Tuesday, February 06, 2007

More on Inequality

Ben Bernanke gives a talk on inequality, concluding that

the challenge for policy is not to eliminate inequality per se but rather to spread economic opportunity as widely as possible.
By contrast, Brad DeLong concludes

An unequal society cannot help but be an unjust society.
These quotations go to the heart of the policy divide behind right and left. The key question: To what extent is inequality of outcomes a source for concern in and of itself? People will always differ in productivity. Should policymakers act to offset these innate differerences, or should their goal be to give everyone the same shot and not be surprised or concerned when outcomes differ wildly? To a large extent, policymaking often comes back to Rawls vs Nozick.

Update: Brad DeLong believes I have quoted him out of context. If so, I apologize. I encourage readers to read the Bernanke and DeLong pieces themselves to judge whether and how much they disagree.