Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Another thought

This should have gone in that horribly long post below, but firstly I forgot and secondly this is more important.

One of the main issues of the debate was inherited privilege. It aint fair that so many people are virtually guaranteed a good life because of the circumstances of their birth. I get it, but two of the very biggest advantages that people are randomly born into are their country and their natural talents. The former makes free immigration a must and the latter should make us much less keen on meritocracy.

2 comments:

Trevor Black said...

Well, only if you believe in meritocracy with no obligation to contribute to those endowed with less natural talent.

This is one of my key quandries and why I like the advent of Philanthrocapitalists like Gates and Buffet. Meritocracy and Capitalism works wonderfully IF these are the kind of people who make.

Carlos Slim Helu, is more of the `F off its my money and I am no charity' kind of guy. With this type of person making it to the top, I am less inclined to support meritocracy.

I think people with natural talents should be able to live a better than average life provided they contribute something.

Buffet often talks of the problem of the `correct price' giving rediculous results and the responsibility that that should lead to. A Boxer can be paid phenomenal amounts of money for a few rounds. Eddie Murphy spent just a few hours recording each of the Shrek Movies for ridiculous amounts of compensation.

Yes the price is `correct'

But Socialists and Communists belief that a task has an underlying value (which prevents resources going where they are most efficient) is harder to counter in situations like this.

Maybe law can't solve the problem, but intense social pressure towards philanthropy makes the argument for meritocracy stronger.

Greg Torr said...

But does the vast inequality caused by the random, uneven distribution of natural talent and place of birth offend you as much as uneven distribution of inherited wealth? I think Stuart is trying to argue that it should.

If random inequality implies obligations for those who get lucky, then this means those born in rich countries have an obligation to help the people unlucky enough to be born in poor countries. By far the easiest way to correct for this source of unfairness is to allow completely free movement of people between countries (which you could argue is a fundamental human right anyway, but that's a separate point).