Power to the People

A lot of the hostility we see in our world arises due to the disparity in the distribution of the world’s wealth. Today, the wealthiest 10% control 85% of the worlds wealth, with the top 1 % controlling a whopping 40 percent of the total wealth.

Champagne Glass Distribution of WealthThis picture, called the champagne glass distribution, shows how those at the top control a vastly disproportionate amount of wealth.

When just a few people control billions more than anyone needs to stay alive and a few billion people barely have enough to survive, the stage is set for conflict to erupt. A redistribution of wealth would likely foster a more peaceful world, but apart from a few billionaires like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, the world’s wealthiest tend to cling to their fortunes, using their might to maintain the status quo and their high profile positions.

A few years ago I put forth a proposal for a mixed economic system called the capital cap, designed to take the best of both socialism and capitalism. It would work similar to how salary caps work in professional sports, setting an upper limit on the wealth that any one person can control, with any surplus being redistributed to improve the world.

As you probably know, an inherent flaw of socialism is that it takes away the incentives to work hard and excel. Socialism also stifles innovation and progress by enabling laziness and complacency. An inherent flaw of capitalism, which we can see happening all over the world, is that it allows too much power to concentrate into too few hands, allowing those at the top the leverage to manipulate the system to benefit themselves at the expense of everyone else.

The capital cap was supposed to overcome these flaws by merging the community and world building aspects of socialism while still rewarding hard work and ingenuity like capitalism does.

But what I’ve come to realize is that a capital cap, as interesting as it may be, wouldn’t be a complete solution to the problems of inequality we face. It could potentially impact the economic side of power, but there is more to power and influence than money alone. We would need more if we want peace, prosperity and equality in our world.

See, whatever label we give to our system, be it socialism, capitalism, or whatever, is not as important as having a society full of empowered people with empowered minds. When the power resides with the people, those at the top will be able to manipulate the system as much, meaning it will work more in the favor of the vast majority.

So the solution to many of our world’s problems is to empower humans everywhere. And here comes the good news: with every new day, each of us is becoming more empowered.

As individuals, we are gaining new found powers thanks to better education, more food, a higher quality of life, along with wider access to better tools and technology, include the supremely empowering marvel we call the Internet.

On top of this, we are becoming more empowered on a societal level. Thanks to social networking like Facebook, we are forming ever expanding communities which are highly organized and able to mobilize to action in real time. These groups we are forming – full of ordinary people like you and me – will soon be able to rival corporations and billionaires in terms of power and influence.

As we harness this power, we will make our world’s system what we want it to be… fostering a climate of peace and prosperity for everyone on earth.

Power to the people also means peace to the people.

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2 Responses to “Power to the People”

  1. Tom Thumb says:

    That champagne glass distribution is highly deceptive. It only captures how many are in each quintile, which could just as easily be done with boxes.

    You said yourself that the top 1% have 40% of world wealth. I heard on the radio a weeks ago that it’s set to approach 50%. 50% of the area should be in the top 1/20 of the red space.

    Also, a “champagne glass” without a base will topple over immediately.

    I know this is an old post, but this terrible analogy caught my eye.

  2. […] technological and social developments are constantly shifting the balance of power into the hands of the world’s people, and we will use this power to make our world a better place… a […]