Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Journal des Économistes et des Études Humaines

Editor-in-Chief: Garello, Pierre

Ed. by Gentier, Antoine


CiteScore 2018: 0.14

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.107
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.013

Online
ISSN
2153-1552
See all formats and pricing
More options …
Ahead of print

Issues

Volume 17 (2011)

Volume 16 (2010)

Volume 15 (2009)

Redistribution in Theory and Practice: A Critique of Rawls and Piketty

Hannes H. Gissurarson
  • Corresponding author
  • Politics, University of Iceland School of Social Sciences, Oddi, Room 329, Reykjavik 107, Iceland
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2019-11-29 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jeeh-2019-0004

Abstract

Rawls’ theory is about prudence rather than justice. It is about the kind of political structure on which rational people would agree if they were preparing for the worst. Other strategies, such as confining redistribution to upholding a safety net, might also be plausible. Rawls’ theory is Georgism in persons: the income from individual abilities is regarded as if it is at the disposal of the collective and could be taxed as rent. This goes against the strong moral intuition of self-ownership. However, Rawls’ question, where the worst off are as well off as they can be, is interesting. According to the Index of Economic Freedom, it actually may be under relatively unfettered capitalism. Unlike Rawls, Piketty is chiefly worried about the rich, seeking to impose confiscatory taxes on them. But the rich are not a fixed, unchangeable group of people who can effortlessly watch their capital accumulate. Capital is precarious, as is vividly illustrated in Balzac’s novel Père Goriot which Piketty quotes. Different as the approaches of Rawls and Piketty are, both of them agree that their ideal society has to be closed: It must become ‘socialism in one country.’

Keywords: Rawls; Piketty; justice; inequality; redistribution

Note

This paper is based on a book-length report (Gissurarson 2018).

References

  • Aristotle. 1941 [ca. 340 BC]. The Basic Works, edited by R. McKeon. New York: Random House.Google Scholar

  • Balzac, Honoré de. 1885 [1834–5]. Père Goriot. Boston: Roberts Brothers.Google Scholar

  • Becker, Gary S., and Nigel Tomas. 1986. “Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families.” Journal of Labor Economics 4 (1): 1–39.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Buckley, William F. 1986 [1951]. God and Man at Yale. South Bend IN: Gateway Editions.Google Scholar

  • Chydenius, Anders. 1931 [1765]. The National Gain. London: Ernest Benn.Google Scholar

  • Delsol, Jean-Philippe, Nicolas Lecaussin, and Emmanuel Martin. 2017. Anti-Piketty: Capital for the twenty-first Century. Washington DC: Cato Institute.Google Scholar

  • Dolan, Kerry A., and Louisa Kroll. 2018. “Forbes Billionaires 2018: Meet the Richest People on the Planet.” Forbes 6 March.Google Scholar

  • Dürrenmatt, Friedrich. 1956. Der Besuch der alten Dame, [The Visit]. Zürich: Arche.Google Scholar

  • Flew, Antony. 1981. The Politics of Procrustes: Contradictions of Enforced Equality. London: Temple Smith.Google Scholar

  • Friedman, David. 1973. The Machinery of Freedom. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar

  • George, Henry. 1935 [1879]. Progress and Poverty: An Inquiry into the Cause of Industrial Depressions and of Increase of Want with Increase of Wealth: The Remedy. New York: Robert Schalkenbach Foundation.Google Scholar

  • Gissurarson, Hannes H. 2017a. Green Capitalism: How to Protect the Environment by Defining Private Property Rights. Brussels: New Direction.Google Scholar

  • Gissurarson, Hannes H. 2017b. Lessons for Europe from the 2008 Icelandic Bank Collapse. Brussels: New Direction.Google Scholar

  • Gissurarson, Hannes H. 2018. Spending Other People’s Money: A Critique of Rawls, Piketty and Other Redistributionists. Brussels: New Direction.Google Scholar

  • Grossman, Vasily. 2006 [1960]. Life and Fate, translated by Robert Chandler. New York: New York Review Books Classics.Google Scholar

  • Gwartney, James, Robert Lawson, Joshua Hall, and Ryan Murphy. 2018. Economic Freedom of the World: 2018 Annual Report. Vancouver BC: Fraser Institute.Google Scholar

  • Hayek, Friedrich A. von. 1983. “The Muddle of the Middle.” In Philosophical and Economic Foundations of Capitalism, edited by S. Pejovich, 89–101. Lexington MA: D. C. Heath and Company.Google Scholar

  • Kay, John. 2015. Other People’s Money: Masters of the Universe or Servants of the People. London: Profile Books.Google Scholar

  • Kroll, Luisa. 2018. “The Forbes 400 Self-Made Score: From Silver Spooners to Bootstrappers.” Forbes 3 October.Google Scholar

  • Locke, John. 1960 [1689]. Two Treatises of Government, edited by P. Laslett. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Lucas, John R. 1980. On Justice. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar

  • Max Planck Institute. 2019. Human Mortality Database. Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research and University of California, Berkeley and INED, Paris. https://www.mortality.org.

  • Mises, Ludwig von. 1922. Die Gemeinwirtschaft, [Socialism]. Jena: Gustav Fischer.Google Scholar

  • Norberg, Johan. 1998. Den svenska liberalismens historia, [History of Swedish Liberalism]. Stockholm: Timbro.Google Scholar

  • Nozick, Robert. 1974. Anarchy, State, and Utopia. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar

  • Perry, M. J. 2016. Blog 13 June 2016. http://www.aei.org/publication/cbo-study-shows-that-the-rich-dont-just-pay-a-fair-share-of-federal-taxes-they-pay-almost-everybodys-share/.

  • Piketty, Thomas. 2014. Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Cambridge MA: Belknap Press.Google Scholar

  • Plato. 1961 [ca. 380 BC]. The Collected Dialogues, edited by E. Hamilton and H. Cairns. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar

  • Rawls, John. 1971. A Theory of Justice. Cambridge MA: Belknap Press.Google Scholar

  • Ridley, Matt. 2010. The Rational Optimist. London: Fourth Estate.Google Scholar

  • Rosanoff, M. A. 1932. “Edison in His Laboratory.” Harper’s Magazine 165 (September): 402–17.Google Scholar

  • Rothbard, Murray. 1973. “A Future of Peace and Capitalism.” In Modern Political Economy, edited by James H. Weaver, 419–30. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar

  • Sachs, Jeffrey D. 2006. “Welfare States beyond Ideology.” Scientific American 295 (5): 42.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Sanandaji, Nima. 2015. Scandinavian Unexceptionalism. London: Institute of Economic Affairs.Google Scholar

  • Smith, Adam. 1981 [1776]. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, edited by R. H. Campbell and A. S. Skinner. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund.Google Scholar

  • Smith, Adam. 1982 [1759]. The Theory of Moral Sentiments, edited by D. D. Raphael and A. I Macfie. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund.Google Scholar

  • Sowell, Thomas. 2019. Discrimination and Disparities. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar

  • Stigler, George J. 1970. “Director’s Law of Public Income Distribution.” The Journal of Law and Economics 13 (1): 1–10.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Watts, Robert. 2018. “The Rich List: At Last, the Self-made Triumph over Old Money.” Sunday Times 13 May.Google Scholar

  • World Bank. 2018. Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2018: Piecing Together the Poverty Puzzle. Washington DC: World Bank.Google Scholar

  • World Bank. 2019. “GDP per capita, current US$.” https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/ny.gdp.pcap.cd.

About the article

Published Online: 2019-11-29


Citation Information: Journal des Économistes et des Études Humaines, 20190004, ISSN (Online) 2153-1552, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jeeh-2019-0004.

Export Citation

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in