Fact 1: One out of every five South Africans lives below the food poverty line
In 2015 a quarter of the population, 13.8million people, were living in extreme poverty and below the food poverty line of R17.48 per person a day. This is the amount needed to afford a person’s minimum energy requirements, but not including nutrition. Whites remain the least affected by poverty with only 1% living below the upper-bound poverty line; 64% of blacks and 41% of colored’s did not meet the threshold. Indians were the only group who did not experience an increase in 2015, but 5.9 in 100 Indians still live below the upper-bound poverty line.
Fact 2: Nicky Oppenheimer’s net worth is about ZAR 90 Billion, Is this ok?
To answer if this is okay or not? I mean it is not okay that South Africa remains the most unequal country in the world with the two richest South Africans (Johann Rupert and Nicky Oppenheimer) having wealth equal to the poorest 50 percent (i.e. 26.5-million people) of the country. Inequality in South Africa is worse today than at the end of Apartheid. About R350-billion flows out of South Africa illegally through corporations. Unemployment is biggest driver of poverty in South Africa. Poverty is most severe amongst the elderly, young adults and children. One in four South Africans right now are hungry with nothing to eat.
Analysis of inequality
Principle 1 – Greatest Equal Liberty
As Rawls has quoted “each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with a similar liberty for others”, this should be considered in the fact that one of every five South Africans lives below the food poverty line. On the other hand we have Nicky Oppenheimer’s worth which is ridiculous comparing to those who also have worked hard to gain peanuts. The question in my mind is that is this fair to have such a huge percentage of poor people while one or a few has all the wealth in the world but cannot share with those in need. Those who are below poverty line also deserve equal rights as the wealthy. They deserve a clean place to live in, clean water to drink, basic medical benefits and simply basic non-negotiable human rights.
Principle 2 – Equality of Fair Opportunity
The idea of this principle is basically to try and remove any arbitrary benefit associated with where people are born in society. If we look closely to this principle, is that the majority of these less privileged people are mostly blacks. I don’t think they are treated fairly in having access to equal education. In the township’s public schools they still teach all subjects except English in a vernacular in the foundation phase up until they reach high school. This lead to kids not understanding anything taught in an English language nor being able to speak it, and this also lead to a huge number of student failing in high school. Whereas in paid multiracial schools the way of teaching, the syllabus is a different and better story.
Principle 3 – The Difference Principle
This principle allowed some degree of inequality to be considered. I totally agree with Rawls when he state that having the wealthy paying taxes which disproportionately pay for the delivery of public services. Since only 360 of highest earners in South Africa pay their fair share of taxes. The wealthy should be in a position of redistributing income, wealth or resources to the poor, even at the expense of tax rises. This would be beneficial to those in need to deal with inequality in this country in a way that the poor take the future into their own hands in bettering their own lives. This will also teach those like Oppenheimer and Basson to be fair and acknowledge that they are not the only one who deserve luxuries and wealth claiming they have worked hard for. This will teach them to share and that Greed is bad.
Veil of Ignorance
This principle teaches us to fairly distribute equally despite of our birth situation nor status in life. This should also be applied to wealth inequalities. If this principle is considered in the world could lead to less privileges, entitlement, selfishness, inhuman minds, and definitely less Greed. If we can all ignore the status of our lives then surely individually we can and should strive to eliminate poverty.
My opinion is mainly based on Rawls veil of ignorance,
The unfairness to a number people who lives below poverty line while others like Oppenheimer have net worth of 90 billion could be handled differently if the first 3 common intuitions i.e. (Rewards to those who deserve them; Rewards to those in need; Rewards to those who will benefit most) could be totally ignored and the fourth common intuition i.e. (Rewards split equally) applied then poverty and wealth would be shared fairly equal and the world would be a better place.
Reason behind my opinion.
I strongly believe in equality, to me equality means treating everyone with fairness and respect, and recognizing the needs of individuals. All humans should enjoy the same rights, resources, opportunities, and protections. Acknowledgment of the right to equality often must be coerced from the advantaged by the disadvantaged, it is a state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities.