There is no such thing as an ‘economic pie’ favourably granted to mankind by Mother Earth with the admonition that we should play nicely together and divide it up equally between ourselves, taking utmost care to ensure that nobody has a bigger slice than the others. But if there were an economic pie, would you rather have:
The modern market economy depends upon voluntary exchange between people selling what they have to offer and buying what they need. Workers sell their problem-solving skills and ability to get things done, and employers pay them a wage in return. That’s the beauty of the market. Alas, markets are not very effective in ensuring that everybody ends up with the same amount of stuff.
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?
Income inequality is widely considered to be one of the most pressing social problems of our time. There is an intuitive sense that the economic pie ought to be carved up in a fairer way, coupled with the assumption that less for some will result in more for others. This post introduces my conference paper on the tension between such distributive concerns on the one hand, and the productivity goals of corporate law on the other.
Some people think work is just drudgery, and they can't wait for the robots to take over so we can all go on a perpetual holiday and never have to do a stitch of work ever again.
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.