Putting aside the trivial chit chat, the most significant arguments have always been about the distribution of wealth amongst the people of the world. During these arguments, sometimes we focus on the national scale and some other times we like to focus on the family scale. No matter how much we try, a just distribution remains elusive. Is there a solution to this problem?
The first question that we need to answer is this. Who gets to do the distribution? Or even more importantly, does anybody get to enforce a wealth distribution in the first place? Many may argue that it is not just that one authority gets to enforce a wealth distribution. Wealth is almost always accumulated with at least some level of hardship. A shopkeeper may work and run their business for several years. With the right decisions and patience, they may gain significantly more wealth than the rest of the society they are trading with. However, can we pretend like their trade is taking place in some kind of economic vacuum? If the masses did not respect the shopkeeper’s right to accumulate wealth, he would not get to make all that money and keep it too. Clearly, there is an unwritten agreement between the shopkeeper and their customers. The shopkeeper agrees to procure and provide the goods at reasonable prices and ensure a fair and reliable supply chain. In return, society agrees to let the shopkeeper keep his profit. This agreement appears fair but, in some cases, it breaks down. We need to understand why and where this agreement no longer functions as intended.
We are living in a world where social class is acquired and maintained by consumption. Since commerce favors the trader, our social structure is flawed from the beginning. No equitable distribution of wealth or income can resolve this fundamental problem. People accepted that they wanted an expensive car. People accepted that they wanted the luxury handbag. After this acceptance, no social policy can level the playing field. We are programmed to make corporations thrive and their owners rich. I am in no way claiming that this is evil. Any company will work to maximize profits and minimize costs. While corporations are looking after their owners and shareholders, are we really doing what we really need to do for ourselves?
We desire recognition by our peers and in general other human beings. This is what makes us happy. It certainly does not need to be about acquiring more wealth or consuming more. The power to consume has little connection to our actual self-worth. If we could convince our society into a different set of social recognition criteria, we would resolve the constant need to consume. Another option could be to isolate ourselves amongst people who understand the actual value of human beings and do not necessarily value consumption as much as advertising campaigns would like us to value.
We need to change our outlook on the world, and this is not only for personal happiness but also for the future of our planet.