For example, a NJ Star-Ledger letter writer (‘Madiba’s’ legacy, R.F. Downey) approvingly cited the minimum wage demonstrations and then wrote:
We can do the right thing by making sure people who work a 40-hour week can survive and their children can thrive.
I was at a Jets game where a young man was selling hot chocolate for $10 each. I realized this was nearly his hourly pay. I was in New York City, where a young lady working at a burger joint dropped her drug store mascara. When I returned it, you would have thought I gave her $100. It probably represented two hours’ work.
He concluded with: "This is not my America. We can honor Mandela’s legacy by making economic equality a human right."
It never occurred to Downey to ask: How many hours would it take for "a young lady working at a burger joint" to produce that mascara from scratch?—i.e., to conceive of the knowledge, engineer, discover the raw materials that go into it, find them, dig them out of the earth, refine them, create the manufacturing processes and tools required to put these and myriad other steps together to create the final product called mascara. Weeks; months; years; assuming the virtual impossibility that she could do it at all? What about the tremendous productive knowledge and steps that go into creating the "low paying job" that enables the young woman to get that complex end product called mascara—in a mere two hours work?
The same kind of analyses can be applied to everything a low wage worker's, or anyone's, money can buy. When a low wage worker can afford mascara on a mere two hours work, that is called a high standard of living. What would her two hours of labor have bought her prior to the industrial revolution, when the average person worked sunup to sundown just to keep himself and his family one step ahead of starvation and death by exposure?
On the issue of equality, I left essentially these comments:
D.F. Downey's letter (‘Madiba’s’ legacy) raises an important question: What is equality? To the Founding Fathers, equality meant before the law, not equality of economic outcome. They understood rights as sanctions to freedom of action. They did not mean a claim to the same level of economic well-being as your neighbors regardless of your actions, . . . inaction, [or choices].
Every individual is unique in his intelligence, ability, productiveness, values, self-motivation, self-discipline, goals, physical attributes, ambition, and personal circumstances. Since the only proper way for people to deal with others in a civil society is by voluntary consent to mutual advantage–trade–it follows that each individual will earn according to his own unique personal attributes, life circumstances, and the extent to which others value what he produces by his own work. By definition, this means economic inequality as a natural consequence of human nature and civility. In a free society, economic inequality is a product of human diversity, and is both just and moral.
What is economic equality as a "right"? It can mean only one thing; that each of us is entitled to take by force what we have not earned from anyone who earns more. Since each of us who works earns both more than some and less than others, it means each of us is both the prey of those earning less and predator to those earning more. What kind of society does "economic equality as a human right" lead to? One in which every person is reduced to the level of the lowest, laziest, most shiftless dregs of society, because no one who earns anything is safe from the predators below him.
What will then become of the "young lady working at a burger joint" when all of the highly productive people that she expects a financial piece of have been crushed out of existence? How far will her two hours work go in the world of economic equality envisioned by the egalitarians?
We've seen this evil before. It is the kind of evil that is led by the ignorant, the greedy, and the envious, and exploited by the power-hungry; the government officials charged with seizing and redistributing the nation's wealth.
The only kind of equality that is just and consistent with a civil society is political equality—the equal rights of all to freely act on one's own judgment; to pursue one's own values; to keep what property one earns by his own work and in voluntary association and trade with others.
Economic equality by right leads to a society marked by a steady downward pull into universal poverty and enslavement. The economic equality (or social "justice") movement is a crusade of the parasites and the power-lusters. Political equality by right leads to an upwardly mobile society of broad-based prosperity and opportunity for any self-responsible person willing to work. The political equality movement is a crusade of the productive and peaceful coexistence. You can have either economic equality or political equality, but you can't have both. Downey envisions one America. Which is your America? That is the fundamental question we face.
The Left’s Egalitarian Trap (and Why Republicans Must Not Step In)
How Egalitarianism Rewards Failure and Penalizes Success
President Obama, Stop Damning the Achievers for their Virtues—Harry Binswanger