When I talked to Dave Rubin yesterday morning, he asked me, if Americans are so resistant to the facts of evolution, what could I do to get people to accept it as truth? I told him that we’d have to get rid of those forms of religion (read: most religions) that make people resistant to evolution, and to do that would require mitigating the conditions that promote religion: social dysfunction. I added this: “If I could wave my hands and make two social changes in the world (besides dispelling religion) that would promote the acceptance of evolution, it would be to reduce income inequality and install universal medical care.” Those, I think, would go a long way toward reducing the need for religion and therefore the resistance to evolution, but of course their salubrious effects would be far more important than just getting people to accept evolution. Creationism is a long shot from being the worst thing that religion does.
Rubin looked a bit startled when I talked about income inequality, and asked me if I meant that everyone should have the same income. (He’s a libertarian, and I doubt that libertarians would favor that.). I quickly added that, no, I don’t favor everybody making the same wage, but that something had to be done to raise up the poorest people in the world, and perhaps pare down the exorbitant amount of money that the hyper-rich make, perhaps by increasing taxes.
And, shortly thereafter, I read a story in USA Today taken from an Oxfam report (“An economy for the 99%”; see also the PuffHo report) which gives data on the dire nature of income inequality in the world and the devastation it wreaks on well-being. The Oxfam report, for examples, says these things (my emphasis)
- Since 2015, the richest 1% has owned more wealth than the rest of the planet.
- Eight men now own the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of the world.
- Over the next 20 years, 500 people will hand over $2.1 trillion to their heirs – a sum larger than the GDP of India, a country of 1.3 billion people.
- The incomes of the poorest 10% of people increased by less than $3 a year between 1988 and 2011, while the incomes of the richest 1% increased 182 times as much.
- A FTSE-100 CEO earns as much in a year as 10,000 people in working in garment factories in Bangladesh.
- In the US, new research by economist Thomas Piketty shows that over the last 30 years the growth in the incomes of the bottom 50% has been zero, whereas incomes of the top 1% have grown 300%
- In Vietnam, the country‟s richest man earns more in a day than the poorest person earns in 10 years.
Left unchecked, growing inequality threatens to pull our societies apart. It increases crime and insecurity, and undermines the fight to end poverty. 10 It leaves more people living in fear and fewer in hope.
Frankly, I was startled to read this, particularly the bit in bold. Granted, people like Gates and now Zuckerberg give a lot of their money to good causes, but few of the rich (i.e., Trump) have Gates’s sense of obligation. I’m not sure yet where I come down on the issue of inheritance (the third point). There is inheritance tax, but some think that nobody should be allowed to give any of their wealth to their offspring. (After all, the human trait that shows the most “heritability”—fidelity of transmission from parent to offspring—is not height or IQ but wealth, which of course is not a genetic trait at all.) But many people work just so they can create a family legacy, and leave their children better off. Readers can weigh in below on all of this, but particularly on taxing the ultra-rich and on the laws of inheritance.
Here are the RICHEST EIGHT; how many can you name? (Answer below.)
The Ultra Rich in the pictures above (text from PuffHo):
Six of these billionaires, from Forbes’ list of the world’s richest people, are American entrepreneurs: Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffett, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Rounding out the list are Carlos Slim, the Mexican tycoon, and Amancio Ortega, the Spanish founder of a retail conglomerate that includes clothing chain Zara. Together their net wealth ― assets minus debts ― amounts to $426 billion.
Their wealth (from USA Today): Bill Gates ($75 billion, source of wealth Microsoft); Amancio Ortega ($67 billion, Zara); Warren Buffett ($60.8 billion, Berkshire Hathaway); Carlos Slim Helu ($50 billion, Telecom); Jeff Bezos ($45.2 billion, Amazon); Mark Zuckerberg($44.6 billion, Facebook); Larry Ellison ($43.6 billion, Oracle); and Michael Bloomberg($40 billion, Bloomberg LP).