Britain is an unequal society. On the central question of what is the right level of equality in society, economists don’t have any special expertise: it’s a matter of values on which people can reasonably differ. But economists can explain why there are extremes in the distribution of wealth and of incomes. And for those (like me) who prefer a more equal distribution and government intervention to secure it, economics can demonstrate at least why that need not detract from efficiency Source: The Times

This kind of thinking befuddles me.

Several years ago I was on a trip in Italy. Having a cup of coffee with a traveling companion triggered a conversation about fairness in income. The other fellow thought along the same lines as the above commentator. He clearly stated that everyone should earn the same. I was so shocked I was speechless (imagine that?). Given this man was a small business owner the conversation ended in silence after I asked him if he was willing to reduce his income to the new average goal.

Our obsession with inequality is misguided. There has always been and always will be inequality because there is no equality among human beings in talent, skill, drive, ambition, decision-making, risk tolerance and simply intelligence. Our equality goals should not be focused on income or wealth, but on education, skill training opportunity, fair access to capital and other factors helping to eliminate barriers to economic advancement. Anything that can work with the human factor.

According to experts 50-60% of wealth is inherited. So what? Somewhere along the line it had to be earned and when it is inherited, it is typically put to work or invested or even a portion used philanthropically . The greater portion of wealth of the wealthiest is in stock, businesses and property subject to growth and decline.

I cannot comprehend the notion of government intervention to secure a more equal distribution of income or wealth. How do we define “more equal?” Who is to be the arbiter of take and give?

If we have goals of making everyone more equal without regard to effort, what does that do to motivate initiative?

I ask the question I have asked before. How does the wealth of the 1% or 10% prevent anyone from taking advantage of their own opportunities? How can reallocated wealth through government be a real fix to anything? By making society more equal are we really saying make half of society more dependent on government programs?


Categories: Government, My Opinion, Politics

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5 replies »

  1. It is important to distinguish between equality, fairness and equity – though the distinction is lost on a lot of folks. Almost all Americans believe in equity – treating similarly situated people the same, differently situated people differently. Only a small percentage believe in “fairness” or “equality for all”.

    Separately, it is important to remember that 90+% of ALL Americans have incomes that place them well into the top 10% of all incomes in the world. And, in case you were wondering, if you have an annual income of $33,000 or more, you are in the top 1% of ALL the world’s population.

    So, when you hear American’s talk about equality, beware.


  2. Speaking of the UK…

    Check out this 19th century quote from Britain’s famous Lord Lytton.

    It is in his novel, Zanoni, which takes place during the French Revolution

    The hero of the novel reveals he does not support the lie of universal equality…
    check out the hero’s [Lord Lytton’s] message:

    French Revolutionist:

    “I comprehend you; you will not allow the law of universal equality!”


    “Law! If the whole world conspired to enforce the falsehood they could not make it LAW.

    Level all conditions today, and you only smooth away all obstacles to tyranny tomorrow.

    A nation that aspires to EQUALITY is unfit for FREEDOM ! ”



    • “A nation that aspires to EQUALITY is unfit for FREEDOM ! ”.

      I never thought of this in these terms. The more you think about it the more you realize that in order to reach EQUALITY you must CONFORM to having the same thing that everybody else has and nothing more. Thus you must give up your FREEDOM for CONFORMITY in order to be EQUAL with others. You no longer get the FREEDOM of choice to do what you want or what to own, you must be EQUAL. You no longer try to keep up with the Jones, you are the Jones and so is everybody else so why try?


      • In other words, Communism, where everyone is equal…
        equally enslaved and equally deprived. That is, except
        for the elite in the Politburo. George Orwell warned us,
        “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal
        than others.” [Orwell’s “Animal Farm”]


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