Preventie tegen ongelijkheidsrampen

NEW HAVEN – Thomas Piketty’s indrukwekkende en veel bediscussieerde boek Capital in the Twenty-First Century heeft flink de aandacht gevestigd op het probleem van de groeiende economische ongelijkheid. Maar het boek is niet sterk qua oplossingen. Zoals Piketty toegeeft zou zijn voorstel - een progressieve mondiale belasting op vermogen (of rijkdom) - ‘een zeer hoog en zonder twijfel onrealistisch niveau van internationale samenwerking vereisen’.

We zouden ons niet moeten richten op snelle oplossingen. De belangrijkste zorg voor beleidsmakers overal is om rampen te voorkomen; dat zijn de uitschieters die er het meeste toe doen. En, omdat ongelijkheid neigt langzaam te veranderen, ligt elke ramp die ons te wachten staat waarschijnlijk tientallen jaren in de toekomst.

Deze ramp, een terugkeer naar ongelijkheidsniveaus die we niet hebben gezien sinds de late negentiende tot vroege twintigste eeuw, wordt uitgebreid beschreven in het boek van Piketty. In dit scenario wordt een minieme minderheid superrijk; voor het grootste gedeelte niet omdat deze slimmer is of harder werkt dan alle anderen, maar omdat fundamentele economische krachten de inkomens onberekenbaar herverdelen.

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