Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Wealth, creation or distribution?

I often hear about two apparently conflicting ideas of social contract, one involve the creation of wealth while the other involve the distribution of wealth. Apparently said ideas are completely incompatible and mutually exclusive. In short they are as follow, the first one implies that wealth is created in a society by some process (I’m guessing that many people have different ideas) and as such we should reward wealth creation as it make society as a whole richer. While the second one implies that thanks to Earth finite resources wealth can only be taken from one place and put into another what should be rewarded is sharing the wealth (or that the sharing should be forced by some institution) to help those that got less then their fair share.

Now what I want to talk about is not the values of each one or argues about the logic of their arguments. I want to talk about the fact that the redistribution of wealth idea tries to be a moral model instead of just an economic contract. You see if wealth cannot be created then we can think that everyone as a “fair” share. It then stands that anyone that as more then this fair shares of the wealth as taken (“stolen”) is increased wealth from someone else. Which bring about what I find annoying: it makes poverty into a virtue and wealth into a vice. People who have less then this fair share are seen as the abused we must protect from the bad people with more then their fair share that stole from them. Now I must be clear I do not think that the opposite is true either, wealth is not synonymous with virtue or poverty with vice. In fact I’m pretty sure that neither has anything to do with any aspect of morality. Now since I really don’t see how this idea can be separated from this moral overtone I am more inclined to put it in the religion pile then the viable economic idea pile.

What do you think? Do I misunderstand the concept? Is their something that prevents the competing ideas from being possible and as much as I don’t like this one it is the only one possible?

1 comment:

anyflower said...

As in everything else, I do believe in grey areas in defining justice. Which one is the vice or the victim? It depends on the situation.

When it involves forced child labor, I think the answer comes clear: if they have to work, give them proper conditions and salaries. I understand some families are too poor to give an "occidental" childhood to their children but let's stop abuse.

When big guys like Bill Gates gather a fortune by creating a product that proves so useful that everyone buys it (and please don't start a debate on the monopoly of microsoft or worse... on linux and mac being so much better), well I think we really have to consider that guy earned his wealth.

Our country has to encourage people to start buisness, we should teach teens a bit more about what is being into business means. The economy class I had in highschool never caught my interest by saying how far one can go and how satisfying it is to run a business.

Anyway, let's be our own bosses, starting with you Asaathi: you should build the best space study center on earth and charge every teacher or scientist that want to use it (except from students, of course, they are broke, no profit can be made on them so tell em to bring the beer and you shall help them).