24 December 2011

Reasons To Be Cheerful

I finaly noticed the new zeitgeist. It was an article in yesterday's FT that brought it home to me, but more of that later.

Four years on from the start of the crisis, a new common sense is emerging and it is roted in ideas of equality. The first idea is a rejection of the gross inequality that has grown over recent decades. The super rich are revealed as undeserving. They did not acsend to the heights of wealth on merit - through education, talent, innovation or risk-taking. Much of the wealth comes from the extraction of economic rent combined with a redirection of the spoils to the agents rather than the owners of firms. Some time ago I described this as agency capitalism.

Meriit is a key part of the new zeitgeist. The good society needs not just a concern for the weakest but it demands a contribution from each of its members. This is the idea of fairness as decribed in Will Hutton's book Them and Us. To anyone who read Hutton's latest work, Ed Miliband's conference speech made perfect sense. It only seemed odd to a commentariat who did not yet see how the times are changing.

Then yesterday, in the FT, Martin Wolf wrote a column on rising inequality and identified the demand for a huge agenda, covering education, employment, corporate governance, finacial reform and "elements of redistribution".

For me the idea that a mainstream commentator has seen the importance of tackling inequality means that the zeitgeist is taking root.

I will have more to say on this. It is afterall the soul of this blog. Merry Christmas.

To update: I will add the links and correct the typos when I get to my desktop.

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