In 1843, Thomas Hood wrote his famous poem- “The Song of the Shirt” describing the pitiful life of a poor Seamstress.-
“With fingers weary and worn,
With eyelids heavy and red,
A woman sat, in unwomanly rags,
Plying her needle and thread —
Stitch! stitch! stitch!
In poverty, hunger, and dirt,
And still with a voice of dolorous pitch
She sang the “Song of the Shirt.”
………… ………. ……..
“Work — work — work!
My labour never flags;
And what are its wages? A bed of straw,
A crust of bread — and rags,
That shattered roof — this naked floor —
A table — a broken chair —
And a wall so blank, my shadow I thank
For sometimes falling there! “
….. ……. ……..
A century and a half later we observe that conditions of work and of living, for many people in many parts of the world are not very different from that of the poor seamstress. They work for long hours in inhuman conditions for meagre pay.
Others- more fortunate- live in luxury, while doing very little work.
So we feel that there should be a more equitable distribution of wealth.
In his excellent book- “The Intelligent Woman’s guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism and Fascism ” the famous Irish playwright, G.B.Shaw has discussed the question of distribution of wealth. He has put forward the conclusion that Socialism is the best political system and absolute equality of income its proper goal.
Everyone will not agree with his conclusion, but we have to admire the logical manner in which the arguments are presented in the book.
The question of distribution of a country’s wealth was important a hundred years ago, and is still important today.
My question today to my blogger friends is this-
How do you think our nation’s wealth should be distributed to this end? ( So that the distribution is equitable.)
There are many ways to distribute wealth ( G.B.Shaw has examined some of them wonderfully in his book) – we have to choose which would be the best.
* Everyone should get an equal share. This seems to be equitable, but has some drawbacks.
One is that if each person got the same share regardless of how hard he worked, there would be no incentive to work harder. Also, in the absence of profits in a business why would entrepreneurs take risks?
* Everyone should get what they produce.
But there are many people in society who produce nothing (in terms of material goods or services). If this criteria is followed, what would young children, elderly people, handicapped people do?
* Everyone should get what they need.
Since a country’s wealth is limited, a choice would have to be made. In a city- do children need parks more than motorists need wider roads? What should the available space be used for?
* A person should get what he/she really wants.
I remember reading a story some years ago. A boy’s parents had bought a violin for him, intending to send him to learn to play it.
One day the boy’s friend came to play at his house. This friend had learned to play the violin beautifully on an old, worn-out instrument, his parents not being able to afford a new one. He looked at his friend’s new violin with such longing!
The boy gave his own new violin to his friend and later explained to his parents “He wanted it more than I did.”
There are many more criteria that we could think of – for example – Wealth could be distributed so that everyone gets what they deserve.
So, how do you think our country’s wealth should be distributed?