“In general, the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.“ (Voltaire)
There are not many things which have the capacity to excite the world time after time, but the unequal distribution of income is one of them. In this case inequality has developed rather ambivalently. The gap between rich and poor countries is becoming smaller worldwide. However, countries are distributing income less equally. External convergence and internal divergence go hand in hand. The debate about inequality is a perennial political issue. Particularly in Europe, the call for more governmental redistribution is becoming louder. It is driven by the moralizing force of “justice“, with allocative and political risks as well as side effects of inequality playing more of a supporting role. In the United States, the debate is progressing differently in spite of relatively high inequality internationally. There it is not so much equal outcomes but rather equal opportunity which is at the forefront of the distribution policy agenda. The issue which matters most to the middleclass is that of social mobility, rather than rising income inequality.