Ending Legal Sources of Immoral Income Inequality?

Professor Wolff, On the issue of inequality first separating income from wealth inequality then further differentiating immoral and moral income, and defining sources of immoral income as theft, fraud, coercion, or preference from government. Income through the theft, fraud, and coercion is illegal in most cases. Yet, government sources of immoral income are legal especial by transferring currency from one person to another through taxation and subsides. What is your opinion on how to end legal sources of immoral income inequality?

Official response from submitted

Throughout history and especially in capitalist systems, those seeking tax breaks and/or subsidies have understood it is better and safer to get them legally (via legislation) than illegally. Thus the legal major transfers won by the military-industrial complex, the medical-industrial complex, agricultural producers (corn wheat, sugar etc.), oil's "depletion allowances" and so on. Your writing suggests you are more interested in the "safety-net" type of transfers, yet they too reflect an awareness that the recipients but also the payers of such transfers prefer the legal arrangement for them over the illegal alternative (various sorts of stealing).

As to my view, I am no fan of income or wealth redistribution precisely because it provokes such socially destructive hostilities. It strikes me rather like having two children and giving one of them a huge ice-cream cone and the other a tiny cone as we all walk in the park. This will provoke immense struggles between the children and damage to the family of lasting duration. Far better to not distribute so unequally in the first place and thereby obviate the need for and the struggles over redistribution. But of course that would require transition beyond capitalism as the economic system since capitalism - as Piketty's book showed so nicely - is driven to worsen income and wealth inequalilties as its inherent logic.

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  • Richard Wolff
    responded with submitted 2016-12-11 15:14:43 -0500
  • Greg Noah
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2016-12-10 19:16:05 -0500