American income inequality is rising, we are told. By some measures, this is true — but what should we do about it? In this month’s Cato Unbound, Will Wilkinson discusses the politics of inequality. He asks a question that in my (perhaps biased) opinion deserves more attention: If income inequality is bad, and if it’s rising, why is income redistribution the answer? Shouldn’t we correct the underlying problem, rather than just one of its symptoms?
This underlying problem could be anything from high imprisonment rates, to inadequate schools, to corrupt CEOs — or a combination of these and other factors. It may be harder to fix these things than it would be to tax the rich more heavily. But correcting income inequality with redistribution may only mask an underlying injustice, or several of them, each with other bad effects on our society.
All through this week, we will have response essays by thoughtful commentators — sociologist Lane Kenworthy, economist John V. C. Nye, and philosopher Elizabeth Anderson. Be sure to stop by and see what they have to say about inequality in America, why it matters, and what we should do about it.