Economic inequality – what is it good for?

Economic inequality – what is it good for?

Inequality has become the defining issue of our times. It is what makes the years we are currently living through so different to those of our parents and grandparents.

Political opinion in the UK in 2017 changed at a faster rate than it has changed in many decades. This statement is true if the measure of opinion used is voting intention in polling in May, or the swing in the general election held in June.

The Labour Party rightly raised the issue of economic inequality repeatedly during the election campaign. The Conservative election manifesto advocated meritocracy as a solution, maintaining inequalities but trying to ensure that those who (they suggested) deserve the most get the most. This is part of their logic for high student fees and loans. They suggest these are reasonable as in future we should still expect to be living in a very unequal society where graduates receive much higher pay than other people.

So who are the special people, and does rewarding them much more than others really benefit all? Or has the UK become an example of political incorrectness gone mad; a place that accepts terrible inequalities as if they are reasonable and fair? The UK is now the European country with the widest income inequalities of them all. It is the poster-country for what happens if you let the rich take more and more and more. Many things go badly wrong. The population becomes desperate for change. They are told to blame shirkers, blame immigrants, blame anything but inequality. And they are told this by the few who have taken so much for so long and done such great damage.

Audio recording of a talk by Danny given in St Aldate’s Pub in Oxford based on the book “The Equality Effect” and also informed by recent events: