Why I don’t value equality

Today I read a post by a earnest young man over at Fist Full Of Euros talking about why he values equality in a form of a self interview. Since I am an equally earnest young man, I decided to explain why I don’t value equality.

What can you possible have against equality?

The only time people will be completely equal is in death. Trying to make people more equal is trying to make life more like death. I have this thing against death.

Surly that is extreme?

Not really. Death is static. Life is dynamic. If you look at the most equal countries in the world, they are also the most static. For example, Japan is one of the most equal countries in the world, but it is also one of the most ethnically homogeneous and the pressure to conform to the prevailing norms is enormous.

And that is the general rule around the world. The more equal countries are, the more ethnically homogeneous and the less social freedom they have.

But American has less social mobility then almost all other first world countries. How does that fit with your idea that less equality societies are more dynamic?

That is a misleading comparison. You can not fairly compare a large ethnically diverse country with smaller more ethnically homogeneous ones. If you compared the US with the EU as a whole, America would come out on top in terms of social mobility. And if you compared the experiences of immigrants with similar culture and educational backgrounds, you would find that they find it easier to make their way in the US.

For example, a lot of people who are born and raised in Montana want to stay in Montana. They may have great social mobility within Montana. But they will never have that great of social mobility visa the nation as whole unless they are willing to run off to wherever the latest boom is located. In a large country, you just have a greater disparity in cost of living and current economic conditions then you do in a smaller country.

But what could possible be wrong with trying to make it so that everyone has equality of opportunity?

In order for equality of opportunity to be sustainable, you have to have equality of responsibility. And I don’t want equality of responsibility. Among other things, equality of responsibility requires a that you make everyone serve time in the armed forces.

Along similar lines, you have to make sure that children have equally responsible parents. That means you have to take away the ability of parents to make choices about how they raise their children otherwise you will have differences in opportunity.

Those are only some of the reasons I think it is bad to strive for equality of opportunity.

4 Responses to “Why I don’t value equality”

  1. cammy says:

    Nice thought provoking reply to what was an originally very good post by the fistful. I’m not sure social mobility across Europe can be equated to the US. Although I agree its a little bit fairer of a comparison than treating each country individually versus the US. Language barriers and educational qualification differences make cross border international integration difficult in Europe. Cross border upward social mobility requires both these key elements in spades.

    Equality of opportunity should be like a menu in a nice restaurant…Everyone should be able to book a table but you don’t need to take everything on the menu but everyone should have enough for 3 courses and coffee :o)

    Some of the most balanced and personable people I’ve spent time with have been American’s who have spent a good deal of time in Europe and who have made a reasonable attempt at integration. I think that shows me that somewhere in the middle is the Utopia…sadly not Iceland though….

    All the best

  2. ape man says:

    To be honest, I do not believe most of the things that I argued in the above post. Truth be told, I would never seriously argue about equality at all. I only wrote the post for the fun of playing devil’s advocate.

    To me it is absurd to talk about equality because equality means different things to different people. You can not determine what is equal to what until you first determine what the value of things are. The thing that bothers me about people who talk about “equality” generally and Charlie Whitaker post in particular is that they don’t even recognizes the assumptions about values that they make in order to determine what is equal and what is not.

    For example, people like Charlie Whitaker typically look at income as being the primary measure of how “equal” a country is. By his measure, I am one of the people in America who suffer from its great inequality. I am an uneducated blue collar male who works in the trades. Yet I feel that a lot of people who make double or triple what I make are far worse off then I am.

    For example, if I really wanted to, I could almost certainly get a job in New York City that pays double what I am making right now. And I might even be able to do better then that.

    But from my perspective, such a move would be huge lowering of my living standards. Here I can buy decent house and some land on what I make. In New York City I could make triple what I make and still only be able to rent a small apartment.

    To me, making that trade off is inconceivable. But other people who value whatever it is that people value about New York City might make that trade off in a heart beat.

    Given that people have such wildly different choices based on different values how can you use income to measure equality?

    What is equal to you is not equal to me. That is what tends to turn all arguments about equality into a farce.

  3. ape man says:

    I should add that I agree that it is not any fairer to compare social mobility across the EU to the US as a whole then it is to compare social mobility in the US to Ireland or Sweden.

    I was mostly poking fun at some of the assumptions behind Whitaker’s bland assertion of fact.

  4. […] Today I wrote this in answer to a comment on my post… […]

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