The Importance of Wealth Redistribution and Ending Poverty
Throughout my life, it has never made sense to me that 1% of the population is allowed to have extreme wealth while 40% of Americans are one emergency away from poverty. It’s even worse on a global scale, with just 8 men having as much wealth as 3.6 billion people.
This is the continued legacy of capitalism that desperately needs to be reversed.
It raises an important question: what can be done to lift the masses out of poverty, both nationally and globally? How can it be done in such a way that doesn’t perpetuate existing systems of oppression, whether it be harsh carceral injustice, imperialism, systemic racism, patriarchy, homophobia, classism, etc.? Can we move beyond simply getting people out of poverty and re-distribute enough money so that everyone can thrive, rather than just survive?
There are no simple one-size-fits-all answers, but one starting point should be obvious: reparations for the poor, descendants of slavery, the victims of racism and colonization, in the ways that they deem best. The wealthy giving up their privileges for the common good.
On a national level, this could mean raising the minimum wage not just to $15 an hour, but to $30 (or anything else comfortably above the cost of living in any particular area). This could mean enshrining the right to housing into the constitution with a constitutional amendment to ensure that *nobody* is forced to live without a home. This could mean raising taxes on the 1% to guarantee *free* college education to *all* people, regardless of income, and cancelling all student debt for those who’ve already gone. Considering the systemic racism in America’s prison system, this could mean shifting from a carceral justice mindset into an abolitionist mindset, with money moving away from police and military and into helping bring communities together peacefully instead. This could mean allowing workers at every job to collectively organize and negotiate wages with their employers, instead of what we have now, where poor and working-class people know they’re being exploited at work, but fear speaking up and facing punishment from management. This could mean setting a wealth cap so that no one person is ever capable of hoarding wealth and power. This could mean making healthcare 100% free at the point of service, paid for by increasing taxes on the wealthy.
Sometimes people say: “Shouldn’t the rich be able to keep their hard-earned money all for themselves? After all, they earned it so they must be so much smarter!”
No. One person can never become rich solely by themselves. It’s the community and workers who helped get them there and for that reason, that wealth and power should be redistributed back as much, as quickly, and as democratically as possible. Nobody needs mansions or yachts while billions live in poverty around the world. Sharing is caring.
On an international scale, it’s more complicated because of the necessity to not reinforce pre-existing historical inequalities, but to dismantle them and empower people to shape their own futures mutualistically, not be pressured or coerced by historical colonial powers. Obviously providing economic support for the global poor is important, but would be best structured in a generative way for the people being helped, in the ways that they ask to be helped, not an exploitative way with a profit-motive in-mind for the person/organization/government helping.
There are no easy answers, but it’s important for the privileged to always selflessly give to those who have less, regardless of how kindly those most disadvantaged ask. At the end of the day, it’s important to recognize where the anger of those most exploited comes from and simply help instead of punishing people for not asking for their basic human rights to be respected kindly enough.