The costs of inequality: Not just a case of “poor envy”

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In 2014, “inequality” was undeniably the buzzword in the public policy domain, partly thanks to Thomas Picketty’s unlikely bestseller, Capital in the 21st Century. Arguably, the Malaysian government did take notice of the issue in implementing certain policies of a redistributive nature, such as cash transfers via the BR1M programme.

However, to see inequality merely as “income inequality” avoids the larger question: what are the consequences of inequality? The discourse on inequality will not be complete, let alone constructive, if this dimension of the problem is ignored. While the word “inequality” itself invites moral judgment, the issue cannot be seen to be as simple as that.


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