13 June 2014

Unjust Deserts

Brad DeLong

Suppose that, somehow, you are paid your genuine marginal product to society. The fact that you are lucky enough to be in a position to extract your marginal product is a matter of, well, luck. Others are not so lucky. Others find that their bargaining power is limited – perhaps to what their standard of living would be if they moved to the Yukon and lived off the land. Do you deserve your luck? By definition, no: nobody deserves luck. And what do you owe those who would be in a position to get what they deserve if you had not been lucky enough to get there first?