America produces the greatest amount of excess in the entire world. Hundreds of millions of American laborers and businesses work to produce and consume a larger quantity of wealth and surplus than the world has ever seen. Meanwhile, about 40 million of those laborers live below the poverty line.
A developed, productive society should produce adequate living conditions for all its citizens. John Rawls’s veil of ignorance offers a useful analogy for deciding what level of inequality a society ought to tolerate. Essentially, he argues that we should structure society so that we would be willing to accept the position of its lowest member. That is, even the poorest or least favorably endowed member would still live a life with acceptable living conditions.
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