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The Economist. There are three forms of equality: equality of outcome, of opportunity, and of perception. Equality of perception is the most basic: it dictates that for people to be equal, each person should be perceived as being of equal worth. Journal of Political Philosophy. The Washington Post. Now it was time to address the economic injustice that kept almost half the black population below the poverty line, to turn equality of opportunity into equality of outcome. Washington Post. The fundamental principle of centrism in the s was that people would neither be left to fend for themselves nor guaranteed equality of outcome — they would be given the tools they needed to achieve the American dream if they worked hard.

Penn State University Press. Foreign Affairs. The New York Times. Political Theory, Vol. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 20 November July 23, Comparative Economics in a Transforming World Economy. MIT Press. July 20, Democratic Socialism: A Global Survey.

Communism would mean free distribution of goods and services. Open Court. Marx distinguishes between two phases of marketless communism: an initial phase, with labor vouchers, and a higher phase, with free access. Palgrave Macmillan. International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Collins English Dictionary. Princeton University. Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Blackwell Reference. Gardner A second meaning of equality is equality of opportunity, giving each person the right to develop to his or her potential Amartya Sen calls this equality of autonomy: that the ability and means to choose our life course should be spread as equally as possible across society. The Pennsylvania State University Press. Equality of process — dealing with inequalities in treatment through discrimination by other individuals and groups, or by institutions and systems, including not being treated with dignity and respect. The point here is only that Americans do not seem to mind about the widening inequality of income and wealth as much as you might expect them to in current circumstances.

Plenum Press. By emphasizing on principle, the other conflicting one may have to be sacrificed. Society and government can refuse race or gender prejudice simply by not being prejudicial.


But class is not so easy: one can never entirely extract people from their ancestry and upbringing In Australia, income mobility across generations is worse than in Scandinavia, but better than in the United States. One way of thinking about the difference is to compare the hereditability of income with the hereditability of height. In the United States, the hereditability of income is similar to the hereditability of height. In Australia, the effect is only half as strong. But in in countries such as Sweden and Denmark, the hereditability of income is smaller still. The idea that your parents have as much effect on your earnings as they do on your height is a prospect which worries even my most conservative friends.

It is a mistake to think that government policies are the only thing affecting inequality. Forces such as technological change and globalisation powerfully affect the income gap in Australia.

Our Real Racial Wealth Gap Story

Indeed, inequality fell under Menzies, and rose under Hawke. But government is not a life-raft in a storm-tossed sea. Decisions that governments makes — for better or for worse — can affect the distribution of income. In the case of the Abbott Government, there are already strong signs that its policies may leave us a more unequal country.

The government has announced that it will abolish three payments that are targeted at low-income and middle-income families: the income support bonus, the SchoolKids bonus, and the Low-Income Superannuation Contribution.

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It will no longer require states to contribute 50 cents of new school funding for every Commonwealth dollar. There is too little equity funding in our public school system, and it is hard to see how we can redress this if states like Western Australia take money out as the federal government puts more in.

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Defunding Trade Training Centres risks increasing the high school dropout rate, at a time when we know that finishing high school is fundamental to avoiding poverty. At the same time, the government will cut taxes on the most affluent. For example, it wants to repeal the mining tax, which would benefit some of the richest people on the planet. These retirees receive more government assistance than someone on the full pension.


In the end, every extra loophole you leave open in the tax system just means that others have to pay higher rates of tax. Whoever has will be given more — and they will have an abundance. On any possible view, could it really be fair that when a baby arrives in a high-earning household, they get nearly five times as much government support as a baby in a low-earning household?

And the reason? In other words, for the most affluent Australian families, welcome to your new age of entitlement. No wonder. Making collective bargaining harder will likely widen the earnings gaps in Australia. Just as unions help redress power imbalances in the workplace, consumer protection laws help protect people in the marketplace. Removing consumer protections from the financial advice market will boost remuneration in the financial sector — but at the expense of jeopardising the life savings of pensioners and low-wage workers.

A blind faith in trickle-down economics will make it harder for the Abbott Government to achieve other goals. One of the reasons the gender pay gap has widened in recent years is that overall earnings inequality has risen. Attacking unions will make it harder to close the gender pay gap.

A more egalitarian Australia is more likely to create jobs for people with disabilities. If you care about closing gender and racial gaps, you should care about the overall level of economic inequality.

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Likewise, scrapping the emissions trading scheme and moving to command-and-control will prevent Australia from meeting its carbon reduction targets. Unchecked climate change will hit the most disadvantaged hardest. One reason for this is that the poor are least able to insure against droughts, floods and bushfires.

I say to Mr Abbott: enough with the tribalism. Because a deeper conversation about inequality is vital for my party too. For many years, it looked like talking about inequality was taboo for parliamentarians on the progressive side. Thankfully, recent years have seen this beginning to change.

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Where Bill Clinton rarely mentioned inequality, Barack Obama has given several important speeches on the theme. One reason the earlier cohort of Labor leaders did not talk much about inequality was that it was comparatively low. But as the level of inequality rises, it demands more attention. The gap between the powerful and the powerless has grown. So more than ever, Labor must be the voice of the vulnerable.

If we do not speak out for those on the margins of our society, who will? When Labor is given the chance to govern again, we should assess policy proposals based on how they will affect the gap. With Australian inequality higher than it has been for three-quarters of a century, we must not ignore the distributional consequences of policy. Labor Governments must ask themselves about every proposal: how will this benefit the most disadvantaged? In welfare policy, this means maintaining our targeted social safety net, and rejecting policies like Work for the Dole, which have been shown by an independent evaluation to increase joblessness.

In education policy, it means targeting resources at the most disadvantaged. There is nothing fair about a system where poor children get rookie teachers, while rich children get experienced teachers. Recessions hit the poor hardest, and creating jobs for the truly disadvantaged is always easier in a booming economy. Maintaining the Egalitarian Ethos As a nation, we should be optimistic about our ability to tackle inequality. There is nothing inevitable about inequality going up.

My grandfather, Roly Stebbins, was born in For most of his life, inequality in Australia has been falling, with the last few decades an aberration. From the early s to the late s, my research shows that Australia experienced a significant drop in inequality. To put the size of the equalisation in perspective, the reduction in inequality over these three decades was as large as the modern-day difference in inequality between Australia and the much more equal countries of Scandinavia.

Falling inequality among men was accompanied by a steady narrowing of the gender pay gap during this period, with the equal pay cases of and being key milestones.

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For Australia to make such a shift in a single generation was radical, and the change was keenly felt by those at the top of the heap. Growth was broadly shared. And yes, it happened under a Coalition Government.