While debating about the rights and ownership of the things around us, regardless of your country of origin, we tend to forget that most of the things we have are not due to our personal effort. Claiming that certain people deserve more than others is something that we need to question.
Most of the things we have — as individuals and as a collective — we have because we inherited them from our ancestors. Our entire present world, for better or worse, is inherited from past generations; everything we have, including our lives, is because of them. For many generations, they mated, worked, explored, learned, and did many other things, in order to make the kind of life we have now possible.
Think about it: the first species of the genus Homo appeared about 2.5 million years ago, and the first Homo sapiens (Latin: "wise person") appeared about 200,000 years ago. During the last 2,000 years, and before the advent of birth control, the average length of a generation remained close to 30 years each. Using 30 years per generation, Homo appeared 83,000 generations ago, and Homo sapiens appeared 6,700 generations ago. All those generations — and who knows how many other generations of bacteria, insects, fishes, amphibians, mammals, and other transformations before that — allowed you to live.
Now you are alive. What are you going to do with that life? Are you going to go into war against other people, believing that your God is better than their God? Are you going to die, so that someone else can make money on foreign oil, comfortably sitting in his chair and drinking whisky, while you roll in and eat the dusty of some desert world?
We know that we equally inherited our lives and troubles, but access to knowledge, wealth, and power is not equally distributed. That is a serious problem, as I have written earlier. Concentrating control in one single point of failure can lead to the collapse of the system. [^] [^^]
Discussions about redistributing wealth usually lead to the most common claim against ideas like Unconditional Basic Income: “It is wrong to give something for nothing.” Now, if we genuinely believe that nobody should receive something for nothing, as the British professor Guy Standing said, “Then you should be against all forms of inheritance.” in order to avoid hypocrisy, we should be consistent.
The point is that the reason for our income and current state of welfare is more due to the effort of past generations than any effort of our own. If our ancestors had not contributed with their efforts, knowledge, ideas, infrastructure, roads, buildings, etc., you and I would probably still be bashing one rock against another.
Therefore, distributing wealth, especially wealth made by fully-automated machines, would be similar to giving a social dividend on the investments of our ancestors, and as we do not know whose particular ancestors did the most, it would be fair to distribute equally to meet the basic needs of everyone. You do not have to believe my words, as this is more or less what Thomas Paine — an English-American political activist, philosopher, and political theorist — said more than 200 years ago. Thomas Paine the author of “Common Sense” a pamphlet that inspired people in the Thirteen Colonies to declare and fight for independence from Great Britain in the summer of 1776. *1
The problem of an unfair advantage in economic inequality in present society is mainly created by unfair subsidies of wealth inheritance in the first place. Lets’ be honest: land and property inheritance, along with birthrights, are ancient royalty concepts, reinstated to give preference to one group of people over another and give them advantages from birth. Those who were born with more money have a much bigger advantage than those who started with zero. In ancient times, this was the way to save bloodlines and secure power, the royal throne, and selfish-gene survival.
But, that idea is created under a false pretense: if their genes were good, and if those newborns were equally capable to their parents, they would find their own way to succeed, and they would have survived or maintained power on their own.
Think about this: the federal estate tax exemption in the US—that's the amount an individual can leave to heirs without having to pay a federal estate tax—was $5.43 million in 2015. On top of this, shares in a private company are subject to an Inheritance Tax, but there is a very valuable relief, known as the business property relief. If business property relief applies, then the shares can be transferred at death or during a person’s lifetime free of Inheritance Tax.*2
Imagine what kind of head start you would have, if you had that kind of money at the beginning, and no taxes were taken out of it.
Just from the education point of view, that is a lot, and it would buy you a top education. If you had even basic understanding about investments, you would probably not run the rat race — chasing ways to earn money and pay your monthly mortgage installments all your life.
Unfortunately, even for wealthy families, there are exceptions and cases where fortunes did not do them any good. *3
There are many ideas on how to deal with wealth inheritance and wealth distribution, none of which are mine. Some of them are more radical than others, and many of them were conceived a long time ago.
For every one of those ideas, it seems that the largest fears the intelligentsia has are connected with the idea of civilization becoming dormant, and most of those fears are wrong. People are not driven only by the fear of survival. As the famous American psychologist Abraham Maslow once explained, with the so-called “Maslow's hierarchy of needs,” there are many other things that drive humans to work, even once the basic needs of survival are satisfied. *4
Notes & References:
1. Thomas Painehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Paine