Conflicting Viewpoints on Economic Inequality

The conflicting political viewpoints on inequality are evident, as politicians differ on whether it is a problem and what action to take

As noted at the start of this book (2.2) there is a stark difference between the views of individualists and collectivists on ‘fairness’, and on a government’s role in reducing economic inequality.  OECD data showed that inequality of disposable income in the U.S. was among the highest in the OECD countries, so the policies of American political parties towards economic inequality are contrasted here as an example of conflicting viewpoints:

●  The Democratic Party has some collectivist leanings (6.2.3).  It wants to reduce economic inequality, as illustrated by this excerpt from The 2016 Democratic Platform: “Democrats believe that today’s extreme levels of income and wealth inequality are bad for our people, bad for our businesses, and bad for our economy.”

●  The Republican Platform 2016 doesn’t mention inequality, and takes an individualist (6.2.2) line: “As Republicans, we oppose tax increases and believe in the power of markets to create wealth…”.  After the election, it was reported that “America’s getting $10 trillion in tax cuts, and 20% of them are going the richest 1%”, illustrating Republican lack of concern about inequality.

There are similarly conflicting political viewpoints on inequality in Britain.  There is a sharp contrast between the attitudes of the Labour and Conservative parties, where the latter has been in power since 2010.  The plight of British people living in poverty was dubbed the ‘cost of living crisis’ in the Spring of 2021, and this became a high profile political issue – as referenced in Newspaper headlines: Families face record squeeze after Bank’s warning on 6th May 2021.  The newspaper reports on this story reflected the different shades of political opinion.

These disagreements need to be resolved politically: compromises must be reached.  Political parties need to adjust their policies to be acceptable to most of the population (6.2.6).



This page is intended to form part of Edition 4 of the Patterns of Power series of books.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition04/6721b.htm.