is, individuals with rich parents are more likely to be rich, and individuals with poor parents more likely to remain poor – and that America is one of the least economically mobile countries in the developed world. This is an even more troubling revelation when we consider that our national income distribution gap is steadily on the rise. Additionally, the minimum wage debate seen from a historical perspective shows that today’s lowest paid workers are often working more hours for comparatively less pay than their historical counterparts. I believe there is dignity in work; people should, if they are able, work to provide for...

Read More

sharing

What if this Sharing thing takes off internationally?

As the sharing economy receives increasing attention from the media and public, a valuable debate is beginning to emerge around its overall importance and future direction.  So begins this article titled, From Sharing Cities to a Sharing World which poses some interesting and necessary discussion beginning with the conclusion that the old idea of the American dream is no longer tenable in a world of rising affluence among possibly 9.6 billion people by 2050. The video referenced by the article, titled ‘The High Price of Materialism’ is worth taking 5 minutes on. I especially appreciated the bigger picture look at intrinsic values it gives towards the end – we are trying to grow and introduce good and healthy habits instead of just railing against or trying to minimise the bad: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGab38pKscw] I really love the phrase that seems to have become a bit of an anthem for the movement: ‘Sharing more and owning less’ is the ethic that underlies a discernible change in attitudes among affluent society that is being led by today’s young, tech-savvy generation known as Generation Y or the Millennials. As this article manages to highlight a number of the exciting possibilities of taking the sharing economy across traditional borders, it does also mention and highlight some of the more obvious pitfalls and concernes. This is clearly not going to...

Read More

billgates

Opening the flood[bill]gates…

Came upon this interesting article this week that takes a look at the psychology behind the motivation of the  super rich to be giving away so much of their money. One of the points raised was this one: These individuals are able to defy the well-established psychological tenants of giving. Studies have shown time and time again that individuals are more likely give to charity when they are shown the face of an individual that they can help, and are less likely to give that donation when they are told that their contribution will benefit the lives of, say, 100 faceless individuals. Bill Gates also has some interesting insights to offer in the 2014 Annual Gates Foundation letter which that first article links to and in which addresses what he calls Three Myths of Poverty and also shares some hope about work that is being done and has taken place in places of poverty: Africa has also made big strides in health and education. Since 1960, the life span for women in sub-Saharan Africa has gone up from 41 to 57 years, despite the HIV epidemic. Without HIV it would be 61 years. The percentage of children in school has gone from the low 40s to over 75 percent since 1970. Fewer people are hungry, and more people have good...

Read More