novembro 24, 2011

Uma causa ou um sintoma?

Excertos do prefácio de John Gray ao livro de Bertrand de Jouvenel, The Ethics of Redistribution

Bertrand de Jouvenel's study in the ethics of redistribution is distinctive, in the first instance, because it focuses precisely on the morality of redistribution and not on its side effects on incentives. This is to say that de Jouvenel's critique embodies a fundamental challenge to the values expressed in redistributionist thought which in no way depends upon an instrumental or utilitarian assessment of the consequences of redistributionist policy. De Jouvenel is concerned with the impact on individual liberty and on cultural life of redistribution rather than with its effects on productivity. His study is significant for another reason, which is that he is careful to distinguish redistributionism from other, superficially similar doctrines. Thus, he shows clearly how it differs from agrarian egalitarianism, which aims to equalize a resource - land - but does not seek to control the distribution of its product. [...] De Jouvenel makes another fundamental distinction within redistributionism itself. Modern redistributionism encompasses two wholly disparate elements: the belief that government should be centrally involved in the relief of poverty, and the belief that economic inequality is itself unjust or evil. These two beliefs have indeed been conflated in the increasing acceptance of the view that it is the responsibility of government to ensure rising popular living standards. A further move in the direction of egalitarian redistributionism is taken when to the proposal that government supply a subsistence floor beneath which no one may fall is added the proposal that there be instituted a ceiling beyond which no one may rise. [...] He further notes that a policy of redistribution is bound to discriminate against minorities, since it will inevitably favor the preferences and interests of the majority [...]

For de Jouvenel, however, the most profound result of redistributionist policy is the impetus it gives to the baleful process of centralization. [...] De Jouvenel goes on to speculate that the underlying causal process may go in the opposite direction: Redistributionist policy may be an incident in a process of centralization that has acquired a momentum of its own.

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