As often happens when you say something controversial, there have
been some very adventurous interpretations of the
essay I just wrote
about economic inequality. I thought it might help clarify matters
if I tried to write a version so simple that it
leaves no room for misinterpretation.
Lots of people talk about economic inequality. Nearly all say it
is bad if economic inequality increases, and that it would be better
if it decreased.
But economic inequality per se is not bad. It has multiple causes.
Many are bad, but some are good.
For example, high incarceration rates and tax loopholes are bad
things that increase economic inequality.
But startups also increase economic inequality. A founder whose
startup succeeds will end up with stock worth a lot of money.
And unlike high incarceration rates and tax loopholes, startups are
on the whole good.
Since economic inequality per se is not bad, we should not attack
it. Instead we should attack the bad things that cause it.
For example, instead of attacking economic inequality, we should
Attacking economic inequality would be doubly mistaken. It would
harm the good as well as the bad causes. But even worse, it would
be an ineffective way to attack the bad causes.
We will not do a good job of fixing the bad causes of economic
inequality unless we attack them directly.
But if we fix all the bad causes of economic inequality, we will
still have increasing levels of it, due to the increasing power of