The famous slogan “to each according to need, from each according to ability” stems not from Marx but from the democratic socialist Louis Blanc, and Marx dismissed it as obsolete. Nevertheless programs of distribution according to need played a key role in the class-compromise that characterized successful developed countries in the twentieth century. The logic of “need” is discussed. Since needs are satiable, it may be that distribution according to need will play less part in the future, but health needs are an apparent exception.
What Can Be Done About Wealth Inequality?
Roger A. McCain
Discusses two reasons to favor increased equality: first, from equalitarian values, and second, from the dangers of instability that inequality creates. The first section considers, and criticizes, some traditional defenses of inequality. The second section summarizes some recent writing on secular stagnation and the associated danger of bubbles and crashes. A point which does not seem to have been noticed, and that arises from the use of a Marxist definition of class, is that consumer lending from the capitalist to the working class creates an instability similar to the instability that arises from international lending when the lender and debtor countries are within a common currency union. Extends the discussion of equalitarian values, drawing on the literature of superfairness and related models. Following exposition in terms of numerical examples, a mathematical formalization is given.