We tend to think most about what we think best, and this is why so many people love to think in terms of things that are easily quantified. The mind can wrap itself around such things pretty comfortably.
I think this is why when people think about economies, distribution is thought of in terms of material possessions. Material possessions is certainly important, but it is not the only thing at stake in an economy. Another important consideration of distribution that is rarely discussed is personal choice. Really, who would dispute the claim that power is one of the primary “goods” distributed by an economy?
If you look at things in terms of possessions, the problem of poverty appears relatively small. Most Americans are doing very well, even if some have much less than others.
But if you look at distribution in terms of personal choice — how much control people have over how they spend their time — this is where you see extreme imbalances. This is not a matter of quantities of leisure time. It has to do with meaning each person derives from activities, and the control a person has over the decision of which activities to perform. A person who spends 80 hours a week doing something he loves is far freer than a person who
This is the best reason why left-leaners should harp on economic equality: without it, freedom is a mere political theory, not a reality.