« if you want to live the American dream, go to Denmark »
As recently argued in gplus.wallez.name/6mLHavYk92y, "reasonably equal chances of individual success" require a collective choice, a collective culture to not only allow but indeed support such chances.
The American dream is not only manifested at the individual level, it is a collective dream and it is also measured at the collective level…
A collective dream, a societal choice, requires collective agreement to bear the cost, most notably to refrain from the Law of the Strongest even when short-termism or selfishness would suggest otherwise.
A naïve definition of freedom wouldn't suffice: social responsibility isn't the enemy of freedom, it is an enabler!
In economic terms, the health of an economy relates to circulation of money, not accumulation (not clinging).
If you take money from everyone and don't redistribute it widely, who will you take money from next?
It might be noted that such a redistribution may be achieved via consumption by the rich, but only as much as said consumption allows to pay decent salaries to those providing goods and services (i.e. wealth is used as energy, not as power to enslave others) and as much as the rich 'consumed' all previous earnings by the time of one's death (or any wealth left over is given back to the wider society the individual was part of… as opposed to to the concept of inheritance assuming that the family of the rich is inherently separate from its context!).
Short term and reasonable imbalance (e.g. earning a few times more than others, for the time of one human life) is easily accommodated by the system, but orders of magnitude in inequality and inheritance create longer term issues that the system only solves via violence (from theft to revolutions). Those who squeeze others by greed only sow the seeds of a violence that will threaten them back. Those who 'privatise' (at a genetic/familial/dynastic level) a share of collective wealth only sow the same seeds. For a while, police states can —and do— contain such violence, but history tends to show that this is only a temporary solution.
Just like we have climate change deniers, we have people who keep arguing for least-regulated "free markets", for unbridled competition, for unmoderated "reward for success" (never statistically 'adjusted' —or 'controlled'— by one's conditions, circumstances and sheer luck (at birth and later)), for individual choices of generosity (rather than culture of redistribution), for "more more more" at the individual level… as if these were the only approach for the pursuit of happiness.
How many more studies which support the opposite conclusion do we need, for people to start seriously looking at the evidence?
Moderation is not suppression (no more than equanimity is voluntary blindness): moderating capitalism doesn't equate communism. Drop the caricature and consider social responsibility as an enabler of success. When 0.3% of GDP would be enough over 15 years to end world hunger (gplus.wallez.name/2bCkqHtSLjh), it takes selfishness and strong biases to consider that redistributing 0.3% of GDP would equate communism.
Click on image to continue:
How economic inequality harms societies