You don’t get it, we don’t want to end the exploitation – we want to become the exploiters!
That satirical utterance from a television character so eloquently captures one of the greatest challenges in tackling inequality in all its forms.
And if you doubt for a moment that people still believe that they can grow up to be multimillionaires, consider this excerpt from Senator Marco Rubio’s 2011 floor speech:
We have never been a nation of haves and have-nots. We are a nation of haves and soon-to-haves, of people who have made it and people who will make it.
The American Dream has been a driver of great vision and innovation in this country, but it has also been a driver of great disparity.
Our system is not set up to have only “haves.” I suspect economists would argue that no system could be.
So we’re left with a system where we each desperately try to claw our way to the top, only to try to keep everybody else down once we get there. A sort of global King of the Hill.
And not only are we willing to elbow our way to success, we’re hesitant to support policies which address issues such as income inequality – because we believe that one day those policies might benefit ourselves.
As John Oliver recently joked, “I can clearly see this game is rigged, which is what’s going to make it so sweet when I win this thing!”
But is this the way things really need to be.
What if we started to generate a new culture? One where people worked to help those around them flourish? Where we each put our talents and resources to use supporting the growth and well being of others?
Could we then, bit by bit, shift this paradigm? Shift the every [person] for themselves mentally and find a system where we all had the opportunity to develop and live as our greatest selves?
Would that be possible?