Friday, February 9, 2018

Singer: Distribution of Wealth and The Human Condition

I found Singer's article very fascinating. I believe in a lot of the points he discussed. His proposed solution, each person donating a significant amount of their income to those in greater need, makes a lot of sense to me. It reminds me of an economic (and controversial) opinion I've been pondering and developing: The government should create a maximum wage. The country’s top CEOs should not be earning more in an hour than the average household makes in a year. This extreme wealth disparity should not exist while many are struggling so intensely to get by. The government would not need to cap CEOs earning by an extreme amount for that money to make a difference. They could still remain exceedingly wealthy, earning enough to live a satisfactory life, and their money could be redistributed to their employees for health care, better working conditions, college tuition, or even just sustainable wages, all of which are problems plaguing a large percentage of the country.
However, when I take a deeper look, I find glaring flaws in Singer's argument, and I suppose in my own as well. Suffering is relative. I would like to think that I am a pretty self-aware person. I try to stay informed about the world around me and knowledgeable of other cultures, communities, and circumstances different from my own. I really do try a lot of the time to look at the bigger picture. The thing is, I cannot help but succumb to first world problems. Because problems are relative. And in the grand scheme of things, the magnitude of a problem in comparison to others means nothing. I know that there are millions of people starving across the world. That genuinely breaks my heart. But it doesn't make my problems hurt less. We have all grown accustomed to the lifestyle we live. I am used to living a middle class life in Oak Park with a good education and a loving family. I have no idea what it really feels like to live any other life. So my biggest problem might be mental illness while someone else's biggest problem might be finding a place to sleep at night while someone else's biggest problem might be a fight with their friend.
That was a major tangent, but all this to say, it seems pretty impossible to ask a lot of people to give up most of what they're used to having. I am nowhere near being rich, I struggle with money how it means to struggle with money in Oak Park. There are logically so many things I could give up that would save other people's lives, but since I'm used to my life with my ability to order in excessively and go on my phone whenever I want to and get dressed from a closet full of clothes, giving up these things feels like a burden. I can't say for sure, of course, but I'd guess the same is true for billionaire CEOs. They're used to the live they are living, so asking anything less of them feels devastating.
All of this is pretty sick and twisted. I guess it's all just a statement on the disgusting capitalism of America and how it has enveloped all of our lives!! Whoo hoo.

1 comment:

  1. Totally agree about the relativity stuff (and the whole thing in general). Maybe there's even a nature vs nurture part to this argument, questioning what drives humans to give or neglect.