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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

What Makes For Success?

Explaining how income is only one of many traits that go into what makes a human being "superior", Don Boudreaux's short letter to the editor of The New Yorker is brilliant. He responds to an article by John Cassidy "Relatively Deprived".

Because status among humans is determined not only by income but also by traits such as political power, athletic prowess, military heroics, intellectual success, and good looks, equalizing incomes will intensify the importance of these non-pecuniary traits as sources of status. And there's no reason why persons with low status in these non-pecuniary categories will not suffer all the stress and envy now allegedly suffered by people with low incomes.

Thomas Sowell has explained that so many facets of a person go into their wealth creation, that such things as racial preference through Affirmative Action do not necessarily offset all of the other advantages that successful people have. Cultural norms within ethnic or racial groups, innate intelligence, individual character and those traits listed by Boudreaux cannot also be "evened" by law. So merely basing redistribution of money or access to higher education does not alter the likelihood of results. The key is to make the opportunities fair through an unbiased process.


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