Friday, May 30, 2014

The Dodson Theorem

My most brilliant insights often occur to me in the shower. The other day, I was just finishing up shampooing my hair when my thoughts ran to the left's current obsession with "income inequality." The news had just reported that the average compensation for CEOs has now passed $10 million for the first time, sending liberals into conniption fits of envy. Of course, no society, not even Russia, China, Cuba, or any other leftist utopia, has ever achieved income equality. While in America, there is a larger spread of incomes than you find in many countries, the lower 10% of Americans still earn more than the median income in most of the world. The conclusion must be that liberals would be happy for the poor to be poorer, if only the rich could also be poorer.

Suddenly, from this train of thoughts emerged a single truth which I have not heard expressed by anyone before:

Equality and opportunity are mutually exclusive.

This statement holds true universally, for any one aspect or continuum of measurement. Equality requires conformity, while opportunity can exist only where there is the possibility of exceptionalism. This principle is "The Dodson Theorem".

If government imposes income equality on all Americans, then there is no opportunity to earn a greater income through harder work or innovation. Conversely, if hard work and innovation pay off, some people will do better than others, which creates inequality.

If leftists set out to create complete income equality, there are three ways this goal could be approached:

The first possibility is for the state to determine the average income of all 310 million people in America, confiscate every dime of income above that level, and redistribute the money to those who earn less. Instantly the evil of income inequality would be vanquished. But what happens next? Everyone working hard to produce products or provide services and earning more than the average will now no longer have any incentive to keep producing. After all, people without their skills or knowledge or experience or hard work are earning just as much as they are. So they will start doing the minimum to earn the new average wage, at most. Productivity will collapse almost instantly. And people earning less than the average will see that people who work even less than them are still getting paid as much. In the second year, the average wage will drop nearly in half, but that is just the surface of the problem. Productivity will fall completely flat, so there will be nothing to buy with the money which is being earned. By the third year, the economy will be decimated.

The second possibility is for the state to mandate the same wage for every person. Whether you are a janitor, a doctor, a burger flipper, or a CEO, your wage will be exactly the same as everyone else's. Again, instant income equality, at least for those with a job. But why would someone get the education or do all the hard work to be a doctor or an engineer when it doesn't pay any better than any other job? Furthermore, why would anyone go to all the trouble to invent and innovate to create new advances which make people's lives better? It wouldn't benefit him at all. On the other end of the spectrum, people who don't have the skills or ability to provide value to their employer equal to the required wage would be unemployable, creating a whole new class of unproductive people. The standard of living for everyone would plummet. Equality in misery would be a reality.

The third possibility is for the state to nationalize all businesses and create a socialist state, assign people their job, and force them to work it. This would require a more heavy-handed totalitarian regime than we saw in Russia, China, North Korea, or Cuba. But hey, everyone would be equally oppressed. Except for the ruling class, of course. They are special.

Equality can only be achieved by a total surrender of freedom and by stripping individuals of the chance to excel. If there is income equality, there is no economic opportunity. Anyone advocating for an end of income inequality is supporting poverty and totalitarianism. There is no other way to achieve that objective.

But wait a minute, doesn't our founding document, The Declaration of Independence, say that "all men are created equal?"

Great question, and it illustrates a different aspect of the Dodson Theorem.

The self-evident truth that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" is a central precept of freedom. It flew in the face of every system of rule in the world at that time, where a king had the authority to rule because his father was the king before him, and the subjects had only the rights granted by the king, as he saw fit. Instead, it asserts that every person has the right to self-determination, and that right does not come from government, but from God. It saw people as citizens, not as subjects, and recognized their authority to choose their own leader who would serve under the rule law just as all the citizens did. All men are created equal in that we all have the same God-given rights and no person can rule over another. The Constitution established this principle as "equal protection under the law." In that aspect, we are equal, and as the Dodson Theorem says, there is no opportunity. I can't add to my God-given rights or assert my authority to rule over anyone.

The current divide between liberal ideologues and supporters of freedom and opportunity revolves around how we are equal, and what opportunity we have. Liberals want government to impose economic conformity, whether it be in health care, income, or property. They use every tool at their disposal, from the EPA to the IRS to force this radical egalitarianism on people who largely don't want it. They progress incrementally, but with each step there is less opportunity. On the other side are those who see the role of government as being to protect the essential liberty of individuals, and otherwise to stay out of their way, allowing them to achieve their fullest potential. Some will go further than others, and some will crash and burn, but each person will create his own destiny.

Our nation stands at a fork in the road, one path leading downward to collectivism, the other upward to individual liberty and opportunity. Which path we take will depend on more than just elections. It will depend on what we demand from government. If we look to government to be our provider or our savior to rescue us from the consequences of our own decisions, we give the ruling class more power to determine the course of our lives. If we keep the government on a short leash, only allowing it to carry out its role of upholding the civil society using the enumerated powers given to it by the Constitution, recognizing that Government produces nothing, that everything is produced by our own ingenuity and industry, then we allow each person to pursue limitless achievement.

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