The Fallacy of ‘Economic Equality’
Spreading the wealth evenly isn't just impossible; it's immoral.
October 16, 2009 - 12:04 am
The problem with this plan is that the void has no bottom. Enormous wealth is known to have disappeared in it without a trace, along with many people’s dreams, aspirations, and entire lives. And even if it could be filled, against all laws of nature and economics, what kind of monsters do we expect to enjoy walking over this smoldering mass grave and be happy on the other side of it? What does it say about the moral character of the champions of this plan?
A complete economic equality is unattainable. Since all of us have different talents, experiences, knowledge, skills, ambitions, and physical characteristics, the only way to make us equal is to bring us down to the lowest common denominator. Besides the fact that it would make everyone unhappy, jealous, hateful, irritated, and suspicious of each other’s motives and achievements, it is also humanly impossible to enforce. If that were to happen, musicians would need to have their fingers broken to compensate the non-musicians. Alternatively we could issue government quotas for the tone-deaf minority to be included in all musical performances, while forcing all the others to appreciate their tunes under the threat of punishment. Or we could simply ban music.
If some people had wings and others didn’t, and the government wanted to enforce “fairness,” soon no one would have wings. Because wings cannot be redistributed, they can only be broken. Likewise, a government edict cannot make people smarter or more capable, but it can impede the growth of those with the potential. Wouldn’t it be fair if, in the name of equality, we scar the beautiful, cripple the athletes, lobotomize the scientists, blind the artists, and sever the hands of the musicians? Why not?
Back in 1883, a Yale professor, William Graham Sumner, brilliantly addressed these issues by explaining why the real progress of civilization is attained, not by redistributing wealth, but by expanding economic opportunities and ensuring people’s liberty to earn their own wealth. And since some will always profit eagerly from the opportunities while others will neglect them altogether, the greater the freedom and opportunity in a society, the more economically unequal the citizens will become. “So it ought to be, in all justice and right reason,” said Sumner.
“The yearning after equality is the offspring of envy and covetousness,” Sumner wrote in his book What Social Classes Owe to Each Other. “And there is no possible plan for satisfying that yearning which can do aught else than rob A to give to B; consequently all such plans nourish some of the meanest vices of human nature, waste capital, and overthrow civilization. But if we can expand the chances we can count on a general and steady growth of civilization and advancement of society by and through its best members. In the prosecution of these chances we all owe to each other good-will, mutual respect, and mutual guarantees of liberty and security. Beyond this nothing can be affirmed as a duty of one group to another in a free state.”
Already back then, Sumner’s views were opposed by the self-described “progressives.” Today, almost 130 years later, their spiritual heirs have finally gained enough power and moral authority to remake the nation and to slice and distribute the stolen American pie to collectivist pressure groups.
Ironically, they couldn’t have done it without all the real progress America has achieved despite their efforts. And, as the campaigners for economic equality are dismantling civilization, wasting capital, and regressing to the archaic tribal mentality, they insist on calling it “progress.”
They also insist that they are doing it “for the children,” which is going to be the subject of the next chapter.
Coming soon: “Joyriding the Gravy Train of Economic Inequality.”