Another business idea:
Since the publishing of the Whitehall papers, and especially more recently since biologists have found chemical proof for why exactly this happens, we have known that as your social status worsens you take on more stress, your immunity worsens, and your lifespan lessens. But what we have not done is sufficiently clarify what defines your social status, or help people change it by redistributing wealth based not on financial but rather social status.
Philanthropy would do exactly this. It would be a website, onto which participants paid a set fee of about £10 a month. Minus a 5% fee to cover costs, this site would redistribute the money based on social status, rather than financial status. And what’s more social status would be defined by participants.
Thus when you signed up you would answer a series of questions like:
. On a scale of one to ten how much do you enjoy your work?
. Do you own a pet?
. Do you have a long term partner?
. How many times a month do you meet up with friends outside of a work environment?
From the answers to each question the participant would be given points, which rank them in a social status league table. Those at the bottom of that table would receive more money back than they put in, whereas those at the top of the table would not get anything back.
Obviously there is a problem of honesty. If you want money back you could purposefully answer in a way that makes you rank lowly. Now existing research leads me to say that this is not usually the case when people are asked about their social status. But of course there would have to be research done to see whether people really would be honest enough when financial incentives are involved.
However if every participant was allowed to help decide how certain factors affect social status there could emerge a much more complicated picture. You could for instance be asked how often you listen to music and not know what the optimal answer should be for how it affects your social wellbeing.
And this would also provide people with clear incentives as to how they can improve their social status in non-financial ways. It’s very frustrating for some people that big wig businessmen are seen to have the highest social status, when in actual fact they may be single, have no pets, no friends, no hobbies etc. Such a business could potentially, not only redistribute wealth, but also challenge our existing perceptions about what social status should really relate to.
And there may even be potential for governance implications and for business profits, though the latter would only be a side-effect as the main aim would be charitable. A lot of future business potential lies with data mining, and this initiative would create a data mine like no other. If enough people signed on it would allow governments to rank themselves internationally by Gross Social Wellbeing. And some of the data (there would be an opt-in clause for people willing to have their data shared, rather than the rather more dubious opt-out clause) could be sold to businesses looking to capitalise on desires to move up the social status ladder.