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Inequality: What Can Be Done? by Anthony B. Atkinson

by Venky

If there is anyone who has the credibility to hold forth on both the plague of inequality as well as its obliteration, it is Anthony Atkinson. Having dedicated a significant part of his career to the cause and consequence of inequality, Anthony Atkinson is a treasure trove of ideas, suggestions, measures and recommendations. He puts all these valuable attributes to splendid effect in “Inequality: What Can Be Done?”.

Beginning by providing an overview of the pernicious problem that is inequality, Atkinson proceeds to elucidate 15 proposals; a stirring mix of both the tried and tested as well as innovative which in his opinion would go a long way in mitigating inequality, if not obliterating it. These proposals include channeling the potential of technology with a humane objective in mind whereby the spur of advancement will act as a generator of employment rather than displacing labour; every country contributing 1% of its Gross National Income (“GNI”) towards a corpus for poverty eradication; increasing the marginal rates of taxation to as high as 65% (a proposal that is sure to rankle very many sentiments); a compulsory entitlement towards Child Benefit as well as an employment allowance to every adult etc.

As may be evident from the nature of the proposals themselves, they are controversial as well as debate inducing. Recognising this fact, Atkinson devotes an entire chapter in discussing the potential criticisms that could be levied against each of the fifteen proposals as well as comprehensive rebuttals of such criticisms. He also dwells on the budgetary aspects of the proposal concluding that a state bold enough to introduce and implement such proposals, although incurring huge expenditure will still end up clocking a surplus.

Atkinson’s proposals may or may not see the light of the day. But it sure represents a pioneering step towards reducing the unsavoury gap between the so called 1 percenters and the left behind 99 percenters.

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