Robin Hanson hypothesizes that talk – even highfalutin’ talk – of inequality is meant to justify the easy grabbing of other people’s stuff. If Robin is correct, concerns about income or wealth inequality reflect instincts that are quite the opposite of any sentiment that should be called “progressive.” A slice:
I suggest that most talk about the problems of inequality actually invokes this ancient hypocritical ability to covertly discuss where to find lots of nice easy-to-grab stuff….
But if those few very rich folks had real physical super-powers, we would be a lot more afraid of their simple physical retaliation. They might be very effective at physically resisting our attempts to take their stuff. So somehow, conveniently, we just wouldn’t find that their unequal wealth evoked as much deeply felt important-social-issue-in-need-of-discussing moral concern in us. Because, I hypothesize, in reality those feelings only arise as a cover to excuse our grabbing, when such grabs seem worth the bother.