Equity Premises and the Case for Socializing Rent

The Harvard Registrar reports the most popular undergraduate courses now are “Justice,” “Principles of Economics,” “The Concept of the Hero,” and “Literature of Social Reflection.” The “Me Generation” is passing; Justice, Heroism and Social Thought are “In.” Are economists ready for this future? I think not: changes must be made.
Classical political-economists were moral philosophers. They made distribution of wealth and income central to their discipline. This led smoothly, if unintentionally, to slogans like “The problem is not production, but distribution.” Neoclassical economists, overreacting, downplayed distribution. Beliefs about this, they held, are too subjective, numerous and conflicting; many are self—interested, subsidized and sophistical, sowing discord and confusion.
Earlier version of G-34. “Equity Premises and the Case for Taxing Rent,” 1992. J. David Baldwin and Ronald L. Oaxaca (eds.), Papers and Proceedings of the 104th Annual Meeting, AEA, May, 1992, pp. 274-79.

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