The Student News Site of Taipei American School




Closing the wealth gap through internalizing egalitarian paragons


California’s homeless population — numbering over 130,000 people — grew in double-digit percentages in almost every city, with some rising as much as 43 percent from 2017 to 2018. Homelessness, however, is not contained to the sunshine state. Mass displacement is steadily becoming not only a national issue, but a global one as well.
Homelessness and mass displacement are often symptoms of the ever-widening wealth gap caused by rampant capitalism and the unfair advantages it provides to the rich, who face less and less social and economic responsibility. When the poor get in trouble with the law, their best option is often to rely on public defenders, whereas the rich can usually spend their legal predicaments away. At the same time, working class students often take on significant debt to finish their higher education, while affluent families can often bribe and cheat their kids through prestigious colleges and distinguished degrees. Even when those families get caught, like Felicity Huffman of late, they rarely get more than a slap on the wrist from our judicial system. The accumulation of wealth is, in many ways, a return to a feudal caste system with clearly marked lines between the nobility and peasants updated for the 21st century. 
To combat these deteriorating social conditions, students need to develop a more socially responsible mindset that focuses on cooperation and social justice. Students need to learn that helping each other out in times of need is not only a virtue but a responsibility for those who enjoy more resources. We must learn that one person’s success depends on the good will, kindness, and sacrifice of many who come before him or her and the many who work tirelessly to create an environment where such success is possible. 
By internalizing these egalitarian paragons, the current generation will become more willing to embrace ideas that can make society more harmonious and productive. Teenagers, on their own time or through discussions with teachers and peers, can explore whether the development of individual intellect and the subsequent betterment of society ought to be financially burdensome to the individual, whether social welfare is truly a condemnation of personal success, and whether a more generous government can accomplish long-term growth.
There are a myriad of ways through which we can internalize egalitarian ideals. Volunteering at community centers and outreach programs are good ways to give back to one’s community, joining clubs at your school designed to give back, setting aside a certain amount of your allowance and making regular donations of money or valuable resources benefit the underprivileged. Most importantly, we need to constantly remind ourselves of the opportunities we have been gifted, so we can remember to give back and share.
Although these changes may be deemed trivial, these educational reforms provides the foundation as to what values future generations will uphold. If not, in 2050, our society will see very little social mobility and face a grim future. Talents and ingenuity could be underdeveloped and a large percentage of the population will live in a constant state of hopelessness while a small percentage squander away. 
Many of these ideas are talked about and lauded by politicians and social leaders but are foreign and hard to apprehend by many demagogues and their followers. Therefore, we must start cautioning students of the path we are walking and the choices they have, through allowing them to internalize egalitarian ideals, so that when the year 2050 comes around, they can expect a paradise instead of a dystopia. If left unresolved, the future would be a bleak one, in which the rich live like kings and the poor have to struggle to survive. 

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