The Intelligent Opposition to Equality

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People with a (relatively) intelligent opposition to equality, and how (not?) to respond.

There is a problem-- I do identify emotionally with the left, even if my very simple economic theory is the most minor logical extension of normal and basically right-wing classical and even neoclassical economics.

If I'm to talk persuasively to all those who place themselves as libertarian and conservative, I need to get out of that headspace a little. It really has nothing to do with the actual economic facts or even much with the moral standpoint.

Here is a post from a Drupal genius and in general a clearly thoughtful person, that makes some assertions which do not align with the world as I observe it:
http://bendiken.net/2008/04/26/zero-sum-delusion

The huge, gaping flaw in Arto et. al.'s argument against all socialist economic theory is their insistence that the capitalist, free market economics they are defending doesn't exist either. (Arto quoting Sechrest: "I for one obviously do not refer to that tortured, disfigured, tormented, twisted gargoyle which usually masquerades as capitalism today.") So why is socialism pie in the sky but your utopian capitalism is real? I think this disgust with capitalism as it exists could be the basis for some terrific common ground with those who feel the same disgust for both capitalism and socialism as it existed, also.

But that's not the direction I should argue, given that my whole approach builds on the same free market theories they love. (As obvious as it is in history that successful economies have significant government intervention, I think there's value still in the model.)

I take the market as a given.

Bendiken approvingly quotes Sechrest quoting Ludwig von Mises:

"everybody's station in life depends on his own doing"

What the hell are these people smoking? Have they looked around at entire continents where the opportunities just suck?

Do the deaths every day of more than 25,000 children under five years old depend on their own doing?

http://www.efluxmedia.com/news_UNICEF_26000_Children_Under_5_Die_Each_Da...

How can anyone honestly believe that severe poverty, malnutrition, and lack of infrastructure give one the same opportunities as a house full of books, good and regular meals, Internet and the keys to your parent's car (or college)? And equally clearly, the differences in people's stations in life differ hugely based on what chances they have even within the same society, in approximately the same geographic distribution, and not just on their own doing.

And even if one's financial gains were entirely of one's own doing, if everyone had an exactly equal shot, all the same rules, no advantages, but those who gained the most still did so by harming others, the environment, and generally often not contributing to society what they managed to extract-- well, wouldn't we still want to change the rules to make private gain concordant with public benefit - the moral justification for markets put forth by Adam Smith more than two centuries ago?

The zero-sum / positive-sum place though is a great way to phrase the debate.

This is in fact what my thesis is supposed to be about. Equality not for reasons of liberty, or justice, or maximum human happiness, but because economic equality provides the best conditions for economic growth, that is, the argument orients toward a positive-sum end result.