The Other Societal Inequality
|Venkatesh Rao||Dec 1, 2017|
I think the world is going through a phase defined by two kinds of inequality, not one. There is economic inequality of course, but there is also what I call meaning inequality. I've sketched this idea out in the form of Gini coefficient curves below (see here if you don't know how to read these). The 45 degree line is mass flourishing, when all societal roles are potentially equally meaningful.
We are on the red curve in the developed world: high meaning inequality. A majority of people are caught in low-meaning bullshit job roles towards the left, a minority have found high-meaning societal roles on the right. My labeling of portions of the curves is admittedly highly speculative. I do have a precise notion of "meaning" in mind (the nature of your work is the primary factor), but I'll let you read the graph with your own definition. A question I'm pondering right now is how economic and meaning inequalities relate to each other and to automation. Edmund Phelps, in his excellent book Mass Flourishing, cites survey data showing that when work is meaningful, the economy flourishes, so that's a starting point.
Challenge: There's an obvious 2x2 here: low/high economic inequality vs. low/high meaning inequality. Label the quadrants. I'll share the best entry in a future newsletter.
This is my first experiment with a new format: just a graphic with short commentary and a reader challenge. There is no essay-length or tweetstorm exposition (do I hear some cheering?)
Gini coefficient curves for Meaning inequality
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