This post was first shared on Facebook. I recently watched a video about inequality in America which has become very popular on Internet. The first time I saw this, just like anyone else, I thought to myself “WOW, Oh, this is bad blah blah blah…” then later, when I saw this shared by some friends I realized that I am not so much in agreement with the contents.
So I asked myself what is wrong with this video? I thought a bit about it and came up with some ideas that would be related to economics and other things but still because I don’t know much about economics I left it alone. Until today.
I was listening to a book of Feynman title [Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!], which by the way if you don’t know I am reading this by know you must have me in your black list or something, and I was shocked how nicely he could describe all the nonsense here and what I was thinking of it. He writes about his experience in a conference(at least 50 years ago!) which involves people from different disciplines discussing “Inequality”. He writes about a similar argument made at the conference by a theologian:
“He talked about big differences in welfare of various countries which caused jealousy which leads to conflict and now that we have atomic weapons, any war and we are doomed. So therefore, the right way out is to strive for peace by making sure there are no great differences from place to place and since we have so much in the United States we should give up nearly everything to the other countries until we are all even. Everybody was listening to this and we were all full of sacrificial feelings and we all thinking we ought to do this.”
Later he described his thought after some contemplation about the matter: “The idea of distributing everything evenly is based on a theory that there is only X amount of stuff in the world that we somehow took it away from the poor countries in the first place and therefore we should give it back to them but this theory does not take into account the real reason for the differences between countries. That is, the development of new techniques for growing food, the development of machinery to grow food and do other things and the fact that all this machinery requires concentration of capital. It isn’t the stuff but the power to make the stuff that is important.”
While similar videos are made for other countries I feel this is more a problem of social media and people trying to convey a message as fast as possible and as simple, so that it fits into 140 characters, as they can and thus discarding all the details, assumptions and everything. However, It seems the world is more complicated than that! And if someone actually brings out those details nobody cares. Because it is too long! like my post which is too long. And nobody likes to read long stuff these days.
Anyway, I believe these things can be misleading. The power of social networks can multiply the power such misleading arguments and actually make people believe that these kinds of ideas are actually the real problem.
The world is complicated! We should accept it.