Economic Inequality is a Small Price to Pay for Staying Human
To paraphrase Baudelaire, the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world of the moral superiority of collectivism. According to Ayn Rand, if we don't convince the world otherwise, nothing else will work. Our greatest ally in this fight is human nature. Our greatest asset is morality itself, which is really, truly, undeniably, and absolutely on our side.
Today's political debates often end up in the following compromise: capitalism may be more economically efficient, but it's no moral match to economic equality that benefits most people. But the only way economic equality can benefit people is by pandering to their class envy. In all other aspects -- economical, political, cultural, philosophical, and spiritual -- it's a dastardly, immoral cause.
To begin with, it is the efficiency of capitalism that benefits most people. Among other things, it raises everyone's living standards and quality of life; expands consumer choices; boosts innovation that reduces the share of low-paying, mind-numbing manual jobs; increases the pool of well-paid professional jobs; gives the poor access to things that only the rich could enjoy a short while ago; promotes the creation of new cures of diseases; extends life expectancy and makes old age much more enjoyable.
The alternative to capitalism -- whatever one would like to call it -- is the loss of freedom, loss of choices, government corruption, and moral decay. What do we get in return? The vague promise of economic equality.
But in human reality, complete economic equality cannot be achieved. A century of collectivist social experiments around the world has proven three undeniable facts: One, government-enforced economic equality results in a forced inequality of a powerless, impoverished populace ruled by a corrupt elite. Two, the main obstacle to economic equality is human nature. Three, human nature cannot be changed, no matter the effort to re-educate, indoctrinate, or punish the violators.
An essential part of everyone's human nature is what collectivists are maligning as greed. Generally speaking, it is a normal desire of all humans to achieve a better life for themselves and their children. In a free capitalist system, "greed-driven" achievers engage in lawful productive work, start businesses, and build things. In a restrictive socialist system, to achieve a better station in life, one must either join the corrupt government apparatus, or become part of the criminal underworld with its vast shadow economy. The alternative is to succumb to misery and, very likely, alcoholism or worse. In the end, capitalism brings out the best in people; socialism brings out the worst.
How worthy and moral can an ideal be that punishes achievement and criminalizes human nature?
Proponents of economic equality are either willfully blind, or are themselves sociopathic megalomaniacs, trying to create a restrictive system in which they envision themselves to be part of the powerful ruling elite. Both are willing to go to extremes in order to achieve their goal. As they spin their tale of an imminent paradise, they never say what it will cost us to get there -- and, frankly, they don't give a damn. Individual human sacrifice is never an obstacle for collectivists; their glorious end justifies any unsightly means.
It is up to us then to examine just what exactly we will have to give up for the promise of economic equality -- something that has been proven to not exist.
At first we will have to accept restrictions on certain consumer choices and products in exchange for letting the government take care of our personal well-being. Then come restrictions on speech and activities: a price for maintaining the national well-being. Eventually all dissent is suppressed and criminalized, as the media falls under the government control, young people are indoctrinated in the "new ways," businesses pay enormous taxes, more and more families descend into misery and live off government subsidies, the economy crumbles, and shortages create long lines at the supermarket.
The leaders shift the blame to "enemies of the people," saying that this country would have been a dreamland if it weren't for a few greedy reactionaries. With no one left to object, desperate citizens succumb to the hatred and accept the idea that eliminating the few is a fair price to pay for improving the lives of the many. Then they accept the idea that eliminating an entire class of people is a small price to pay. But despite all the bloodletting, the promised collectivist paradise never arrives and the misery only increases. By now the demoralized, destitute masses are fully separated from the ruling elites by an impenetrable wall of privilege.
The ultimate price -- the relentless sacrifice of millions of people: their work, careers, ambitions, property, and lives -- has been paid to reach an unattainable economic mirage, a phantom concocted in the feverish minds of a few maniacs obsessed with class envy.
In contrast, the price of living in a free and prosperous capitalist society is merely to accept economic inequality as a natural extension of human nature. Without doubt, it's a small price to pay for remaining a free, productive, and moral people who live in harmony with objectively true moral principles, otherwise known as the natural moral law.
Oleg Atbashian, a writer and graphic artist from the former USSR, currently lives in Florida. He is the creator of ThePeoplesCube.com, a satirical website where he writes under the name of Red Square. He is also the author of Shakedown Socialism.