An Impossible Standard

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thomas Sowell makes an interesting point regarding the idea that "people would be evenly or randomly distributed in incomes, institutions, occupations or awards, in the absence of somebody doing somebody wrong":

Something as simple as age differences among groups can doom any assumption of even or random outcomes.

If every 20-year-old Puerto Rican in the United States had an income identical with the income of every 20-year-old Japanese American -- and identical incomes at every other age -- Japanese Americans as a group would still have a higher average income than Puerto Ricans in the United States. That is because the median age of Japanese Americans is more than 20 years older.

People with 20 years more work experience usually make higher incomes. And age difference is just one of many differences between groups.
It has always been astounding to me that such a standard exists at all because its underlying assumption is questionable, anyway. But perhaps I shouldn't be, since few people concern themselves with justice these days. Or with individual rights, whose violation, in the form of theft, such a standard is used to excuse. These two things are the real problems with the idea, and bringing them back to our cultural consciousness will be key to killing off egalitarianism. Nevertheless, perhaps an attorney handling litigation in a case involving this principle can buy a small, short-term victory with Sowell's observation, while the longer battle to improve our culture goes on.

-- CAV


: Corrected typo in title.

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