Very interesting read, Ben. Thanks for posting it!
I think income inequality can be moral, but it depends on the mechanisms that brought the inequality into existence in the first place. For example, California has extreme income inequality, and it seems to me that much of that inequality has artificial origins. Occupational licensing laws are a good example of the kinds of regulations that can unfairly prevent low income people from escaping their situation.
Which actually brings me to an important question…
Going back to the occupational licensing issue, there are really two ways you could interpret that problem. On the one hand, you could argue that, in the case of an ex-con who can’t become a firefighter because of their criminal history, their bad decisions are solely responsible for their situation. On the other hand, you could also argue that if an ex-con has finished their stint in prison and paid their debt to society, it’s unfair to hold their past crimes against them (except in unique situations, like in the case of, say, a sex offender wanting to work in a school). I usually take the latter view. Consequently, I believe that the law that prevents ex-cons from working as firefighters in California should be categorized as an artificial barrier. Would you agree? And if so, would you be in favor of revisiting such laws?
Also, do you remember back when Sarah Palin was governor of Alaska and she supported that windfall tax on the oil companies? The one which redistributed funds to the citizens of the state? If I remember correctly, I believe she justified the policy on the grounds that as a natural resource, Alaskan oil belongs to the citizens of the state, and that they therefore deserve to be compensated for its extraction. Do you agree with her reasoning? And if not, may I ask why?
Of course, if you don’t have the time to respond, or if you just happen to miss these questions, that’s totally cool. Either way, thanks again for the article! I don’t agree with all of it, but you make some really intriguing points. And you’ve also given me another book to add to my reading list (The Quest for Cosmic Justice)!