Two Cures For Income Inequality: Government Intervention vs. Individual Empowerment
The gap between rich and poor appears to be massive. According to Credit Suisse, the top 1% possess half of the world’s wealth, and the bottom 80% have only 7% of the wealth. While the numbers are abstract, the results are not. Even in China, the “Rich Kids of Instagram” create conspicuous displays of waste and excess while the poor in the countryside struggle to eat or find even basic healthcare. And China is considered a success story when compared with the developing world as a whole. A widely accepted way to address wealth disparity is to increase taxes on rich people, in order to redistribute some of that wealth to low-income people and to reduce poverty. How well does this work, and is there a better way to address problems like income inequality?
Many experts would say that some of the most destructive wars of the 20th century, including conflicts between the United States and the Soviet Union, were largely contests on how to best fight poverty. Conventional wisdom and current practices involve progressive taxes, safety nets, and redistribution to help ameliorate the large imbalances in income and wealth. Supporters of entitlement programs and taxation would say that enormous progress has been made, and it’s true that extreme poverty has been cut in half in the last 30 years. The current goal is to use these methods to end extreme poverty by 2030. People who oppose these measures might suggest that they infringe on the property rights of others and that free markets drive down prices while incentivizing innovation. In 1931, individual-room air conditioners cost $120,000 – $600,000 in today’s dollars. Today, a quality air conditioner can be purchased for less than $200. The same logic can be applied to television sets, medical technology, and other things that were only accessible to wealthy people in the past. These things make us wealthy, as we live longer lives with a greater degree of personal happiness.
Mike Norton stated that most of the money spent by governments to fix poverty has been wasted, and shared another perspective on wealth and personal empowerment.
A safety net only solves the problem for a very very tiny percentage of the population.Mike Norton
Finding Strength Through Personal Empowerment
Norton rose from poverty and abuse to build his own business and travel the world as a digital nomad. As a child, he reports having endured near-constant abuse and privation and was regularly locked in a closet. One punishment lasted, give or take, nine months, and on two separate occasions, he was hospitalized due to malnourishment.
Norton does not believe government programs do much to help people in situations like his or those of most poor people. During his childhood, he discovered that through the power of his imagination he was able to rise above the abuse. He developed what he describes as powerful visualization skills as a coping mechanism. He created imaginary friends, games, and solutions to his problems as an escape from the distress and misery by which he was surrounded. He utilizes his out-of-the-box thinking in everyday life to achieve gainful employment, and he believes that most other people are capable of the same success in life.
Creating A Purpose
Along his path, Mike Norton created a mission for his life to take personal responsibility for himself. He decided the best way to do that was through non-violence and self-actualization, where he sets a positive example for his tribe, and others who choose to align with his ideas. In his view, others can find purpose in similar ways and break cycles of poverty and abuse.
A New Path to Fighting Income Inequality
Norton rejects the idea that social safety nets and progressive taxes are justified ways to help poor people. By contrast, he believes such programs rob people of the stimulus necessary to overcome poverty and to achieve success. Not wanting to be hungry and homeless is, in Norton’s view, a powerful force for innovation and change, and perhaps even necessary.
People can become dependent, and lose the pressure of the need of survival that drives you forward to succeed and claim personal freedom and make the world a better place through the power of entrepreneurship.Mike Norton
Norton does not support the progressive taxing of wealthy people. He says most billionaires are self-made and that over-taxation incentivizes rich people to utilize tax-havens and other strategies to preserve their wealth. Studies show that when this happens, middle-class people end up carrying the greatest tax burden as an unintended consequence. For these reasons and others, Norton supports minimizing taxes in order to incentivize the inner drive that created Western civilization and to unleash entrepreneurship.
Changing the World Through Empathy
Many people suggest that there are business owners who exploit workers, but Norton does not believe that most rich people climb to the top through exploitation. His opinion is that when you voluntarily sign a contract and agree to work for someone, you are not being exploited; you agreed to the terms of the agreement. In a free market, you can always quit your job and go somewhere else, or even start your own company.
Many people started with less than nothing and rise to the top, and Norton is an example of just this kind of success. He says there is an element of inner character that many poor people lack, but it is something they can develop. If you learn how to develop it, in his view, you will pull yourself out of poverty and become a success by changing the framework you use to interpret reality and make decisions.
Many people believe that rich people are not empathic and that they are greedy and evil. Norton believes this is a trap designed to keep people down. He says that a poor person who can stop demonizing rich people and who can learn to identify with them can develop a wealthy mindset to replicate their successes.
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