... I set out two reasons why we might care about inequality: an unfair
process or a harmful outcome. But ... the two reasons are not actually
distinct... The harmful outcome and the unfair process feed each other. The
more unequal a society becomes, the greater the incentive for the rich to
pull up the ladder behind them.
At the very top of the scale, plutocrats can shape the conversation by
buying up newspapers and television channels or funding political campaigns.
The merely prosperous scramble desperately to get their children into the
right neighbourhood, nursery, school, university and internship – we know
how big the gap has grown between winners and also-rans. ...
This is what sticks in the throat about the rise in inequality: the
knowledge that the more unequal our societies become, the more we all become
prisoners of that inequality. The well-off feel that they must strain to
prevent their children from slipping down the income ladder. The poor see
the best schools, colleges, even art clubs and ballet classes, disappearing
behind a wall of fees or unaffordable housing.
The idea of a free, market-based society is that everyone can reach his or
her potential. Somewhere, we lost our way.
Posted by Mark Thoma on Friday, August 16, 2013 at 03:00 PM in Economics, Income Distribution |