On Tuesday 5th December, the Orwell and Keynes Societies hosted two speakers to debate on “Can inequality be justified?”
Mr. Stewart Lansley of Bristol University kicked off the debate with a powerful speech against the motion. Citing examples of the extreme inequality that the UK faces today regarding wealth inequality, Mr. Lansley spoke of the metaphorical ‘pie’ that we should redistribute in the name of morality. He then went on to argue that, for economic reasons, the current state of inequality is unjustifiable since it tarnishes financial productivity as it creates less demand in our economy.
Next the debate turned, and Yaron Brook from the Ayn Rand Institute offered an emotive counter-argument. He first referred to the advantages of inequality, which include opportunities for entrepreneurism. For example, he described how he may be a couple of thousand dollars worse off due to the Harry Potter empire, but that the memories and pleasure he gained made it worth it. He followed that even though the void in wealth between himself and JK Rowling had subsequently increased, this inequality is justifiable. Mr Brook then advocated for less governmental intervention regarding each individual’s wealth or ‘pie’, as it should not be taken in the name of a collective society. And hence, to follow this model, inequality is a necessity.
A fascinating Q&A then followed, which further increased the intensity of the debate. The two speakers each had the chance to discuss every question posed- from the causes of the 2008 financial crisis to evaluations of inequality in China and India. After more intriguing analysis of economic and social models and how they relate to inequality, the fantastic evening drew to its close.