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Inequality and the world economy: True Progressivism | The Economist


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Different parts of this agenda are already being embraced in different countries. Latin America has invested in schools and pioneered conditional cash transfers for the very poor; it is the only region where inequality in most countries has been falling. India and Indonesia are considering scaling back fuel subsidies. More generally, as they build their welfare states, Asian countries are determined to avoid the West’s extravagance. In the rich world Scandinavia is the most inventive region. Sweden has overhauled its admittedly huge welfare state and has a universal school-voucher system. Britain too is reforming schools and simplifying welfare. In America Mr Romney says he wants to means-test Medicare and cut tax deductions, though he is short on details. Meanwhile, Mr Obama, a Democrat, has invoked Theodore Roosevelt, and Ed Miliband, leader of Britain’s Labour Party, is now trying to wrap himself in Benjamin Disraeli’s “One Nation” Tory cloak.

Such cross-dressing is a sign of change, but politicians have a long way to go. The right’s instinct is too often to make government smaller, rather than better. The supposedly egalitarian left’s failure is more fundamental. Across the rich world, welfare states are running out of money, growth is slowing and inequality is rising—and yet the left’s only answer is higher tax rates on wealth-creators. Messrs Obama, Miliband and Hollande need to come up with something that promises both fairness and progress. Otherwise, everyone will pay.

Latin America is the only region where inequality in most countries has been falling?!

The rich get richer -- universally.

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