Inequality, Wealth, Poverty, Government, Business, Jobs
As far back as we look into the human history, we find inequality as essentially existential. It is nearly impossible to point out to any period, in any part of the world, in which all human beings living there, at that point in time, have been equal, in all aspects of live, especially in terms of wealth and finances. This includes the periods surrounding and following the advent of greatest religions, ideologies, empires, thinkers, revolutionaries and reformists. Inequality could have been more or less, in different societies, at any given point in time. But, it has existed, always, everywhere. From massive famines to the emperors who used thousands and thousands of slaves to build wonders, the history is filled with minor and major inequalities.
For the most part of human history, in most societies, a person’s fate was determined by birth. If you were born in a privileged class, your fate was sealed as a privileged person for the rest of your life. On the other hand, if you were born in slave, labor, lower or untouchable class, your fate was sealed in that class. Rarely, the societies allowed, its citizens to cross the boundaries between socio-economic classes. If you were not privileged, there was no way you could ever imagine about having certain rights, reserved for privileged classes, only.
We also see that at any given point in time, some societies, countries, nations and parts of the world are more prosperous then the others. Even within the same country, province, nation and society, some parts are wealthier than the others. In the wealthier parts of the world, generally speaking, we see that the general standards of living are better than the less wealthy or poor areas. In wealthier countries, areas and cities, the rich are richer then the rich in less wealthy parts of the world, and poor are not in a situation, as bad as, poor in less prosperous areas.
This has always given rise to another constant trend in human history, migration. People have always migrated from less prosperous areas, cities and countries to the more wealthy areas, cities and countries, in search of better opportunities and life, and happiness. Any given person, with any given set of knowledge and skills, always has a much better chance at growing, in more prosperous economic and financial environments. A small piece from a bigger pie is still bigger than a small piece from smaller pie. So, the societies’ over all interest always lie in letting this pie grow bigger and bigger, so that everyone can have a relatively bigger share, even if it is a small piece.
Throughout the course of human history thinkers, reformists and revolutionaries have made attempts to create wealth equality. Most recent were in terms of Socialism and Communism. Those were seriously failed. It is because wealth itself is the biggest incentive in wealth generation. If you take away the individual’s right to earn more with more success and hard work, then, no one makes extra effort to generate more wealth. So, the wealth generation as a whole is seriously compromised. The pie shrinks, and so is the size of piece that everyone gets.
Other attempts are made to make society more prosperous, as a whole, so that the pie grows and even the smallest piece is relatively bigger. This idea accepts the innate and natural inequality in wealth distribution. It is based on the idea, let’s generate more, so that we have something for everyone. The idea of generating more prosperous societies for the benefit of everyone has always existed, although different methods have been tried, at different points in time, in different parts of the world, to achieve the same goal.
The latest of these experiments was in United States and other Capitalist countries. United States was successful in creating the largest and richest economy, ever, in human history, within a short span of two hundred years. As a whole, the Capitalist countries generated the largest and most well-off middle class, ever. Capitalism was based on the theories from great thinkers and economists like Adam Smith. The basic ideas are free markets and competition. Smith’s theory was that there is a natural balance between supply and demand which acts like an invisible hand and keep the markets running at most efficient level.
When markets operate free, and solely run by invisible hand, everyone involved, gets maximum possible benefits out of those. Businesses thrive, consumers get the best value and prices, employees get best possible compensation, and research, development and innovation provides competitive edge to businesses, and raises the standards of living for consumers. Businesses, employees, and consumers safeguard their interests through the constitutional right to organize. Chambers of commerce, workers unions and consumer groups are examples of these rightful and necessary associations. Together market forces of supply, demand, productivity, innovation, competition and pursuit of happiness, keep the ball rolling in, to everyone’s benefit.
While Capitalism generated enormous amounts of wealth and prosperity, the inequality still prevailed. In some instances, more than the others. In some industrial complexes and metropolitan cities, workers lived the lives worse than animals. They were surely making better then what they used make on their farms, but, the general impression was that they were getting a negligible share in the pie they were producing. The unrest grew. It led to the formation of workers unions, since, their organization was far easier in urban settings. The unions led workers to protests and demand for better compensations. Government turned out to be in bed with status quo, as usual. In many cases protesters faced violence from law enforcement.
This confrontation between business owners and unions was supposed to take its own course, and an ultimate balancing point was expected to be reached, as the bargains, contracts and compromises between management and unions started to happen. Unfortunately, politicians did not let this opportunity go. The two major camps were formed. First was saying that protests, strikes and higher cost of labor under union contracts is destroying businesses and jobs. Other group was saying that unions provide the desperately needed resistance against exploitation of labor by business owners. This dispute was taking, and was supposed to take, its own course. No government intervention was needed. But, politicians started introducing ridiculous legislation after legislation which very much ruined the open, free and thriving markets.