Sunday, October 11, 2015

Merit or Inherited Wealth Based Opportunity.

I read an article recently on how income inequality wasn't the real issue and that poverty was. I apologize for not having a link. I think I read it in the Huffington Post. I found the article interesting and agreed partially; but, I think it missed the second half of the equation.

Income inequality is not in of itself a bad thing. We should reward people for their contributions and the more you contribute, the more you should benefit. I think all capitalists and socialist would agree with that. It is only Communists that would disagree. Communism claims that we should take from each according to his abilities and give to each according to his needs. It sort of defeats the purpose of putting a lot of effort into anything. Unrestricted capitalism is a sort of everyman for himself philosophy where there is no room for working as a society.

Not very long ago we used to live in a world controlled and owned by kings and queens. It was a horrible world for most people and the monarchies could do whatever they wanted while the rest of the people had no rights and were constructively slaves. In England you could actually kill your wife for adultery and not go to jail; but, if you stole you would be killed. The same was true in many countries and is still true in parts of the Arab world. I guess it is all a matter of priorities. It was also a bigger crime to abuse your animals then your children or wife. In America you could own slaves, rape, beat and kill them and that wasn't that long ago. It was just capitalism at work.

Lets get back to my point. The two problems I see with where we are headed is the creation of extreme poverty which gives the disadvantaged practically no chance at improving their lot based on effort and the second problem is that those with certain advantages are not put under the same rules. The second part has to do with fairness. It is that all men are created equal concept and that everyone should have the right to pursue improving their life, everyone.

Every society decides how opportunities are given out and that aspect is more important than how money is distributed. Not everyone can become a doctor or a lawyer or even a scientist. Who gets to pursue those careers and who gets into college to learn those skills is determined in a limited number of ways. We can distribute those opportunities based on a lottery approach; but, I think that is foolishness. We can distribute it based on who can pay the most or even family lineage; but, that doesn't really serve any societal benefit and doesn't really seem fair or in keeping with our concept of democracy. We can also distribute based on merit. Merit includes more than just scoring high on tests, it would also look at how likely you were to benefit society if you were allowed those opportunities.

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