Income Inequality and Hubris
What They Really Think About Us | homophilosophicus
Surviving the post-apocalyptic landscape that Ireland has become in the wake of the Celtic Tiger is difficult enough for most people. The economic downturn and the past number of lean years and a governmental programme of austerity have exposed the serious divisions in Irish society. The years of plenty have spawned no small number of Tiger Cubs who feel no shame in flaunting their wealth and privilege in the faces of those who have been most affected by recession and hard times. As economic depression speeds the transfer of wealth from the working poor to the idle wealthy the mood of triumphalism in Ireland’s bourgeoisie reaches fever pitch. All the while the class war moves on from one middle class offensive to another: cheap ‘reality’ television shows depicting the fecklessness of the working classes, the publication of one ‘rich list’ after another, and the continual and propagandistic highlighting of social welfare fraud in the lowest economic brackets of Irish society. At no time since the Great Famine has the inequalities in this society been as acutely felt as they have these past few years. The poor have been despoiled of any platform from which to defend themselves as the attacks against them become ever more comprehensive and savage. Yet right in the heart of this darkness a red rag is waved before the bull. A young and wealthy woman was caught on video ranting and raving about the ‘losers’ who worked for minimum wage, and how she was ‘too rich’ for them.
Hubris is pride on a cosmic scale, and that is what we have here. I’ve heard this kind of thing myself. And, of course, here in the United States, we can see Honey Boo Boo on television, an American we can only understand through subtitles, a savage caricature of lower class Americans, who apparently doesn’t even realize she is being made sport of. I have heard those well off say the most amazing things about the unemployed, the poor and the homeless. They never seem to find it in their hearts to consider them fellow Americans but merely find them wanting in every regard.
But there is a just God, and there will be a reckoning in this world or the next.
From around the web –
From the web site, Inequalities:
On one level, the question of whether benefit cuts lead to higher income inequality is simple to answer. Poorer people are more likely to claim benefits, ergo cutting benefits has less effect on people with high incomes – and from the 2010 Emergency Budget to the 2012 Budget, there were £19bn of net cuts due by 2014-15. Prof John Hills, the former chair of the National Equality Panel, calculates that £1000 of deficit reduction spread equally over all benefits and services will cut incomes of the poorest fifth by 12%, but less than 1% for the richest fifth. In contrast, deficit reduction through equal rises across all taxes has roughly the same effect (a 3.5% reduction) on all.
However, the answer becomes more complex when we see the different ways that deficit reduction can be enacted. Both benefit cuts and tax rises can be particularly targeted on the poor or rich; the Coalition can point to greater means-testing of Child Benefit as a benefits cut that is not targeting poorer people. (This ignores the long-term political impacts of cutting universal benefits, (Baumberg, 2012)). David Cameron has therefore argued (back in March 2009) that “fiscal responsibility needs a social conscience, or it is not responsible at all.”
From the web site, Dinmerican:
One can begin to unpack Lim Ewe Ghee’s logic by questioning if the hard earned innovations that triumph in a market economy, by virtue of the wealth they generate, do in fact serve us better.
For one, there are a lot of things a free market economy would welcome that is profitable without necessarily improving society as a whole. Cigarettes are widely purchased and consumed without leading to improvements in anyone’s health or finance. Whatever virtues there may be of having, among other things, pornography, prostitution or firearms in the open market cannot be confirmed purely on the basis of their potentially high demand.
How and why such things can be said to “serve humanity” must take into consideration a host of other factors, above and beyond what market forces or individual whims suggest.
One can extend that line of thinking to even more basic goods. The genetic modification that now routinely goes into the manufacturing of our everyday meats and vegetables has all to do with the necessity of rapid production in a competitive profit driven food economy.
The motivation in such cases is not the happiness, well-being or health of others, but the size of the product and the speed and quantity of production. So by that logic, it does not matter that the meat we eat is injected with cancer causing chemicals so long as an edge is gained by the producer to triumph in a rapidly competitive market.