6.7.2.1 Conflicting Viewpoints on Economic Inequality

(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/edition03/6721.htm)

The OECD Factbook 2015-16: Economic, Environmental and Social Statistics shows that inequality of disposable income is highest in South Africa and lowest in Denmark, Norway, Slovak Republic and Slovenia.  It also shows that American inequality is among the highest in the OECD countries, so American political parties are taken 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 is a similar difference of opinion between political parties in many other democracies, including the UK and European countries, but not all have such high levels of inequality.  There are also differences in other aspects of inequality, including education and healthcare for example.

These disagreements have to be resolved politically: compromises have to be reached.  People can contribute to the negotiations if they have ‘a hand on the joystick’ (6.2.6.2).

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