The Fallacy of Equality

What is equality? What does it really mean to you? Does equality really mean that all people should receive all things the same? A recent article in the New York Times had me stop just a few sentences into reading “The Limping Middle Class“. What stopped me (emphasis added):

THE 5 percent of Americans with the highest incomes now account for 37 percent of all consumer purchases, according to the latest research from Moody’s Analytics. That should come as no surprise. Our society has become more and more unequal.

My gut reaction was outrage at such a ridiculous statement. Income inequality does not make a society more unequal. Equality is purely based upon opportunity, not the final result!

I cooled down and thought that perhaps I need to continue reading. Perhaps this was the author’s goal was to get guys like me riled up. That wasn’t the case… A gem just a couple of paragraphs later:

The economy won’t really bounce back until America’s surge toward inequality is reversed.

This article really had me reflecting on all the posts I’ve seen on Twitter, Facebook, and the comments I hear from people now and again about the inequality of earnings of those at the top and the “working class”. I’m not going to argue that executive pay is too high or too low. That’s a whole separate conversation. What I am going to say is that differences in income and purchasing power has no bearing on equality.

Somehow, people have become convinced that equality should mean equality in income, pay, and benefits rather than opportunity. “All men are born equal” does not mean all men are born to receive equal pay. It means that all men are born to receive equal opportunity. It is what one does with those opportunities that will dictate income, pay, benefits, etc.

If someone doesn’t study in school and fails tests, should they receive the same grade as someone who passes all the tests with perfect scores? Of course not.

If someone chooses to work in an industry where demand for their product or services is lower than another industry, should they receive the same wages as someone who works in an industry where demand is ten times as high and requires much more educated labor to develop the product? Of course not.

Now, the article in the NYT is mostly focused on the ultra-elite executive level earners vs. the dwindling middle class. What’s interesting about the article is that the author offers up the following suggestion:

We could have raised taxes on the rich and cut them for poorer Americans.

A more logical alternative would have been to have said we should cut taxes on the middle class. One glance at our graduated tax brackets in America and you quickly realize that the middle tax brackets are the ones getting the shaft.

I could rant on and on about the rest of the ridiculous statements in the article. If I had a day or two to kill, I would. Instead, I’ll devote my time to the more meaningful cause of empowering those around me to see the opportunities available in front of them so that they can take advantage of the truly equal opportunity country they are blessed to have been born in!

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