The challenge of trying to reverse inequality is something which came up in a number of the sessions I sat in on at the Hay Festival.
Richard Layard, for example, talked about the way in which inequality loosens the bonds of co-operation between people and society. Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett’s book The Spirit Level is on the agenda too – which is a comprehensive and evidence-base demolition of the idea that inequality benefits societies in any way.
Their argument, indeed, is that rather than deal with crime, ill health and poor education through targeted programmes, we would do better to create a more equal society, as this feeds through to better outcomes in each of these domains.
It may be a mistake though to view inequality as an economic issue, because at root, our tolerance for inequality is a cultural issue and one that in many ways is supported and sustained by the commercial world around us. Be yourself, step out from the crowd, get ahead…
It is certainly a good time for rethinking our economy, but if we want a more equal world, then we need a cultural revolution and not simply a different economic fix.