Inequality can be looked at from a number of angles, but there’s one specific angle that troubles me and I’d love to see addressed – that so many people feel unable to contribute to the world. Globalisation and technology means that some people are able to contribute more productively (and profitably) than ever before, and others are not seeing the same opportunities they would have in the past.
Some might say this is as it should be – that inequality provides the encouragement for people to strive for success. Others wouldn’t go that far, but think that as long as we tax the successful and redistribute the proceeds, we’re all good.
I don’t accept either of these arguments. I believe that the opportunity to genuinely contribute to the world is fundamental to our personal happiness, and everyone having this opportunity is essential to society. And you can’t make up for that by paying money to the people that can’t contribute.
Some would also point out that there are people who could contribute but won’t. I don’t accept that as a reason to give up, any more than I’d abolish health care because there are some people that don’t want to live. Instead, we should at least be willing to agree to support those that do want to contribute. And, I suspect that if we did this well, we’d simultaneously reduce the number of people that don’t want to work.
Throughout this discussion, I emphasise that I’m not saying people just need work to do. I’m saying that they need to feel able to make genuine contributions. If work is forced, disengaged, or lacking purpose, I not convinced that it will solve the inequality of contribution that I worry about.
I’d love to say I have the answer. Or even that a perfect answer exists. I don’t.
But, I’m optimistic. I know that there are some inspired programmes out there that are working towards this objective. And I’m convinced that these will make an enormous difference to our world.
One of my motivations in this blog is to discover and share some of these ideas. So, if know of any organisations or programmes that you feel are worth me looking into, please let me know.