Inequality: The Good Parts

A lot of political hay is being made lately on the subject of economic inequality, but Andrew Lilico says that it’s not all bad:

Others will start telling you of the terrible social problems associated with inequality – the depression, violence, low life expectancy and so on. Well, insofar as these arise from poverty, we can debate how much to alleviate poverty. But then poverty is the issue, not inequality.

“Ah,” say the evils-of-inequality purists, “but you miss the point that some of these social problems are psychologically connected to the fact that there are very rich people, not simply the result of the poverty itself.” If that is the case offered, then my response is that you are either talking of aspiration or of envy. Aspiration – being discontent in your current circumstances and hoping to improve your lot and that of those you love – is a driver of progress. Obviously some will fail in their aspiration, and may suffer psychological consequences. But are we really saying it would be better if no-one aspired at all, than for some to aspire and not succeed?

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