An equality conundrum: how much is too much?

To everyone who reads this blog, my apologies for not having posted in a while. The primary reason for my silence was that my little family of three, is now due to become four. Everything with that and managing a two year-old, made blogging fall to somewhere near the bottom of the priority list. Our impending arrival brings more responsibility as parents, but doesn’t diminish our social responsibility and therein lies a conundrum. How much is too much for our family?

In the developed world many of us lead relative lives of luxury. Not that we have our own houses in order, in the U.K. there are 4,000,ooo children living in poverty, that’s one in three. In Australia, Aboriginal people have an average life expectancy of 59 for males and 64 for females. These circumstances are unacceptable and indicate a need for more equal distribution of wealth and resources nationally. However global inequality is much more pronounced, with one in every six people living on less than US$1 per day. This situation requires nothing short of a global revolution.

While I can hope for a global governance that is just, the obvious place to start is at home, with our own redistribution of wealth and resources. I won’t expound what we do and don’t do, but suffice to say I am unsure of how much we should be doing. My wife and I have promised ourselves that we will never live a life of luxury and greed, however to people living on less than US$1 per day, we already do.

So how much is too much? How much giving is enough? Should we take home a maximum of the national average salary per household, or the global average salary per household? Should we be living a Gandhi-like existence on bare essentials? How much should my children forgo and how much are my wife and I actually prepared to give up? I am thinking out loud, I don’t have the answers or even a strong opinion, but I’d be interested to know what you think.

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One Response to An equality conundrum: how much is too much?

  1. susan says:

    Sorry for delayed response – just catching up.
    Have you seen the furore in the UK about the government’s plan to cap benefits at the national average salary (£26K)? Those objecting do not believe that a family with children can live on this amount. You have a toddler and another baby on the way so you are just beginning to touch on the expense of bringing up a family. I would ignore averages and work out what you need for your family. I suggest you aim to be in a position where you could be financially independent of the state if necessary. Pensions, benefits, housing, education, healthcare – all can be cut at the whim of the government. I am not advocating private education or healthcare, far from it, but the state provision is often just not adequate. Say your child has a particular talent for sport or music – you will have to pay to foster that. If they go to college you may also want to help with the ever-rising college fees. The UK NHS no longer provides podiatry, children’s orthodontics, varicose vein treatment, (and much more – the list is growing by the day), you have to pay privately for these. Luxuries? Not if you’re in pain or your child is miserable because of ugly teeth. Looking ahead, you may need nursing home care in old age – only the basics will be provided by the state. If you do not have your own resources your children may want to fund any shortfall – would you really want them to have this burden? These are just a few examples, there are many many more where a degree of financial independence would make all the difference. Looking at it another way – the more taxes you pay and the less you require from the state, the more there will be in its coffers to distribute to the really needy.

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