Friday, March 17, 2006

Essay: When Inequality Matters

David Schmidtz's essay ('When Inequality Matters') on Cato Unbound offers a scholarly look at the political notion of inequality. Here's an excerpt (emphasis added):

...Inequality That Matters: Toward Prosperity

Here is a truism about the wealth of nations: Zero-sum games do not increase it. Historically, the welfare of the poor always—always—depends on putting people in a position where their best shot at prosperity is to find a way of making other people better off. The key to long-run welfare never has been and never will be a matter of making sure the game’s best players lose. When we insist on creating enough power to beat the best players in zero-sum games, it is just a matter of time before the best players capture the very power we created in the hope of using it against them. We are never so unequal, or so oppressed, as when we give a dictator the power to equalize us. By contrast, the kinds of equality we have reason to care about will be kinds that in some way facilitate society as a positive sum game...


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