What’s the right thing to do? –Part I
I am a huge fan of TED. While I was surfing most favorite videos on TED.COM I stumbled upon Michael Sandal’s talk on Justice. It was quite an interesting talk; he talked about hypothetical moral dilemmas. I was curious to know more about moral philosophy, so I bought a book titled “Justice” by Michael Sandal. I loved the book immensely. Having read different views of various philosophers from Aristotle to John Rawls I summarize here my views on “what is the right thing to do”:
I am going to start with the issue of Equality. I believe Equality in our society is not a choice but necessity. And by Equality I don’t mean every household’s income should be similar, by Equality I mean all citizens should have access to basic essentials of good life. We can only achieve Equality by taxing the affluent. Some people think by taxing the affluent we are stealing their money i.e. their time thereby promoting slavery (working without getting paid). On the contrary I believe that by not taxing the rich we are promoting the slavery. Let me give you an example; Usain Bolt, world’s fastest runner earns 20 million dollars per annum. While I believe that he deserves to some extent the kind of monetary appreciation he receives, I feel it is total injustice to many others who live in poverty. I do not believe in the notion that Usain deserves his income because he works very hard; there are many runners out there who probably work as hard as Usain does. What perhaps make him stand out is/are his genes and/or his techniques? It is not in other peoples’ choice about their genetic makeup, so it is not fair that one lives in luxury while others suffers in poverty. Hence the question is how are we going to achieve the equilibrium? Simple and straightforward answer is by taxing Usain Bolt. I am not saying that Government should tax him in such away that his income matches rest of the community but to an extent that Usain Bolt still enjoys his success by living off well and letting ordinary citizens also enjoy the basic amenities we as human beings deserve.
Let me give you another example on why we should tax affluent. Let me take the case of Walton family who owns over 50% of Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart profits are in billions of dollars annually. Millions of people who work for Wal-Mart pay almost next to nothing as tax to Government because they earn so little. But they all use Government provided roads or public transport to get to work. So indirectly Wal-Mart is making money by using facilities provided by the Government. Hence either Wal-Mart should pay more taxes or increase their workers salaries so that they pay their respective taxes. Either ways Wal-Mart has to shell out some of their profits.
One may ask why is it important to have equality in our society. As Prof. Sandal points out if we let the income gap grow any further, which is happening as of now, there will be a time when rich and poor will live in a separate societies. Then rich do not want to support public institutions as they no longer use them. There will not be any communication between these two societies and further increase in income gap leads to animosity between them that eventually lead to civil wars and loss of human lives.