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By John Rees (auth.)

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Extra resources for Equality

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What Political Equality: Il/53 political equality implies, it might be said, is equality of access for all political organizations. Again, at first sight, this may seem a reasonable proposal. Is it not an integral part ofliberal-democratic theory that all points of view have a right to be heard? And, taken negatively, the proposal could be directed at the relative lack of time in television broadcasts accorded to the minority parties in Britain (as well as in America), over which there has been much complaint in recent years, or the disproportionate bias in favour of the Conservative Party in the British national daily press.

Quite apart from the possible effect on incentives and the question whether it is unjust to equate rewards among persons with varying degrees of skill, talent, responsibility, and industry, there is the claim that the accumulation of wealth in private hands can be an important safeguard against excessive state power and hence a bulwark ofliberty. 22 3/Political Equality: I It has long been a commonplace that the formal guarantee of equality of political rights can be distorted or even wholly vitiated by inequalities in the distribution of economic power.

There can be no question of this kind of inequality being unalterable. If one's aim is to put an end to inequality in personal wealth as soon as possible, regardless of consequences, one could introduce a law or set of laws (perhaps a revolution is an indispensable preliminary to doing this) putting all land, industry, and commerce into state hands without compensation (or with as little compensation as may be necessary to avoid 'extreme hardship'), together with a capital levy on all other forms of wealth above a certain figure.

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