A man and a woman are on a date at a restaurant
W: “So, do you want to have kids?
M: “Yeah. But I don’t want them to be better than anyone else or have any more opportunities than anyone else.”
W: “Do you mind if I go use the restroom?”
M: “Sure! Go ahead.”
Woman proceeds to exit through bathroom window
When I was in high school and would get a bad grade on a test, I would often justify it to my parents by pointing out that the class average was around what I got on my test (when that was the case). My parents, however, didn’t care. They didn’t care about how well I did or how equal I was compared to the other people in my class; they just wanted me to do well on the test, objectively speaking. If everyone in my class failed the test, my parents wanted me to be the one kid who not only passed the test, but aced the test. Being equal to the other children is not only something my parents did not care about, it isn’t something they wanted for me. No good parent does for his or her children.
My parents were not content with, nor did they want me to be content with being equal to everyone else. They didn’t want me to be equally as good as the other players on my hockey and basketball teams. They didn’t want me to do as well as the other kids in school. They didn’t want me having the same opportunities as everyone else. They wanted me to be unequal. For that, I couldn’t be more grateful.
What kind of parent wants anything but the best for their children? What kind of brother wants anything but the best for his sister? What kind of friend wants anything but the best for his friend? No one wants their child to be an average player on a sports team; they want their kid to be the MVP. It would be silly for the fan of a particular basketball team to ultimately want all the teams in the NBA to be equal. Instead they want their team to be the best, and win the championship.
To be clear, striving to be greater than equal does not mean expecting to be greater than equal, and then being upset at yourself or the people you love for failing to achieve that goal.
Would you want your sister to marry a man who is “equal” in all respects to everyone else? Or would you want your sister to marry a man who is above average, if not a downright exceptional human being? You want her to have the best man possible so that he’ll be able to give her and her future children the best opportunities he can. You don’t want her to have the most equal man possible, only giving her and her children opportunities that are equal to everyone else.
On an individual and nuclear basis, no one wants to be equal. But because virtue signaling has become such a useful tool in acquiring social currency, many people preach that they want everyone in society to be equal without considering themselves and the people they love in the matter.
Society is comprised of individuals. More fundamentally, society begins with the self. It is therefore immoral to demand upon society that which you wouldn’t demand upon yourself. Don’t demand an equal outcome or equal opportunity if you don’t truly want that for yourself and the ones that you love.
If we expand the individual desire be better onto every single individual in society, what we find is that no one outside of an opportunity to signal virtue to others genuinely hopes for an equal society. When asked if the people they love most (including themselves) should be allowed to be greater than equal to the rest of society, any intellectually honest individual will say they absolutely should.
This subconscious drive to be better exists inside every individual and for a good reason. Just like Adam Smith’s invisible hand, a desire for yourself and those with whom you are closest to be on top imperceptibly spurs social and financial progress, technological progress, and innovation. It also benefits society at large.
That is why income inequality is not only one of the most economically and intellectually bankrupt ideas - it’s a morally bankrupt one as well. It is nothing short of selfish and envious to care about how much better people are doing than other people. The emphasis should be on the poor person, not how much more the rich person has than the poor person.
Worrying about the wealth of a person you don’t know on behalf of the wealth of some other person you don’t know does not make you a good person. It also isn’t a viable solution toward an “equal” society. Economics is not zero-sum game in which someone who is rich or wants to be rich can only gain wealth at the expense of someone else losing it.
Whether it’s yourself, your siblings, your parents, your children, your friends, or your community, you want them and yourself to be both relatively and absolutely well off. In other words, you want them to be greater than equal. You want your business to be the best business in the industry. You don’t wish that all the businesses in the industry were equal. You don’t wish your children received test scores that are equal to the all the other students; you want your children acing their tests.
Let’s stop pretending that we genuinely care if everyone is equal, and focus on what we actually desire for those we know and love – being unequal.