John Rawls in his book A Theory of Justice suggests that we should choose principles of justice by imagining that we should choose those principles behind what he calls a “veil of ignorance,” which allows us to have general knowledge about history and what not, but not particular facts about ourselves. Under those conditions, we wouldn’t choose to favor whites over blacks and other groups because we wouldn’t know in advance which race we were. Ditto for gender, sexual orientation, religion, and other non-economic factors. All of this is straightforward, but when it comes to the rich and the poor, he changes direction. The obvious solution is to prohibit all differences in wealth, but he refuses to go in that direction, which of course is to his credit. He instead allows differences, so long as they are to the benefit of the least advantaged people in society. In other words, he still allows for redistributions, but avoids having the most dire kind.
Is this what actual poor people want, however? Lots of poor people want to be rich. And as I argued in my own book on the poor (pp. 208-210), what the poor want and need are jobs and not handouts (which often never reach them anyway). Now someone else, Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, is saying the same thing (though adding lots of other points about housing, taxes, etc.). See here. The idea that redistributions are what the poor want and need is what I have called Rich People’s Leftism, which springs from the guilty feelings some rich people have over their wealth. But redistributions don’t work very well, while job creation helps a lot.
I also point out (pp. 180-183) that Rawls, like nearly all leftist professors, did nothing about the maldistribution of wealth in academia, especially among tenured professors and lowly adjuncts. That alone should be enough to discredit his ideas, but the more basic idea I and Gobry advocate is that the poor don’t necessarily agree with the wealthy liberals and leftists about what the poor want and need.