Topic suggestion: Scarcity and Inequality

Is scarcity inevitable? How is it related to ineqality?

Official response from submitted

Scarcity is a relative term: it depicts a situation where supply is less than demand. Such a situation is, by definition, overdetermined by the infinity of social processes that together (over)determine both supply and demand. So, for example, it is easy to show that inequality of wealth and income plays its roles in shaping supply, demand and thus the "scarcity" of everything.


Historically, scarcity has been used ideologically as if it were some sort of neutral or independent condition, rather than being shaped by society and history. In such ideologies, if scarcity exists (usually presumed), then some who want will get and others who want will not since supply is less than demand. Inequality then follows from scarcity and is not to be blamed on anyone nor attributed to changeable social conditions.

Logically, scarcity can lead to an infinity of possible distributions of the scarce objects. For example, those who get today do not get tomorrow; those with larger families get more than those with small families, and so on endlessly. No necessity for inequalities as we normally define and discuss them is entailed logically by scarcity.

However, apologetic ideology is often disconnected from logical considerations.

Showing 2 reactions

How would you tag this suggestion?
Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • Richard Wolff
    responded with submitted 2017-06-28 13:55:30 -0400
  • Laura Long
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2017-06-17 21:29:19 -0400