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Approaching Equality

What Can Be Done About Wealth Inequality?

Roger A. McCain

Drawing on some recent research (especially that of Piketty and his associates) and on older ideas (particularly from Sir Arthur Lewis), Roger McCain proposes policies that, together, would aim to reverse the observed tendency towards the concentration of wealth in market economies, thus ‘approach equality.’ The shortcomings and dangers of rising wealth inequality are discussed, both from the point of view of increasing instability and of equalitarian values.
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Chapter 4: Sir Arthur Lewis’ equalitarian vision

What Can Be Done About Wealth Inequality?

Roger A. McCain

Extract

Revisits and adapts some economic ideas of Sir Arthur Lewis. Writing for the Fabian Society at midcentury, Lewis argued against nationalization of industry and instead for redistribution of wealth through the tax system: by running an average government surplus in successive years, the government might use the surplus to buy corporate shares and similar wealth, establishing a public patrimony. This chapter suggests that a Social Endowment Fund built in this way might be run essentially as an index mutual fund, thus retaining an arm’s-length distance between economic and political decisions. Some obstacles to this program are considered and responses sketched.

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