Driving home this evening I heard a few minutes of a radio show talking about inequality. Someone was arguing that as long as there isn’t a poverty problem, it doesn’t matter if some people are incredibly, incredibly wealthy. The person kept saying that as long as people made their money legally and “according to the transparent rules of the game” it was okay.
I was thinking about this and thinking that the missing details are issues of power, negative externalities, and unfair rules of the game. I don’t object to a billionaire having a huge yacht and several amazing houses. I’m not jealous of that. I object to the way that the speculative investment the billionaires do ends up raising the costs of food. I object to our governments prioritizing the well-being of the billionaires over the protection of the environment. Those are the problems. It isn’t a question of luxury items. It is a question of who gets to set the rules, and for whom are they set. If we could separate money from power somehow, then maybe it wouldn’t matter if some people made extraordinary fortunes. But we can’t seperate those two, so the inequality does matter.