In search of the econimic equality and why protectionism is bad.
Economic equality is such a sensitive topic, that is close to so many people’s hearts that even the most rational person is not immune to the emotions that come with such discussions. But the reality is that economic equality is not unidimensional, if you move towards economic equality, you are actually moving away from something. The fact that economic equality looks egalitarian on paper and the something you are moving away from isn’t visible makes matters much worse. Here is a case against economic inequality.
- Its discrimination against the rich : As laughable as it might sound, its easy to forget that when you are taking about classes such as the rich and the poor, you are actually talking about people. And secondly not all rich people are rich because they robbed the poor, some might have actually made it because they worked hard, not only enriching themselves and their families, but in all posibility others around them. So, is it fair to actually support a form of discrimination against a section of people, in the name of fairness and egalitarianess?
- Are there really no class divides ? : Its easy to say that class divisions are removed when economic equality is ensured, but is that really true? On deeper introspection that theory doesn’t hold good. If you mandate equal sharing of wealth (by communes and other socialistic practices), then aren’t the slackers getting a free ride? The slackers are getting more in return for less work, even though their work doesn’t carry as much value as your regular busy body, it carries more value in the arithmetic sense because, you get as much as the busy body next to you for working lesser . Isn’t that some form of opression against the busy bodies? Wouldn’t that breed discontent which elimination of class-divides hopes to achieve? And secondly wouldn’t that be an incentive for less work, rather than more? Is that really the correct way to move towards prosperity?
- External factors : Assume the commune or the socialistic government provides housing for people in an area. Then they build a school somewhere near that area. Even though each housing unit started off with equal value, the ones near the school are more valuble than the ones farther away. People would want their homes to be nearer to schools and thus demand for homes near schools increases. And inspite of no fault of theirs, people whose houses were farther got off with the bad deal. Luck plays as much a role in centrally planned economies as much their capitalistic counterparts.
Economic equality might be a nice goal to strive for, but its far from practical in the real world. Theory works nice in theory, but in practice it often fails. Yet, the left in india and elsewhere seem to be harping on this absurd vilification of “greed” which drives a capitalistic economy and talk about this equally absurd ideal of “economic equality”. And yet no one has called their bluff? Sad, really sad.
Again, replace “economic equality” with “social equality” you would get my argument against reservations too. protectionism, economic or social doesn’t help. Neither does cultural protectionism. A good example that I recently found out was in the case of airtel super singer, a tamil equivalent for American Idol. A friend actually refused to vote for a better singer simply because he did not share his ethinicity inspite of the obvious fact, which he acknowldged openly, that person he refused to vote for was a better singer.
If all decisions here are based on ethinicity,not only does it impoverish the person culturally by refusing him cultural experiences which it might have provided if he had won the popular vote, but also all members of his own ethinicity who just lost an interesting oppurtunity to enrich their own culture with a whiff of novelty and spice introduced by the other culture. Sadly, protectionism cuts bothways and cuts pretty deeply. When will we ever learn!