Archive for October, 2011

The unequal spaceship

October 26th, 2011 — Wordman

Imagine you are a member of an alien race that lives on a big arcology ship. The million of you on the ship mostly have jobs, and earn quatloos in exchange for work. Your society is divided into castes, depending on how many quatloos you earn. Most people are “betas”, and they live throughout the ship, some parts better than others. The top 10% of the earners, however, are “alphas”, and live in a special, luxurious compound within the ship. Since the alphas, even though a small portion of the population (100,000 out of the million), control half of the quatloos, they live really well.

One day, the ship-wide newscasts show you something odd. A small, but vocal portion of the alphas are protesting about income inequality. You watch the story, figuring they will talk about the big divide between the alphas and the betas, but they don’t. Instead, they are complaining that 1% of the other alphas control too large a portion of the collected wealth of the alphas. In other words, there are 1,000 “alpha primes” that have really pissed off the alphas.

Now, given that you are a beta, how much do you care about the plight of the alphas?

Translated to our own world (via the Global Rich List), if you make at least $25,140, you’d be an alpha.