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Why on earth would one person ever need a billion euro (or dollar, if that is your currency of choice)? In which sense could that person experience a genuinely higher quality of life compared to someone having ‘only’ 100 million? I’m not claiming that all the wealth in the world should be redistributed to the extent that everyone would have exactly the same – some people undeniably work harder than others or have far more responsibilities (e.g. over matters that can decide over life and death of others) and it is perfectly legitimate for that to result in receiving, say a 10 times bigger amount of money. But not 10.000 times more.
In the years leading up to the financial crisis of 2008, a handful of hedge funds managers collected more than 1 billion per person per year. If you can think of a single argument to not qualify that statement as utterly obscene, do let me know. I can’t think of any.
So: why does the world need to have billionaires? Just asking…
You can earn a living by cleaning people’s houses – unless it happens to be the house you live in yourself. You can make money by taking care of children – unless they happen to be your own. You can get paid for garden work – unless it’s in your own garden.
But that’s just the way our society is organized: some of the work done by some people is considered to be a job, which gets rewarded with money, other work done by other people is not. Is that a good way? Is that a fair way? An increasing number of people are asking these questions. In his book WTF – What’s The Future and Why It’s up To Us Tim O’Reilly is dealing with this theme, along with a lot of other topics that are related to the way we have come to organize our society, and what might be the possible and/or desirable future for it. (Amazing, wonderful book: buy it, borrow it, whatever, but read it and then give it a 5-star review- actually: they should come up with 6-star reviews for books like this one.)
Also the idea of an unconditional (or universal) basic income (UBI) is mentioned, especially in the context that there simply might, in the relative near future, not be enough jobs for everyone who wants to Continue reading →
For a number of years now, migration has been one of the most prominent topics in the media – with local peaks in some countries, often caused by upcoming elections, as it has become quite obvious that it is a topic that has the ability to move voters, in one way or the other. In the Western (a.k.a. ‘developed’ or even ‘civilized’) countries, generally speaking a clear majority of the population agrees that, in the context of the migration which is covered so abundantly in the media, refugees fleeing for war should be allowed to migrate to those countries for humanitarian reasons.
But if it comes to migration for economic reasons, the willingness to allow access to the territory is dramatically lower – even amongst large parts of the population that would never even consider voting for extreme right and/or populist parties, traditionally the loudest anti-migration voices. I am wondering why this is the case. As I see it, large scale economic migration has existed for centuries without outbursts of Western protest, so what is causing this change of attitude? Perhaps I should attempt to figure out what is different now from the way it was happening before…
Let’s try breaking it down into separate elements, by looking at factors such as the areas that have been source and destination, the objects migrating, the consideration of who took the decision, the beneficiaries of the outcome, etc. Continue reading →