18 May 2015

Equality as a viable alternative to equity

We tend to structure human society according to the rules of "survival of the fittest". This may have been necessary for us over the millennia and it may arguably still be necessary for us right now but at some point we need to take advantage of our analytical conciousness and properly design an efficient society.

For the purpose of simplification i'm going to explain myself in the form of an analogy. Hypothetically you've been given a car, free of charge and free of any obligation whatsoever, no strings attached. A reasonable person would be grateful, you would probably accept it but even if you don't for whatever reason you would still be appreciative.

Now that we have some grounding let's gradually move towards a more realistic situation. Instead of just you receiving a car, you and a hundred other people get a car to share. You certainly won't be as happy with this situation as you may have been with the previous situation but again it's reasonable that you would appreciate having something where you once had nothing. You may not like the complications of sharing and you may decline to be part of the sharing process but you'd still appreciate having had the option.

Socialism is sharing and the only reason for people to be unhappy with socialist policies is that sharing isn't easy. However people are also unhappy with absolute equality because some individuals may put more effort into maintaining the car than others and will therefore want to be equitably remunerated, i.e. they'd want more time with the car than those who put less effort in to it. That's certainly reasonable.

Let's continue with the analogy but now discuss how free market socio-economics come about. In order to alleviate some of the complications of sharing, the group may decide to centralise the governance of the car, there may be a small group of people elected to organise the car sharing schedule. It starts out well and the concept of equity seems to maintain a sense of fairness but eventually nit picking becomes a prominent part of the governing process since equity can never reach absolute fairness. Accountants and politicians enter the game and give rise to the financial and legal industries.

To cut the analogy short, the wild goose chase of absolute equitable fairness ultimately turns money and politics into the primary concern of the governing body and the stuff that's actually important like productive usage of the car, gets sidelined to the point where majority of the people who want to use the car never do. The car is now used primarily to get the influential members to the meetings where they discuss how best to use the car (and of course, how to convince the group at large that finance and politics is very important).

The free market social system is the best we've got right now but it's time limited, it will eventually self destruct. It needs to survive just long enough for us to reach a level of technology where productivity is so high that every individual has access to all the basic necessities without any obligation whatsoever and where the level of general education is so high that real democracy is actually viable. Once we reach communism, just being a human being earns you the right to have a home, to have nutritious meals daily, to have access to good healthcare, to have access to the wealth of human knowledge and to be able to participate in the governance of your society.

Ideally we all want to live in a truly free and equal society. We need to accept that in a free market economy the more money you have the more freedom you have, and if some people are essentially less free than others then something is wrong. A free market will always exist but we'll get to a point where it no longer dictates who lives lavishly and who suffers. The conditions for a truly equal society aren't right yet but decentralisation technologies are getting us there quicker than some may think.