Income inequality

Thanks, Doug, for sending along this piece from the Multinational Monitor. And, yes, I do believe this is an issue that ties in with the broader concept of sustainability, as economic development (particularly more democratic, egalitarian forms of economic development) is key. Clearly, trickle-down/supply-side theories are masks for further enriching the fabulously wealthy, represented in their full bloated obscenity by multinational corporations. And, clearly, these institutions aren’t going to really address income inequality — they may use it as a cover to exploit peoples in the Third/postcolonial world, or to further justify environmental degradation, but they’re certainly not going to start paying living wages because it’s the right thing to do. Sustainability has to (and I think it does) address poverty from the bottom up and empower people to take their economic well-being into their own hands. The model of community-based economics provides a much sounder theory (in my humble, uneducated view), and models such as the Grameen (sp?) bank in Bangledesh have shown this can work. In the political realm, we’ve got to cut off the spigot of corporate welfare — by and large, it serves to further impoverish most of the world, destroy ecosystems, etc.

The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of the “green fees” model of taxation. It’s based not only in the idea that those who pollute should have to pay, but also on the idea that most products that produce environmental degradation manage to pass on much of those costs, thus keeping their products artificially cheap. If a gallon of Roundup, say, were priced to include the cost of it’s environmental and public health impacts, a more eco-friendly/safer alternative would actually be cheaper. This kind of taxation would do much more to spur small business development than the giveaway to the rich that the Republicans keep pushing and passing, as it actually opens up new economic opportunities. I’m grossly oversimplifying here in the interest of getting the idea up — Natural Capitalism explores this idea in much more detail and much more intelligently, including some of the potential downsides.

About the Author

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog. You can keep up with all of his writing at Facebook, and at