Inequality through the ages

Another explanation for the economic crisis which is frequently being heard is income inequality.  Here’s a link to an interview with 2001 Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz who has just released a book on this theory.

The idea is that with inequality people at the bottom don’t have enough money to spend to keep the economy rolling while people at the top just don’t spend enough.

Another view is that people at the top  should be allowed to get rich because they use their money to invest in new projects and this will keep things going.

Take your pick.

However, inequality is not new.  Through the ages it has been a part of most if not all large civilizations.  Previously the elites used force to expropriate the economic surplus.  Now they use legislation that restricts competition to get their riches.

Probably the most equal of societies have been the small so-called primitive aboriginal groups.

The sharing of wealth between elites and the rest of us has been a relatively recent phenomena.  It is probably a function of the supply and demand for people and the increasing productivity which started with, or just before. the industrial revolution and has continued until just recently.

If and as the economic decline continues there will probably be even more inequality.

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