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Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The Equality Fallacy

I saw something recently, though I cannot give you chapter and verse, which rehearsed unthinkingly the idea that our problem was not so much with poverty as with “inequality”.

I have addressed this issue before. Christopher Snowdon demolished Wilson and Picket, authors of a dreary pamphlet about inequality of income and its allegedly pernicious effects. Snowdon does a good and necessary job. I, on the other hand (not being a statistician, as he is), take a different point of view. I take a moral point of view. I am a moralist and I hope you are too. What society can survive unless its members take morality seriously? There are moral giants: St Paul, St Augustine, St Thomas Aquinas, C S Lewis, for example. [BTW, I did try to think of a moral giant outside the Judaeo-Christian tradition; only Ghandi presented himself and I decided against him.] I am not one of them; nor do I even hope to encounter one among my readers.

Inequality is a fact of life. I am taller than most other worshippers at the 11:30 Mass at St Ann’s every Sunday. My niece is more beautiful than your niece. Profound apologies for these inequalities.

Many of my schoolmates have been more successful economically (and in other terms) than I. One is a Knight of the Realm. Another has been President of the Bar. Another is a professor at Oxford. Facts of life. These three certainly worked harder than me and were probably better endowed in the nous department.

The players in all divisions below the Premiership are not as good at playing football as the guys at Arsenal, Chelsea, Man U, etc.

Where is the breast beating over these facts of life?

Some people are better at making money than others. I am not talking about those who are better at gaming the system but those whose abilities and hard work have resulted in substantial (perhaps spectacular) financial rewards. Suddenly, the breast beating becomes deafening. There is no reason why this should be. It is simply a fact of life. Bill Gates is smarter and harder working than me (and you).

Bizarrely, this last group are the only ones that the egalitarians go after. Nobody supposes that Rio Ferdinand should be mutilated or prevented from training because he is so good at kicking a ball.

The egalitarians do propose that we should artificially, by means of the tax system, cut the money makers down to size.

Egalitarian-in-Chief, Barak Hussein Obama, wants to enforce high tax rates on “millionaires and billionaires” in the name of “fairness”, regardless of whether it would result in more tax revenue. He expresses contempt for the “millionaires and billionaires”, asserting that “you did not build that”. We could turn his argument against him: but for the corrupt Chicago machine, you would not even be an Illinois Senator. Cheap. We don’t need to. America’s entrepreneurs of “the golden age” succeeded in spite of government corruption. They helped to build the infrastructure which BHO claims is the exclusive gift of government.

He is not only the worst US president ever (in practical economic terms), but morally deficient. Regrettably, he is not alone.

Curiously enough, being a crappy (the crappiest ever) president in practical economic terms, chimes well with being (in the “progressive” tradition) the saboteur of moral values among those whose well-being most demands a return to America’s core values, thrift, hard work and honesty.

Last word: Charles Murray, who deserves a place in my list of heroes, issues a heart-felt plea to educated, upper-class Americans: Preach what you practice! These people marry, worship and defer gratification. They succeed; they enjoy “earned success” and yet so many of them vote Democrat.

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