Inequality, we have to keep in mind, is not the same thing as poverty. Economic inequality is perfectly compatible with widespread affluence, and rising inequality is perfectly compatible with a society in which the vast majority of citizens are getting richer.
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If the incomes of the poorest Americans doubled while the incomes of the richest Americans tripled, that would dramatically increase inequality even though every single person would be better off. Inequality refers not to deprivation but difference , and there is nothing suspicious or objectionable about differences per se.
How would you split it? If you are like most people, you would immediately propose an equal division — one hundred thousand dollars per person. But although we can speak loosely about how much wealth a society has, wealth is not actually a pie belonging to the nation as a whole.
It consists of particular values created by particular individuals often working together in groups and belonging to those particular individuals. Wealth is not distributed by society: it is produced and traded by the people who create it.
To distribute it, society would first have to seize it from the people who created it. This changes the equation dramatically. When individuals create something, there is no presumption that they should end up with equal shares.
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He has simply created more wealth than Friday, leaving Friday no worse off. If wealth is a fixed pie or a pie cooked up by society as a whole, then it follows that economic equality is the ideal, and departures from this ideal are prima facie unjust and need to be defended. If we look at the actual individuals who make up society, it is self-evident that human beings are unequal in almost every respect: in size, strength, intelligence, beauty, frugality, ambition, work ethic, moral character.
These differences will necessarily entail huge differences in economic condition — and there is no reason why these differences should be viewed with skepticism, let alone alarm.
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