Home > News and politics > Inequality: Ain’t it Great?

Inequality: Ain’t it Great?

01-Aug-07 08:28 pm EST Leave a comment Go to comments

We all like to think we live in a society that celebrates equality – equal rights; my rights end where yours begin, etc.  It isn’t perfect, of course.  But – on the whole – when it comes to basic rights, treatment by our government, and on matters of public policy we all expect to be treated fairly and with a minimum of bias, all things being equal.  But a few take that a little further….some so far as to suggest that economic equality is also somehow desireable.  That it’s undesirable to have economic inequality in our society – as was tonight’s re-gurgitated diatribe by CBC’s Avi Lewis (during a re-run of his "On the Map" program).

Avi is a pompous, granola-crunching left-ey; a dillitante academic and armchair social engineer whose achivements in journalism roughly paralell the visibility of his own bloated ego, so far as I can tell.  In another life – say in a paralell universe where instead of the "who-ya-know" reality that governs true success, we find a meritocracy – Avi is a malcontent who stalks G8 meetings amidst a throng of idealistic university students, anarchists and sociopaths who get off on inciting riots.  There is scarcely another face that darkens ones television screen with more cynicism or greater number of snide remarks with such unrelenting volume, and he should be sent packing along with the idiot that produces his rubbish on CBC’s news channel – both to be replaced with more intellectually stimulating and socially-relevant entertainment like "Get Smart" or maybe "Crusty the Clown".

Like any typical aspiring pompous academic, Avi holds the view that everyone should be equal in all respects.  Although this might be an easier model to memorize and apply rules to, it does not reflect the true dynamic of human society, left to its own devices.  Nor is it desirable.  Guest after guest kept re-using the word "inequality" during the segment (in talking about the growing gap between rich and poor in China), but not one commented on why this was a bad thing.  The tacit assumption was that there was a serious problem with this.

In the end – nobody wants economic equality.  If we did – we’d be saying that we’d want everyone to be only so rich, and no rich just as much as we’d be saying poor and no poorer.  We’d all be equally wealthy – and completely unable to advance our fortunes.  Regardless of the fact that many of us might actually be financially better off in such a system to start with, isn’t to say it would make us any happier.  And, of course, we only need to look to why the Chineese have rejected this system (called "Communism" or "applied communism", and the reasons are many) and count those reasons to quickly realize economic equality is a terrible idea.

What is important, of course, is equal opportunity.  As with the concept of equal legal rights, equal commercial opportunity (or a "level playing field" as it might be called) is key to assuring that when inequality occurs, it’s as close to being rationalized by merit as possible.

Would I assert we have that system now?  By no means.  But it is somthing to strive for.  And if China’s own inequality is increasing – it’s important that everyone in their society understand why and accept the rationale for it lest they find a lot of people like Avi suddenly clamouring for another communist revolution.

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Terry Glavin

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