Watching a program about superyachts and a preview for Extreme Couponing comes on. Talk about extremes.
Those superyachts are all basically the same — 100ft+ monsters with multiple staterooms all decorated with shiny wood paneling and gold sinks, galleys that are larger than some people’s homes, and in-your-face opulence everywhere. The only difference is the number of electronic gadgets, jacuzzis and sun decks they have. Costs are measured in the millions of dollars. The ultra rich live in another reality as far as I’m concerned so I don’t think about them, except when these wealth display programs come on. Being rich is fine, but the obsession with displaying the wealth is a little unhealthy.
That’s why the preview for Extreme Couponing was so out of place in the middle of a program on the super rich. Can’t imagine any of those yacht owners couponing. People make fun of extreme couponers but mm and I can’t stop watching the program. Some of the couponers featured started couponing out of economic necessity, to make sure their families have food and household supplies they need, for as little cost as possible. Yes, no one would ever need hundreds and thousands of boxes of toilet paper or toothpaste, but if they can benefit the couponers, their friends and families and even the ones who donate the goods, then it’s all good.
Professor Robert Schiller, one of this year’s Nobel Laureates in economics, said that income inequality is the most important problem we are facing today. I’ve also been watching and reading about the documentary Inequality for All, which was a Sundance winner. There’s an hour long interview with Robert Reich, who presents the film, on democracy now and he talks quite eloquently and convincing about his cause. This seems to be a thought-provoking film, I hope I can find a dvd when it comes out.
Everyone has a different view on wealth and wealth distribution. Some people are richer, some are pooer; some earn more than they should, some earn much less. But the gap between the top and the bottom has grown too large, too alarming. It’s also a global, not merely American problem. What can those of us who fall smack bang in the squeezed middle class do? Individually, we are more concerned in the last few years in holding onto our jobs, to make our net income (which has been falling in real terms) go further; in other words to survive. I guess it starts with us being aware of the issue, and to acknowledge that income inequality is a problem rather than accept the argument the top 1% keeps rolling out, that the markets are always correct. Remember, the very people who run the markets are the same people who manipulate it to suit them. Mr Reich said,
We make the rules of the economy, and we have the power to change these rules
We need to better educate ourselves, and hold those we trust with these rules of the economy to strict standards and governance. We are all born and raised unequal, but something I fervently believe in, is that ethical standards should apply to all equally.