This one is sort of a two-pronged issue. On one hand, we have wealth inequality within a country based on social class; on the other hand, we have wealth inequality based solely on gender. There are many other factors used to discriminate against workers such as skin colour, ethnicity, and many others. But to keep this article to an easily digestible length while waiting for your coffee to brew, I will opt to focus on the first two today.
Since we all like numbers so much, let’s take a peek at some statistics outlined in this United Nations article to gain an overview of the problem at hand. First, we will examine the social class divide, and we need not look much further than billionaires to see the problem. According to Oxfam’s briefing paper published in January 2019, in 2018 the top 26 most wealthy people in the world held as much wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population, around 3.8 billion people. Keep in mind that the prior year the same wealth was split over the top 43 people. So, that means that the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer. As a result, the wealth inequality is increasing exponentially annually. Before we delve further into the causes, I want to look at the gender wealth gap as well.
The gender wealth gap refers to the inequality experienced by women and girls in personal income compared to their male counterparts. To further demonize the billionaires of the world, the vast majority of them are men, so not a great start to rebut the argument of a gender wealth gap. But the main cause of this systemic problem is that countless women in most countries are tasked (through patriarchy) to perform unpaid care work. Think about childcare. How many of my male readers reading this have thought about having or have had children and imagined that they might be the ones to stay at home and raise them as opposed to their wife? If the thought never crossed your mind and you just assumed that it’s the mother’s role, you are not alone. This mindset is part of our patriarchal culture that values working men more than working women. Otherwise, women might be subsidized by the government for providing childcare services. Publicly subsidizing care for something that is often optional may seem unfair but remember that women in this system are essentially guilted or forced to give up or halt their career progress to care for their children. Also, women are often pressured to have children by the culture, or even raped and not able to get an abortion (and yes, THAT is a topic for another day). In no other situation, would anyone want to give up their career aspirations to be without income. I would dig deeper into this topic, but the coffee is almost ready, so I will save that for another day.
However, before you get back to your desk or work counter, I want to summarize some of the root causes of the social class and gender gap wealth inequality: capitalism and money in politics. Since I will elaborate more on these topics in the coming weeks, I will keep this short today. When we have built a society and culture that values money and power over everything else, we allow the system to perpetuate. Capitalism is all about maximizing profits and rewarding gains. Politicians are supposed to be the counterbalance to raging capitalism, but once the wealthy became too powerful through this political ideology, they began to reward and intimidate the politicians using their most prized resource: money. As a result, the politicians no longer provide the check and balance to equal and fair wealth distribution, and effectively ignore the poorer population. Case in point, the United States’ Senate establishment politicians, earlier this year, voted against increasing the federal minimum wage that has remained stagnant while inflation drives up the cost of living. And who benefits from the cost of inflated goods and services? Billionaires.
Look at that! The coffee is ready. Hope it’s not too hot, because the next few weeks of topics are not going to cool down.