Outcome Inequality and UBI in UK
In Britain, according to a report in 2018, 82 percent of wealth created in 2017 was claimed to be owned by the richest 1 percent (Al-Awsat 2018). This phenomenon does not only occur in Britain. Some scholars argued that there should be no need to worry about the result such as Mankiw (2013) while some hold the opposite opinion (Atkinson 2015).
Before our argument about opportunity and outcome equality in Britain, at least that inequality itself is a problem should be a consensus. From the utilitarian’s perspective, inequality is not desirable intrinsically. Inequality as well as other injustice jeopardizes the society’s welfare if we sum up individual’s welfare as a whole – only few people benefit from inequality while more people suffer from it. From the instrumental aspect, inequality does have connections with other social issues like poverty and rent-seeking. It is clear about problems of survival. As to rent-seeking, rich people are power enough to grab as much as possible from the public cake while the poor are defeated in the process, finally exiting political competition. To deal with those problems, cutting off the relationship between them and inequality is necessary.
Does inequality of outcomes matter?
Although we are more willing to accept opportunity equality than outcome equality during running, it is not the same in life racing. Outcome equality is no less important than opportunity one because opportunities are abstract but outcomes are visible. Moreover, life is dynamic and we cannot ignore the factors either subjectively or objectively changing our life, so only taking opportunity inequality into consideration is not sufficient.
In any event, it is hard to draw an identical line for everyone. People are faced with different opportunities due to diverse backgrounds. It is never easy to rule out other factors when you start thinking about opportunity equality. Your potential access to education and wealth at the very beginning of life come mainly from your family and inequality of outcome from the last generation would impose great influence on the next generation’s opportunity. That is why so many people feel themselves shut out of economic and politics opportunity not only in the UK, but also elsewhere in the world (Blanden 2013). Therefore, opportunity equality is impossible practically. It is easy to say, but hard to measure how much we have to do to improve opportunity equality in the beginning. Focusing on outcome equality is much more practical.
Even during one’s life, outcome equality should be taken into account more. Opportunity equality conveys an idea that one’s future totally attributes to subjective reasons if we start from the same starting line. If you fail, that should be your own fault. However, borrowing Atkinson’s phrase here, it is unacceptable to ignore what happens after the starting gun is fired. When people are in trouble, it may be subjective reasons but...