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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Redistribution of Opportunity

What if we redistribute opportunity instead of redistributing wealth?:

Equal Chances for Equal Talent, by Will Wilkinson: The first part of Rawls’ Second Principle of Justice says, in Joshua Cohen’s words, “people who are are equally talented and motivated are to have equal chances to attain desirable positions, so far as this is consistent with maintaining equal basic liberties…”

This has always thrown me for a loop. ...

Maybe this is how you approach it, and I do wonder why we don’t see more proposals like the following from those egalitarians who do tend to see the desirable positions as more or less fixed… How about a quota system for firms that limits hiring from high-status schools and mandates a certain number from low-status schools, so that it’s better to be the best kid from the University of North Dakota than the median kid at Princeton? Radical high school-quality affirmative action quotas for college admissions. No Supreme Court justice can have more than one clerk from a top-ten law school. It is illegal ever to hire someone who is a relative, or a friend, or a friend of a friend. Randomized assignments to a vast network of national boarding schools. Combat self-reinforcing prestige by picking an athletic conference at random and then mandating that all Federal Reserve governors for the next ten years be professors at schools from that conference. (So Harvard and MIT econ depopulates as everyone rushes to Creighton and Indiana State. Etc.) Examples of this sort can be multiplied. So would these strategies be “consistent with maintaining equal basic liberties”? Are they necessary for maintaining equal basic liberties, but egalitarians are simply missing the real issue by going on and on about income redistribution? ...

    Posted by on Saturday, October 25, 2008 at 03:06 AM in Economics, Income Distribution | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (43)

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