Inequality essential for progress

People crossing a road in the CBD during lunchtime.
People crossing a road in the CBD during lunchtime.PHOTO: ST FILE

Mr Justin Ong is on the money albeit a trifle defensive on the issue of poverty versus inequality (The fight is with poverty, not inequality, June 14).

It is difficult to understand why some people (typically progressives) are so hung up on the issue of inequality. It is absolutely essential for progress.

Think of any innovation: the car, the aeroplane, pharmaceuticals, the colour television, the video recorder, the DVD player, the iPad, the iPhone, and so on.

It is the wealthy who first demand these things. Next, it is the innovators and entrepreneurs, driven by the profit motive, who bring them to the market.

Competition then drives down the prices, making it possible for the average person, even the poor, to buy the items.

Some will call this trickle-down economics, but then has anybody heard of trickle-up economics?

The Soviets, Eastern Europeans, Cubans and Venezuelans have tried it.

In their "quest for equality" by redistributing wealth, they have been enormously successful in redistributing misery.

Mark Castelino (Professor)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2019, with the headline 'Inequality essential for progress'. Print Edition | Subscribe