Something people who think about wealth inequality don’t often consider is just how much it harms the wealthy. The implicit assumption is that wealth inequality always benefits the wealthy, but upon even superficial consideration, it’s obvious that it doesn’t.

How Wealth Inequality Harms The Wealthy

Less Creative, Intelligent People

More wealth inequality means less people can afford higher education. Therefore there are less creative, intelligent people curing diseases, improving technology, making art, writing novels, and figuring out how to solve problems. Imagine all the wasted potential.

It doesn’t matter how many billions you have. Once you get cancer, there is no surefire cure. Maybe we would have one with more intelligent people working on it. When intelligent people are forced to waste all their time performing bullshit jobs[1] just to survive, they don’t have the time or energy to do important work.

Sleep Deprivation And Exhaustion

When people are forced to work constantly and accept interruptions by work during non-work hours[2], they become exhausted and sleep deprived, which leads to all sorts of negative consequences to the brain[3].

To name a few, there are deficits in attention and working memory, irritability, depression, anxiety, severely impaired driving ability, insomnia, microsleeping, brain-localized sleeping, obesity, hypertension, a weak immune system, diabetes, headaches, mania, and many other effects.

Sleep deprivation is so harmful to a person’s health, the U.S. and U.K. governments have used it as a form of torture.[4]

In some countries, retail chains are allowed to be open all hours of the night. So employees sleep during the day, being exposed to bright light which confuses the body’s circadian rhythm[5], causing sleep problems and all the negative consequences that come with it.

Even if you’re very wealthy, do you really want to interact with people that are irritable, exhausted, and unhealthy? Because that affects you too. Wouldn’t you much rather live in a society that gets enough sleep and isn’t exhausted from working all the time? Wouldn’t that be a happier, more fun place to live?

Life is better when others are thriving, not when they’re sleep deprived and exhausted.

Conclusion

I’m sure there are more ways wealth inequality harms the wealthy, but those are the ones that come to mind. Extreme wealth inequality is a negative sum game. There are no winners relative to non-extreme wealth inequality.

I’m not completely anti-capitalist and anti-wealth-inequality. I’m anti-extreme-capitalism and anti-extreme-wealth-inequality. I think some wealth inequality can benefit us all, but when it’s taken to the extreme, it becomes a real problem that harms everyone, including the wealthy.

If you want to wrap your head around the scale of wealth inequality, please see my previous entry, Visualizing Wealth Inequality And Mass Incarceration[6].

Link(s):
1: Automation, Bullshit Jobs, And Work
2: Right to Disconnect
3: Consequences of Sleep Deprivation
4: Sleep Deprivation For Interrogation
5: Circadian Rhythm
6: Visualizing Wealth Inequality And Mass Incarceration