Although the aristocratic class has historically favored the oppression of the masses, it is an over-generalization to impute this characteristic onto all members of the upper class. They might be outnumbered by their counterparts, but there are still members of this class who desire to bring fundamental fairness to all levels of our society. Privileged persons who are not threatened by the numerosity of the masses, chiefly because they have no desire to oppress them. When referring to the oppressive class it is important to note that not all members of the elite who control the vast majority of wealth and power are members of this class. For those seeking economic fairness, it is counterproductive to vilify the wealthy outright; within their ranks lay powerful allies, sympathetic to the cause and willing to help.
There is nothing atypical about an
extremely small portion of society accounting for the vast majority of the
wealth and power. This attribute can arguably be considered an immutable
characteristic of complex civilizations. On its face, it appears to be a
natural tendency of large societies; almost as natural as the desire to
establish a sense of law and order that insulates citizens from the state of
nature described by Hobbes. Even in communistic situations such as the
Although capitalism is a much more viable economic system, man's inability to tame his greed and lust for power has rendered pure capitalism inoperable. Capitalism naturally produces uneven results in the sense that wealth and power will not be distributed evenly; it will be concentrated among a very small few. Rather than enable the working class, the backbone of the economy, to earn a comfortable lifestyle, history has proven that ownership in a pure capitalistic system will create desperation among the wage-earners, forcing them to settle for unsuitable working conditions, inferior compensation and a sub-par quality of life. This approach makes fiscal operations more profitable for the corporation at the workers' expense. One does not even need to look into the past for such evidence, many American corporations have active work forces overseas in furtherance of this agenda.
Capitalism can have a chilling effect on competition and free markets to the detriment of society. The entire body of antitrust law developed in response to this tendency. Invariably a company with superior resources and acumen will dominate a market niche or industry to the point that consumers are left with little or no choice. More likely, a market will have a handful of major actors that can either collude or mirror each other's offerings so closely, that in effect, consumers do not have an alternative mean to a particular service or good. This exposes consumers to price-gouging, price-fixing, artificial inflation and cripples any leverage that can be asserted through spending habits. Capitalism works best when a detached entity with sufficient authority can oversee the markets and make adjustments in the interest of fundamental fairness.
A society's power structure is compromised when the ruling class becomes unduly exploitive. There is nothing objectionable about exploiting a situation. Life is full of opportunities that we should take advantage of. The upper class has every right to exploit the resources of the working class. The exploitation becomes unjust when wage-earners fail to receive fair compensation for their services and labor. This equilibrium hinges upon what is determined to be fair compensation.
What constitutes fair compensation
is subjective and must be based on the overall wealth and capabilities of a
nation. Fair compensation in a third world and first world nation will be
different. Fair compensation in our society is: the means one needs to
live a comfortable life. Not extravagant or luxurious, just comfortable.
Decent living space, quality food, clean water, adequate clothing,
affordable healthcare and the ability to reasonably enjoy one's interests.
This level of comfort is not achievable en masse in every country, but it
is in the
Too often, everyday people are precluded from reaching this threshold so that certain members of the controlling class can accumulate excessive wealth. Excessive wealth is the amount of discretionary resources retained by ownership that prevents a wage-earner from achieving a comfortable standard of living. It should not be confused with acquiring more money than one could ever need; they are two entirely different concepts. For example, if an employee needs to earn $40,000 annually in order for his family to live comfortably, and his employer pays him $35,000, the amount of excessive wealth in this equation is $5,000. A billionaire entrepreneur might have earned her money without accumulating any excessive wealth, whereas the majority of a borderline-millionaire entrepreneur's fortune might consist of excessive wealth. The determining factor is whether they supplied their respective work forces with fair compensation. Both work forces were exploited, but was the exploitation fair? That is the question.
The balance of providing employees with fair compensation while maintaining acceptable profit margins is very achievable. While many companies only achieve this symmetry with certain segments of their work force(unfortunately, workers with lower skill sets disproportionately absorb the short end of this paradigm), other companies are able to across the board. When thinking of the latter, companies like Google, Microsoft, GE and Proctor & Gamble come to mind. Costco Wholesale is a commendable example of a company that seems to make a concerted effort to provide fair compensation to its entire work force in an industry where this is rare; Starbucks is too. In other words, they apparently care about their employees.
It is the pursuit and accumulation of excessive wealth that produces unnecessary friction between the classes and division within the middle class. The most frustrating aspect of this dynamic is that it does not have to be this way. Although it is a fixation in complex societies, that does not make it necessary and indispensable. A balance between the wealthy being able to enjoy their lavish lifestyles and the multitudes, who enable this lifestyle through their work and spending, being able to work for and enjoy a comfortable standard of living is very attainable. The one-percent can keep their wealth; the average person does not desire it. Sure they would accept it if gifted to them, but they are not actively pursuing it. The average person simply wants a comfortable lifestyle.