Immorality of inaction on inequality

BMJ 2017; 356 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j556 (Published 08 February 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;356:j556

Re: Immorality of inaction on inequality

Forever, some in every society produced more than they needed to live, while others like the young and very old, or less able, produced less than they needed. Someone has always had to decide how the surplus of production was used. Those people used to be the slave owners (the slaves had no say), then the feudal lords (their tenants had no say), but are now the owners of capital (their workers have no say as they have entered into an agreement to take a wage and hand over their surplus to the boss).

When you have a surplus to use you can make donations to influence policy makers and regulators; or control the public discourse by mass media ownership; or fund think-tanks. All of these can be used to bring about changes which improve your ability to accumulate more of the surplus. And so it goes on, feeding on its own success, and leading to greater inequality of wealth.

We can recognise the problem, or tinker, often one progressive step forward and two regressive steps backward.

It's largely about who decides what to do with the surplus of production.

Competing interests: No competing interests

10 February 2017
P Grant