As in, what's the point of going to Mars if there are children starving in the slums of India? Or do we need to have awesome things to counter balance the suckish things?
Frankly, they are one and the same. Increasing World Awesome decreases world suck, just as much as decreasing World Suck. And there's not much more to say than that
I think the two affect each other. Like each time world suck is being decreased, an increase in awesome occurs. In my opinion they are two loads on separate ends of a scale. Say each load represents world suck and the other represents awesome. When the amount of world suck increases, it causes the amount of awesome to decrease. I don't think we could ever achieve the goal of no world suck (mainly because of Decepticons), but we can find a way to either balance them out or make the weight of awesome be greater.
This can just be like the Law of Conservation of Mass (in some ways). World suck and Awesome cannot be created of destroyed, but we can merely alter the effect it has on people of the world. Associations like Kiva are a great example of this. They give out loans to people in developing countries who need assistance. This increases the amount of awesome in their lives, but the world suck is still there. It's impact is just covered and sealed by the amount of awesome being increased.
The scales of awesome and world suck may be in constant battle with each other, and sometimes it's out of our hands. But we will eventually find a way to equal out the scales, simultaneously decreasing world suck and increasing awesome.
Good question for debate. :)
I think Kim Stanley Robinson has hit the nail on the head - there's too much history here to change the economic distribution model on Earth. The culture of rich and poor is just too ingrained in our communities and values to be replaced with the idea that the earth's resources belong to everyone as opposed to whoever has obtained property rights for the geographic locations where they are found.
It probably will change eventually on Earth but the advantage of, say, a culture with origins in a scientific colony on Mars is that the resources available in that setting would be considered to be of more use to the common good than being solely under the control of individual entities. Of course the advantages of this will be more obvious in the initial foundering of such a colony as most resources will be quite limited at that stage and sharing and cooperation would be necessary for the survival of the colony's inhabitants. This behaviour would be essential initially but I think Robinson is correct when he supposes that this ethos would be carried forward - if just because the concept of ownership and denial wouldn't logically be useful in future stages of the colony either. Future requirements of the colony would be planned for in advance to avoid shortfalls, surplus in essential items would be maintained at all times and whilst some projects [say a space elevator] would be considered to require priority access to resources this would be based on necessity and not the whims of powerful individuals. It makes sense.
This would allow the population of Mars to lead happy productive lives with very low incidences of illness and good mental health. Once you have enough like-minded people in a situation like that you are likely to have a bit of a scientific golden age and the benefits of that will flow back to Earth [freely] but sadly even the distribution of the fruits of Martian research will probably be 'regulated' [vis limited] by power structures that will still be in place there. Some progress will be made but the benefits will be intentionally polluted with distrust and misinformation to justify withholding it from the people who need it most, similar to the intellectual property litigation currently in vogue.
Scientists and researchers in general hate that their research won't get funding unless it is commercially promising or has military applications - you can probably imagine the number of great things we've missed out on because the people with the money can't make more money from them. This factor alone is probably half the reason we still have poverty, there's no shortage of resources on this planet. Sadly when climate change kicks in and we start seeing food shortages and severe drinking water shortages you're going to see things get a lot worse. Why do we do it to ourselves? Because we always have. Because without good mental health, a good diet and quality of life we can't see the opportunities for cooperation - we just struggle to survive. Because once we achieve wealth we feel like we're going to lose it if we share it. Because we are still cavemen. Except when you're awesome.
So be awesome, do your best, but do not get bogged down in the fact that you can't help everyone. We're still a minority but we're getting stronger and every day is better and better.