So much anger and angst about “Inequality” fills the American press without suggesting solutions. Do they propose taking from the wealthy and handing it to the poor? Just what do they want?
Do Americans really want economic equality, considering the vast economic differences in the world’s economies? How about economic equality with the 10 poorest countries in the world?
- Malawi: (pop 16 million, GDP per capita of $226.50)
- Burundi: (pop 12 million, GDP per capita of $267.10)
- Central African Republic: (pop 5 million, GDP per capita of $333.20)
- Niger: (pop 21 million, GDP per capita of $415.40)
- Liberia: (pop 5 million, GDP per capita of $454.30)
- Madagascar: (pop 20 million, GDP per capita of $463.00)
- Democratic Republic of the Congo: (pop 77 million, GDP per capita of $484.20)
- The Gambia: (pop 2 million, GDP per capita of $488.60)
- Ethiopia: (pop 104 million, GDP per capita of $505.00)
- Guinea: (pop 12 million, GDP per capita of $523.10)
United States (pop 300 million, GDP per capita of $51,638.10)
How much of your lifestyle would it take to “level the playing field with these 274 million African people who average $460 per year?Are you ready to make your contribution?
I do not think so. It seems that the perceptions of difference limited to Americans are much more important to the critics than broader global realities. This way of thinking of the world in discreet nations is automatic for most people. We blithely ignore the fact that America is near the top of the economic “food chain” when we cry “inequality.” Even the TV weather seems to stop at our borders. But money does not.
The internet and international trade have dissolved the economic borders of nations. People can buy and sell goods and services among the countries of the world with fewer restrictions and barriers. Countries with lower cost labor compete with businesses in countries where wages and costs are much higher. Globalization has revealed the world’s true economic inequalities.
American workers were paid well to operate factories and do skilled and unskilled jobs; now many are displaced by globalization, and other technological and cultural factors. New jobs in America require different skills, and higher levels of education, knowledge, and experience. Those who do not or cannot adapt and learn are left to compete for lower-paying jobs.
Creating financial success is not an equal opportunity phenomenon. It tends to favor those who are born with successful parents, intellect, talent, and drive. Globalization and technology have created business opportunities that can make people wealthy overnight, widening the wealth gap between the haves and have nots.
Where did the concept of economic equality come from? Has any country survived and thrived under mandated economic equality? When, in history, were people equal in anything?
In its early form, America was unique in the world to propose that citizens govern themselves with the precepts of equal civil and legal rights under our constitution and laws. Under our system, we have equality of liberty and freedom for citizens who obey the law. We are not promised economic equality.
The Declaration of Independence asserts that “all men are created equal.” Conceptually, we asserted this in the context of renouncing the right of a king to rule his subjects. We were announcing that no one has a birthright to a lower or superior class or nobility in America. Further, it reads “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” among them “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” We were not announcing anything beyond natural rights to life, liberty (from overreaching, arbitrary laws and rules of monarchs), and the pursuit of happiness. We were not announcing redistribution of wealth, or handicapping the blessed.
Humans are born different and unequal in almost every aspect of being, including intellect, strength, size, eyesight, and other things that allow them to operate successfully in the world. The fact is, people are never equal; that is what makes them unique.