Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Politics, a belief in (in)equality

On March 1, Scientific American published this article: Many Differences between Liberals and Conservatives May Boil Down to One Belief. That topic caught my immediate interest. My blog title summarizes their article in just one line: Politics is a either a belief in equality or in inequality.

It took me a while to digest this article because it uses too many words for a simple message: Politics is a belief in (in)equality. Once you believe in equality then you are likely to vote as a left-liberal. Once you believe in inequality then you are likely to vote for a conservative party.

I think, feel and believe (sic!) that their conclusion is valid. In my view, equality is a hypothetical concept. Our societies are built on varying degrees of inequality (ie, low-high). One can strive for equality but it cannot happen due to natural differences (eg, men vs women, talents).

Don’t get me wrong: any aim to reduce inequality will (usually) benefit our societies at large. It’s similar to the Greater Good principle (a.k.a. utilitarianism). The folk tale of Robin Hood is a (medieval) example. The more inequality, the more civil disorder. The more equality, the more harmony.

Latter may suggest that there is no maximum for equality. I would disagree. In my view, full equality is like communism: it never ever works. In my view, any society needs a minimum of inequality.

How to find a balance between a (required) minimum of inequality and a (desired) maximum of equality??

Clearly, that balance changes over time. The Aristotle quote below would (then) refer to very different examples than today’s examples. The arrow of time as well as the Space Time dimension have a habit of making our beliefs – and our belief systemschange over time.

Corrado Gini (1884-1965), an Italian statistician, demographer and sociologist, calculated a “measure of the income inequality in a society“. Today, that inequality index has his name: the Gini coefficient. For an overview of the Gini Coefficient by Country, see this 2023 map.

It should come as no surprise that countries with a low Gini coefficient also rank high on the list of happiest countries in the annual World Happiness Report, a UN initiative. Wiki, 2023: “For the 6th consecutive year, Finland was ranked on top, followed by Denmark, Iceland, [] and the Netherlands.”

Those countries show the balance between a (required) minimum of inequality and a (desired) maximum of equality.

“The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.”

quote by Aristotle (384–322 BC), an Ancient Greek philosopher and polymath

Equality (1984) by Howard Jones
artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-artist, Wiki-album+song

Everybody wants to feel happy, even if you think that you don’t
Everyone wants to know the secret, even if you think that you don’t
Everybody thinks they’re different from the next man now
But we just got to realize we’re just the same

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.


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