Dr Campbell Jones (Senior Lecturer in Sociology, University of Auckland) had an excellent piece in the Dom Post yesterday. Some extracts are below, but the whole article is well worth a read.
The secret to making money
Who creates wealth?
Last month we learned that the “wealth creators” of this country have done remarkably well, in spite of the global economic situation. We were told in the National Business Review’s annual rich list that this is cause for celebration, given the wealth of the 151 richest individuals “has climbed a pleasing $7 billion from last year to sit at $45.2 billion, the highest ever”.
We also learned that over the last year incomes for most fell in real terms, and that 17 per cent of primary school children sometimes or always miss breakfast.
How best to understand that these things are possible at the same time? For some, there is nothing that can be done. We must simply live with this situation. Indeed, those concerned about these increasingly unequal distributions of wealth, income, power and privilege have been dismissed as “tall poppy bashers” or as being motivated by “envy”.
Central to such dismissal is the idea that whoever has wealth has created it by and for themselves. This sounds like meritocracy, that is, the idea that whoever puts in an effort merits reward. But this is meritocracy on its head. It assumes that just because someone is rewarded, they deserve that reward. This false meritocracy need not look at what anyone actually does. It reads reality backwards, imagining that those who have wealth are by definition the ones who have created it. …
Wealth is not created out of nothing. Wealth is not produced merely by the ideas or actions of isolated individuals. We produce things of value through our action on the material world and through the application of science and technology and the skill of social cooperation to that action. And as anyone who works knows, we work with others and for others in order to produce things of value. …