4. Fairness drives people, not equality.
Take the example of a lamp assembly factory. Treating everyone equal would mean that every worker is paid equally irrespective of the number or quality of lamps they produce. This would also imply that a worker cannot be fired for manufacturing too few lamps that are of an acceptable quality. If this system were to be in place, workers will lose interest in work, because there would be no appreciation for their labor. This system can be contrasted with a payment system which will pay the workers based upon the quality and quantity of their work.
Mark Sheshkin, a cognitive scientist at Yale University points out that although slogans for equality dominate social media and protests around the nation, most people actually appreciate a bit of inequality. As Sheshkin puts it, “we should aspire to fair inequality, not unfair equality.”
5. People are fine with inequality as long as it is fair.
Psychologists Alex Shaw and Kristina Olson performed an experiment to test this hypothesis. They assembled a group of children between the ages of 6 and 8. They were told about 2 boys, Dan and Mark, who had cleaned up their room. As a reward, Dan and Mark were to be given erasers. The children were given 5 erasers, so an even split was impossible. The children overwhelmingly supported the throwing away of the fifth eraser, rather than having an unequal division. They did so even when they were told that Dan or Mark would not know how many erasers the other got.
It might seem that these responses reflect a burning desire for equality, but more likely they reflect a wish for fairness. It is only because the children assumed that Dan and Mark put in equal effort to clean the room. And so when Shaw and Olson told the children that Dan worked harder than Mark, they were quite comfortable giving 3 to Dan and 2 to Mark. In other words, they were fine with inequality, so long as it was fair.
Do you agree that fairness is more important than equality? Express your opinion in the comments below.