Equal is Unfair – my review

This book makes the very important and timely case that the movement for ‘income equality’ is not only based on bad math, but it is rooted in evil.

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The title “Equal is Unfair” is sure to raise eyebrows. Who doesn’t want EQUALITY? What sort of MONSTERS would write this book? The authors make the case that Political Equality is the only equality we should strive for, and that “Income Equality”, “Wealth Equality” and even “Equality of Opportunity” are dangerous misnomers designed to sound benevolent while masking a sinister motive.

Authors Yaron Brook and Don Watkins (of the Ayn Rand Institute) are intellectuals dedicated to educating young thinkers on objectivism, but the book does not read like a haughty philosophical tome.

The authors support their economic arguments with statistical data and charts, of course, but I find them at their best when they examine the underlying motives of the people who claim the higher moral ground in this debate. Put very simply, the ‘inequality alarmists’ as they are often labeled in the book, do not want to level the playing field by placing restrictions on those in power. They simply want to BE the ones in power. The ‘inequality alarmists’ are “authoritarians, and like all authoritarians, they desire to dictate how other people live”, because they are the “uniquely compassionate and intellectually gifted elite” (p. 179).

I won’t cover every argument made. For the full detail, I suggest you go and buy the book. It is just the right length at over 200 pages, and it is very easy to read in a week or so for a moderate reader. What I will do here is list some of the questions that are addressed in the book.

  1. Where does wealth come from? Who creates it?
  2. If the rich are getting richer, does it automatically follow that the poor must also be getting poorer?
  3. Assuming income or wealth inequality is a problem, has it actually gotten worse over time?
  4. Are overseas sweat shops bad? What happens when we shut them down?
  5. Why does the US have an unfulfilled need for plumbers, electricians, mechanics and welders?
  6. Who provides more value to the other: the shoe factory owner or the worker who makes 100 pairs of shoes per day?
  7. Who is harmed most by the minimum wage? If there was no minimum wage, could a company survive paying its employees $0.50 per hour?
  8. What impact does a government monopoly on schools have on the quality of education?
  9. Who are the 1%? Are they paying their fair share of taxes?
  10. Why do attempts to achieve economic equality so often result in brutality and violence?

The economic arguments made in this book are important. I think everyone should understand them. More importantly, however, is the unmasking of the technique used by collectivists/statists/utopians to wear down the individualists or free market proponents in the debate: The Appeal to Morality.

Everyone should arm themselves with the tools offered in Equal is Unfair to combat the deceptive moral arguments of collectivism. Whether you are an avid Ayn Rand reader, a libertarian, a conservative or just someone who wants to understand the issue better, I highly recommend this book.

I’ll close with one of my favorite lines from the book:

It is just to treat things equally. But for the same reason, we must treat unequal things unequally. [Paraphrasing Aristotle].

Achievement is unequal, and so equal is unfair.

(p.205).