Economists have suggested that an economic system can maximize either equity or efficiency, not both. The free market, for example, is hailed (at least in its theoretical ideal) as a model of efficiency. But with its inevitable winners and losers--losers who may through no fault of their own find themselves homeless or starving--the market leaves much to be desired in terms of basic fairness.
Now, another economic dichotomy has become apparent: a split between equality and inclusivity. As the United States has become ever-more inclusive--reducing or eliminating economic barriers to women, ethnic minorities, and gays--the country has at the same time become ever more unequal ("The Paradox of the New Elite"). Makes sense: As barriers to entry based on outmoded prejudices fall, the pool of prospective economic successes grows. At the same time, there are only so many spaces at the top of the financial food chain, and more spaces don't appear simply because there are more and more qualified people to fill them. Thus, those not in the top spots, comprising, let's say, 99% of the population, are an ever-more diverse lot.
Welcome news in its own way to be sure. If the various "Occupy" movements around the country succeed in bringing about a bit more economic equality, though, we must make sure that such wealth-sharing does not come at the expense of this hard-won social inclusivity.