Friday, January 7, 2011

Inequality is Corrosive

From Ill Fares the Land by Tony Judt:

"In the US, taxes are typically regarded as uncompensated income loss. The idea that they might (also) be a contribution to the provision of collective goods that individuals could never afford in isolation (roads, firemen, policemen, schools, lamp posts, post offices, not to mention soldiers, warships, and weapons) is rarely considered. 

In continental Europe as in much of the developed world, the idea that any one person could be completely 'self-made' evaporated with illusions of 19th century individualism. We are all the beneficiaries of those who went before us, as well as those who will care for us in old age or ill health. We all depend upon services whose costs we share with our fellow citizens, however selfishly we conduct our economic lives."

I have been meaning to write about this book for awhile, but in case you missed it, it is a great retrospective of post-World War II America and Europe and it makes a strong argument for European-style social democracy. "[Income] inequality," Judt writes, "is corrosive. It rots societies from within...Of all the competing and only partially reconcilable ends that we might seek, the reduction of inequality must come first."

No comments:

Post a Comment