World Equality Day
The Equality Trust has named the 1st July as World Equality Day when they will be making extra effort to try to get Society to understand the benefits of a more equal society and so to make changes that will help to make Society significantly more Equal. The Equality Trust is based in the UK (which is the second least equal society of the richer countries) and so they have a lot of work to do! At the same time The Equality Trust has spawned similar movements in other parts of the world and the articles that appear under this Equality Heading in HowweSEEZambia will be our attempt to try to make Zambia embark on a path towards greater equality in OUR Society, and so to reap the benefits that a more equal society can confer.
What follows is the text of a flyer that readers can copy out from this website. They will be able to edit certain parts of it, to make it more relevant to a specific target, and then they can print it, for delivery to that specific target. Readers should understand that printing and delivering this leaflet is only the very first step of their involvement. They will notice that they will be volunteering to meet with the people they have targeted and to engage with them on a one to one basis. The whole project is a massive endeavor and will require enormous commitment, but the benefits in the long term will be well worth it. So please don’t rush out and distribute hundreds of flyers (many of which will, inevitably, end up as adding to the burden of litter) unless you are prepared to get involved and to dedicate some considerable time to the cause. I have deliberately made the text two pages long, so that you ought to be able to print it on both sides of one sheet of A4 paper. Please feel free to make your own improvements to the text – and to recommend these improvements to us for future editions. Some suggestions for EDITING before PRINTING have been added in Italics within brackets, please take the trouble to edit the letter carefully before distributing it. The campaign has to be as professional as possible and any sloppy editing will reduce the amount of attention that may be paid to it by our intended audience.
IF you can afford to do it, I would suggest that you buy copies of The Spirit Level (I will see if I can obtain a supply at a discount) so that, together with the flyer, you include a copy of the book.
Finally, I must remind any possible campaigners, that this campaign does NOT tolerate any damage to any property of any of our target audience. There is a very strong moral case to be made for working towards a more equal society. ANY damage to any property, whether privately owned, owned by a third party or by the government will immediately nullify any moral standing.
Dear fellow citizen of Zambia,
Please forgive this intrusion (from a complete stranger) and allow me to request a few minutes of your time.
I notice that you are driving a very luxurious and expensive motor car (living in a very expensive residence/flying first Class) in a country that is still very poor and under-developed. Therefore, I wish to take this opportunity to humbly suggest that there are better ways for you to spend your money than on this conspicuous consumption. Such a bold statement needs bold supporting evidence, so let me try to make my case:
I would start by bringing to your attention a (this book – if you are able to supply a copy) book called “The Spirit Level” by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett – two researchers from two Universities in the UK – which explores the evidence that, among the richest +/- 20 countries in the world, the more Equal the Society, the better all the Social Parameters. They repeat this analysis for the individual states of the United States. The social parameters include, Crime, Incarceration of Prisoners, Drug Abuse, Teenage Pregnancy, Health and Mental Health.
A very important point that is discussed in the book, is that the effects of Inequality on Health is so powerful that it actually overturns the benefit that Wealth has on Health. It can be taken as a given that wealthier people are healthier than poor people – mostly though a better diet, but also through access to better environments and better health services. Yet the negative effect of Inequality is so powerful that a person living on $30,000 a year in a more equal society actually enjoys better health than a person living on $100,000 in a less equal society. So, please read this book!
Another book that I would recommend is “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman (who won a Nobel prize for Economics). The book is very interesting and will help you to learn to make much better decisions but I am recommending it because Mr. Kahneman states that he believes that: Success = Skill + Luck. Huge Success = a bit more skill + a great deal more luck! (His favourite example of this is when the founders of Google tried to sell it for $1m. The deal fell through because the buyer felt that $1m was too much, leaving Google’s creators no choice but to keep holding their baby. . . .until it is now worth $764billion!) If you have given this any thought you may already know of an incident (or a series of incidents) that just happened to go your way at a crucial stage in your career that has helped you get you to where you are now. If any one of these opportunities had gone the other way, you might not be driving such an expensive car.
(In fact The Spirit Level points out that one of the reasons why Inequality seems to cause so much damage, is because driving a luxury car is actually a No Win choice. You bought this car to give yourself a feeling of satisfaction and yet, inevitably, someone else is driving an even more expensive car, which, when you saw it the other day, undid a great deal of this feeling of satisfaction.)
Assuming that you are still with me, the question now becomes what to do about it? The Spirit Level points out that there are two broad ways of achieving Equality in Society. The Japanese way (in which the CEO of Toyota does NOT draw a salary that is out of sight of the workers in the factories) or the Swedish way (in which the CEO of Volvo pays a much higher tax on his high salary). I think we would agree that, in the Zambian context, the Swedish way is not suitable because successive governments have demonstrated their lack of capacity to spend tax revenues in an efficient and transparent manner. If you decide to follow the Japanese way, you would choose to draw a much lower salary from your business enterprises and either invest those sums in developing more businesses that could create more Zambian development, or you could decide to “tax yourself” and spend it on Philanthropy.
Although I believe the Japanese way is preferable to the Swedish way and because I can imagine that there may be genuine reasons why you cannot use the wealth within your business portfolio to create opportunities for other Zambians, I accept that Philanthropy might be your best option. It is not the fault of a number of African footballers that they are paid huge salaries to play in European Premier leagues; they don’t have the business empires to use as engines for employment and so they have turned to Philanthropy. My final suggestion is that there are two kinds of Philanthropy – the Charitable kind and the Institutional Change kind. Although both of them will give you (and your family if you get them involved) a far greater sense of achievement and satisfaction (than driving this car (house/1st class)) using your wealth to change the various Institutions that are hindering the development of this country would be better than mere charity. I am not certain whether you can trace an article on this subject (published in African Business May 2013, by Dr. Shuana Mottiar) but Dr. Mottiar argues that the philanthropy of Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Patrice Motsepe (and those football players – Michael Essien, Didier Drogba, Emmanuel Ebooue, Salomon and Bonaventure Kalou, Samuel Eto’o and Mwankwo Kanu) tends to be too Charitable, without tackling the Institutions that lead, however indirectly, to the need for that charity. Dr. Mottiar mentions the Abolutionists who used their wealth and influence, not to create a Slave Support Group, but to eliminate Slavery all together; or the British Society for Superseding the Necessity of Climbing Boys which used their influence to eventually ban the use of children as chimney sweeps.
In summary, rather than spending your wealth on conspicuous consumption I would like you to find ways of spending it in ways which will make Zambia a more Equal society. Not only would you be using your talents to improve our beloved country, but you would also find your life far more satisfying and rewarding.
I would be very happy to discuss this further so please contact me on (phone number or e-mail, whichever suits you better) so that we can meet for lunch perhaps and discuss this further. In the meantime you could visit the Equality Trust’s website or try linking to any of the people I have mentioned. I am sure you will find it will be time well spent. (Supply your name)