There seems to be lots of talk on the blogs these days about inequality (e.g. here, here and here), but no one bothers to explain why we should care about it, it just seems to be taken as a given that we should care. Over at the The Fly Bottle blog Will Wilkinson writes,
I’m tired of arguing about inequality. It’s frustrating. It’s unproductive. Nobody is really interested in the analytical arbitrariness and moral insidiousness of measuring intra-national economic inequality. Nobody is really interested in the fact that multiple mechanisms–some good, same bad, some neutral–can produce the same level of measured inequality, rendering the level of inequality, taken in isolation, completely useless as a barometer of social or economic justice. Nobody really cares. Because many different combinations of causes can produce the same level of inequality, it’s not so clear that high inequality, as such, can reliably cause anything. The consequences of inequality depend on the mechanisms driving inequality. Nobody cares.
To Will I say, some people seems to care, at least people writing New Zealand based economics blogs seem to care, but they don’t tells us why. The highlighted bits in the Wilkinson quote seems to me to make a couple nice points in that it seems to me that inequality is a useless measure of anything that matters and its not clear, to me at least, what exactly inequality causes.
So will those bloggers among you who are so fired up about the evils of inequality please explain why you are so agitated about it.