Note by HealthWrightgs Staff
It would seem that if we are going to reward creativity, hard work, and taking risks, we will have to accept a degree of inequality with regard to the incomes various people receive. Given the fact that we have to work within a finite ecology, however, it is difficult to see how one could justify the sort of inequity that is so graphically pictured in the inequity parade. This description of inequity is based on data that is 40 years old. It is worse now. The health of the ecological system upon which we all depend is at stake. We cannot afford these mile high people.

Cornell University Conference on Ethics, Globalization and Hunger: In Search of Appropriate Policies

In his 1980 book Wealth, Income and Equality Dutch economist Jan Pen develops a graphic metaphor to convey the extent of wealth disparity in Western democracies. He asks the reader to imagine a parade of people where everyone's height is proportional to his or her individual wealth. A person of average wealth is represented by a person of average height. The parade begins with the smallest (the poorest) at the front with the rich bringing up the rear in a one-hour parade. The first marchers are actually buried several feet beneath the ground since they have negative net worth - they owe more wealth than they own. For approximately 20 minutes there are invisible marchers, for they own no wealth. After half an hour there are dwarfs - people about six inches tall, whose wealth is household furniture, a car and perhaps a small savings account. "But a surprise awaits us," writes Pen. "We keep on seeing dwarfs. Of course they gradually become a little taller, but it's a slow process." Only at about twelve minutes before the hour do we begin seeing people of average height, for more than three quarters of the world's population have fewer assets than average. In the last few minutes giants loom up . . . a lawyer, not exceptionally successful, eighteen feet tall." In the last few seconds, there are people so tall we cannot even see their heads, the corporate managing directors a hundred yards tall. "The rear of the parade is brought up by a few participants who are measured in miles . . . their heads disappear into the clouds. . . . The last man, whose back we can see long after the parade has passed by, is John Paul Getty (this was before Bill Gates) . . . . His height is inconceivable: at least ten miles; perhaps twice as much."