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Parity Shift - 3 Interesting Articles Concerning Income Differentials

Updated on December 28, 2014

Who's Minding the Company Store?

Perhaps no other social issue sparks more volatile exchanges than the widening parity of wealth among the citizens of post-industrialized nations. So defined is the average person by economic position that perspective (less objectivity) seems an impossibility. Distributive Justice, Singer Solution, Ninety-Nine Percent - each of these propositions and their constituent arguments are likely to draw confirmation bias before any meaningful dialogue can occur amongst otherwise like minded individuals.

Based on this premise, the following articles provide the reader with a selection of interviews, activities and studies designed to rationally appeal to skeptics on the topic of income differentials. Its content is organized to stimulate conversation rather than serve as ammunition for a particular ideological position.

Money on the Mind

Exploring the Psychology of Wealth, "Pernicious" Effects of Economic Inequality

It may seem like a narrative composed for prime time television, but according to Professor of Psychology and Social Behavior Paul Piff, the acquisition of wealth detriments generosity and charity. In the above video sequence, Piff describes or simulates several double blind experiments in which individuals are given higher differentials of wealth in well-known games like Monopoly. The result proves especially astonishing to those claiming wealthy persons typically show more charity. On the contrary, Piff records that those given preferential economic advantage radically change their behavior; exhibiting more braggadocio, using more directive language and even asserting they "deserved to win" when their extra income massages eventual success. Piff compounds these observations via ancillary anecdotes like studies that verify luxury cars are less likely to stop for pedestrians.

Discussion Point: Piff's proposition proves reticent to a conversation on wealth differentials because of its emphasis on behavioral psychology; that privileged individuals can as much be victims of their status as those disenfranchised by wealth. These circumstances dismiss the typical moral dichotomies of wealth and poverty, allowing persons from diverse backgrounds to address wealth parity through active response.

A Conversation with Barbara Ehrenreich

A Conversation with Barbara Ehrenreich

Dubbed a muckraker by The New Yorker, feminist and political activist Barbara Ehrenreich is perhaps best known for her immersive journalism composition, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. The above interview provides observational highlights from said immersion and its constituent propositions. Perhaps no contemporary author better arrests the process of reification like Ehrenreich, who details the sundry full-time, minimum wage positions she undertook to demonstrate the nigh futility of self-support on a "have not" side of wealth differential.

Discussion Point: Like Paul Piff's analysis, Ehrenreich's experience yields introspective observations on the behavioral mentality of minimum wage employment: " ... [The boss] showed me a spreadsheet and their was a number on it and he pointed to the number and said that's our labor budget. That's all I know about the people who work for me ..." The above interview harbors dozens of like-minded revelations,revealing that wealth differentials produce their own insulating institutions to embolden the chasm between worker and proprietor.

Slavery Footprint

So far, the above sites have examined the wealth differentials in post-industrial nations. The website Slavery Footprint, however, attempts to widen its users understanding of economic parity by calculating how many "slaves" are required to maintain an average individual's quality of life, regardless current financial circumstances. After assessing age, location and other sundry questions - toiletry volume, technological devices, clothing - online software calculates the approximate number of third world wage slaves needed to secure your current lifestyle. The results can prove startling to those that may otherwise consider themselves beyond the reproach of wealth differential abuses.

Discussion Point: One of the key ideas brought forth from the above exercise is the notion of relativity in relationship to economic parity. Can one assess absolute fairness in regards to wealth distribution? If not, what is the value (if any) in criticizing financial parity abuses? Once again, careful analysis of the overriding issues surrounding such an incendiary topic.

Awaiting Your Windfalls!

Know any other online resources for substantiating the need for studying wealth differentials? I look forward to your comments and thank you in advance for any kind words. Check out my other Hub Pages for additional suggestions for navigating college assignments by working smart instead of merely working hard.


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