There's a road, they say, that leads to a very bad place - and it's paved with good intentions.
If you begin by denouncing capitalism, the problem of inequality becomes quite easy to fix and it is pretty obvious what governments have to do. Matters become slightly more complex if you begin by acknowledging that 'the degree of freedom enjoyed by the community' is very important, and if you therefore take 'the view that wherever possible people should make their own decisions about their lives.' That is where Frank Field begins his discussion of inequality in Britain, and that's much more interesting than the 'kill all the bankers' style of commentary you get these days.
In an ideal world, we would all fly free without ever running the risk of encountering an ill wind, and we would build our dreams without having to worry that they might come crashing down.
The idea of income security means having confidence in your ability to earn a living and make your way in the world; the confidence that barring sickness or disability or some random Act of God such as a zombie apocalypse, you will always find work for your hands to do.
Many people don’t like the term ‘human capital’. They think it demeans human beings and makes them into something less than what they are, like physical capital or finance capital, turning people into chattels that are to be bought and sold in the market like so many widgets.
What does it mean to say that a worker is being paid more than they deserve, or less than they deserve?
This is a post about chiselled features, courage under fire, and rugged individualism. Just kidding. It's a post about competitive markets. But yes, at the end of the day everything on this blog is about individual liberty, otherwise what's the point of it all?
We are all concerned with being paid as much as other people so we can all have the same amount of stuff and feel that life is equal and fair, but we don’t usually worry about the inequality of production, or the fact that some people and nations are far more productive than others.
It is very difficult to stop people from having ideas, or to control them while they’re trying to see if they can make those ideas work. All the more so because most ideas don’t work out in the end – they swallow up a gazillion research dollars and then come to nothing.
The problem with income inequality is that most people don’t like it when others are richer than them. As soon as winter is over and the weather turns pleasant the 99% will take to the streets to riot, burn cars, etc., to show how unhappy they are about some people being billionaires. Of course, the assumption is that billionaires must have done something wrong (cheating, stealing, being greedy, being unfair to other people, etc) to invite public ire.