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Are all of Jack’s arguments realistic?

November 15, 2010

This blog post is written chiefly about “Village Politics” that we had to read last week. The majority of Jack’s arguments I think do make sense; some of his lines are eloquently written as well. One in particular that I liked was “They are so free, that there’s nobody safe”.

I do have one major problems with his arguments:

Jack’s opinion on equality

I feel his version of equality is not realistic at all. If everyone was given equal land certainly not everyone would go about farming and growing potatoes. Like we just read in the Federalist, everyone has different tastes and interests, so assuming that everyone would react in the same way would be unreasonable. Some would probably sell the land and start a business,  or they may move to other trades. This may be difficult at first and the early trades set up may not be very sophisticated but as more and more services become available, better businesses would form. Eventually inequality would come about again (beyond the natural inequality that Jack thinks exists in any society). Also the passage where he mentions natural inequality directly detracts from his previous argument about equality. The simple fact that he mentions that some people might steal shows that not everyone would be confined to merely farming. It also shows that different people have different skills which, as I mentioned before, would mean that his version of equality could not last for long.

Jack later defines equality as “For every man to pull down every one that is above him till they are as low as the lowest”. Agreed that some people would lose a significant portion of their wealth if everyone is to be equal. However, all the rich people owned, at least in part, would be appropriated to the extreme poor. Even using Jack’s own example of everyone being given a piece of land, one can see that some people would be better off because not everyone might have even that much to begin with.

What are your opinions on Jack’s definition of equality?

  1. jbrasspolsci permalink
    November 15, 2010 9:14 PM

    Equal distribution does not work for several reasons. One, any motivational factor is taken away as there is no reason to work hard and compete if everyone receives the same outcome. Also, it is unfair for people who work harder than others and receive the same result. Except for unusual situations where people are born into riches and money is supplied for generations, those who work for what they accomplish deserve more than those who chose not to work. If everyone is to be equal, the people who are rich and worked for what they accomplish not only lose a significant portion of their wealth, but all of it. There is no “richest” in a society where everyone is equal. As far as land being distributed evenly, there is a zero possibility of everyone acting upon his or her land the same way. Unless laws were set in place forcing people to act solely one way on the land they were given, the differences of people’s interests are too great to end up with the same result. Society is made to have different classes and be diverse; how could one characterize a society without any difference?

  2. neilrab permalink
    November 15, 2010 9:50 PM

    I agree with you that Jack’s argument is flawed. There is no such thing as perfect distribution and perfect inequality. It is part of human nature to be competitive and want to attain as much as possible of everything. Even in communist countries where everyone is supposed to receive the same resources from the government, people always find ways to optimize what they have, even if it means sometimes getting their hands dirty.

    Everyone has different interests, so like you said, even if everyone is given a piece of land, it doesn’t mean that everyone will do the same thing with it. Also, if everyone farmed potatoes, let’s say, then there would be a high demand for other things and most potatoes would go to waste, so differentiation and having a competitive advantage on certain products/skills is essential to a successful economy and a successful nation.

  3. jaclburr permalink
    November 16, 2010 11:48 AM

    I definitely see flaws in Jack’s argument, as you state. However, I think there is definitely merit in his discussion of bringing down everyone until they are all low. In this sense, there is no place for higher educated people, for example. Do we want to be taught by those who are merely as educated as us? It is more productive to have experts of certain things, who are then able to teach others who are “low” in knowledge of said subject. Also, on the subject of different people having different skills, I think Jack means that inequality is good in this sense because we all benefit from different people doing different things. We don’t all have to be doctors, just to be equal. Instead, those good at practicing medicine should do that, while those good at building houses shall build houses.

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