MORE EQUALITY by Herbert J. Gans


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In a postscript to this well-intentioned book, Gans, the famous sociologist, thinks he may have been too optimistic about his claim that ""greater equality"" -- less economic inequality -- is not only desirable but imminent. He needn't doubt his feeling that pressure will mount for income redistribution, but he might have pursued his mistrust of the populist forms the pressure may take. What he hasn't followed through sufficiently, however, are the implications of the redistributive idea. Drawing lots for heart transplants? Disputing whether a low-wage industry should stay North or move South? Gans seems to think it impossible to expand the real wealth of America, much less the rest of the world, which he ignores. More appealing, but scarcely more rigorous, is his attack on genetic explanations of poverty. Gans' best points are perhaps his most pessimistic ones -- Americans, he notes, tend to be privatistic, individualistic, ""not really used to resolving distributive questions or living with political conflict."" The book is based on earlier essays and at times seems painfully out of date. He expresses a vague wish for ""senators"" who would ""speak for"" the poor, but remains without hope that the poor will stop being poor. The sad thing about the book is the way Gans tries to be invulnerably moderate and ""practical,"" and ends up nowhere. . . except to make a reader run for the better-written, and no less practical, writings of an egalitarian maniac like Bernard Shaw.

Pub Date: Nov. 5th, 1973
Publisher: Pantheon