Inequality and bananas
Animal behaviour experts observed that a particular monkey was hoarding bananas—far more than it could ever eat—and decided that such aberrant behaviour was something worth studying. Scientists needed to decipher the psychology that led to this action. Basically, that monkey was put in “the naughty corner” while experts tried to discover what was causing such ‘unreasonable’, even for a monkey, behaviour.
Meanwhile, humans hoarding more money that they could ever use are praised and lauded.
The disparity between these two observations is difficult to understand.
In 2012, Australian politician, author, lawyer and former professor of economics, Dr Andrew Leigh wrote about a wealth “ladder”.
“Imagine a ladder, in which each rung represents a million dollars of wealth. Imagine the Australian population spread out along this ladder, with their distance from the ground reflecting their household wealth.
On this ladder, half of all households are closer to the ground than they are to the first rung.
The typical Australian household is halfway to the first rung.
Someone in the top 10 percent is at least 1½ rungs up.
A household in the top 1 percent is at least 5 rungs up.
Gina Rinehart is 5½ kilometres off the ground” *.
(* in 2022, 10 years later, it is estimated to be more like 10 kms from the ground).
Now, that’s a great illustration of inequality in Australia.
It would be naïve to think that we might ever be totally rid of inequality —and perhaps that is as it should be—but must life and circumstances be so dramatically unequal? I mean, is it right and ethical that some people ‘earn’ (and I use that term loosely) as much in a week as someone else takes more than a year to accumulate?
A 2017 quote from ‘The New Internationalist’ magazine:
“The evidence is mounting that greater economic equality benefits all people in all societies, whether you are rich, poor or in-between. Once this is widely understood, politicians and policymakers will be forced to take note…”
(and Later..) “The equality effect can appear magical. In more equal countries, human beings are generally happier and healthier; there is less crime, more creativity, more productivity, and – overall – higher real educational attainment. The evidence for the benefits of living more economically equitable lives is now so overwhelming …….”
Of course, I am only talking of inequality here as a money ‘thing’. There are many more ways of being inequal, especially regarding opportunity, but it’s the $$$ inequality that affects us so much.
In yesterday’s newspaper, (24/5/22) the wise and talented Thomas Keneally mentions the great unfortunate truth that,
“Trickle down has always gushed up”.
I will forever rant on about inequality and its sad consequences.
Oh, that equality of sorts was attainable here in Australia!
It would be nice, wouldn’t it?
Maybe those monkeys who didn’t hoard bananas could teach us something?
that it will soon start to change politics and societies all over the world.
2013 Book: Battlers & Billionaires: The Story of Inequality in Australia
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I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.