social disparity

Two Sides of the Same Coin

by Trudy on May 16, 2014

As I have mentioned previously, I have lately spent a considerable amount of time understanding the income gap as a concept. Consequently I have come to have a greater understanding of the part of our population that lives at the bottom 20% in our economy.

In stark contrast I had the opportunity to visit Monaco recently, where I got to see the evidence of the population that lives in the top 1%.

Of no shock to anyone, the material differences between these two groups is more than a little vast. Many of us cannot imagine the daily effort it takes to get through a day living at or below the poverty line. And I suspect most of us also cannot truly comprehend the realities of the billionaire lifestyle.

I will leave it to individual musings and values to assess the diametric differences in these two populations, and how each of them ended up where they are.

I do however want to point out one observation my offspring and I came to as we parted ways with Monaco.

The two groups are really not that different.

The people in the bottom 20% of the economy live with a constant threat of insecurity. Will there be enough food, is there sustainable shelter, etc.

The people at the very top of the economic hierarchy fear for their security too. They cannot move freely through a city for fear of personal safety, they must over protect their homes and belongings to not have them taken away from them or have harm come to them because of it.

Everyone in Monaco talks of the Russian billionaire that anchors his personal residence / ship in the Mediterranean around Monaco (it is too big to dock in a marina), who rarely leaves it, is wary of who he can trust, and has missiles on his ship to keep him safe. Ironic tradeoff. Living less to have more.

Any life that cuts us off from others and makes us feel unsafe is deeply unfortunate.

And both groups suffer from this at the core.

Both are trapped by the circumstances, one of them can bring the world to them.

Food for thought.


What is the Right Thing?

by Trudy on December 13, 2013

I have had the privilege this year to work on a project that establishes effective communication principles around a very important and emotionally charged social topic – the wage gap in Canada.

The journey I have been on this year with this topic has been profound.  It has challenged me on so many levels, and as I dove deeper and deeper into the facts, it required me to reflect and rethink concepts personally and societally.

It is the kind of project one cannot walk through unchanged, and for that I am grateful.

It also explains my negative response to news that some Wal-Marts hold a food drive at the store for Wal-Mart associates in need. One would presume this is due to inadequate financial resources in their homes.

You should also know that Wal-Mart earned a $15.7 billion dollar profit last year.

This is just one example, of far too many that exist, of a corporate responsibility issue, and it is shameful. Shameful for all the businesses that under-pay their employees in the name of smart business and profit, and yet maintain it is perfectly legal as they meet the minimum pay requirements. It is shameful for governments that establish minimum wages that are inadequate to live on.  And shameful for all of us that feel the lowest price is more important than ensuring people make a decent living.

This is a complex issue, that requires awareness and action at all layers of society, and there is no simple fix.

But maybe there is a simple place to start. Maybe we all just need to think about making decisions that are about doing the right thing.

I guess therein is the debate:  which right is the right, right thing?

I encourage all of us to consider what “doing the right thing” means to you.

‘Tis the season after all.