Whenever I hear politicians or social theorists decry income inequality, I always want to ask them how they think “income equality” could be achieved. As far as I can see, the only way to accomplish such a thing would be for the government to confiscate 100% of everything that everyone earns, and then write a check for an identical amount to every citizen. Not even the most left-wing politicians would be reckless enough to advocate that publicly, so they cook up alternate schemes to accomplish the same thing without resorting to such drastic measures as cold-turkey collectivization.
Progressive taxation is their favorite ploy, mostly because it’s so popular with people in lower tax brackets, and even more popular among people who don’t pay taxes at all. (Incidentally, progressive taxation is also completely unconstitutional, since it violates the guarantee of equal protection of the law, but that’s a subject for another column.) The money thus taken from higher earners can then be distributed to lower earners and non-earners through a mind-boggling array of income transfer programs. Although these schemes have proven depressingly effective at vote buying, they have utterly failed at the goal of eradicating “income inequality.” Continue reading
Last time, I argued that equality under the law is the only equality that is worth having. Without it, the rights of a privileged few are safe — at least as long as they’re able to hang onto their privileged status — but everyone else’s rights can be trampled underfoot any time the folks in power find it to their advantage to do so. That’s one reason why countries that lack equal protection of the law are such hellholes, and why their primary export tends to be their own people, who flee them in droves and head for places like the United States, which they see as the land of opportunity.
Any other type of equality, however, is overrated at best, and at worst it’s downright dangerous. The reason is that when we make a fetish of equality, and consider it an unalloyed good, then we come to view inequality as an unalloyed evil. “Inequality” becomes synonymous in our minds with “injustice.”
But let’s be honest: “Inequality” is just another word for “difference.” Notice how when you call it a “difference,” its nefarious connotations vanish into thin air? Continue reading
This is the first of what will be a series of columns on the subject of equality. I’ll begin by stating the obvious: that the concept of equality is extremely popular. Take an informal poll – call a dozen random names from the phone book, or stop a dozen folks on the street, and ask them whether equality is a good thing – and the odds are good that all of them will answer in the affirmative. Some will even question your sanity for having raised the question in the first place.
Equality is so universally popular that saying unkind things about it is tantamount to heresy. But I’ll be committing many acts of heresy in this series, because the truth is that I consider equality to be overrated. There are many reasons, some of which will be the topics of future installments, but chief among them is the fact that I love liberty. And in general, the more liberty there is, the less equality there will be. You can have one or the other, but not both. Continue reading