Is Income Inequality A Good Thing Or A Bad Thing?


THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.

Some things about living still weren’t quite right, though. April for instance, still drove people crazy by not being springtime. And it was in that clammy month that the H-G men took George and Hazel Bergeron’s fourteen-year-old son, Harrison, away.

It was tragic, all right, but George and Hazel couldn’t think about it very hard. Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn’t think about anything except in short bursts. And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.

From HARRISON BERGERON by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Income inequality is nothing new. There’s always been a gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots” and there will always be. But in the last few years, that gap has grown larger. Much larger. The largest it’s been in almost 40 years.

Why will there always be an income gap? Because people rise to different levels of success based entirely on what they will, and what they won’t, demand of themselves. They always have. They always will.

Although many people consider income inequality to be a social wrong, it is important to understand that income inequalities do something positive in the lives of some people. They create incentives for people to improve their situation through work, innovation, entrepreneurship, and investment. It can create a burning desire to succeed.

That’s what happened to me. Growing up in a low income family, it wasn’t hard to see that we were in the “have nots” category. Rather than accept that as my fate, I made it my mission to move up and out of that income level. I was motivated by the inequality. It forged a spirit of determination in me to change my lot in life. And that’s exactly what I did.

Being upset about someone’s wealth that has been earned through their own hard work and ingenuity is a complete waste of time. Someone who wants their income to increase without doing the work to increase it, will never get to the level of wealth they desire. In fact, that type of thinking just pushes wealth further away.

Jim Rohn said it best: “Income never exceeds personal development.”

In my opinion, that’s as it should be. How pitiful would it be to receive more income without having to work for it? Where’s the sense of pride in that? That’s like failing to train for a marathon and then having a taxi drop you off a mile from the finish line, so that you can stroll to the finish. It would be a false sense of reward.

In reality if income were made equal, those on the receiving end would only be made better off for as long as the transfers continue. Without continual transfers of wealth, before long the people receiving the money would be just as unequal as before the transfers started. I’m of the firm belief that if income were made equal in a given year, five years later the “haves” would again have the income and the “have nots” would again not have income.

Why is this so? It is the age old problem, stated in the famous Chinese proverb, “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for a day. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.” You see, the only way income inequality and wealth concentration can inhibit a person’s economic mobility is if they let it. If they choose to not learn how to fish.

To gain wealth a person doesn’t need to look over their neighbor’s shoulder to get some of his riches. No, they just need to look ahead and forge a concrete plan to obtain the wealth they want in life. How do you do that?

Start by seeing yourself as being wealthy. No, that isn’t some new-age mumbo jumbo. If you can’t see yourself being wealthy, you’ll never get there. You can only get what you can see yourself receiving. See yourself being wealthy. Keep seeing it until you believe it.

Also, be grateful for where you are today. The tendency, for some, is to put themselves down, because they haven’t achieved the things they wanted to achieve yet. Stay the course and before you know it you will achieve your goals. As Jim Rohn says, “you cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.

Instead of complaining that someone else has the good life and you do not, get busy doing the necessary work for success. Remember your wealth comes through you, so your attitude toward wealth is important. You can’t receive the best in life if you are your own “handicapper general”. Complaining is like putting weights around your own neck to make yourself as average as possible.

In any society, what you earn over the course of your life is unequal to others and should be unequal to others because you are not others, you are YOU. Your earnings will be unequal to that of others, because you are a different person with different skills and different work ethic and different priorities.

There will always be lots of people who make very little money, and there will always be a smaller amount who make slightly more money, and then there will always be an even smaller amount who make slightly more than them. Then there will always be a very tiny amount who make a lot more.

Why?

Because they’ve demanded it of themselves.

What income will you demand of yourself?

Be financially free. Nothing else is worth it.

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  • Lpsub97

    There is no lack of opportunity in this country for people who learn how to manage their resources and rein in their consumption.

    • https://www.montycampbell.com/ Monty Campbell

      I agree Lpsub97. There’s no shortage of opportunity, just a shortage of people who seize it.

  • Melanie

    Beautifully said and expresses my views exactly…..Thank You!

    • https://www.montycampbell.com/ Monty Campbell

      Thanks Melanie. Glad you liked the article.

  • Jared P.

    Exactly. This is why I keep trying to get people to understand…people have been made to be angry with whomever is on the “other side”. It is refreshing to hear someone take this on in such a practical manner. In a capitalist economy everyone needs to be something of a capitalist.

    • https://www.montycampbell.com/ Monty Campbell

      I like the way you state this Jared. Everyone does need to be something of a capitalist in a capitalist economy.

  • Rob

    Great article. There will never be income equality in a market economy. The market decides what the market will bear.

    • https://www.montycampbell.com/ Monty Campbell

      That’s right. Free markets determine prices and incomes.

  • Trey Barker

    I agree. I don’t understand why you would want to make it difficult to amass a huge amount of wealth – if done legally & ethically. What the Steve Jobs or others of the world have done.

    • https://www.montycampbell.com/ Monty Campbell

      I agree Trey. It would demotivate someone.

  • Rowen

    Income inequality as a battle call has always puzzled me. Someone please explain to me why a CEO of a major corporation should be paid the same as a parking lot attendant?

    • https://www.montycampbell.com/ Monty Campbell

      This is well put Rowen. Thanks for sharing.

  • Albert

    Inequality is not a bad thing. The reason inequality exists is because of different amounts of effort and ingenuity as you state. Granted wealth does not always reflect work ethic but in our free market system a means of obtaining wealth is through hard work and persistence.

    • https://www.montycampbell.com/ Monty Campbell

      You said it.

  • Andrew Porter

    This is now one of my favorite posts Monty thank you! I have always believed this to be true and seeing it here reinforces it.

    • https://www.montycampbell.com/ Monty Campbell

      Thanks Andrew.