Thursday, June 24, 2010

Economic Equality

“It has often been said that the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer and that, as the disparity increases, the poor will rise against the rich in a revolution. The old socialist idea was that the great dissatisfaction of the poor masses could only be assuaged by a socialist redistribution of wealth. The dissatisfactions, however, have grown with the increase of equality, exactly the opposite of those expectations. This is what Alexis de Tocqueville predicted when he visited the United States 150 years ago, and more recently observers have been calling this odd social phenomenon the Tocqueville effect. As society erases social distinctions and moves toward a leveling of income differentials, the demand for equality is not satisfied, but intensified. People do not envy a Rockefeller his millions as much as they envy their neighbor a ten percent differential in income. All inequalities, monetary or otherwise, are more galling to the envious when they are nearby, when the advantage is held by those whom one knows and when it is seen daily. The leveling movement has nothing to do with justice, because its impulse is not to raise those who are down but to topple those who are up; ressentiment is the motive.” (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 55).

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1 comment:

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