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Gareth Dale

A widely-held view on the relationship between poverty and inequality is that there isn’t one. Welfare, in this optic, is determined by economic growth, not distribution. How the poor fare has nothing to do with how well-heeled are the rich. What matters is not the pie’s ingredients or how it is carved up, but the fact that tomorrow’s delivery is bigger than today’s. This chapter discusses four aspects of the ‘rising tide’ image. Three are attributes of the metaphor itself: it envisages ‘the economy’ as, like the sea, a law-governed natural phenomenon; it moves (or rises) as a whole and in a manner that is perceptible and measurable; and all human livelihoods rest on a single socio-economic basis, much as vessels on the ocean. The fourth pertains to the conjuncture in which the aphorism first gained popularity: in a speech by John F. Kennedy in which he laid out his Smithian-Keynesian version of the growth paradigm.