The Rule of Equity, or how the world would be different if equity and justice prevailed.

In medieval England, a person who felt the courts of law issued a judgment that was unfair could appeal to the King. Because he was responsible for the just treatment of his subjects, the King could overrule or modify the courts. He delegated this to the Chancery. There arose a distinction between legal and equitable branches of laws and remedies. Later, these were merged, so that courts today are supposed to apply both law and equity. 

 

But equity and justice have broader connotations than resolution of private disputes. Terms such as social justice, economic justice, and environmental justice seek to describe broader measures of the fairness of society. 

Income and wealth inequality is a characteristic of all human societies, except posssibly for some relatively small and primitive social groups. It's an inevitable by-product of human diversity. Some people don't care as much about wealth as others; some have more ability to produce things others want; some work more hours, or get more education, or figure out how to use whatever system they're living under to accumulate more wealth. 

 

President Obama believes "a dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility" is the "defining challenge of our time." Here is how he explained the situation in December, 2013:

 

Since 1979, our economy has more than doubled in size, but most of that growth has flowed to a fortunate few.  
The top 10 percent no longer takes in one-third of our income -- it now takes half.  Whereas in the past, the average CEO made about 20 to 30 times the income of the average worker, today’s CEO now makes 273 times more.  And meanwhile, a family in the top 1 percent has a net worth 288 times higher than the typical family, which is a record for this country.
 
So the basic bargain at the heart of our economy has frayed.  In fact, this trend towards growing inequality is not unique to America’s market economy.  Across the developed world, inequality has increased.  
 
But this increasing inequality is most pronounced in our country, and it challenges the very essence of who we are as a people.
As Lincoln once said, “While we do not propose any war upon capital, we do wish to allow the humblest man an equal chance to get rich with everybody else.”

 

Since he has been President, however, poverty, inequality, and debt have all risen dramatically. There is no reason to believe a continuation of his policies will change that. If anything, his policies continue to increase inequality. 

Most Americans have an idealistic view about wealth. They aspire to earn more for themselves, and they want everyone else to be prosperous as well. This graph depicts the contrast between what Americans think the distribution of wealth is, what they would like it to be, and what it actually is.