Michael Medved

Liberals love to emphasize their deep commitment to “social justice” but their obsession with economic equality produces policies that count as neither just nor fair.

Only in a fantasy world would the reasonable, impartial and evenhanded distribution of society’s rewards ever result in roughly equivalent incomes.

If individuals got paid strictly according to their contributions to the economy then the outcome will be radical inequalities, every time. When the left insists on “closing the gap between rich and poor” they’re not pushing for justice but rather promoting unjust favoritism for the least productive and competitive members of society.

Consider an imaginary instance in which a homeowner hires a crew of workmen to paint the four walls of his perfectly square living room. The painters don’t get along at all during the job so they come to the householder and demand separate payment. If they each contributed equally to the finished product – if each the painters, for instance, covered one of the walls – then it makes sense for the guy who hired them to pay them equally.

But what if one member of the crew devoted three full days to the job, while the others spent less than a single day? Advocates for equality might insist that all painters receive identical payment, since they all spent time some time on the same project. But paying the workers the same fees when they worked vastly different schedules would produce unfair discrepancies in terms of their hourly wages.

And then there’s the even trickier situation that arises due to inevitable differences in levels of skill and productivity. What if three painters each clocked exactly the same number of hours on the job, but one of them managed to paint two whole walls, while the others completed only one wall each? To pay the participants equally in this situation would amount to a gross injustice –attaching far less value to the two walls painted by the one worker, than to the single walls painted by each of his colleagues.

Since even identical investments of time can bring sharply different consequences, justice and fairness demand very different rewards. Justice requires that contributors on different levels receive unequal payments. Equal rewards, on the other hand, demand unfair treatment to the most skillful and productive participants.

Michael Medved

Michael Medved's daily syndicated radio talk show reaches one of the largest national audiences every weekday between 3 and 6 PM, Eastern Time. Michael Medved is the author of eleven books, including the bestsellers What Really Happened to the Class of '65?, Hollywood vs. America, Right Turns, The Ten Big Lies About America and 5 Big Lies About American Business
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