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The Justice of Inequity
Understanding Why Progressive Ideas about Equality Won't Work

by Scott Rohter, December 2011

“There has always been a fascination in English literature with the mythical character of Robin Hood. This fascination has its basis in the unequal distribution of wealth as it existed in early English history. Robin Hood's perennial appeal today still stems from the unfairness of the old English class order which was enforced by "the Divine Right of Kings".  As time went on everyone from Communists to aristocrats have tried to co-opt the mythical persona of Robin Hood for their own interests or purposes. He has become the people’s hero!”

The scraggly-looking throngs of protestors that once occupied Wall Street railed against the unequal distribution of wealth in America and the rest of the world. The sympathetic members of the mainstream media continued to keep their name alive and their image and message in front of the public over the public airwaves.  In so doing the national press is encouraging this poorly planned and poorly thought out occupation movement to grow, and they are cheering them on for their own selfish reasons. These disaffected and mostly un-productive dreamers occupying Wall Street and other places around the country don’t understand how things actually work in the economy or in the real world.  The world we live in was made to function according to certain definite and scientifically verifiable principles.

When I was younger and when an ace was still an ace, when advertising and marketing were still in their infancy we would have called what is going on in America today with the Occupy Wall Street Movement, civil unrest or civil disobedience if that unrest led to violence or violations of the law. I have no disagreement with legitimate civil unrest. It is guaranteed by the 1st amendment. I don’t have any objection to civil disobedience either, just as long as that disobedience doesn’t destroy private property or disrespect other people’s rights, and those who are disobedient are willing to pay the penalty for breaking the law.

In my home town the local franchise of Occupy Wall Street is called Occupy Eugene.  Our little town has a population of about 150,000 people. It is home to the University of Oregon.  The Occupy Eugene group set up their little encampment in a city park along the banks of the Willamette River which runs through our community.  That was after they first organized a protest outside the downtown office of the Bank of America.  The B of A franchise these days is only slightly more profitable and successful than the Occupy Wall Street Movement is which hasn’t received any Federal bailouts, or large-scale government subsidies yet.  But sadly to say that’s not true for the Bank of America which has been the recipient of TARP and Stimulus money!  Federal bailouts and subsidies seem to be the only thing actually keeping the Bank of America together these days!  Before our Federal Government stepped in to rescue the failing B of A, they had already received a large cash infusion totaling billions of dollars from a wealthy Middle-East investor.  After the U.S. government stepped in to bail them out again and covered them with the Toxic Asset Relief Program (TARP) they received yet another huge injection of cash from another big investor. This time it was from a homegrown tycoon. Nebraska’s very own Warren Buffet stepped in to help.  He rode to their rescue with a total investment of $5 billion in cash that gave his Berkshire Hathaway company nearly a 14.9% stake in the ailing B of A.

In another year or so I’m hoping that this corrupt and inept financial institution better known as the Bank of America will finally fail and be allowed to die once and for all, and that their corporate executives and directors will be down on the same playing field with all the rest of us. Maybe they can pitch a tent in the same field as the Occupy Wall Street protestors or they can live in a city park along the river. Better yet they can live in a trailer park down by the railroad tracks. That would be poetic justice. Welfare is still welfare. Whether it comes in the form of corporate bailouts, or individual handouts to unproductive people who are unwilling to work, it is still welfare!  The Bank of America franchise is really not much better or different than the Occupy Wall Street Movement.  Both of them, both the corporation and the occupation have the same type of entitlement mentality. They are both sucking from the government teat!

So what is wrong with the ideology behind the Occupy Wall Street Movement? It can be summed up in the mistaken idea that since inequity is unjust therefore it should just be eliminated. They believe that all inequity should just be eliminated wherever it exists. That is what the Occupy Wall Street protestors believe.  But that is actually the farthest thing from the truth! Of course inequity is unfair, but it is only natural that successful individuals and corporations should be rewarded by allowing them to prosper, and that unsuccessful ones should be punished by allowing them to fail. That will encourage excellence. But if you allow this practice, and follow it to its logical conclusion then you will wind up with the haves and have-nots. You will end up with the Rockefellers and the Rodney Kings. It is as natural as the Law of Thermodynamics!  To encourage failure by rewarding mediocrity is very shortsighted and stupid, and that is what the redistribution of wealth does. It is stupid because it rewards failure.  That is what Marxism does.  The Occupy Wall Street protestors are socialists and hypocrites. They are complaining about corporate bailouts for failing Wall Street firms, while at the same time they are demanding their own personal redistribution bailouts!  It doesn’t make any sense to reward failure, either at the personal level or at the corporate level! At least we should be consistent.

The Occupy Wall Street Movement believes that inequity is unjust. They are the idealogical step children of Karl Marx. So what if inequity is unjust. The possibility of bettering oneself propels people to achieve excellence. The flip side of that coin is that it allows people to fail miserably. Their goal is the even distribution of wealth all across America so that everyone has just about the same amount of money. In other words they want to reward failure. They are really just angry that Wall Street bankers got rewarded, but they didn't! That’s why they were in the streets protesting. That’s why I call them hypocrites. They have their hands out too.  They want to receive government handouts too. They just want to take from the rich and give to the poor until everyone is just about equal.  They want their share of the ‘booty’ of capitalism too!

When I was a child, there was a fictional character on television, who attempted to do that. He was called Zorro.  Another better-known fictional character that did about the same thing in English literature was the mythical persona of Robin Hood. What’s wrong with both of these fictionalized and romanticized characters, outside of the fact that they were both breaking the law, is that they were advocating something remarkably similar to Communism. And that would require a totalitarian form of government in order to make it happen. This makes the solution to the problem even worse than the symptoms of the disease!  The cure for what ails capitalism is not Marxism, or some other totalitarian form of government. It is not Robin Hood! It is a new heart which is something that no government can give!  It was John Adams who wrote that our Constitution was not meant to govern an immoral and unreligious people.  No Constitution is!  We need to learn how to become better people and we need to accept personal responsibility for our own lives. We cannot depend upon the government for personal handouts or corporate bailouts, and we need to learn how to love our neighbors as ourselves.  We need to learn how to live up to the high expectations that our Constitution requires instead of attempting to drag it down to meet the selfish desires of a small percentage of extremely lazy or very greedy people.

What would happen to our country if the Occupy Wall Street Movement was ever unfortunately able to achieve their goal of redistributing the wealth of America?  The United Nations is already trying to do that with their nonsense about global warming and all their phony climate science meant to force rich countries to pay the poor countries of the world for the privilege of burning fossil fuels. Why of course there would no more great economic, political, or cultural achievements produced in America.  Our civilization would slowly begin to disintegrate and revert back in time to the Dark Age, and then back to the Stone Age! In order to illustrate just how absurd the economic goals of Occupy Wall Street really are, let’s just focus on only one aspect of our modern 21st Century economy, i.e. the production and distribution of food. If you redistributed the wealth equally all across America until everyone had just about the same thing, then there would probably be no large supermarkets to buy your groceries from because it takes a large concentration of wealth organized in the hands of a few successful enterprising individuals and corporations in order to keep all of those Safeways, Albertsons, and Krogers open to serve you, and to hire and pay the hundreds of thousands of employees who work there that administer the stores, and operate the cash registers, and stock the shelves, and drive the 18-wheelers that deliver the groceries. If big corporations like Albertsons didn’t have enough money to run their businesses then the supermarkets would just disappear. The same thing would happen at McDonalds so there would be no place to buy your next hamburger from.  We would all have to learn how to raise our own cows and grow our own food, or hunt and kill wild game in order to survive!

I don’t know what we would actually hunt with because if you take the Occupy Wall Street premise that the unequal distribution of wealth is wrong and you eliminate the great disparities of capital investment that produce corporations then there would be no major gun manufacturers or companies that make bullets for guns, or build bows and arrows to hunt with. We would have to make our own bows and arrows.  We would have to learn how to hunt and kill wild animals with our bare hands, or with whatever crude implements of stone or discarded old pieces of metal we could find, much like our primitive ancestors did.  Is this what the misguided progressives of Occupy Wall Street actually want?  Is that their idea of progress?

It takes large concentrations of capital invested in the hands of a few successful individuals and corporations to do almost anything commercially significant today. To grow and move vast amounts of food to market to feed a hungry world takes money. To manufacture the trucks that transport this food takes money. To make the rubber tires and the wheels that meet the road, to build the roads, to manufacture the heavy equipment that constructed those roads, to extract and refine the petroleum that powers the trucks and lubricates their engines all takes massive amounts of capital.  All of these human endeavors require large investments of money which produces great disparities in wealth, but which also feed us and clothe us, and provide the roofs over our heads. It allows us to move around in relative freedom and prosperity. Our present day economy and our way of life would be totally lost without ways to raise and concentrate large amounts of capital on specific enterprises through banks and stock markets and commodities markets.  What allows for this desirable concentration of wealth to occur in our free market economy, is a simple little contract that allows millions of investors to purchase stock in a company, and to participate or share in their profit and loss.  This allows little companies to raise vast amounts of capital, and finance large-scale endeavors, which accomplish great things. They would not be able to do this otherwise!

Furthermore, the accumulation of wealth in the hands of successful individuals and groups of individuals who have joined together to form companies that know how to wisely manage their assets is as natural an occurrence in the world as metal filings being drawn to a magnet. It is as natural as gravity attracting objects to Earth, or as electricity flowing from a higher concentration of electrons to a lesser concentration of electrons.  The difference between the different concentration or wealth of electrons is called voltage, and that is what makes the electricity flow.  The difference between the wealth of electrons gathered together in two different places is what allows the electricity to do all of its wonderful work in our daily lives.  Unless you want to go back to the Stone Age we should all be grateful for the amazing work that electricity does in our lives and the disparities that exist in the world that allow it to happen.  The difference in the concentration or ‘the wealth’ of electrons is what allows this work to happen, and the difference in the concentration of wealth in the world makes other things happen in our lives. It works just the same way with money as it does with electricity.  That’s what I meant when I said at the beginning of this article that our world is organized to operate according to certain definite and scientifically verifiable principles. There are electron rich and there are electron poor areas of a battery just like there are dollar rich and dollar poor areas of our world.  The disparity between the rich and the poor is always what makes things work whether you are talking about electricity or the field of economics. The disparity of wealth is what makes things happen. So we should all be grateful for disparity because without it nothing would actually work including most people!

Now let’s consider the source of all the energy in our world, the Sun.  The Sun is also the source of all of the energy in the entire solar system. It is abundantly rich in energy. There are other places in our solar system which are energy insufficient or energy deficient like the Earth. We all need the Sun's energy. Everything in the solar system depends upon the Sun and its abundant supply or "wealth" of energy. But for energy to flow there have to be areas of our solar system that are energy poor. The flow of energy actually depends on the neediness of everything else in the solar system.  Energy flows from the source of greater energy to the sources of lesser energy. If the Sun ever stopped shining upon the earth, then everything would die.  The foolish progressives of Occupy Wall Street may as well rail against the Sun that sustains all life on earth, as they rail against rich individuals and corporations which sustain our economy and provide them with jobs and the basis for our economic life in America!

If you could possibly redistribute the energy of the Sun all around the solar system so that all of the planets and the space in between all had about the same amount of energy, that would also portend the end of life on earth.  You see, life on earth depends upon on the rich concentration of energy in the Sun for it to flow.  If there wasn't such a disparity in energy between the earth and the Sun then no energy would flow to earth. Likewise a robust economic life on earth depends upon the concentration of capital in the hands of a few highly successful corporations and rich individuals who know how to manage it wisely to provide us with goods and services and jobs.  It’s only because of the energy rich Sun that life on earth exists, and it’s only because wealthy individuals and corporations exist that international commerce and a vibrant, healthy economic life on earth is possible.  It’s only because the Sun has so much energy stored up, that it has the potential to brighten our world, warm our planet, and provide the basis for life on earth.  No life would be possible, nor any activity of any kind, if you could possibly take away the energy of the Sun and somehow manage to redistribute it equally throughout the solar system.  That would mean the end of the solar system.  If the same thing ever happened to the universe it would mean the end of time.  If you were to do the same thing to successful American corporations and wealthy individuals that would mean the end of our economy.  It is only because of the disparity in wealth, as it is with the disparity in energy that allows everything to exist. Therefore we should not seek to eliminate disparities but we should rejoice in disparity!

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"The truth, the political truth, and nothing but the political truth.
A journalist has no better friend than the truth."
- Scott Rohter

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