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Encyclopedia > Redistribution
For redistribution in the political sense, please see redistricting.

Redistribution is a term often applied to finite commodities within a society. Redistributive efforts often strive for a more proportionate distribution of these commodities in order to make the society more just. The process known as redistricting in the United States and redistribution in many Commonwealth countries is the changing of political borders (in many countries, specifically the electoral district/constituency boundaries) usually in response to periodic census results. ... Lady Justice - allegory of Justice as woman with sword and with book - statue at court building. ...


Public programs and policy measures intended for redistributive purposes include welfare programs, progressive taxation, and public education. Redistributive efforts have been proposed for and applied to monetary wealth, land, opportunity, capital, as well as human capital throughout history. Welfare is financial assistance paid by the government to certain entities or groups of people who are unable to support themselves alone, or are perceived by the government to be able to function more effectively with financial assistance. ... A progressive tax, or graduated tax, is a tax that is larger as a percentage of income for those with larger incomes. ... // Public education is education mandated for the children of the general public by the government, whether national, regional, or local, provided by an institution of civil government, and paid for, in whole or in part, by taxes. ... Human capital is a way of defining and categorizing peoples skills and abilities as used in employment and otherwise contribute to the economy. ...

Contents


Arguments in favor of redistribution

Most people, throughout history, have agreed that an autocratic dictatorship is an undesirable situation. In addition, individual and group ambitions toward this end often produce competitive tensions within society that are undisputedly counterproductive. Autocracy is a form of government where unlimited power is held by a single individual. ... It has been suggested that Dictator be merged into this article or section. ... Ambition could refer to one of the following: Motivation, especially to improve a situation. ... Competition is the act of striving against another force for the purpose of achieving dominance or attaining a reward or goal, or out of a biological imperative such as survival. ...


Additionally, landless, jobless, or mateless individuals become disenfranchised from their societies and are likely to war against it. In mass, they can create a revolution. Disenfranchising refers to the removal of the ability to vote from a person or group of people. ... It has been suggested that Revolutionary be merged into this article or section. ...


For these reasons, as well as subjective concerns of social justice, most societies aim to dampen the natural tendencies of distribution toward oligarchy and monarchy. This can be done through preventative measures, but also, after the fact, by way of redistributive mechanisms. Social justice is a philosophical definition of justice, that is, giving individuals or groups their due within society as a whole. ...


Redistribution, broadly defined, refers to the taking of finite resources from those whom society judges to "have enough" and reallocating them to the underprivileged.


In the past, redistributive efforts could be quite overt. For example, government could decree that certain lands were no longer the property of their original owners, and appropriate them to someone else. However, this invariantly meets bitter controversy, and therefore is rarely done. In modern societies, redistribution normally takes a more subtle form.


Examples of redistribution

In modern society, redistribution takes many forms:

  • Progressive taxation: Taxing wealthy individuals at higher rates, and the poor at low rates (possibly zero or negative) has a redistributive effect. Public services, in theory, are equally available to all, so to charge the wealthy more for them, and the poor less, operates in the benefit of the poor.
  • Welfare programs: Many welfare programs exist specifically to provide assistance to the poor, and are funded by wealthier individuals.
  • Public education: Perhaps the least controversial variety of redistribution is education. By offering publicly-funded educational opportunities to all citizens, a society allows even its poorest members, in theory, access to further opportunities and investment in their own human capital.
  • Reparations: Reparations are payments, usually of a monetary form, made in attempt to rectify past wrongs. In the United States, payments of reparations have been proposed for African-Americans, many of whose ancestors were enslaved, and the Native Americans.
  • Affirmative action: To compensate for racial discrimination in the past and, possibly, present, affirmative action measured have been proposed. Affirmative action takes many forms which range from the uncontroversial to the drastic.
  • Inheritance taxes: Since large inheritances come not by merit and represent an affront to distributive justice, most societies tax them substantially. However, it is becoming an increasingly political issue whether wealth that has already been taxed as it was earned should be taxed again upon the owner's death. That is why only particularly large inheritances are usually taxed. For example, in the U.S., inheritances were taxed 50% over $1.2 million until 2001. An opponent of the American inheritance tax is George W. Bush, who temporarily repealed it. By renaming the estate tax the "death tax", American conservatives were able to galvanize the population against the tax during the 2000 U.S. Presidential election, despite the fact that over 99% of Americans are not wealthy enough for the tax to be an issue.

// Public education is education mandated for the children of the general public by the government, whether national, regional, or local, provided by an institution of civil government, and paid for, in whole or in part, by taxes. ... Reparations refers to two distinct ideas: Reparations for slavery of groups or individuals War reparations: Payments from one country to another as compensation for starting a war under a peace treaty, such as those made by Germany to France under the Treaty of Versailles. ... African Americans, also known as Afro-Americans or black Americans, are an ethnic group in the United States of America whose ancestors, usually in predominant part, were indigenous to Sub-Saharan and West Africa. ... It has been suggested that Chattel slavery be merged into this article or section. ... This article is the current U.S. Collaboration of the Week. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... An African-American drinks out of a water fountain marked for colored in 1939 at a street car terminal in Oklahoma City. ... Inheritance is the practice of passing on property, titles, debts, and obligations upon the death of an individual. ... The United States dollar is the official currency of the United States. ... 2001: A Space Odyssey. ... George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is the 43rd and current President of the United States and a former governor of Texas. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Map The U.S. presidential election of 2000 took place on Election Day, Tuesday, November 7. ...

Critisism

While some measure of redistribution is necessary for a society to maintain function, redistribution invariantly meets with controversy, especially from those who are privileged and stand to lose in the process.


Criticism of redistribution does come, therefore, from the self-protecting elite. However, there is also an intellectual case against "too much" redistribution. Redistributing economic or political benefits, especially those earned by merit, reduces incentive for individuals within a society to produce. Look up elite, élite in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... In economics, an incentive in anything that provides a motive for a particular course of action — that counts as a reason for preferring one choice to the alternatives. ...


The least controversial redistributive measures are normally in the form of education, because general consensus is that educating the population benefits all. Social welfare programs are considerably more controversial, but even most American conservatives agree that a social "safety net" is to the general benefit. Overt redistributive efforts are the most controversial of all, sometimes bitterly so.


See also

To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... The Lorenz curve was developed by Max O. Lorenz in 1905 as a graphical representation of income distribution. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Social inequality refers to disparities in the distribution of material wealth in a society. ...

External links

  • Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry

  Results from FactBites:
 
Redistribution - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (785 words)
Redistributive efforts have been proposed for and applied to monetary wealth, land, opportunity, capital, as well as human capital throughout history.
Redistributing economic or political benefits, especially those earned by merit, reduces incentive for individuals within a society to produce.
The least controversial redistributive measures are normally in the form of education, because general consensus is that educating the population benefits all.
Income redistribution - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (411 words)
Income redistribution, or the redistribution of wealth, is a political policy usually promoted by members of the political left, and opposed, or less strongly supported, by members of the political right.
They also argue that it will result in a brain drain, and lead to a state where the middle class have to support a large population of unemployed with an ever-increasing percentage of their income, because, it is argued, a slowdown in economic activity will result in higher taxes unless spending is curtailed.
Proponents of redistribution argue from the Marxian standpoint that wealthier people are exploiting the poor or otherwise gaining unfair benefits, therefore necessitating redistributive practices in order to redress the imbalance.
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