A fair go is the best incentive of all

“I and, as far as I know, most progressives do not argue for full equality. We realize that would weaken incentives.” (Joseph E.Stiglitz, The price of inequality, pg.98)

The argument that inequality to some degree has a beneficial and necessary purpose in society is the same as ‘the weak (or poor) must suffer what they must’, as if the poor must be the sacrificial lambs of society, it is a very imperial way of thinking. This intellectually incoherent argument is absurdly cruel and could only ever be suggested by those in privileged positions that will never have to suffer the indignity of their own proposition. I would like to ask them will they volunteer to be the lamb?

Humans have always and will always work to fulfill their needs and a desire to ease the production process of fulfilling these needs goes hand in hand, this is what drives innovation. Added to that humans search to find purpose in their lives. To satisfy this we will work, innovate, create and ulitmatley find a way to make a contribution, which allows us a purposeful life.

Need and purpose are our innate human incentives for work and inclusion propels the collective nature that benefits all. Not exclusion, which is what institutionalized inequality is all about. Deliberately excluding some to create fear in others to work harder only means humanity as a whole misses out on the productivity and talents of those excluded and everyone is poorer for this loss. It also creates unproductive hierarchies that have insatiable appetites, meaning once you deliberately rig the system to cause some inequality it will always grow to more inequality that is their design. Giving someone a fair go and chance at reward for effort is the best incentive, equality is in itself an incentive to try.

To deny someone equality is to deny them justice.

Camille Barr

Camille Barr is an Australian poet, essayist & artist.