Inequality and Discontent

In the last two decades, the world as a whole has gotten richer, but, while some national economies have advanced sharply, others have fallen farther behind. The increase in aggregate wealth has not led to the abolition, or even reduction, of poverty.

Much the same is true within countries. Almost everywhere, globalization has produced both a new class of multi-millionaires and an underclass comprising people who are not just poor in the statistical sense of earning less than half the national average, but who are excluded from opportunities that are supposed to be open to all. Globalization’s dynamism has benefited many, but it has also increased inequality.

Is that necessarily a bad thing? There are many who think so. In fact, entire countries have a built-in egalitarian streak. They dislike the business leaders who take home huge sums even when they fail, and they hate to see poor and excluded people in their midst.

But, while it is comfortable to live in the social-democratic world of Scandinavia, Germany, and other European countries, many of them have purchased their equality on credit from future generations.