The Social Function of Economic Inequality

Mark Tovey writes: The unhampered market creates economic inequality. Free marketeers tend to concede this fact as an unfortunate defect in an otherwise laudable system. F.A. Hayek, however, in a chapter from The Constitution of Liberty, argued that inequality is fundamental to a society’s progress. Hayek explained how, by purchasing luxuries unimaginable to the average man, the rich unwittingly perform a vital public service. Indeed so fundamental is inequality to economic progress that egalitarian societies, Hayek concluded, would be faced with no choice but to deliberately re-inflict upon themselves the very class systems they had sought to escape, should they wish to achieve well-directed economic advancement.