6.7.2 Economic Inequality and Sharing Wealth
(This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book contents. An archived copy of this page is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/672a.htm)
Politicians control enough levers of power in the Economic Dimension to increase the probability that all those who are economically active are adequately rewarded, whilst also catering for those who are unable to look after themselves – whether on a permanent or temporary basis. Perfect equality of income and assets is unachievable and undesirable: people need to feel that they can improve their finances by hard work, as an incentive to create wealth (3.2.1), and it would create a sense of injustice if those who were idle received the same economic rewards.
Thomas Piketty’s best-selling book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, drew attention to the historical tendency for economic inequality to increase. It is a growing problem that is causing discontent, because it is not just virtuous hard work that has made some people so wealthy. A BBC article, Thomas Piketty: The French economist US liberals love, explained how Piketty had shown why those who are already wealthy become more so…
“…because the rate of return on capital has been outpacing the rate of economic growth. In layman’s terms, the rich are getting richer”.
People have now started to realise that the rich have bought themselves political influence to become even richer (126.96.36.199), so politicians are being blamed for the unfairness. It is becoming politically necessary to share wealth more fairly, in addition to the economic benefits of doing so (3.5.6).
The following sub-sections explore the political control of economic legitimacy in more detail:
- Individualists and collectivists differ (188.8.131.52) on whether inequality is a problem and, if so, what to do about it.
- There are several issues that cause discontent (184.108.40.206).
- Interventions in the sharing of wealth can vary in their objectives and can range from local to global (220.127.116.11).
- Wealth can be redistributed in several ways (18.104.22.168).