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September 02, 2006

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» Envy and Social Policy from Not Saussure
Stumbling and Mumbling: Envy: two questions takes issue with the proposition I am uncomfortable making envy a basis for public policy. One of his points, that the unhappiness the poor feel about the consumption of the rich [isnR... [Read More]

» Inequality, mingitude and development from Our Word is Our Weapon
I wasnt going to comment on the recent flurry of free-marketeer blogger silliness over inequality, but now that Tim has kindly collected it all in one place the temptation is irresistable. Heres what he says: A highly amusing takedown o... [Read More]

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tom s.

The rich just wish they could be envious too.

Sam

Most people don't much begrudge a lottery winner or top sportsman his fortune. Instead, what looks like "envy" is instead a discomfort that some people's wealth is unjust. When people look at the wealth of David Lesar or Paris Hilton, is it really just envy they feel?

I think it's more of a class thing really. Most people don't begrudge Messrs. Beckham and Rooney their large salaries, and they don't begrudge the fact that, say, Coleen McLoughlin has fame and wealth by virtue of the fact that she's shagging Wayne, or that the Beckham children have rooms full of expensive toys and will grow up to be wealthy privileged young men.

Despite their wealth and fame, people feel able to identify with sportsmen and pop stars - they may not be able to duplicate what they do to earn a living, but they can understand it.

How many people could explain how a David Lesar or a Warren Buffet makes his money?

Rob

Isn't the 'other-regarding preferences are illegitimate' line a bit of a busted flush? After all, there are plenty of what look like strong candidates for being other-regarding preferences - that the innocent go free, that my children do well - which we regard as perfectly legitimate. Also, the distinction depends on being able to provide a hard and fast distinction between other-regarding and self-regarding preferences which I'd guess is fairly hard to get.

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