Saturday, August 09, 2014

Another Outrageous solution to an Intractable Problem: The Wealth Gap Part 2 of 3 Problems

by Gary Berg-Cross
In an earlier post I proposed an outrageous solution to Climate Change. Make it a bet with $$ behind it to help the winning side.  We'll need trillions to clean up the mess if it is an accurate prediction of a similar amount to heal wealth that is taxed to solve a non-problem. Well the 1% creeping into the climate change issue and they are part of the destabilizing wealth gap issue.  It is worldwide, (see Thomas Piketty, professor at the Paris School of Economicsbut just the trend in US is troubling with lots of downsides and destabilizing effects.  So they say.

“Since 1960, income inequality has jumped more in the U.S. than in any other major Western country, according to a November analysis from noted economics professors.HufPo article

It’s “ Let them eat cake” and what follows are problems of neglect.  I’ve got mine and earned it (well I was born into a worthy family in a prosperous place).  But who wants the French Revolution on a global scale?

Now in finding a solution here we want to avoid class warfare. Well since one class has the weapons that wealth brings such as owning politicians and media that's not likely to work well.

To ease the problem we might dream of outlandish solutions like Scandinavia annexing the US or China buying up the Kochs, but that’s not likely.

So here’s another idea to find some transcendent force that can close the gap despite the 1% opposition.  

We can start a morality-based religion.

Something where solving the wealth gap is a moral good, espoused by Religion.  I've heard rumors that this idea is in some religions, but obviously the message isn't getting through.  It’s buried too deeply or covered up by other commandments and priorities or abstractions that are interpreted by special people who have a direct line to the supreme mover.

Indeed there is a prosperity gospel which pushes things in the other way towards the chosen 1%.

So maybe we have a good start from some earlier work in this area but we need to start over.  Earlier efforts has been captured by elites and we have wealth religions.

Let’s be a little scientific and systematic about this and get to useful ends like narrowing the wealth gap. 

Practically we need an inspired book to start.  Who can we get to Ghost write the book? Chis Hitchens’ ghost perhaps?  Wishful thinking. I tried that and got no response.

The founding fathers might be good, Jefferson and Madison could take a swing.  They might include Tom Paine.  That’s a better set of writers than most books of revelation can claim.  Unfortunately I got no response from them either.  Maybe I’m not a good conductor and need to fast in the desert a bit.

Perhaps a team of folks lead by a philosopher like A.C. Grayling might ghost the book.  His “The GoodBook" is certainly a good start with parables and quotable ideas that get at thinking, belief and lifestyle values.  Here is one example that gets at the asymmetry or wealth issue in a moral, reasoning way:
These reasonings are unconnected, though foolish people think them: 
’I am richer than you, therefore I am better’; ‘I am more eloquent than you, therefore I am better’.
The true connection is this: ‘I am richer than you, therefore my property is greater than yours’; ‘I am more eloquent than you, therefore my style is better than yours’.

And he reuses much wisdom to put wealth and foolishness in perspective:

"Prosperity reveals vice, adversity virtue;" and 
"They are strong who conquer others, they are mighty who conquer themselves."

We just have to treat the ideas a bit more reverently. Dress it up and get some persuasive spokesman out there.  Maybe Chris Hitchens will respond from beyond in time.  Here’s an idea we'll just make it up as if he has.

Ok, so we start with a revered book and disciple who preach the message.  I guess we’ll need some institution building.  How about Humanist Libraries and academies where people come to learn and hear the word?  Well we do have a start with AHA, CFI and others (like WASH), so I guess we just need to gear up with long range and short term or conversion approaches flowing out of them.

We probably need a better conversion mechanism to get this rolling. What facilitates conversions?  If it isn't the gradual process of being raised in the culture (a long-range approach), it’s all about sudden turning points and well crisis. So we need to be prepared as they come via the wealth gap as the 99% run out of cake. Let’s be ready for the next big finanhcial bubble bust. Sudden conversions will come as a result of overwhelming anxiety and guilt from personal errors.  Why didn’t I sell all my stock or protect my retirement of sell my house or not take on that college loan?  Guilt will becomes uncomfortable, making conversion a functional solution to ease these emotions.  What actions will ease this guilt? Let’s get into those Occupy Wall Street crowds and Walmart protests and get people committed to a moral, caring society.

So Psychological understanding helps. We can leverage for example Rambo, L. R. (1993). Understanding religious conversion. New Haven: CT: Yale University Press.

We need to structure the right type of encounters and interactions as people search for a solution to problems caused by some people having it all and not contributing to solutions.  Using our Gooder Book we can lead converts to a moral society recognition and a new identity. We’ll probably need some songs and ceremonies.  We can leverage the progressive community a bit here.

We can expect some pushback for sure.  After all this would be a pretty “light” religion.  I guess we should use Religion in quotes.  So "religion." 
One without the usual God, spiritual aspect.  So we may have to get the Templeton Foundation to fund us and help clear the way with things like their evolution of "religion" efforts.  It's might be a challenge, but, hey, let's keep the faith and try.

We should have a contest for the best name for the new religion.  Something catchy like secular humanism perhaps.  Let’s give it a try and cross our fingers (is that too superstitious?) for the best. I sure hope we don’t need martyrs to make this work. 

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