How Much Inequality is Too Much?
It might surprise you that as a socialist, I support some degree of income inequality–particularly given the real economic, material, and relational conditions of the world in which we live. When I worked as an executive director, I earned a little more than four times more than our lowest paid staff. I think this was fair, because I had two master’s degrees and over a decade of experience while our lowest paid staff were high school students. That being said, I certainly do not support the irresponsible and unjust income inequality that currently exists in the United States and around the world. According to the Economic Policy Institute, average CEO compensation was more than 200 times more than nonsupervisory workers in 2011 in the United States.
Here are a few questions to guide further discussion about income inequality. Please share your thoughts!
1. Is there a minimum standard of living to which all people of the world should be entitled?
2. How do we define that minimum? By whose standards is that produced?
3. What contributions to society (no necessarily economic), if any, should be required?
4. What contributions lead to what standards? What is the best means to compute this (capitalism?)
5. Is this possible given the current social and economic structure?
6. How can the environment best support human endeavor and human endeavor best support environmental sustainability?