Unequals Are Not Equal

Politicians, activists, and the media are keen on sloganeering.  Sloganeering is the practice of reducing a movement’s ideology and/or purpose to a bumper-sticker sized slogan.  Whatever the slogan, they are rarely given much thought.  Or maybe they are, but the idea itself is poorly thought out.  With the Occupy movement still wasting ink in newspapers, there is a lot of discussion about income inequality.  Income inequality deals with the “distribution” of income and wealth among economic classes of people.  Those who take up the fight against income inequality fail to take into account a few essential details when thinking about “income distribution”.

First, I’d like to ask someone who has bandied the slogan about, where they got the idea people’s incomes are supposed to be more equal than they are?  It carries the implication that everyone deserves more equal incomes, and that everyone’s contribution to society is relatively equal.  Neither of these are true, or even nearly true.

People are not entitled to financial equality.  Sure, in a utopia it’s the goal.  But when has that worked for anyone but those in charge?  The truth of the matter is contributions made by individuals to society are more or less valuable depending on what it is they produce.  Whether it’s labor or ideas, not all work is equitable.  Some labor is more valuable, some ideas are worth more than others.  Why on Earth would we expect them to be paid the same?

People are equal in nature.  They are valuable for the kind of thing they are — human beings.  No one is arguing that some are better than others as people.  But not everyone holds equal economic value.  Bill Gates is more economically valuable than I am.  Not merely because he has more money.  His ideas are worth more than mine.  The fact is, people are worth what they are willing and able to produce.  The amount of effort put in to producing is irrelevant.  People are paid for results, not effort.  Not everyone produces equal results, so why should we expect them to be compensated equally?

Comments

  1. I agree that all this hatred of the wealthy is just sour grapes. The idea that the rich are rich is no problem at all. what may be a problem is when the rich are rich because their “valuable” ideas are the ideas on how to exploit the gullibility of other people. McDonalds poisons people, credit cards improverish people, television makes people… stupider, for lack of a better word, and even the religious will agree that some clergy just steal peoples’ money to make themselves wealthy while adding no value whatsoever to society. Some anger is justified at those who exploit others for wealth. But I agree that the Occupy movement has too much ‘sour grapes’ and not enough real, justified reform priorities.

  2. The real solution here is a strong social safety net that ensures that people aren’t starving in the streets or dying of cancer for lack of health care. We should prioritize the opportunity for health above the opportunity for wealth. It always boggles my mind when Christians extol the virtues of unlimited freedom for the wealthy and seem to have perfect comfort with someone starving or wasting from disease. Even the laziest, most worthless criminal should have the compassion of fellow humans, especially fellow Christians from what I understand. This opportunity for a social safety net is a by-product of the cutthroat state of nature and unregulated “Wild West” and Industrial “Jungle” the US has grown out of. It won’t work in Uganda or even Mexico overnight, but we in the US should go the way of Europe in reinvesting our 1st-world wealth into a minimum standard of health for all in the US. Then, the wealthy could be celebrated not only for their ideas and hard work, but also for their contribution to the social welfare of fellow citizens.

    • Jason, I am always suspicious of social safety nets. In principle, I am willing to support it. Unfortunately, they are used as a net, then a chair, then a hammock. 99 weeks of unemployment (nearly 2 years!!!) is irresponsible. Some Dems were lobbying to have an additional 13 week extension. Its way out of hand. At some point people need to fend for themselves and be responsible adults who care for their own families. School lunch programs that were once intended to suppliment low income families ahve turned into free lunch for everyone to avoid the stigma of the program. Is that a safety net? What about the free cell phone program? Tax dollars to provide free cell phones to low income families. Is that a safety net?

      The definition of a safety net has expanded to the point were tax dollars are being used, not for aid for people who are needy. They are being used to turn low-income families into middle-class families. That’s wrong.

  3. Oh Jason, so many logic fallacies!
    McDonalds does not poison people. It provides varieties of food, some more nutritious than others, but none poisonous. If people are irresponsible in their eating habits, including being gluttonous, that is not the fault of the food provider. I don’t particularly care for McDonalds fare, but have eaten there hundreds of times over the past 40 years and have never been poisoned.

    Credit cards do not impoverish people. I have used them for 30 years and am not impoverished. They are a valuable tool when used responsibly. DO not blame the card for its misuse. That is like saying guns kill people, or hammers kill people. They are tools to be used responsibly. A credit card no more impoverishes people than a mortgage or car loan.

    Same with television. It is a tool. One can choose what to watch on it; I have never been made stupider by it, but then I don’t fill my head with trash.

    SOME wealthy and SOME “pastors” abuse their positions by conning gullible people, but those are really the exceptions and should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis rather than labeling all rich as evil.

    The opportunity for wealth should never be denied any priority – it is only that opportunity that provides the wherewithal for appropriate healthcare no matter who pays for it. The opportunity for good health care is indeed available to all in various aspects and priorities. For the government to step in and order people to purchase insurance, and then mandate what procedures insurance covers, is beyond the pale of proper ethics. Why should insurance companies be required to insure children up to 26 yrs of age on their parents’ policy? Why should they be required to pay for substance abuse treatment, or birth control, etc?

    I have never known anyone “comfortable” with people “starving or wasting from disease.” Nor have I known anyone who would not work to prevent same. But the government programs have done nothing but make things worse – and yet liberals continue to advocate more government involvement! I do a lot of personal financing of Christian institutions in these areas – institutions who do much good without all the government waste and bureaucracy. Why should more of my money be stolen from the government to provide little benefit – it any – from it?

  4. Well said, JOHN!!!

  5. Cindy Sandifer says:

    idealistically speaking, i understand what jason is saying. i would be wonderful if everyone were taken care of and there were no suffering. corporations should be responsible to provide the consumers with a quality product and not the cheapest thing possible so they can reap the most profits (while giving us a little as possible in return for our hard-earned money).
    realistically speaking, i have known people who, once they receive government aid, gradually become so “paralyzed” that bitterly come to expect others to take care of them.
    this discussion reminds me to the poll john has posted “which philosophy is the most ideal?”
    i used to be so sure that i knew the answer to that question, but i have become so disgusted with politics lately that i can hardly stand to think about it.
    i do not believe in giving unlinmited handouts because that is a disincentive for self-betterment. but i do know that when i was a single mother with an ex who would not pay child support and a teaching job that did not pay enough to spread out over 12 months so i had to take it in 9 months, my small family could not have survived the summer without my tax refund. i lived that way for about 4 years until i got a higher-paying job and later remarried.
    some people who depend on government help do better themselves and move ahead.
    hope y’all don’t mind me butting in! i love to read the discussions between you guys. it really makes me think!

    • Cindy,

      What you did was use the system to help and then got out of it. There are people out there who whould not have looked for the better job, went on and remained on public food, energy, housing, and other cash assistance, and not married knowing the benefits would stop.

      its never butting in when its on topic! Butt away

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