A posting did the rounds of Facebook a while ago.
It showed a photo of a double decker bus and said that the world's 80 most wealthy people (who would all fit on the bus) have more wealth than the world's 3.5 billion poorest people.
Perhaps that's true, perhaps it's not, but something needs to be done about the unfair distribution of wealth on this planet.
Research has shown that a level of wealth above that sufficient to provide
basic needs produces very little increased happiness.
On the other hand there is no doubt that grinding poverty, malnutrition and
starvation certainly do cause misery.
There can be no doubt that wealth is terribly unevenly distributed in
twenty-first century society, and in my country, Australia, as much as any.
Surely taking a large part of the wealth from the obscenely rich and giving
it to the poor would not necessarily make the rich less happy, but it would
certainly relieve some of the misery of the very poor.
This follows the principle of utilitarianism in ethics.
Utilitarianism has rightly been criticised because it can justify harming a
few in order to improve the lot of the many, but if great wealth does not
increase the happiness of the very wealthy then where is the harm in
reducing that wealth?
A part of Hornsdale wind farm, near my home in South Australia
If our children and grandchildren are to inherit a world that is not greatly inferior to the one that I have enjoyed for the last 75 years we must turn from fossil fuels to renewable energy, such as wind farms like this.
It has been reported that Ms Rinehart has used some of her wealth to cast doubt on the need for the transition - much of her wealth is in the coal industry.
I Googled the "richest People in Australia" on 2021/06/05. The list that popped up was:
- Gina Rinehart – $36.38bn.
While I know of nothing that Ms Rinehart does with her wealth that could be called altruistic (quite the reverse), numbers two and three on the list, Forrest and particularly Cannon-Brookes are trying to do a lot of good.
- Andrew Forrest – $29.61bn.
- Mike Cannon Brookes – $21.99bn.
- Scott Farquhar – $21.95bn.
- Anthony Pratt and family – $21.27bn.
- Harry Triguboff – $17.2bn.
- Hui Wing Mau – $10.15bn.
As a very simple example of what wealth distribution could achieve consider this: if $6 billion dollars was taken from Gina Rinehart it could be split up and $6,000 given to each of the million poorest Australians. I'm sure that $6,000 would be very welcome to all those poor people and Gina would not even loose her place as the most wealthy Australian.
Of course this is all very simplistic. How would you select the most needy million Australians? Some of the poor are very happy to rely on handouts for a living, while everyone should have incentives to look after themselves.
But the current situation is quite unsatisfactory. There is little or no justice in the way that wealth is spread in Australia at the present.