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Ivor Tiefenbrun

There is a widespread belief in failed societies that equality is both desirable and necessary for fairness and human dignity.  “It is not fair that some people get richer and others get poorer”  is the cry.  “It is not fair that poor people earn too little to save for a rainy day or their old age”, yet rich and poor people in both rich and poor successful and emerging societies do not appear to feel the same way. 

In places like the USA or China people welcome the fact that the new immigrant to the country, or to the city from the country can, through hard work and quick wits, become successful and rich beyond the dreams of avarice.  In fact the greater the financial successes of the few, the more encouraged are the many. 

It is also the case in most poor and emergent economies that the poorer the people are, the more they save.  In China the poorest will save up to 40% of their income no matter how tiny and the norm is around 25%. 

Poor people know that with limited resources, especially if they are living on the bread line with no welfare system or family to support them, they need to have something put aside for a rainy day to weather an economic storm or a health problem. 

In stark contrast, in Britain many people save little.  The poorest save almost nothing or live permanently in the red and in general people expect the state to provide for them and therefore have no commitment to saving for their retirement or a rainy day. 

This mindset supports class envy and indeed sometimes jealous hatred against the more successful hardworking and prudent individuals who manage to make some personal provisions.  Far from welcoming individual economic successes, we seek to limit and stifle it - to tax not only income but the gain on any investment, the profit made by any venture and to opportunistically benefit from the untimely death of any hardworking individual at the expense of their families through punitive death duties. 

If all this wasn’t enough to dissuade people from working hard and persuading others that they should seek to take maximum advantage from the Welfare State, it is now mooted that we introduce wealth taxes on people who are fortunate enough to own valuable properties, even if the properties are heavily mortgaged and even if the consequences are financial ruin for the individuals concerned or society at large.

Our universal welfare system is seen as our highest moral achievement and indeed so attractive has it become that people from all over the world are prepared to physically risk their lives to come to Britain and sign on, even if they come from societies and cultures with no strong connection to the United Kingdom, and even when the individuals concerned do not speak or seek to learn our language, and even if in some cases, they hate and despise our culture and our freedoms and lifestyle; some even come here seeking to kill us all. 

All this welfare is sustained in the name of equality and the accepted wisdom is that equality is a good thing and a necessary precondition for a civilized society, while all the evidence contradicts this proposition.

The creation of wealth by definition will create inequality.  If in a recession everyone was poor and no-one was being successful then that society’s condition would be desperate and devoid of hope, inspiration or economic opportunity. 

Even equality of opportunity, seductive as it may sound is as flawed a concept as any other socialist argument for equality.  Even equality under the law is inappropriate.  In practice, not everyone is a crook; we take into account the past behavior of a convicted criminal prior to sentence and practice jurisprudence to mitigate and minimize punishment. 

On a far more ad hoc basis different people are also treated differently for different offences on the basis of judicial inconsistencies and variations in legal representation and their powers of argument and age.  Quality and effectiveness of judgment are subject to political correctness and other immoral and political prejudices that ensure that the notion of equality under the law, as opposed to justice, is as unattainable and absurd as any other dream of human equality. 

But more importantly, equality is always undesirable.  Failure to reward or recognize individual goodness or to punish and recognise bad behaviour differently is corrosive beyond measure, and it is precisely for these reasons that those who seek to win, deploy and utilise power in pursuit of equality, inevitably destroy wealth, aspiration, freedom and the possibilities for economic success along with individual prudence and liberty. 

Those sanctimonious people who argue for equality are self serving egocentrics whose belief in their own moral superiority is entirely misguided.  The history of equality politics reveals the consequences to be catastrophic and the deranged zealous believers and practitioners of equality abound in every dictatorship and totalitarian doctrine and dominate every bloodthirsty revolutionary death cult.

Our universe contains unlimited useful possibilities awaiting discovery by the imaginative fertile minds of free individuals prompted by circumstance, necessity, or simply the healthy desire for self improvement.  Wealth creation depends on the productive impact of the honest human imperative to excel, to express their individual creativity and maximise their contribution to their family, friends and a free society.  

Wealth creation is the total antithesis of the false submissive collectivist argument for totalitarian equality. 

The next time you read about the need for equality of income or of the sexes or of an equal importunities employment policy, remember the people promoting such views are destroying individual creative freedom and our collective health, education, security and economic wellbeing.

[As an aside to Ivor’s article – a piece on the nature of inequality which readers might find interesting appeared in this week’s blog from the Adam Smith Institute – ed]