Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Myth of Social Equality

Cruel Envy

It's an old saw, but with all the nonsense swirling about calling for equality and the terrible evils of inequality, it's worth repeating.  What would happen if we introduced egalitarianism into sport?

The analogy is re-presented by Martin Robinson in the NZ Herald.  Yes, it has been said before, but worth repeating, especially because the champions of egalitarianism are lifting their lusty voice everywhere.

Kicking equality myth into touch

By Martin Robinson
Thursday Jan 5, 2012Slashing the All Blacks' pay packets would eventually 
result in a third-rate team. Photo / Rod Burgin

Reports on the distribution of wealth in New Zealand usually reveal increasing inequality. Rugby is a good example of this widespread trend.

New Zealand rugby players come in all ages, shapes and sizes, and both sexes. Players vary greatly as regards their skill levels, commitment and training schedules. Rewards for players are extraordinarily unequal, as most actually pay to play while a very few are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Is this fair or unfair? Should the Labour Party, the Greens or the Occupy Auckland movement campaign for more-equal payment of rugby players? Should the "greedy" All Blacks be forced to hand over some of their colossal income to the more impoverished fellow players? Should the Government intervene to reduce this glaring disparity in rewards?

Reducing the pay of All Blacks and spreading it among the less well rewarded rugby players, even if it is a good idea in theory, poses immense practical problems. Would the All Blacks agree to a significant pay cut? If they did, the team would become a 2nd or 3rd XV of players who were willing to play for the reduced reward. We would never beat the Aussies, and maybe the All Blacks team would disappear. So the equality campaign would have succeeded in narrowing pay differentials, but at the cost of destroying the world's greatest rugby team. . . .

Every family is unequal. Both my brothers are much richer than I am, but I don't envy them or think there is anything unfair about it. I don't regard them as greedier than I am.  I am the poor relation. If I had worked harder, invested more wisely and spent less time on holiday, I would have more money in the bank, but they are the choices I made. I don't regret anything so I'm content with our financial inequality. When I met my brother on holiday on the Gold Coast, I stayed in a motel-cum-backpackers while he stayed in the Sheraton.  Of course, my attitude could be very different. If I was an envious person, I could deplore the "injustice" of inequality, or blame Rogernomics and the capitalist system. Why should my brother drive around in a BMW coupe while I have a Suzuki? Why should he live in a gated community with a pool while I live in a plain two-bedroom unit? Well, he has earned it and I have not. It's as simple as that. . . .

Every week, a thousand Kiwis are heading to Australia. Is this because Australia is a more equal society than New Zealand? Not one person is going for that reason. They are going because Australia offers more opportunity. Successful societies are the ones that provide the most opportunities, not the ones with the most equality of income or wealth.

The way to reduce poverty in New Zealand is to increase exports, improve workers' skills and productivity, create more wealth and jobs, and then raise the minimum wage.  If New Zealand is becoming more unequal, the answer is for us poorer ones to work and save harder and smarter in order to even things up.

* Martin Robinson is a freelance writer living in West Auckland.

Well, actually we have seen it happen--the monumentally stupid idea that everyone should get the same recognition, the same reward because everyone is equal.  In children's sport and primary school prizegivings there are now many egalitarians who practise what they preach.  Every child is rewarded equally so that no-one is "left out". Everyone eventually earns "Best Player of the Day" in the course of the season.  We have watched it.  It is naive, puerile.

It is also immensely damaging to children, because the unspoken sub-text is: "Envy rules and rocks".  Kids learn it very quickly.  It corrodes their souls. 

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