Wealth Inequality and Pandemic

  • Famous french economist Thomas piketty in his remarkable work Capital and ideology argues that for the first time in history, the poor are blamed for their misery.They are condemned for lack of talent, diligence and virtue, while the rich are commended for their merit and entrepreneurship.

 

 

  • There are apprehensions in public and economist that rising inequality is a threat to the very idea of constitutional governance and a civilised democracy and therefore there is a rising demand that law should intervene in it , there are two aspects to this , one was is progressive taxation and another view is that law can play a meaningful role in tackling inequality as the two major pillars of capitalism are right to property and freedom to contract , both being inventions of law.

 

  • The best laws that the democracies have been able to figure out after all the permutations and combinations are anti-trust laws.It was first passed in the US. The U.S. Congress passed several laws to help promote competition by outlawing unfair methods of competition.The Sherman Act of 1890 came at the inflection point in America’s history. This happened because big companies often adopted unethical practices to either take over their rival companies or collaborated with them in order to maximise their profit and target their competition.This law was successful in tackling the famous standard oil scam in the 19th century. Recently Chinese Communist Party stunned the world by initiating an investigation against Jack Ma , founder of alibaba under antitrust laws.It suspended its financial arm the Ant’s group IPO. Jack Ma has lost around $11 billion in 2 months. But these may be well linked with Jack Ma’s castigating financial regulators and accusing chinese banks of behaving as “pawn shops’ ‘.

 

 

  • However apart from this looking at the present dynamics where google owns around 260 companies , amazon owns around 100 competitors and acquisition of facebook is well known , it is sceptical whether these laws provide protection to consumers , entrepreneurs, independent businesses , open market and democratic ideals , especially in India where competition law violations entails only structural remedies and fines, in comparison to US where many of the culprits have undergone prison terms. Even the United States with its stringent laws has not been completely successful .The hunt for structuring effective laws and mechanisms to deal with wealth Inequality is on.
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