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Kohn on Inequity

March 16, 2012
Cover of "No Contest: The Case Against Co...

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Excerpted from No Contest: The Case Against Competition by Alfie Kohn:

“The point is this: if there is enough of the necessities to go around [editor’s note: there are] but they are not going around, the debate must shift to the impact of competition on matters of distribution. Can the inequities be blamed on competition itself? Even if not, the key question is whether more competition would rectify the situation. It is hard to imagine how it could. Whoever has more resources is far more likely to win a contest, thus giving her even more resources for the next contest, and so on until the opponent is utterly vanquished or someone steps in to stop the competition. Government regulations and income transfer mechanisms — which free-market apologists correctly identify as limitations on pure competition — are all that prevent inequities even more pronouced than those now in existence. To take another kind of evidence, [there is] a significant correlation between competition in a culture and the presence of sharply defined “have” and “have-not” groups. On whatever grounds competition might be defended, equity simply cannot be considered one of its benefits.  Thus it would seem to be precisely the wrong strategy for dealing with the maldistribution of goods, which is perhaps the most critical economic reality to be addressed.”

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One Comment
  1. jakegoodnight permalink

    “To take another kind of evidence, [there is] a significant correlation between competition in a culture and the presence of sharply definedo ”have” and “have-not” groups.”
    -in cultures with less competition it seems, though there may not be clearly defined “have” and “have not” groups, there are historically a large amount of “have nots” and the “have nots” have less.

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