What is wrong with inequality?

Seriously, what is wrong with it?

Let me give an example.  Say an island exists that has 10 millionaires living there.  They have exactly one million in total worth.  There is no inequality.  One day, Bill Gates moves in, with his $60 billion + fortune.  Inequality has just skyrocketed, Gate’s has 67 000x the wealth of the anyone else.  And this has hurt everyone how?

Inequality isn’t a problem unless you have an issue with envy, and then the problem isn’t inequality, it’s because you’re petty and spiteful.  What is actually the problem when most people think of inequality is in fact poverty.  Inequality doesn’t equal poverty, as I’ve explained above.  In a more real world example, Britain has become a home to numerous ex-pat billionaire Russians, but that doesn’t make us poorer, it benefits us all as they spend their rubles in Britain rather than abroad.

And when I say poverty, I mean absolute poverty.  That is to say, you struggle or are unable to afford the basic necessities to survive.  What you will tend to here so many whining Guardianistas complain about is in fact relative poverty, which is actually just inequality. 

Inequality isn’t a problem in itself.  It is actually natural, because people are, despite the protestations of some, naturally unequal.  I will never be a professional footballer in spite of any effort I make (I don’t) because I’m asthmatic and have the co-ordination of Steven Hawkings on a heavy LSD trip.  Thus, from this unequal start, unequal ends come about.  But that’s fine, I accept that.  I am good enough at other things that I can get by, providing no one prevents me directly.

And it’s not just in skills either.  Genuine effort come into play.  I simply don’t want to work an 80 hour week, I’m happy at 35 hours.  But if I want to get to the top of an organisation that pays fortunes, I would have to make the effort and give up me free time to make it.  I would have to trade the time I have with my family and friends for study, work, schmoozing people I loathe etc. and I’m just not prepared to do it.  Some people are, and they are rewarded financially for it.  Me, I’m happy with the rewards of being happy, sane and hopefully un-divorced.

You can’t eliminate this inequality of skills or ambition.  You can’t forcibly give everyone the same abilities.  Accept it, move on, realise that what you want to give everyone is not equality but aspiration, eduction and a path cleared of interfering assholes whose aim in life is keep you from trying to better yourself.  That way there is nothing but your own choices and dumb luck between you and success.


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