Optimal policy

Is this the best way to determine optimal policy?:

But the current magnitude of inequality in America strikes me as unfair.

Prof. Kenworthy goes on to say:

What’s the proper amount of income inequality? I don’t have a precise answer, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong to feel that our current level is excessive.

With all due respect, except in dictatorships one person’s gut feelings about something doesn’t translate at all to optimal policy. In fact, there’s impossibility theorems that say one person’s gut feelings don’t have to monotonically effect aggregate gut feelings.

(Irony alert: to play with vote aggregation examples in writing that last sentence, I was, without realizing it, doodling on my just arrived voter information guide.)

Regarding Kenworthy’s point 2 about inequality causing harm. Besides the rhetoric of it, I’m not sure a consumption arms race causes harm. As for supposed “real” effects of inequality (e.g. health outcomes), I want to know how much of that is really an effect of poverty. I’m down to reduce poverty, but that’s not at all the same as reducing inequality.

1 thought on “Optimal policy”

  1. “What’s the proper amount of income inequality? I don’t have a precise answer, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong to feel that our current level is excessive.”

    Quotes like this are why I find political discourse so discouraging.

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