From the monthly archives:

October 2020

Inequality and the Pandemic Part 2: Merit

by John Q on October 1, 2020

In a previous extract from my book-in-progress, Economic Consequences of the Pandemic, I argued that unequal incomes arise to a large extent from luck rather than merit. Unequal incomes are regularly justified by claiming that high incomes reflect a larger contribution to society. This has never been true as a general proposition.

Some high incomes, like those of skilled surgeons, reflect a contribution well above the norm. Others, like those of entertainers and sports stars, reflect services that are highly valued by our society whether or not they make it a better place.

Others on high incomes make only marginal contributions to society or cause active harm. The massive growth in the number and incomes of lawyers and finance professionals over the past forty years has not been matched by any obvious improvement in justice, financial security or the rational investment of capital.
[click to continue…]