Redistribution of income and wealth

transfer of income and of wealth from some individuals to others

Redistribution of income and redistribution of wealth are the transfer of income and of wealth from some individuals to others by means of a social mechanism such as taxation, charity, welfare, public services, land reform, monetary policies, confiscation, divorce or tort law. The term typically refers to redistribution on an economy-wide basis rather than between selected individuals.

If machines produce everything we need... Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality. ~ Stephen Hawking

Quotes edit

(Arranged alphabetically by author/source)

  • If the American dream is to come true and to abide with us, it will, at bottom, depend on the people themselves. If we are to achieve a richer and fuller life for all, they have got to know what such an achievement implies. In a modern industrial State, an economic base is essential for all. We point with pride to our "national income," but the nation is only an aggregate of individual men and women, and when we turn from the single figure of total income to the incomes of individuals, we find there was a very marked injustice in its distribution. There is no reason why wealth, which is a social product, should not be more equitably controlled and distributed in the interests of society.
    • James Truslow Adams, The Epic of America (1931), p. 410 [1], as quoted by Robert C. Hauhart, Seeking the American Dream, A Sociological Inquiry, p. 70.
The distribution of the world's resources and the settled unity of the peoples of the world are in reality one and the same thing, for behind all modern wars lies a fundamental economic problem. Solve that and wars will very largely cease.~Alice Bailey
  • Be charitable before wealth makes thee covetous.
  • The free market’s the best mechanism ever devised to put resources to their most efficient and productive use. … The government isn’t particularly good at that. But the market isn’t so good at making sure that the wealth that’s produced is being distributed fairly or wisely. Some of that wealth has to be plowed back into education, so that the next generation has a fair chance, and to maintain our infrastructure, and provide some sort of safety net for those who lose out in a market economy. And it just makes sense that those of us who’ve benefited most from the market should pay a bigger share.
  • Five steps for saving America's capitalist system:
  1. America needs leaders at the top that proclaim the current state of inequality to be nothing less than a national emergency.
  2. A bipartisan committee should work on developing new means of redistribution and community development.
  3. Those leaders must be held accountable to statistics that measure the progress of their reforms.
  4. Resources need to be redistributed for the purpose of providing equal opportunity to the vast majority of Americans. This can be done through increasing taxes on the wealthy, further taxing societally harmful things like pollution, and develop public-private partnerships that link business goals with societal goals.
  5. Coordinate fiscal and monetary policy (i.e. increase cooperation among the Federal Reserve, Congress, and the White House).
  • "The problem is that capitalists typically don't know how to divide the pie well and socialists typically don't know how to grow it well," Dalio wrote. He says that his "American Dream" of rising from a middle-class upbringing... to the head of the world's largest hedge fund was possible due to opportunities that included good public schools and student loans, but that equal education and job opportunities are no longer available.
    "While most Americans think of the US as being a country of great economic mobility and opportunity, its economic mobility rate is now one of the worst in the developed world," he wrote. He explained that there is essentially two Americas, for the top 40% and bottom 60%. The former is faring significantly better, and those at the highest level of wealth are as far removed from everyone else as they ever have been...
  • The fact is, people work hard and rely on Food Stamps—or SNAP Program—to be able to feed their families. When they work full-time they still live in poverty. That's wrong in our nation. Students who are losing hope because of the difficulty of finding jobs in this tough economy. What we need to do, what is best for America, is to raise wages, create jobs, and then we will move forward. Hard-working people are trying their best, but those who hold on to capital are not sharing the wealth, and there is the problem.
  • Do you wish to honor... He who said, “This is my body,” and made it so by his word, is the same that said, “You saw me hungry and you gave me no food. As you did it not to the least of these, you did it not to me.” Honor him then by sharing your property with the poor. For what God needs is not golden chalices but golden souls.
  • When the Great Dao (Tao, perfect order) prevails, the world is like a Commonwealth State shared by all, not a dictatorship. Virtuous, worthy, wise and capable people are chosen as leaders. Honesty and trust are promoted, and good neighborliness cultivated. All people respect and love their own parents and children, as well as the parents and children of others. The aged are cared for until death; adults are employed in jobs that make full use of their abilities; and children are nourished, educated, and fostered... orphans... the disabled and the diseased are all well taken care of....
  • I have heard of a monk who in his cell, had a glorious vision of Jesus revealed to him. Just then, a bell rang, which called him away to distribute loaves of bread among the poor beggars at the gate. He was sorely tried as to whether he should lose a scene so inspiring. He went to his act of mercy; and when he came back, the vision remained more glorious than ever.
  • I command you shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and the poor in the land.
  • You shall not turn away the needy, but shall share everything with your brother, and shall not say that it is your own, for if you are sharers in the imperishable, how much more in the things which perish?
  • Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle,
    And the life of the candle will not be shortened.
    Happiness never decreases by being shared.
  • The "Austrian" economists, more consistently than those of any other school, have criticized nearly all forms of government intervention in the market — especially inflation, price controls, and schemes for redistribution of wealth or incomes because they recognize that these always lead to erosions of incentives, to distortions of production, to shortages, to demoralization, and to similar consequences deplored even by the originators of the schemes.
  • We do not believe that the American economy is a zero-sum game―in other words, if I have more, that means someone else will have less. What we said in that forum is that we believe in a growing pie. Just because I have a certain slice of the pie does not exclude anyone else from it by design. Unfortunately, the opposite view is held by many people in the West today. They do think it is a zero-sum game, that there's only so much to go around and that it has to be shared more fairly. They do not comprehend expanding wealth or creating wealth; they view it as limited and finite and want to redistribute it. It pains us greatly that we are not able to get our message across that the great prosperity so many people in this country enjoy is available to everybody―if you are just taught to avail yourself of it, how to believe in yourself, how to be self-sufficient, and how to escape government dependency.
  • The Holy Supper is kept, indeed,
    In whatso we share with another's need,—
    Not that which we give, but what we share,—
    For the gift without the giver is bare;
    Who bestows himself with his alms feeds three,—
    Himself, his hungering neighbor, and me.
  • Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.
  • My plan is to show you that the way out of your problems is to listen again to the true voice of God within your hearts, to share the produce of this most bountiful of worlds among your brothers and sisters everywhere... you must make the choice ---- whether you share and learn to live peacefully as true men, or perish utterly. My heart tells Me your answer, your choice, and is glad.
    • Maitreya, Message No. 11 (5 January 1978)
  • My Teaching is simple: Justice, Sharing and Love are divine aspects. To manifest his divinity, man must embrace these three.
    • Maitreya, Message No. 81 (12 September 1979)
  • My task will be to show you how to live together peacefully as brothers. This is simpler than you imagine, My friends, for it requires only the acceptance of Sharing. Sharing, indeed, is divine. It underlies all progress for man. By its means, My brothers and sisters, you can come into correct relationship with God; and this, My friends, underlies your lives. When you share, you recognise God in your brother. This is a truth, simple, but until now difficult for man to grasp. The time has come to evidence this truth. By My Presence, the Law of Sharing will become manifest. By My Presence, man will grow to God. By the Presence of Myself and My Brothers, the New Country of Love shall be known. Take, My friends, this simple Law to your hearts. Manifest Love through Sharing, and change the world. Create around you the atmosphere of peace and joy, and with Me make all things new.
    • Maitreya, Message No. 82 (18 September 1979)
  • Not only do we have no real right to the things of the world, because belonging always essentially to God they can never belong to creatures; but we are also limited by the laws of God in the use of those possessions; for it must not be imagined that God gives them to us so that we may dispose of them as we wish. He is too just to have made such an unequal distribution. These goods being the means destined by his Providence for the subsistence of men, he gives to some more than they need only so that they may distribute it to others. A rich man, in so far as he is rich, is thus no more than steward of God's good things.
  • Lacking much historical information and assuming (1) that victims of injustice generally do worse than they otherwise would and (2) that those from the least well-off group in the society have the highest probabilities of being the (descendants of) victims of the most serious injustice who are owed compensation by those who benefited from the injustices, ... then a rough rule of thumb for rectifying injustices might seem to be the following: organize society so as to maximize the position of whatever group ends up least well-off in the society. ... These issues are very complex and are best left to a full treatment of the principle of rectification. In the absence of such a treatment applied to a particular society, one cannot use the analysis and theory presented here to condemn any particular scheme of transfer payments, unless it is clear that no considerations of rectification of injustice could apply to justify it. Although to introduce socialism as the punishment for our sins would be to go too far, past injustices might seem to be so great as to make necessary in the short run a more extensive state in order to rectify them.
  • "Not for ourselves, but for others," is the grand law inscribed on every part of creation.
  • If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
  • Proportion thy charity to the strength of thy estate, lest God proportion thy estate to the weakness of thy charity. Let the lips of the poor be the trumpet of thy gift, lest in seeking applause thou lose thy reward. Nothing is more pleasing to God than an open hand and a close mouth.
  • At the time of the Prophet's call to risalah, Arab society was devoid of proper distribution of wealth and devoid of justice. A small group monopolized all wealth and commerce, which increased through usury. The great majority of the people were poor and hungry. The wealthy were also regarded as noble and distinguished, and the common people were not only deprived of wealth but also of dignity and honor.

    It can be said that Muhammad—peace be on him—was capable of starting a social movement, declaring war against the class of nobles and the wealthy, taking away their wealth and distributing it among the poor.

  • Shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased — thus do we refute entropy.
    • Spider Robinson, "Callahan's Law", in The Callahan Chronicals (1996) [originally published as Callahan and Company (1988)]
  • In the last 30 years, there has been a massive redistribution of wealth. The problem is this redistribution has gone in the wrong direction.
  • Nothing can you steal,
    But thieves do lose it.
  • Should the nation's wealth be redistributed? It has been and continues to be redistributed to a few people in a manner strikingly unhelpful.

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