Jan 042016
 

wealth-inequality-infographic

The belief in free will as define here, allows people to justify wealth inequality. It creates notions of blame and ideas about “deserve” that are irrational with the understanding that we couldn’t have, of our own accord, done otherwise. The above infographic just gives a quick snippet of how free will belief allows excessive wealth inequality rationalization.

Here is something I wrote a while back and just updated it with more recent numbers:

If I were to distribute all of my wealth to the poor, I would in turn become one of the poor. This is a catch 22. To live a minimally desire-able lifestyle one must horde a minimum amount of what they do have, and save money for a rainy day. People who claim they want wealth equally distributed are criticized for not distributing their own wealth. They are told that if they truly believed in equal distribution that they should give everything they have to the poor…in turn making them-self poverty-stricken as well. Those critics miss the larger point.

If everyone on the planet placed all of their wealth (assets, etc)  into one large bucket, and that wealth was distributed evenly to each person, there would not be a single person in poverty. No one would be starving. No one would have insufficient shelter or clothing. No one would be missing out on the basic necessities of life.

Why is that? Because a small percentage of the population owns the largest percentage of wealth.

There are over 7.3 billion people in the world and counting fast, and less than a half of 1% of those people are millionaires. According to a report by CreditSuisse , Millionaires and Billionaires (USD) controlled 44% of all global wealth in 2014. Think about what it means that 44% of all wealth is distributed within a half of 1% (or 0.5%) of the entire population of the world.

To see this lets minimize our numbers down to 200 people and the distribution of $100 total wealth. 1 person would own $44 of that $100 pot. If we were to split the rest up evenly between everyone else, that is 33 cents per person. 1 person with $44, everyone else with $0.33. But the rest is not distributed evenly either.

Over 70% of adults worldwide have wealth below $10,000 USD. Keep in mind that world-wide wealth is 263 trillion. Half of the global population collectively own less than 1% of global wealth, while the richest 10% of adults own 87% of all wealth, and the top 1% account for almost half of all assets in the world. 

In other words, in our $100 scenario, 50% (100 people) of the 200 people would each own less than .01 cents of the $100 total wealth. In other words 50% of the people would split less than $1 amongst them-self.

One can begin to see how 2% of the wealthiest could make a drastic change in the world – in such a way that poverty really would not exist.

Most people don’t bother to think about these things. They just go about their consumerist and capitalistic  lives without giving it a thought. Or if they do give it a thought they conjure up some sort of blameworthiness to the unwealthy and deservingness to the wealthy. Of course those at the extreme ends of wealth are more deserving than the other 98 to 99% of the planet, right?

Of course not. If you have been following my blog at all you would know I’ve written a book about the lack of  free will. In it I expose these ideas of blameworthiness and being more or less deserving as inherently flawed. Flaws caused by a “free will” psychology.

Do I advocate complete equalization of wealth? No –  not until far in the future with (hopefully) a complete mindset change of the majority of the population. Not until such “free will” psychology gets weeded out. Of course I go into this in detail within my book. I readily admit the need for personal incentive to those ego driven in the meantime.

Do I advocate some sort of cap on the extreme side of wealth?

Take a guess.

To put this another way, great wealth inequality is rampant in the world. And if those on the extreme end of wealth are no more deserving of such excess than anyone else, that implies we are allowing way too much unfettered capitalism. What is the best solution? It’s hard to say. On one side, the majority of people believe in free will and believe in notions of “deserve”. Playing to those psychologies is important. On the other side, the extreme inequalities we have are excessive and allowing for great harms in the world. It seems until people recognize that we don’t have free will and understand the implications of such, an economic balancing act needs to be played.

But education over the important topic of free will (why we don’t have it and what it implies that we do not) is crucial to our rational human progress.

Check out other infographics about the free will topic: INFOGRAPHICS

If you find any helpful, please share with a link back to the page with the infographic. Thanks! – ‘Trick

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'Trick Slattery

'Trick Slattery is the author of Breaking the Free Will Illusion for the Betterment of Humankind. He's an author, philosopher, artist, content creator, and entrepreneur. He has loved and immersed himself in philosophy since he was teenager. It is his first and strongest passion. Throughout the years he has built a philosophy based on analytic logic and critical thinking. Some of the topics he is most interested in are of a controversial variety, but his passion for the topics and their importance drives him to want to express these ideas to others. His other passions include pen and ink line art and digital artwork.

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  15 Responses to “How Free Will Belief Justifies Wealth Inequality – INFOGRAPHIC”

  1. The question “Does this mean we need to equalize all wealth” suggests that there is some “we” deserving the power to make such decisions. I question that assumption.

    • “We” is colloquial…and can just mean “we as rational people living in civilization”. It’s not meant to invoke some sort of totalitarian government if that is what you are assuming. 😉

      (and it certainly has nothing to do with “deserve”)

      • I guess you’re saying that there might (or ought to) exist some hypothetical system in the future for efficiently allocating resources as a replacement for our existing decentralized system known as economics – a new system that satisfies some desirable socialist qualities while maintaining the efficiency of economics in allocating resources.

        Sure, I’ll buy that. However, I don’t believe the efficiency of economics – and its lack of those socialist virtues – derives from a belief in free will. If anything the free will explanation feels more like a post-hoc justification.

        • The belief in free will only allows for a justification of one person being more or less deserving over another person. Without free will those notions of a person being more or less deserving goes out of the window – so of course the belief in free will plays into this.

          • I’m willing to work harder if I believe that doing so will result in more comfort for myself and my relatives. Many other people behave that way too. If I happen to be a person who is particularly effective at allocating resources, the consequence under a free market system will be wealth for me and my relatives. Wealth is not a zero-sum game; the system of free market economics is one way to maximize productivity by incentivizing actors who are effective particular economically productive tasks to do what they do best.

            My relatives would (and do, in my case) benefit from this, whether they “deserve” it or not. Some people concoct post-hoc explanations that involve free will, but I don’t see how free will (whether we have it or not) has anything to do with it. I agree with your observation that this system results in inequities. Those inequities are the incentives that result in economic productivity.

            You posit the existence of a (practical) system that satisfies some nice economic and social properties at the same time. Whether or not such a system exists for actual human beings also has little to do with free will, and I do not believe any analysis grounded in determinism or free will (or the absence of one or the other) would shed any light on the development of such a system.

          • I’m willing to work harder if I believe that doing so will result in more comfort for myself and my relatives. Many other people behave that way too. If I happen to be a person who is particularly effective at allocating resources, the consequence under a free market system will be wealth for me and my relatives. Wealth is not a zero-sum game; the system of free market economics is one way to maximize productivity by incentivizing actors who are effective particular economically productive tasks to do what they do best.

            Yes, I realize that is the psychology of people today. It doesn’t make it a rational psychology…only something we need to (currently) play to to stay economically viable (as suggested in the infographic and text afterward).

            Please tell me you are not a free market advocate (let’s not even go there). If you are it is no wonder you are so adament on keeping your “free will” though. 😉

            My relatives would (and do, in my case) benefit from this, whether they “deserve” it or not. Some people concoct post-hoc explanations that involve free will, but I don’t see how free will (whether we have it or not) has anything to do with it. I agree with your observation that this system results in inequities. Those inequities are the incentives that result in economic productivity.

            I agree that some capitalism is needed in a world of irrational people who are unconcerned about them benefiting at the expense of others – when they do not deserve that benefit any more.

            You posit the existence of a (practical) system that satisfies some nice economic and social properties at the same time. Whether or not such a system exists for actual human beings also has little to do with free will, and I do not believe any analysis grounded in determinism or free will (or the absence of one or the other) would shed any light on the development of such a system.

            A lack of free will is one aspect which ties into these bad notions of one person deserving more or less than another. A concern over being rational is another. It isn’t about the development of a system, a mindset shift needs to take place first and foremost. Only then can a different system be put in place. It’s the reason I distinguished between an “ideal” world (not likely to happen anytime soon) and a “more realistic” world in the infographic.

            Later.

  2. What special role do “humans” have in this analysis? Is a dog just as deserving of wealth as a human? After all, its status as a dog (as opposed to human) was not something under its control.

    How would your answer change if we were speaking of semi-intelligent creatures deposited on earth by aliens? Or intelligent computers?

    • That is actually an interesting question, and goes more into ethics regarding animals than monetary wealth per se which only applies to beings with at least a capacity to barter. I tend to think the IDEAL situation is an equal distribution of wellbeing amongst all creatures with the capacity to experience negative and positive value (aliens or not). Of course what is IDEAL and what can be realistically accomplished (at least currently) are two things entirely (which my infographic denotes that distinction). But let’s put it this way, I’m an animal welfare advocate, and even advocate for such within the wild (e.g. reducing predation, etc.).

      Keep in mind that I think “wealth” falls under the umbrella of “well-being”, and it is “well-being” that attempts should be made for equal distribution in an IDEAL world. In a non-ideal world, we have to do the best we can while assessing the consequences of our actions.

      • Good answer. Unfortunately, it is a slippery slope. If ants can experience pain and pleasure, would each ant have an equal claim to well-being as an anteater? If I program a computer to exhibit “well-being” only when plated in gold, is it entitled to be gold plated?

        • Then you don’t know what a slippery slope is.

          If ants can experience pain and pleasure, would each ant have an equal claim to well-being as an anteater?

          Yes. But we do know that mammals have far more complex central nervous system than ants…so we actually can make assessments here using both neuroscience and behavioral science. And no, I don’t expect anteaters to be concerned over equal well-being distribution any more that I expect a certain type of sociopath to be concerned over equal well-being distribution.

          If I program a computer to exhibit “well-being” only when plated in gold, is it entitled to be gold plated?

          If we build conscious computer programs that can experience negative and positive sensations…then yes….they matter equally. It is illogical to put the human species on a pedestal here.

          • What does the level of the anteater’s concern (over equal well-being) have to do with its worthiness? How do you suggest we would use neuroscience (for a creature that happens to have neurons) or behavioral science to assess worthiness of comfort? What, exactly, would we be looking for?

            You seem to be using the concept of consciousness to distinguish the ant from the computer. Are you suggesting that you believe that ants are conscious? Or that the functional requirement for a computer to deserve comfort is higher than the functional requirement you would deem necessary for an ant to deserve comfort?

          • > Then you don’t know what a slippery slope is.

            http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/slippery%20slope

            Yup, that’s exactly how I meant it.

          • What does the level of the anteater’s concern (over equal well-being) have to do with its worthiness?

            It doesn’t. I thought that was what you may have been alluding to, but perhaps not.

            How do you suggest we would use neuroscience (for a creature that happens to have neurons) or behavioral science to assess worthiness of comfort? What, exactly, would we be looking for?

            The capacity to experience negative or positive states of being (suffering, pleasure, etc)

            You seem to be using the concept of consciousness to distinguish the ant from the computer. Are you suggesting that you believe that ants are conscious?

            Given what we know about brains and central nervous systems, it is likely that they have some rudimentary consciousness.

            Or that the functional requirement for a computer to deserve comfort is higher than the functional requirement you would deem necessary for an ant to deserve comfort?

            It isn’t about “deserve” or “functionality”…but rather experiential states. The entire idea of “comfort” implies that conscious experience is happening and that it is done so in a way that is experienced negatively or positively. If a computer consciously experiences in this way, yes, it is just as important as any other creature that does.

            Yup, that’s exactly how I meant it.

            Then you don’t know how to assess a slippery slope regardless if you know what it means. To claim that I made a slippery slope argument is to claim that I concluded that a slippery slope would take place to lead to a result. Perhaps you meant that you are making a slippery slope argument? That may at least have been a little more accurate. 😉

            BTW – I don’t have time right now to continue our longer quantum talk, but rest assured that in the future it will be addressed.

            Peace.

          • > > How do you suggest we would use neuroscience (for a creature that happens to have neurons) or behavioral science to assess worthiness of comfort? What, exactly, would we be looking for?

            > The capacity to experience negative or positive states of being (suffering, pleasure, etc)

            Is neuroscience capable of placing objective value judgments (suffering vs pleasure) on its observations?

            Would creatures (such as paramecia) that exhibit symptoms of suffering and pleasure in their behavior also have an equal claim to well-being, even in the absence of neurons?

            Does the claim to well-being include the right to *exist* (i.e. experience either suffering or pleasure at all)?

            Psychologists have strong evidence that people experience happiness by making psychologically relative comparisons, either to their own past or their neighbors. For example, people are generally happier when their salary is increasing, or when they are better rewarded than their coworkers. For some people this effect is much stronger. Do such people deserve the extra share of wealth required for them to feel equally happy?

            > The entire idea of “comfort” implies that conscious experience is happening and that it is done so in a way that is experienced negatively or positively. If a computer consciously experiences in this way, yes, it is just as important as any other creature that does.

            I don’t understand how you suggest we would judge what another object experiences or whether it is conscious.

            > To claim that I made a slippery slope argument is to claim that I concluded that a slippery slope would take place to lead to a result.

            I wasn’t claiming you made a slippery slope argument. I was using that term in the ordinary sense as described in an English dictionary; see the entries in corresponding to the Oxford Dictionaries, American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Collins English Dictionary, Macmillan Dictionary, or Wiktionary.

            > BTW – I don’t have time right now to continue our longer quantum talk, but rest assured that in the future it will be addressed.

            No hurry. However, presuming you intend to allow my response, please release it from the moderation queue.

          • Is neuroscience capable of placing objective value judgments (suffering vs pleasure) on its observations?

            These can be inferred through a number of fields. Neuroscience and behavioral science are two specific ones. Yes, there is a line where it is harder to tell, for example, certain types of shellfish feeling pain is controversial given their very rudimentary systems lacking certain receptors and lack of behavior. But our methodologies are improving in many of these regards exponentially.

            Would creatures (such as paramecia) that exhibit symptoms of suffering and pleasure in their behavior also have an equal claim to well-being, even in the absence of neurons?

            We have no evidence that a single cell organism has consciousness that is of any concern here, just as there is no real evidence of plants.

            Does the claim to well-being include the right to *exist* (i.e. experience either suffering or pleasure at all)?

            Different philosophical topic which doesn’t have to do with well-being unless the threat of non-existence causes a well-being deprivation.

            Psychologists have strong evidence that people experience happiness by making psychologically relative comparisons, either to their own past or their neighbors. For example, people are generally happier when their salary is increasing, or when they are better rewarded than their coworkers. For some people this effect is much stronger. Do such people deserve the extra share of wealth required for them to feel equally happy?

            Yes, we get the fact that irrational psychologies need to be played to. This is why there is a distinction between an idealistic world, and a “more realistic” world. For ethics there needs to be a balancing act that is played as long as those irrational psychologies exist.

            I don’t understand how you suggest we would judge what another object experiences or whether it is conscious.

            These issues are all being worked on (e.g. how to detect computer consciousness, etc).

            I wasn’t claiming you made a slippery slope argument.

            Ah, well then I misinterpreted your “Good answer. Unfortunately, it is a slippery slope.” remark to be pointing to what I said rather than the slippery slope you think it leads to.

            No hurry. However, presuming you intend to allow my response, please release it from the moderation queue.

            I do not release misinformation from my moderation queue until that misinformation can be addressed in full. If you want to post it elsewhere in the meantime feel free to. As soon as I address the misinformation inherent in it it will be released.

            Also, lets reduce down this convo to a single point or two as well …as all of these tangents will lead to the same result (I don’t have the endless time you seem to). Thanks.

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