Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Social Equity

There is a great belief that equity/equality should be further pursued in society. Wether this is equality of outcome or equality of opportunity, is uncertain, but one thing is always true. These folks try to measure equality through either income or wealth per capita (GDP/Pop.) measures. That always seemed like such an inapproporiate presumption - i.e. that we should all have an equal share. Not only does that discount what is put into the equation by particular individuals but it is only a just a measure of equality of outcome, not really an appropriate goal for society in my opinion.

Here is a discussion on "Social Equality"

Why is equality of outcome inappropriate?

The problem, under the present system, is that state intervention in the market promotes artificially high levels of inequality. What we have is a state-enforced transfer of wealth from labor to the owners of capital and land. State intervention, by making land and capital artificially scarce relative to labor, inflates the marginal returns of land and capital and depresses those of labor.

I'm sure there'd still be significant inequality of wealth under individualist anarchism. But without inflated returns to capital and the magic of compound interest, the largest fortune that an individual could accumulate through hard work and entrepreneurial profit would probably max out at around $10-20 million. With free access to vacant land, an end to licensing trades, etc., the threshold of labor necessary for comfortable subsistence would be a lot lower for the poor. And with labor keeping its full product, there'd be a lot more resources for working people to organize social insurance for the handicapped and sick through friendly societies and mutuals (Colin Ward called this "the welfare road not taken).

So while there would still be inequalities caused by differences in ability and energy, there probably wouldn't be either any billionaires or totally destitute people.
If you try to measure wealth per capita and make that equal then anyone who spends all their money on short-term luxuries (massages, fancy dinners) is owed more money next year.
Kevin, great points.

One of the biggest problems, I believe, is higher education.

-State subsidization lowers the cost of higher education to the student.
-Too many people choose to go to college, grad school, etc.
-Many jobs now require college degrees that are really not necessary in order to perform the job
-At the same time, licensing in certain professions requires that individuals jump through the prescribed hoops in order to enter a profession: teaching and the legal profession are the two that jump immediately to my mind.
Kevin, you might like David Beito's book titled, "From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State: Fraternal Societies and Social Services, 1890-1967"
I think all government intervention, distorts the real price of goods and services and so a non-optimal amount of those goods and/or services are then consumed. Higher education is just one example.
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