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Rising to the challenge of inequality

Andrew Leigh writes in Inside Story (15.6.18) that Thomas Piketty and his colleagues have used new data to track inequality and sharpen the choices we face to create an equitable society.

'Australian inequality has risen markedly over the past generation. Homes on Point Piper’s Wolseley Road can cost $50,000 per square metre; and if you’d like to park Australia’s most expensive sports car in your garage, Pagani’s Huayra Roadster — powered by a 562kw engine — will set you back $5.5 million. Many stores are struggling, but luxury retailing in Australia has surged.

'The battlers aren’t so lucky. When the Salvation Army surveyed the disadvantaged clients who rely on its services, it found that almost half had been forced to move house in the previous twelve months, a quarter of them fleeing family violence. Two-fifths of families couldn’t afford to feed their children properly.

'Egalitarianism holds a special place in the hearts of most Australians. We don’t have private areas on beaches, many of us sit in the front seats of taxis, and most of us prefer the word “mate” to “sir.” But to fully understand inequality, we have to look beyond our borders, to see what’s going on in the rest of the world. And we have to look not just at the situation today, but at the lessons from history and possible paths for the future.'


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