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Sunday, February 16, 2014

The wealth gap and inequality can and should be fixed

In his column dated 27 January, Johann Redelinghuys argues that economic inequality is part of the natural order of things, and that attempts to fix it are, essentially, a waste of time and resources. He is wrong on every level: morally, practically and factually.

By Marelise van der Merwe
Daily Maverick
Originally published January 29, 2014

Let’s take the factual level first. In essence, Redelinghuys argues that “individual differences and inequality are clearly established elements in the natural order of things” and that they are “the predictable outcomes of the capitalist economic system which most of the world now subscribes to”. Crucially, he mentions neither the degree of inequality nor the way that it got there, which I would argue is central to the discussion. Certainly, a degree of difference is arguably natural; but glaring or crippling inequality, especially if it got there by unnatural means, is not.

I’m not attacking capitalism. I have no interest in a socialism-vs.-capitalism standoff, which I believe to be unnecessary, since unlike Redelinghuys, I don’t believe gross inequality to be an inevitable or “predictable outcome” of the capitalist system. I believe it is possible to be both capitalists and decent human beings.