October 27, 2006

How harmful is egalitarianism?

Bryan Caplan discusses how the false assumption that everyone is born with the same talents and preferences may harm society. For the sake of contrarianism I am going to reply to several questions he poses in his post. Before that let me say that I do believe that we are born with pretty similar talents and preferences - for example a talent for crying and a preference for milk - but that we later develop some differences.
If all differences are environmental, why not radically change the environment?
Yes, I want to radically change the environment. We have already changed our environment a lot. Thanks to that we now have more talents than people from previous generations. We are stronger, healthier, smarter and prettier than they were. I hope future generations will become even better. And environmental changes are making us not only better, but more equal. Differences in health, longevity, intelligence, literacy and so on are shrinking.
If all groups are equally talented, then don't unequal incomes prove the existence of widespread discrimination?
Not necessarily. But they do reflect environmental differences. For example, people living in places and times with more economic freedom enjoy higher incomes than people living under less economic freedom.
If everyone is equally knowledgeable, then why not follow the most popular advice?
If everyone is equally knowledgeable, why follow other people's advice?

1 comment:

  1. Read "The Blank Slate" by Pinker. It brings the nature/nurture debate into focus.