There are two kinds of equality – formal equality and substantive equality. Formal equality means that everyone has the right to take part in the race. Nobody can be denied the right to participate based on arbitrary factors like the colour of their eyes. Everyone has the right to present themselves at the starting line, and when the gun goes off it’s each man for himself and may the fastest runner win the race. Substantive equality means that everyone has an equal chance of winning the race, meaning that those who are slow runners should be given a head start – they will obviously need more time than the faster runners, so it’s only fair that they should be allowed to start running before the gun goes off. Alternatively, they could run a shorter race, by being allowed to start at some point halfway down the track rather than join everyone else at the starting line.
Many people today assume that life is ideally supposed to be fair, so they take it as self-evident that others must be forced by law to provide various things from within their own resources, in order to make everything fair. In other words, everyone has to share nicely even if they don't want to. Just like we learned in kindergarten, except this time there is the force of law behind it. The assumption is that the pursuit of fairness justifies legal interventions that redistribute wealth, even when that entails an encroachment upon liberty. 'Because fairness!' is the modern rallying cry behind every legal intervention. This is particularly so in the world of work. We expect employers to be fair to workers and we expect all workers to be treated equally, because that way it's fair. Ultimately everyone should end up with more or less equal amounts of wealth, so that it's fair. The desire to achieve a moral ideal in society is certainly compelling. Most people would like to expend their efforts making the world a better place. The only problem is: Other People. When other people don't agree with your vision of the good life, coercion by force of law becomes necessary.
There are many reasons why foreign aid and handouts do not succeed in lifting anybody out of poverty, but one of the main reasons is that progress requires effort. Sadly, there is no effort involved in being the recipient of a handout.
The idea behind trickle-down economics is that wealth gradually percolates through the various layers of society and eventually everyone will be better off. There are three problems with this theory. First, trickles are far too slow and inadequate. Nobody wants a poxy trickle of wealth filtering through to them in the cheap seats down below, drop by drop. "Thanks for that trickle!" are the words they will never cry. A waterfall, fast and furious, and very quick, would be more acceptable. A better and faster way to spread the wealth around is by use of one strong sharp attack with an effective tax law. That's faster and more satisfying than waiting for scraps to fall down from the rich man's table.
The world looks like a rational place, everything functioning according to immutable universal principles, economies growing and people thriving as they experience lives of increasing abundance…until you bring in the twin notions of Justice and Equality. That’s where it all begins to unravel.
Poor Thomas Stuart. He must have been suffering from a grave mental affliction. Why else would he try to stand on his own two feet and subsist on his own wages, in conditions where he obviously needed help from public funds in order to attain a higher standard of living? What did he mean by saying 'I always try to do without'? It's very confusing.
Corporations like Uber and Amazon are the byword for innovation and technological advances - the app to connect drivers with passengers, the ability to obtain virtually anything under the sun within minutes, and ultimately, of course, the driverless car. Such corporations do not make it easy to regulate work. It's almost as if they're so busy innovating, and creating opportunities for many workers to earn a wage and hence be less poor, that they haven't taken a moment to spare a thought for the regulatory challenges.
It's very easy to argue that rich people should be made to pay for the stuff other people want, because they're rich and they can afford it. This is usually justified as being necessary for the public good. But what is meant by 'public good': does it include only the weak and the vulnerable, or does it include 'each and every citizen' regardless of their provenance?
Everybody has heard the one about Adam Smith and the selfish baker who, like, wait for it . . . makes people pay before they eat his bread. Money actually changes hands. I know, shocking.
To achieve wealth redistribution, let's start by blasting all the bankers into outer space. What could go wrong? Send up the shareholders too, who needs them. That would rid planet earth of the vast majority of overpaid capitalists, and allow the meek and the poor finally to come into their inheritance.