Outrage about inequality is big these days, and for good reason. Despite this justified attention, the discussion has been much too polite and limited. We should care about injustice, and not all forms of inequality are unjust per se – some are far more unfair than others. We still should do something about insecurity, the now largely forgotten theme of the 2008 US presidential campaign. That remains the real threat to poor Americans from inequality, not the (sometimes vast) wealth of some other people.
And we should care about inclusion, which means recognising that many individuals are still excluded from economic security – let alone wealth – because of race, region, ethnicity or gender. In short, noticing who is actually hurt, and how, is left out of the current inequality furore. The consistent omission of insecurity and inclusion is a moral failure, and one that results in policy mistakes. We obsess about the aggregate magnitude of economic disparities. But we cannot understand the risks of inequality, or identify the right policy response, unless we pay as much attention to the identity of those excluded from economic opportunity. Continue reading »