By Tom Rhodes, 4/24/2015
When you were in school, if you got an A for a class did that mean somebody else was only allowed to get an F? Is the fact you were given a D in Algebra predicated on the fact that others were given higher grades and there were only so many A’s, B’s and C’s available for the teacher to give, so you were stuck with what was left?
Imagine you’re in a class of 20 students, and the teacher is given a pile of 20 grades to give out, she has 1 A’s, 3 B’s, 12 C’s, 3 D’s, and 1 F. Because that is the total of the grades she has, the entire pie so to speak, she can only give out those grades. How do you think that would affect the work habits of those students who knew they weren’t as smart as some of the others. Let’s say the worked hard and studied and mastered the material and did all the work so had an average of 85% on all the assignments and tests. But there were 6 really smart kids in the class who didn’t have to work at all and they all averaged over 95%. Yes you could kick those kids ass on the football field, but in Algebra not so much. Is it fair you couldn’t get a B and only one of those smart kids could get an A because there were only so many good grades to go around?
If that were the case, then obviously doing your best is not worth the effort you can do minimal and probably get the same C, no amount of effort you put in would get you a B, much less an A. The few class clowns who don’t care and don’t do anything will get the D’s and F, so why should you do your best? If you believe that’s how grades work, only a few with unfair advantage of very high IQ get the good grades, and the rest are stuck with what’s left. The teacher has no control over how many of what grade they can give because the pie is cut and there are only so many pieces to give out, and only one of them is an A.
Would you consider that a “fair” system. Of course not. Is that the way grades are awarded? Of course not. Grades are not given on a strict bell curve. Grades are not given at all. Standards are set and those who reach those standards through hard work or natural ability earn the appropriate grade. That is fair. In the above example that student who worked hard and averaged 85% would get a B, regardless of what any other student did. Those 6 smart kids who got 95% would all get an A, their earning an A doesn’t affect any of the grades of the other students. In fact it is not uncommon for in a class of Algebra students that nobody gets a D or F. Nobody has to be given a bad grade because there are not enough high grades to go around. Grades are earned, not given.
The same applies to money. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is a gazillionaire, he didn’t get that way by taking away from what any other person could earn, he created that wealth by earning it. Nobody is poor because Zuckerman took too much of the income pie. He simply baked his own pie. If wealth is a fixed size pie, and Zuckerberg in less than a decade became worth $34 billion dollars, that would mean he took $34,000,000,000 from other people, Sorry but he didn’t, in fact most people use his product, Facebook, for free. Nobody’s pay got cut or lost their job so that Zuckerberg could get more money. Just like grades, him getting an A+ in social media didn’t come at the expense of somebody else losing anything.
The whole “income inequality” mantra, is based on a lie. Income is just like grades, you get what you earn. You can earn more if you put in more work and have more natural ability than others. As long as people are different, have different goals, different abilities, different skills, there will be different incomes. Not all work is valued the same. The fact is the 80 IQ guy doesn’t have the ability or skills the 140 IQ guy has, and probably doesn’t earn as much. But the High IQ engineer doesn’t take anything from the low IQ landscaper, he’s paid more because he has more responsibility and fewer people can do engineering. If the low IQ landscaper makes a mistake, grass dies or a yard looks ugly, if the high IQ engineer makes a mistake in designing a bridge, people die.
Just because a skill or ability is difficult and rare doesn’t make it valuable. Not many people can swallow a sword while riding a unicycle juggling bowling pins, wearing a pink too-too with a Chihuahua dancing on their forehead. It’s a cool skill, I’ve seen a street entertainer do that, I doubt there are very many others who can do that. As an entertainer I’m sure Samuel Jackson earns more just standing, looking cool, and growling. Why such income inequality. Because you are willing to voluntarily give up more of their money for one than the other. Nobody is forcing you to pay more for a movie ticket to Jackson wear an eye patch on the big screen, then you are willing to throw into the street entertainers hat. One is more valuable to you than the other. That voluntary, not forced, difference is the cause of income inequality, not the people earning more taking an unfair part of the pie. Income inequality is no more unfair than some kids getting A’s and some getting C’s in algebra class. Income inequality is nothing more than a reflection of the differences that exist in individual’s ability, skill, drive, goals, and life choices.