Saturday, March 21, 2009
What Is Wealth?
Wealth is many things. Some consider wealth good health, loving friends, children, spiritual joy and peace.
However, usually when we say a person is "wealthy" a definition like this comes to mind: Wealth is an abundance of valuable material possessions or resources.
My thesis in this blog is that wealth is a commodity -- something useful or valuable, like time or water. Furthermore, wealth, IMO, is a resource -- which has limits as do all resources.
People, as people are endowed with certain rights (God given or otherwise), e.g. shelter, health, life, liberty, water, air shelter, clothing and ---- wealth. In other words wealth is a limited resource necessary for all people to exist as people in a satisfactory and humane manner. Wealth should not be considered only as dependent on ambition, education. placement in the corporate hierarchy. Society should be structured in such a way that everyone has the "wealth" needed to exist in a human, adequate and satisfactory manner. The basic needs should be met by the organization, values, and processes of a society. If there is a society in which 10% of the people have 90% of the wealth -- then this society is unfair, unsound, inhumane, and simply wrong, and in a sense evil, i.e. malevolent, harmful and immoral.
Present day capitalism, savage capitalism, is at the heart of a great many problems in the world. Even in the United States where 40 million people don't have health care, and most can't afford it. Why? They are not "wealthy" enough, i.e. they lack a sufficient amount of this commodity we call wealth. Yet, there is actually more than enough wealth iin America for everyone to live as normal human beings. Even after the recent crash which in a true sense was the flushing out of the system of money and financial values which were not based on actual Real Wealth. Real Wealth always has a foundation on something real: e,g, natural resources.
Truth be told: Capitalism today in the United States, Britain and elsewhere is a redistribution method of gathering up the commodity which all people need -- known as wealth - in the material sense of valualble material resources, possessions, money --- and pushing them up into huge mountains at the upmost point of the "wealth pyramid" where
from 1-10% of people are. Capitalism is a wealth distribution system skewed by its structure and "rules" to make the wealthy -- wealthier. And, it knows no limits in this methodology. Ask, Milton Friedman. Well, you could ask him if he were alive, but his deluded disciples linger on.
Anyone who works, and everyone needs some kind of work for human satisfaction and sanity should have sufficient wealth to live a human and fulfilled life. (I am not talking about the number of latest iPods, or Mercedes or mansions.)
All work has value. Today if one holds a certain position in a corporation one may receive a extremely large salary, and if one does a really good job --- a bonus. This employee is considered more wealth-worthy because the company believes he is more instrumental in making the wealth of the corporation grow. Whereas, a school teacher, a grocery clerk, or bricklayer is not in a position where we can see material wealth expanding because of what the person is doing.
So, wealth today does not depend on the instrinsic value of one's work, but on how much additional material wealth your superior believe you are helping them generate. I believe this is not a fair, sound, or sustainable arrangement. All work has value because people have value in themselves.
There are six billion persons on the globe. Before long we will have reached the limit that many scientists believe the Earth can sustain: nine billion. These nine billion will need food, water, shelter, clothing, work --- and wealth.
Wealth must be distributed, spread, must be available to more than a relatively small number of persons at the "top" of what appears a valueless, materialistic, commercialized society. Wealth is too essential to be the prisoner of the wealthy.
There are limits to the Earth and -- there are limits to Wealth. We have to devise some system: economic, political or whatever -- to make sure that the commodity of wealth is available to all -- not in exactly the same amount, but in a much more sane, fair and moral and sustainable manner than today.
P.S. Dr. Riane Eisler, respected social scientist's newest book: "The Real Wealth of Nations," one of my next books to read. An amazon.com reader made these comments: This book is an essential, must-read work for all who are concerned with the creation and implementation of a sustainable, healthy future, a future with a caring economy. 'The Real Wealth of Nations' is a powerful manifesto and call for a caring revolution that we must choose to answer if we wish to survive and flourish on our planet in the face of all the dangers that are present in the world today.