Growing inequality has become another cause of the left, but being more equal doesn’t necessarily make anything better.
Theodore Dalrymple illustrates this in a column on Britain’s National Health System:
. . . equality in health is not necessarily desirable in itself. Suppose that the infant-mortality rate in the highest social class is three per 1,000 live births, while that in the lowest is six per 1,000 (approximately the case in Britain today). Then suppose that we could reduce the rate by one death per 1,000 births in each social class, yielding two per 1,000 in the highest class and five per 1,000 in the lowest. A cause for rejoicing, certainly—but not from the point of view of equality, for the ratio of deaths in the lowest class to deaths in the highest class would widen from 6:3 to 5:2—that is, from 2.0 to 2.5. Surely, however, only a latter-day Lenin would reject such an improvement because it increased inequality. Similarly, an increase in the infant-mortality rate of the highest social class, to six per 1,000, would represent an advance to complete equality; but again, no one but a Lenin would wish it. . . .
The easiest way to improve inequality is to drag the top down but that would make things worse for those people without doing anything at all to improve matters for those at the bottom.
A wide gap between rich and poor might increase envy from those at the bottom but the real problem isn’t how much those at the top have. It’s that those at the bottom don’t have enough, although how much is enough is open to debate.
Helping those in greatest need get enough ought to be the goal even though that might not close the gap between them and those who are better off.