- This is an interesting paper that correctly shows that rectification of extreme social inequality only occurs when the social system receives a shock from some natural or man-made disaster that makes basic labour more desirable or requires the wealthy to dispense with a large proportion of their accumulated wealth to offset the consequences of the disaster (or simply itself takes it away).
- Unfortunately, the paper doesn’t even consider whether this is always a good thing.
- Presumably, if the living standards of the worst off – or of all segments of the population – improve over time, this is a good thing even if inequality increases.
- The paper paints the situation as a zero-sum game, where the wealth of the better-off – and particularly of the plutocrats – is taken directly from the less well-off.
- Some inequality will always arise unless the more able are constrained such that they or their families cannot benefit from their ability.
- The question is whether gross inequality is in itself a moral outrage. I doubt this, in that it is difficult for plutocrats to destroy their wealth – other than in wars – and so its use tends to have some trickle-down benefit – historically in the form of public works in pursuit of fame or popularity. Many – if not most – of the great achievements of mankind appear to have been the direct result of gross inequality.
- This may be too rosy a view, but that of the paper is too negative.
- Sub-title: "Throughout history, plagues and wars have left greater equality in their wake. Can we get there again without violence?"
- See Web Link
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- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2017