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A conscious acknowledgement of our common purpose as fulfilment without harm so we may organise ourselves, our justice systems, our economies, our organisations, and our societies to enable our pursuit of it. The organising principle of fulfilment without harm must override the pursuit of money and/or power. Specifically: (more...)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Income Inequality - Acceptable?

Who have the largest incomes?

The businessmen CEO's, the financiers and the lawyers – those who hold the purse strings, and the power, pay themselves the most.

How is this ethical? They aren't the most intelligent or the hardest working or the most academically qualified.

Why do we let this happen? Do we ignore it, not understand it or not care about it? Or do we buy into it, see it as inevitable and so accept it? Do we in some sense think a person 'at the top' can do the work of more than two of us? But they can't, can they? No-one can. And surely no-one is 'worth' more than two people, no matter what they do, no matter how 'popular' they are.

In the past, we accepted the 'chain of being' and God-appointed superiority. But we're wiser now, or should be. This income discrepancy isn't about 'royal blood' or 'meritocracy', it's about taking advantage, because, according to business philosophy, 'if you can take something (and can get away with it) then you should' ('it's not personal, it's just business'). While this collective belief prevails, and is hardwired in our system, it is hard (and disabling) to do other than pursue higher incomes and greater financial accumulation (and even without intention these occur, as the outcome is dictated by the system).

It's this atheism of ethics that we need to put a stop to, because it's not right, it's not acceptable to pay ourselves more, just because we can. Nor is it acceptable to accept greater pay from those who have already bought into the system. "The market rate for the job", that's a con – the market rate for the job is an average of those who are given the job by those who control it, not a rate relevant to those who could do it but are never given the opportunity to.

And just because our product is more popular than others, does that make us 'worth' more than others? Am I a better, more valuable human because I've sold more than you? Was I worth more before that? Is a person worth more, a 'better person', because their product is worth more? Should the value from our contribution be in the realising of ourselves and our potential, or should it be in the fickleness of popularity and money?

Unfortunately, until we democratically agree to sharing, we are highly unlikely to share, because when it's not done together (and made a part of our system) then those who do share are disadvantaged relative to those who don't.

So we need to embed sharing and contribution in our system, not selfishness and profit. Then the incentives and reward are in contributing as we best can where and when we see a need, and opportunity to do so is equal; rather than the incentives being the fickleness of profit and selfish accumulation, with vastly disparate opportunity. And when this happens, when we have a shared base income, then organisation is by collaboration, not by required cooperation with the hierarchy.

[This post is also on the TED LinkedIn Group if you wish to view or contribute to the discussion there]

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