Monday, September 17, 2018

Economic equality as principle

This is an interesting article on how the recent widespread interest in economic equality seems to be more instrumental (inequality is bad because it has perverse economic and social effects), as opposed to principled (inequality is bad because it's not right or fair).  I'm not sure I understand all the nuance, but I agree that the distinction is important, and that we collectively need to remember that inequality is wrong, that it goes against our American principles of equality and fairness. 

This focus on the value of equality as a concept, and not just as a means to a stable society or other desireable outcomes, also provides a flip side to an observation I made in my blog about the book The American Soul.  Namely, that the idea of our founding American principles is often used to justify an excess focus on individual freedom, to the detriment of a concern for the collective wellbeing.  But if we remember that equality is also a core value of our great nation, it gives us a useful vocabulary for talking about inequality and why it's important to fight against it.

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