Social liberalism and economic inequality

Is there a connection between social liberalism and economic inequality?

As I see it, one link is a widespread meme that sees society as an arena of competition and social justice as a guarantee of fair rules and a level playing field.

inequalityIf you see society in this way, rather than as a means for people to co-operate for mutual benefit, then justice demands that you do your best to assure equal opportunity for everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status, physical handicap or anything else that isn’t under control of the individual.   But these meme does not give the wealthy any obligation toward the non-wealthy.  It would be like demanding that the winner of a high-stakes poker game return some of his winnings to the loser.

Of source there is no logical connection between social liberalism and economic inequality.   In fact, it would be much easier to assure equal opportunity in a full-employment, high-wage economy.

Click on More diversity, less equality: why the tradeoff? for my earlier post on this topic.

Click on Hard equality for comments about that post on the Unqualified Offerings web log.  It’s humbling to realize that a link to my post on somebody else’s web log gets comments and the original post did not.

To be clear, I think a market economy is great if it is understood as a way for people to cooperate and exchange goods and services for their mutual benefit without getting permission from Big Brother.  And I think meritocracy is great if merit is understood as how much you contribute to the common good.

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