My buddy, Tom, and I were perched on the green padded stools wondering what topic they would inspire us to discuss today.
Then we both noticed the words above a picture of the American flag:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created EQUAL.”
“There you go, Dave, there’s our discussion for today,” said Tom, smiling.
“That’s it, Tom, we are all equal, BUT some of us are MORE EQUAL than others.”
Hey Dave, drink up, we are just getting started.”
Tom ordered another beer for both of us.
“Tom, give me a reason for inequality among people.”
“Well, there’s income and wealth. Money buys security and freedom to do things.
The rich/poor divide is a main factor in inequality.”
“Right Tom, also there’s occupation. Knowing what someone does for a living tells us a lot , your income , your education and what you’re interests are.”
“What makes an occupation prestigious?”
“The amount of income received and the education needed.”
“So, social inequality is a very important issue.”
“Absolutely Tom, because there are so many inequalities in life: income, social problems, education inequalities, rich and poor divide, poverty, etc. These inequalities have consequences for all.”
“Hey Dave, lets go over some of the views of social class.”
“Okay, lets take the Concensus View first. This view believes that social class inequalities are Necessary and Inevitable because some jobs are more important than others in maintaining society. Some jobs require specialized skills that everyone doesn’t have.”
“Tom spoke up and said: “Also these talented people must be motivated to train for these positions. Therefore there must be a system of unequal rewards.”
“Tom, one problem with this approach is that there are many poorly rewarded jobs which are also vital in maintaining society.
Ex- An owner of a business can only be successful through the work of his employees.”
“Then there’s the Marxist View: the inequalities lie in the private ownership of the Means of Production (land, property, factories and businesses).
Two social classes emerge, the ruling class who control the means of production, and the proletariat, who work for wages.”
“So Dave, Marx wanted to overthrow the capitalists and create an equal classless society called Communism.”
“Yes sir, Tom.”
Tom and I sipped our beer and stared at the words on the wall:
“All men are created EQUAL.”
“Lastly, we have Max Weber’s view and he was a German sociologist.
He agreed with Marx with the exception that people’s MARKET situation also created inequalities. This means difference in skills and abilities lead to people selling themselves better in the market place.
Also, there are status differences between people such as gender, religion, age, and ethnicity (black or white).”
“Now, we come to the explosive part of social inequality.”
The barkeep spoke up: “I was called a racist the other day,” he said, laughing.
We ordered one more round of beer.
Tom and I, also, have been called racists when we voice an opinion that someone doesn’t agree with on ethnicity.
The barkeep came back with our beers and said: “Listen fellas, everyone is a bit racist whether they admit it or not.”
“Dave, what do you make of what the barkeep said?”
“Well Tom, there are theories that back up the barkeep’s remark.
One theory is that racism is based on primitive survival mechanisms such as fear of anything that appears different. People fear that a group of different people might take away a level of security, importance or control from them.”
“In other words, the prejudiced person doesn’t want their status quo disrupted.”
“You could say that Tom, but I think there is more than that involved.”
“Such as what, Dave?’
“Sizing up people that are different than us has always been a human priority.
We tend to put people in categories, are they one of us or not. We favor our in group, we see our values as more desirable or superior to those of others.”
“Are you saying it’s ingrained in us?”
“Yes, I am. It may be unintentional, but when you study these theories, we are all a little bit racist. We tend to classify people into our in group or into an out group. Race, religion, and culture our the criteria we use to put people in one group of another.”
“Do you think societies will ever change?’
“I hope attitudes will change. Maybe we can work through our differences and debate them rationally.”
I took a long sip of my beer, almost draining the glass.
“We will have to neutralize the “Us versus Them” mentality. We will have to resist the bias that is built into us by evolution and modern society.”
“Dave, I’m still a little confused about being called a racist.”
“Well Tom, think about it and write your thoughts on a reply to the blog.”
“So Dave, what’s next? What is going to shape society in the future?”
“Well Tom, globalization is the big thing now, the world is getting smaller.
Advances in transportation and communication are bringing people and places around the world closer to us. We now live in a “Global Village”. One certainty is that places around the world will become more similar to each other, language, culture, customs, food, all these things are coming together. Like it or not, we’re all in this together!”
“I think there are some down sides to globalization, such as the labor drain on poorer countries. These places would lose the workers to richer countries that pay higher wages.”
“That’s right, Tom, also cultural barriers would break down. Immigrants would try to impose their culture on others, who would resist it and conflict would arise.”
“A good thing would be more free trade all over the world thus improving struggling economies.”
Tom continued: “So buddy, what’s the answer to it all? What’s it all about, Dave?”
“Well, all I can say is:
If you want a stable existence, comfortable housing, good education, and freedom in all your pursuits, increase your quality of life and minimize your risk of premature death, the secret is: BE RICH!”
Also published on Medium.