07/31/2015 03:03 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Social Inequality in the 21st Century


Social Inequality is traditionally defined as the existence of unequal opportunities for different social positions or statuses for various individuals within a group or society. Normally it refers to people of different genders, ages and ethnicities. Yet from what I have observed in my life so far, these are not where I believe the biggest areas of social prejudice and particularly unjustified job attainment are. I think certainly in the past, the areas of gender and ethnicity, were where the greatest areas of social prejudice were. But in more recent years, as the world has become more understanding of people in different races and different genders, we have seen a new key social difference emerge. This key social difference we see today is that the world and job prospects are now decided by personal contacts and selfish internal business decisions. To a large degree I see that the world today does not reward merit, nearly as much as it was rewarded in past centuries. In this article that is what I will be discussing, and I will be explaining how this presents a real danger to the future of our world.

If we think back to the vast majority of the second millennium, we look back on a world where a few great barons controlled the vast majority of global wealth. These were people like William the Conqueror in England, Nikolai A. Romanov in Russia, Carnegie and Rockefeller in America, and the wealthiest of them all, Mansa Musa of the Mali Empire. Musa is obviously the most interesting person to look at, particuarly because by most estimates he was worth double that of Rockefeller. Mansa, who most of you won't have heard of, was an obscure 14th century African king, and had an inflation adjusted fortune of $400 billion. He ruled West Africa's Malian Empire, exploiting West Africa's vast salt and gold production. Why could he amass such a large fortune? Principally because that was a time where king's all around the world owned all of a countries resources. William the Conquerer (England) is another example, who happened to be commanding over England around the time of that countries economic peak. Later on in the millennium we saw the influence of those in political power decrease. Particularly in the new world i.e. America, where the great fortunes of the 1800's and 1900's were held by business baron's like Vanderbuilt, Carnegie and Ford.

In those early days of the 1900's and earlier, merit was rewarded. Despite the vast majority of wealth being held by a few people; as an employee the work you did was mostly physical and monotonous. You simply went into a job that was very simplistic, and whereupon you mostly did the same thing over and over again. Henry Ford and his production car assembly lines were a clear example of this. The work that went on was also productive. More cars were being made, more efficient methods of oil refinery were happening. Starting with the 1901 monopolistic ruling against Standard Oil though, which broke the company up into 16 different oil entities, we saw the power of the true entrepreneur begin becoming eroded, although it didn't happen right away. It is interesting to note that (one of) the only big entrepreneur type's we saw in the mid-part of the 1900s was Howard Hughes, the eccentric aviation and movie businessman of the 20s, 30s and 40s. The key question here, is why was there a drop-off in entrepreneurial activity in the mid part of the last century? The reason is because, starting with the Standard Oil monopolistic ruling in 1901, Politicians figured out ways to reassert their power. They saw that the Carnegie's and Rockefeller's were becoming more powerful than even them, so they started to regulate the business environment. Partly because of this, we saw the rise of the corporation, and the decline of the entrepreneurial enterprise. And employees' primary focus of these (heavily regulated) companies become even less on their production, and more so on how can I keep my job? And in order to figure out ways of keeping their jobs, prejudices were made by (predominantly white male) individuals, to other's of different genders and ethnicities.

In the 1970s though, we began to witness the rise of the computer revolution. And in the 1990s we saw the advent of the internet. Together these two massive events meant that we entered the dawn of a new age. The Information Age replaced the Industrial Age. This critically meant that the focus shifted from real production to the acquisition and displaying of information. It then became less important on the amount that someone could actually produce in a day, and therefore less important to gain an employee based purely on merit. But this was combined with other events, such as the abolition of slavery (in the US) in 1807, the Civil Rights movement in the 1970s, and the women's liberation movement of the majority of the 1900s. To the Politicians in power, they suddenly began to see that they would not be able to continue to reside in power if they continued to show support to women and people of color, so they made laws that made everyone appear equal. Today we see a lot of talk in Government and private business about having equal representation (of color and gender) on their boards and in their companies.

But these liberation movements have not eliminated social prejudice in the workforce, and similarly on the sports-field, all they have done is shifted it. People in power, in both Government and Private Business, discriminate today towards people due to other reasons, like because they don't have the right contacts (family or otherwise), or because they themselves feel that by employing someone who is too good, they (the employer) could have their job taken by the person they employed. And because of us now being in the Information Age, the level of a person's production is just not as important as it once was.

The big problem that this new age of social prejudice has created, is that today we largely live in an environment of fake results. Many people today, in business and Government, put on a suit, walk out the door, and immediately think that they are at work and producing results. Obviously, no results are actually being produced. All that has actually happened is that the person has put on a different piece of clothing and walked out their door. This age of fake results has seen that most peoples' lives are now financed by credit, and most Government's around the world are now seen by many to be corrupt. The answer to all of this is that we need to get back to the age of real production. And this will only be driven by those who dare to think outside of the normal curve, dare to figure out how reality really works in this day and age, and dare to tackle the problems we face in our society today.