Wealth Inequality in America Part 3

This is a direct continuation of my past two posts on wealth inequality (in America). I was talking about why we should be skeptical of the data out there on wealth inequality, mainly due to the omission of data or the lack of detail when it is presented.

Let’s jump right back into it.

 

4. The Media’s Perspective is not the Individual’s

My fourth point was that data on inequality allows people to ignore what is going on in front of their REAL eyes in their REAL LIVES, instead looking at what the media is propagating. Mainstream narratives surrounding data, that people don’t fully understand, deliver up a universal truth for everyone to agree on. I do not believe that others are always intentionally lying, but perceptions color reality. Why should my conclusions be the same as someone else’s?

Moving away from statistical analyses, but continuing on the idea that data is used to make persons see the world as unfair, the breaking up of people into groups ignores the complexity of the world. It shows individuals as having their group characteristics, yet there are differences within a group right down to the individual. Experiences differ. The data talks about groups, but people generally use it to inform their personal world when interacting with individuals.

For me, personally, I was so skeptical of much of what I was hearing because I never came to the conclusions other people came to on my own. I didn’t think a certain way, to see myself as a victim, and get that feedback from my experience, or thought about it until other people started telling me that that is how things were. I think if what I was hearing were true, then I would have been able to suss out a lot of things, like feeling discriminated against, compared to the environment I was coming from, especially because my entrance to the US was surrounded in the community where it was the majority of the group that is supposedly so bad in being oppressive, that I will not name. They were just too nice to me. And I’m sure that I’ve walked among prejudiced people, but I think if I didn’t want to do that, then I would simple have to go off myself, because I think they exist everywhere, including where I’m from. It’s not until everyone started telling me how things were that I was like, ‘Okay, I’m not going to just believe it, I’m going to go read about it and find out about it.’ And then I still wasn’t convinced of the way things are portrayed. I think that society on a whole should foster cohesion, and persuade people to be nicer towards other human beings. But that’s not necessary for a lot of the things that people say they want to change.

The media is constantly telling people to not have their own sense of agency and personal responsibility, through the focus on blaming others or what others are doing. This wears down the moral compass by promoting envy and jealousy, while it may also be ignoring the presence of real pain due to wanting to succeed in life and not being able to, or living and growing up in broken families. And still further, they present a case of futility and then incite rage against people who are doing better off. Envy, or jealousy, or wanting status that others have, can be great motivators, not that I’m advocating for those htings. But when it turns into hatred that is then justified by allowing people to believe that it is righteous retaliation, it promotes, first the mental and then maybe otherwise, attack on people who may be innocent. And it promotes the attachment of negative traits to people who may not be deserving of them because they don’t actually possess those characteristics. And then, there’s the ignoring the presence of those same traits within the victim group that is so called righteous, that being bias and discrimination and prejudice.

All in all, even if all this were true, that a specific group or specific groups are being targeted by discriminatory practices, despite the lack of proof other than DATA, which is manipulated in its presentation as detailed in Part 2, it does not matter in terms of advancement. Groups have succeeded in the past in spite these things. It does not stop people from focusing on their own problem, rather than shouting at others to be more fair. If society did not care, you would not have a voice, and if people did not care, it is nonsensical to go and ask them for help. And in the long term, always helping, deprives a group from developing a competence independent of always getting help from others. This leads into my biggest point.

 

5/∞. My Biggest Point: What Can Be Done About Wealth Inequality in America?

What can be done?

Stop Sowing Resentment

The focus on inequality in terms of oppression ignores the avenues that others have taken to move up the income ladder. The path to less inequality is not through politics, at least not historically. The path to less inequality is the development of the same skills within different groups, meaning the same level of competence to provide value to others in the market, not necessarily the same skills for the same industry. There are also common skills, regardless of industry, such as work ethic. This is something that often comes from personal incentive, if not learned through the family or socialization. I did mention this before, that economic prosperity often comes before the lessening of discrimination. And I don’t think anyone should count on the lessening of discrimination ever happening. One can go from an international perspective and look at empirical studies of multi-ethnic societies. And see that there are groups who do well even in the face of discrimination. And groups who do well, no matter where they go in the world, because they major in certain things and or they provide services that the public needs, and have a certain culture.

Gaining Work Experience and Skills to Compete

One might ask the question, how do people go about getting work experience and skills that would allow them to compete effectively in the market? The welfare state, or government redistribution, or rather distribution programs of wealth, remove the incentive for people to gain the skills and work experience that they need. It is also helping to destroy the family unit. I say helping because I do think that individuals have a choice in this, although it is very hard to not respond to incentives. People who are better off coming from two-person households that value education, things that helped them get where they are, somehow think that others can  succeed ignoring the very things that have helped them.

Specific ways to help people gain the skills they need is to leave economy alone. Remove minimum wage laws, especially, and maybe labor unions, because they stop people from getting the work that will help them get the skills that they need. And these were avenues that were available to other groups. And their options have been reduced in terms of building their human capital. In terms of people’s potential to achieve competence due to things such as IQ differences that we may be seeing play out in society, I think the only thing we can hope for is to assume potential and to create the environment for that potential to come out, if it can be done. But this has to be considered when talking about differences. These kinds of things need to be considered if people are serious about understanding the problem for one, but then also trying to solve it. The fact that it is something that has been established but it’s not very often discussed when talking about group outcomes is amazing to me.  I didn’t really know anything about this before a few years ago. Whether or not IQ differences can change over time, due to social environment such as culture, or the adaptation to a new environment, it is an issue in the present and it is crucial to the discussion at hand. I understand why people don’t want to bring it up because it can promote prejudice among those who don’t fully understand what it says. But when you start blaming groups and picking up for specific groups due to different outcomes, it becomes very relevant.

Looking at Groups through Data has a Good and a Bad Side

Those who continue to use data on wealth inequality to push the narrative of oppression in the name of doing good need to realize that they are also opening the floodgates of evil. Let me explain. No one is accountable for the actions of other people, but saying that they are trying to help reduce inequality by pointing out the differences between groups everywhere, is possibly a game that can be played forever and ever, often with blood being shed at the end of it. Like I said, inequality is literally how everything has come into being. And if you point out group differences as a way to help, people will begin looking at what you’re afraid to look at. They are two sides of the same coin.

In terms of politicians who bring up data, they will always position themselves as the ones to help others, and so gain their dependence and support for helping them do things that they could have probably helped themselves with anyway. It’s a social and moral issue, that being discrimination. But pitting groups against each other, in the pursuit of a utopia where no one is prejudiced, does not help. And it allows people to have pre-formed ideas in their heads before they even interact with other people about who is doing well and who is not, AKA PREJUDICE.

For something like IQ, I don’t know. The best bet is to try and provide a better home environment. Also focus on things like health that may be negatively impacting intelligence. And IQ is something that is selected for, so constantly removing incentives to compete in the marketplace through welfare is not helping. Mal-adaptive traits will be passed down, through culture or otherwise. It is just ensuring that people adapt to a state of dependency and lower expectations. I’ll say again that I think help should be given through charity. not through force through the state. And people can focus on helping others in emergency situations and things that cannot be foreseen, or to help people reach a certain goal, such as gaining job skills on their path towards a better future, which the welfare system does not discriminate for.

Long-Term Thinking and Entrepreneurship.

Focus on savings even out of small incomes, and long-term thinking. And also entrepreneurship. These are things that other groups have used to succeed all around the world. Home ownership is also important but this involves long-term thinking. Even when people have the same income, they don’t do the same things with it. Some people think short term, and some long term about the accumulation of wealth over time.

College education can also be a path, not a must, since entrepreneurship is another. But the kind of major that you choose is important. And the quality of education that you get is important. Again, I believe we should stop just trying to give people things without the foundation that brings these things around. Trying to mandate giving the under-performing better access to housing by forcing the end product, rather than focusing on things such as building better credit is not helping. Affirmative action also is not helping, for the same reason of lowering expectations and making sure that other groups work harder and get better in their competence. I also saw an article about a year ago on how people with Section 8 vouchers were basically now able to choose between living in luxury apartments versus going out and working. That is a cruel decision to give someone to make.

Conclusion

So those are just some suggestions. Of course I don’t know everything, but I do think what I’m saying is sound. And I’m actually pretty confident that it is. The most important thing is to stop sowing resentment between people in such a place of abundant opportunity, in my opinion, having been very close to poverty myself. I will not say that I was poor but in American terms I was. But this is a place of opportunity and many keep trying to take away things that made it so in the first place, in the name of equality and against discrimination, instead of focusing on paths that others have used.

 

You can find Part 1 of this series here:

You can find Part 2 of this series here:

There are video and podcast versions available.

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