Here are excerpts from a recent post from the Mises Institute. For those unfamiliar with that organization, it is named after Austrian School economist Ludwig von Mises (1881–1973), because it promotes teaching and research in the Austrian School of economics. That economics school included such luminaries as Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman.
These views are timely because politicians and other activist are harping on the supposed “inequality” of our society and economic system. By this they mean economic inequality, that is some have more material income and possessions than others, and there is a tremendous disparity in those who have great wealth. Politicians of the left are seeking to level the demographic by, in one way or another, confiscating the property of the wealthy and redistributing it to the so-called have-nots. Assuming this could ever be done, the history of the 20th Century proves it will not work. Winston Churchill observed, and I paraphrase, if we are all economically equal, we will be all equally poor.
Probably the most common ethical criticism of the market economy is that it fails to achieve the goal of equality. Equality has been championed on various “economic” grounds, such as minimum social sacrifice or the diminishing marginal utility of money (see the chapter on taxation above). But in recent years economists have recognized that they cannot justify egalitarianism by economics, that they ultimately need an ethical basis for equality.
In all discussions of equality, it is considered self-evident that equality is a very worthy goal. But this is by no means self-evident. For the very goal of equality itself is open to serious challenge.
Many people believe that, though equality of income is an absurd ideal, it can be replaced by the ideal of equality of opportunity. Yet this, too, is as meaningless as the former concept.
Thus, the egalitarian must not be permitted any longer to end discussion by simply proclaiming equality as an absolute ethical goal. He must first face all the social and economic consequences of egalitarianism and try to show that it does not clash with the basic nature of man. He must counter the argument that man is not made for a compulsory ant heap existence. And, finally, he must recognize that the goals of equality of income and equality of opportunity are conceptually unrealizable and are therefore absurd. Any drive to achieve them is ipso facto absurd as well.