The Galtists tend to end up in long arguments with their opposites: the Rawlsian liberals who believe life is luck, and so too with the bulk of achievement. Impressive as a corporate titan may appear, his success is truly testament to a thousand variables far outside his control. Good genes and attentive parents and a smart peer group and a legacy admission to Yale and perfect timing and much else. We live in a world, in other words, where great luck ensures great rewards, and it is the job of public policy to smooth out the jagged edges of fate.
Into this debate step Gar Alperovitz and Lew Daly, whose recently published book Unjust Deserts proposes a new way of looking at great wealth. It is not the primary product of luck, they say, nor is it the child of skill. Rather, it is society that allows individuals to achieve great things and earn such magnificent rewards.