05 January 2010

New Year Equality Wishes

Let me begin this post by wishing all a Happy New Year. I would like to see this be the year of the reawakening of American Liberty, that is the liberty of equal opportunity under the law, not equal results.
The fallacy propagated over the last century is that “equality” means that everyone should have the same comforts without the same effort. This is simply not equitable. An individual who puts forth more effort deserves to get more rewards. As a culture, we do not question the salary that a premium professional athlete acquires, yet we vilify premium professionals (medical specialists, CEO’s, top companies) when they acquire similar salaries and profits. The individuals in the “premium” category have worked their way into that position and have to maintain their skill level to maintain their premium status.
There will be those who expound the evils of profit motive in the medical profession, “greedy” executives, and “unfair” business practices. To those individuals, I would like to lift a phrase from Ayn Rand and invite them to “check their premises”. Professionals of every type (including medical) have invested large amounts of time and, in some cases, money to acquire the skill that they are sustaining their lives with. People will typically grumble about the cost of hiring skilled labor (plumbers, electricians, mechanics), but they never accuse them of being “greedy” since they are “making a living”, yet when it comes to professionals, the vilification never ceases. Are they not simply highly skilled labor? Are they not “making a living”? At this point, there will be those that argue that “it’s not the same since the wages are so much higher”, yet it truly is. The cost of hiring skilled labor is inversely proportional to the possibility of having the ability to perform the same function yourself. What most consider to be “typical” skilled labor is grossly under-appreciated (a subject for another post), yet the “For Dummies”™ series of books covers the basics of what a particular trade specializes in. They are categories of labor that the individual, with some basic aptitude, could manage to get through themselves. You will not, however, find “Appendectomies For Dummies” or “Microprocessor Design and Manufacturing For Dummies” or even “Running a Multinational Company For Dummies”. That is because the skill level required goes well beyond a couple of hundred pages of text and pictures. Therefore, if you accept that skilled labor can command a wage five to ten times higher than unskilled labor, then why is it “evil” for highly specialized labor (even if it is behind a desk) to command another multiplier of five to ten?
In a truly “fair and equitable” society, the reward received is commensurate with the effort expended, whether it be physical or mental. The society that we have in America today is designed to punish those who expend the most effort, from the manual laborer up to the corporate executives. The laborer who is working more hours to provide a better life for themselves is punished whenever the wages received cross the threshold to the next tax bracket. That laborer will find that there is a point where working one more hour actually decreases the amount of money in his or her pocket on payday. The individuals who increase their skill level to a point where they receive premium wages also find that a larger percentage of their effort is expended toward taxes.
It is time for Americans to stand up for equal treatment under the law. As Herbert Spencer so eloquently states in Social Statics, that is defined as “Every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man”. Heavy taxation on people who excel at their chosen fields without infringing on others is a gross violation of equal treatment as such.

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