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Free Political Philosophy of Redistributing Income Essay Sample

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Utilitarianism states that the moral value of an act is solely determined by its usefulness in minimizing negative utility and maximizing utility as summed in every sentient being.  The utility principle asserts that an act is right if it generates more happiness of all people affected by and wrong if it doesn't. It is based on the notion that happiness and pleasure are inherently valuable and suffering and pain are inherently disvaluable, and that everything else has worth if it is generating happiness and preventing happiness.

Utilitarianism and equality

Utilitarianism is the most  effective means of combating inequality because it supports  equality through equal contemplation of interests and snub every arbitrary distinction as of a person being worthy than others. It therefore rejects racism, sexism, and speciesism and egoism form of discrimination. This does not imply that utilitarianism  deny that there are differences among  individuals or among group of individuals, it  points out that there is no rationally convincing reason for presuming that  a disparity in capability validates any disparity in the considerations we offer to their interests ( Sen, & Williams, 2006).

How utilitarianism combats inequality through redistribution of income

The starting point of utilitarianism as a political philosophy of equality is the idea of utility which implies that the level of happiness or satisfaction that an individual attains for her or his circumstances. Utility measures well being and it is the definitive objective of all private and public actions.  Utilitarian's claim that the appropriate objective of the government is to maximize the amount of utility attained by each individual in the society. The utilitarian idea of redistribution of incomes is based on the presumption diminishing marginal utility (Mankiw,   2008).  

It appears logical that an additional dollar of revenue offers a poor individual with more extra utility than an additional dollar would offer to a rich individual. This implies that as the income of person increases, the addition well being obtained forms an extra dollar of revenue falls. This reasonable presumption, coupled with the utilitarianism objective of maximization of total utility means that the government is supposed to try to attain a more equal dispersion of income. For instance there are two individuals namely Peter and Paul who are similar, but the only difference is their income with Peter earning 80,000 dollars and Paul earning 20,000 dollars. In this case, utilitarianism implies that by getting a dollar from Peter to pay Paul, the utility of Peter will be reduced and that of Paul will be increased. But as a result of reducing marginal utility, the utility of Peter reduces by less that the utility of Paul raises. Therefore, this redistribution of revenue increases total utility, which is the goal of utilitarianism.

In contrast, liberalism does not effectively combat inequality it uses the rule of maximum criterion of minimum utility and validates public policies intended at equalizing distribution of income.  Through transferring income from rich to poor individuals, the society increases the wellbeing of the less fortunate. However, the maximum criterion would not completely lead to an egalitarian community.

If the government completely equalizes income, individuals would not have an incentive to work hard, and the total income of the society would drop substantially and the less fortunate individuals will be in the worse situation. Therefore, the Maximum criterion of liberalism still permits inequality in income because such disparities may improve incentives and thus increase the ability of the society to assist the poor.

Libertarianism does not combat inequality because it views the entire income of the community as a shared resource that that the social planner may freely redistribute in order to accomplish some social objective. According to libertarianism, the government is not supposed to take money from some people and give it to others so as to accomplish any specific distribution of revenue. 

The libertarian option to evaluating economic equality and outcomes is through assessing the procedure by which these outcomes occur.   When the dispersion of income is accomplished unfairly, for example, when an individual steals from another person, the government has the   duty and right to solve the problem.

United States federal income and welfare systems

The U.S. Federal income tax and welfare systems are examples of policies that the U.S. government has pursued to ensure redistribution of income among individuals.  These polices imply that, individuals   who have high revenues pay more taxes, and individuals with low revenues get income transfers. If the government takes away extra income, from people earning high income, people who earn less are able to earn extra income through the higher income taxes and reduced transfers.

The present welfare program offers essential food coupons, called food stamps and housing aid, called section 8 programs, for low income families and people who are not able to earn a living as a result of health related matters. This ensures that the least privileged in the society are able to enjoy facilities and service enjoyed by the fortunate and rich individuals.


Unitarianism effectively combats inequality because it regards that the moral worth of an action is mainly determined by its helpfulness in maximizing utility and minimizing negative utility implying that an action is right if it gives positive results to the people affected.  Utility is the measure of wellbeing and is the ultimate goal of all public and private acts.  Therefore, by maximizing the sum of utility attained by each person in the society, the government will ensure equality among individuals and promote the overall wellbeing of each person.

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