Equality, equity and reciprocity

I take issue with the topic of one of the latest series in the Psychology Today website: "Class Divide: Is It Fair to Hate the Rich?"

It is the question itself that doesn't seem to be fair. "Hate" is such a strong word. To hate some people just because they are rich is, of course, not fair. That was certainly not my position when I challenged, in the blog entry yesterday, the statement made by the would-be candidate of the upcoming “election” of the chief executive of Hong Kong. In his book called The Fair Society, Peter Corning contends that a viable "social contract" requires us to take into account and balance three distinct fairness claims: "equality" with respect to our basic biological needs, “equity”, which involves providing adequate rewards for merit (though not all claims for merit are valid!), and "reciprocity", which means paying a fair share to support our society in return for the benefits we receive. In many cases, especially in societies like Hong Kong and China, the problem with the rich and powerful is that they uphold the principle of “equity” at the expense of “equality” and “reciprocity”. What is clear about the statement “Let the underprivileged practically feel the warmth brought forth by the economic development” quoted yesterday is that there is not a hint of intention or commitment on the part of the rich and powerful to bridge the gap between themselves and the poor and to pay back to the Hong Kong society in return for the benefits they have reaped, quite often by unfair means. One example of how they do so is shown in the following photo published in a local newspaper recently:

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