Inequality vs. Equality

Throughout the history of humankind, there has been inequality in every aspect of life and society.  There has been much debate about how to end or lessen inequality.  However, seldom has an argument been made for the benefits of inequality.  In order to completely abolish inequality, every person in society would have to be treated on an equal level.  Every individual would have to have equal consideration in politics, regardless of wealth or connections.  Every individual would have to have an equal share of wealth and authority.  Every individual would have to be treated equal to every other individual by every other individual.  Only then would inequality be gone.  That society has never existed, and likely cannot exist.  Another important point to consider is the source of the inequality.  Inequality of opportunity, where a person has less opportunity to an education, is more harmful than inequality from varying levels of intelligence, skill or qualifications.  Some forms of inequality have beneficial effects on society as well as harmful effects, and these beneficial effects outweigh the harm that comes with them.

Inequality has certain benefits to society.  In nearly every relationship between people, there is generally a leader, and then there are followers.  This relationship structure allows the group of people to act and react in an organized manner.  The guidance of the leader enables the group to undertake larger projects that benefit the group as a whole (Perkins, 2014).  One example of this type of benefit is the Theodore Roosevelt Dam in Arizona.  The construction project that took place from 1905 through 1911 and employed thousands of construction workers from all over the world.  This project provides irrigation water for the agricultural industry of Arizona, as well as drinking water and electricity for a large portion of the state (The Salt River Project, 1996).  Two more examples are the Panama Canal finished in 1913 and opened in 1914, and the Suez Canal which opened in October 1869.  Both of these were multinational projects that have benefited the shipping industry for a hundred years or more.  The canals allow cargo ships to shorten their voyages by thousands of nautical miles by not having to sail around the southern tips of South America or the Cape of Good Hope.  Every man, woman and child in any developed country has benefited from these canals with lower cost of purchasing goods in their local markets.  These projects would not have been possible if there was no person in a leadership position over the workers that constructed these marvels of engineering.  These projects required some person to have authority over other people.  There was inequality, which rewarded the world.

In the world of employment, some people are reimbursed more for their time than others in the form of a higher wage.  This inequality, for the most part, reflects the productive abilities of each worker.  If a worker is capable of performing tasks that bring the employer more revenue than another worker, that worker is generally rewarded with a higher wage.  This acknowledges that not all employees are created equal.  Some employees, through experience, education, or a combination of the two are more valuable for the employer’s profitability.  This places an incentive on the employee to work hard to be more valuable to the employer.  They have reason to put forth the effort to educate themselves, to become a better employee.  They get rewarded with a larger paycheck.

That very same incentive drives an entrepreneur to start a business.  The desired reward for the entrepreneur is a pile of money.  Granted, that is not the only motivation to work hard, or to start a business, but it is a powerful one nonetheless.  Eight out of ten new businesses fail (Wagner, 2013).  That is a staggering statistic.  An eighty percent failure rate puts a huge amount of risk on the prospect of opening a new business.  However, entrepreneurs open new businesses every day.  The incentive to face such daunting odds is the prospect of the payoff at the end.  If you remove that possible payoff, there is much less incentive to take the huge risk.  It was this monetary payoff that motivated Bill Gates to open a little software business called Microsoft.  It took many years to achieve the level of success he enjoys today, but if you were to ask him, I imagine he would tell you it was worth the risk.  This obviously creates inequality between the super rich such as Bill Gates and the mere mortals that purchase his products, but this inequality is his motivation to work hard and succeed.

That little software company grew to be a giant, and now employs thousands of people all over the world.  These employees range in salary from the highest executive officers to the custodians that clean their offices.  But one thing makes them the same.  They are all employed because Bill Gates took the risk.  They get a paycheck, not simply because of their time, effort and hard work, but because Bill Gates built a corporation with sufficient revenues to pay them, as well as line his own pockets.  This is often referred to as the trickledown effect.  Because Bill Gates created Microsoft, there are thousands of positions available for software developers, systems administrators,  executive officers, and even custodians.  The wealth generated by Bill Gates is shared with the employees that helped him generate it.  Then, each of his employees takes that money and spends it in the marketplace on things they need to live, such as housing, transportation, food and entertainment.  The money generated by Microsoft pays the paychecks of the store clerks who have never been employed by Microsoft.  This effect can be traced several layers down away from Microsoft.

However, inequality has its dark side as well.  There are several examples of how inequality can be harmful to individuals, and even society as a whole.  One such example is the concept of a monopoly (Pettinger, 2011).  If a business or individual has a monopoly power over some resource or market, they can hold the prices too high for the common people to pay.  Even politicians with strong views on minimal government oversight agree that monopolies have to be regulated.  You cannot have a free trade economy without some form of protecting the little guy’s right to be competitive.

Another example is if a firm has monopsony power.  This occurs when a business has the power to hold market wages below the competition (Pettinger, 2011).  This means that the employees are paid lower than what they can be expected to live on.  An employer may be motivated to reduce wages to increase profits, and can lead to a much more pronounced unequal distribution of wealth.

Income has a diminishing marginal utility.  This is a fancy way of saying that the first $1,000 of income has a large impact on one’s quality of life, while every subsequent $1,000 of income has a reduced affect on one’s quality of life (Pettinger, 2011).  If a gift of $1,000 is given to a homeless person with no money, it will significantly change his situation, even if temporarily.  Give that same gift of $1,000 to a multimillionaire, and that person would not notice any change in living standard.  The rich that keep getting richer at the expense of the poor are not experiencing a change in living standard significant enough to justify the damage that loss of resources causes to the poor’s living standard.

There are certain social issues that rise out of inequality.  Many people with lesser means hold resentment or anger against people with greater means.  This friction between classes of socio economic levels has led to riots, property damage and even loss of life.  People of all levels in society lose out when this happens.  Often the friction is exacerbated by the perception that the unequal distribution of wealth is unfair; i.e. monopoly or monopsony power, or diminished marginal utility.

In closing, although inequality has harmful effects on society, some of those being unequal power through monopolies, monopsonies, and the diminished marginal utility, there are also a great many benefits society gains from other forms of inequality.  To abolish all inequality would be to dismantle society as we know it, and remove a large portion of the incentive for employees to better themselves, or for entrepreneurs to take the risk of starting new businesses.  The focus on inequality is often centered solely on the harmful effects of just a few types of inequality.  These are deserving of attention, and should be addressed, but they do not represent the whole of inequality.  Much good is also achieved by inequality.  Much care has to be taken to keep the incentives in place for our workers to educate themselves, to become better employees, and for entrepreneurs to take the risks of business.  Steps must be taken to ensure equality on principles of humanity, but with respect to gains of higher levels of employment or business, let the more productive members of society have their reward.  Let them have their shiny cars, big houses and fancy vacations.  Such is the driving force of our society.



Works Cited


Perkins, S. (2014, August 5). The benefits of inequality. Retrieved October 23, 2014, from Science Magazine:

Pettinger, T. (2011, October 18). Pros and Cons of Inequality. Retrieved November 5, 2014, from Economics Help:

The Salt River Project. (1996). Theodore Roosevelt Dam. Retrieved October 24, 2014, from The Salt River Project:

Wagner, E. T. (2013, September 12). Five Reasons 8 Out Of 10 Businesses Fail. Retrieved November 5, 2014, from Forbes:



A True Democracy in the Age of the Internet

It seems that everybody has a different idea of what the word Democracy means.  A search of the Internet yields a wide field of views on this subject.  Nearly every governmental system on the planet can fit within somebody’s definition of a Democracy.  The definition of a True Democracy can be even harder to nail down.  Every link followed leads to a different idea of what a True Democracy is.  For the purposes of this essay, the term True Democracy refers to a system of governance in which every citizen has equal voice in all of the decisions of the government, from mundane day to day actions, ratification or repeal of laws, and even to declarations of war or peace and the execution of war time actions.  Every decision is presented to the citizens for a vote, and the popular vote decides the course of action.  Such a governmental system has never been able to exist due to the logistic impossibility of involving the entire populous in day to day decisions.  The means of communication has never been capable of supporting the sharing of information that a True Democracy would require.  But now we have the Internet.  As of 2012 Google was processing 40,000 search queries per second (Internet Live Stats, 2012).  At that rate, a set of servers could process the votes of the current population of the United States in 7,975.9 seconds, or 2.2 hours (United States Federal Government, 2014).  That assumes that all 319,036,855 citizens of the United States are eligible to vote, and do so.  That is not the case.  The number of registered voters was 180,345,625 as of October 15, 2012 (The Guardian, 2012).  At 40,000 per second, a one hundred percent turnout of registered voters would get processed in just 4,508.6 seconds, or 1.25 hours.  These numbers show that the technology exists to use a completely online voting system, so daily votes are now possible.  The time it would take to process a real world vote would be much shorter, because there has never been a 100% turnout.  The only question that remains is the effect of this system on our country.  Would this system work in practice, and would it create equality, or would it create inequality?

The core structure of this True Democracy would need to be significantly different than what the United States currently has.  The registered voters of the United States would effectively replace the legislative branch of the government.  The people would thus replace the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Executive and Judicial branches would stay in place, but with altered forms and functions.  The Judicial Branch would remain largly unaltered; the primary difference being the need for impeachment procedures for the Supreme Court Justices.  A lifetime appointment with no method of removal gives a Supreme Court Justice no incentive to stay true to their task of ruling solely by the wording of the Constitution.  A method of removal offers recourse to the voters to address a rogue judge.  The Executive Branch would receive much more alteration.  The President of the United States would remain in control of the day to day operations of the government, but with the strict mandate to follow the course of action laid out by the voters.  He or she is simply the mechanism of action for the will of the people.  A very clear system of impeachment would keep the President from straying too far from the will of the voters.  This president would be very much a puppet president.  He or she would have little or no power to make decisions, only to act on those of the voters.

This system of government would have its inherent strengths.  In it, every voting citizen has an equal voice in the course of their country.  Each voter has the opportunity to make a direct impact on their world.  No minority group or special interest group can trump the interest of the greater populace.  Since every of the decision is made by a vote people, no legislation can be purchased by brute force lobbying power.  No matter how much money a corporation throws into a political party’s coffers, the final decisions lay with the voters.  The NRA cannot purchase legislation for gun owner’s rights, and Planned Parenthood cannot purchase legislation to lessen the restrictions on abortions.

Of course, this system of government would also have its limitations and faults.  A person can be logical, reasonable, and trustworthy.  A large group of people though, can be an unpredictable and panicky animal, capable of switching directions on a moment’s whim.  Consequently, the country would be liable to wild changes of directions or allegiances depending on the mood of the day.  The voting populous of the United States could easily be turned into a mob, flitting from one opinion to another like a bird chasing a bug.  As soon as another school shooting on the level of Sandy Hook Elementary happened, gun control advocates would take advantage of the emotion of the voters and submit legislation to take away gun rights, and in the emotion of the moment, the voting populous would gladly give away their right to self-protection.  In the emotion of the moment, the opinion would be, you would have to be a child hating sociopath to not vote for gun restrictions.  The media would become immensely powerful.  You would see targeted campaigns to sway voters one way or the other, depending on the interest of that media organization, and that interest could be swayed by lobbyists.  So, in the end, lobbying would not end.  The money would flow to media outlets instead of politicians.  The voting system itself would be a massive target for would be hackers, crackers and ne’er-do-wells.  The direction of the free world would depend on the voting system.  Any security breach would invalidate the entire vote of the day, and it would shatter the citizen’s confidence in the system’s viability.  A hacker would not even have to alter many of the votes to destroy the system’s validity.  The public’s knowledge that the system was compromised would do far more harm than even the most devastating changes a hacker could make.  Imagine the impact of a nation state gaining access to the voter system, such as China.  Then the foreign power would have more control over the direction of the United States that its voters.  The voting system itself would effectively disenfranchise an entire segment of the population.  The only people that could vote are those with access to the Internet.  The lower socio-economic class with limited or no access to online resources would be cut off from having their voices heard.  Some limited concessions could be made to include these people, but such systems tend to be ineffective at best and abused at worse.  Finally, in order to set up a True Democracy, the entire system of checks and balances built by the founding fathers would be dismantled.  Very little would remain of the elegant and well crafted system they built for us.

In conclusion, the overall effects of a True Democracy would be both good and bad.  The entire system of government would have to be changed, and it would significantly alter the function of every part of our country.  To a great extent there would be greater equality, because every registered voter would have equal voice in matters of government.  The lesser extent is the exclusion of the lower socio-economic class with limited access to the Internet.  Decisions would be made by the people for their own interests.  But these people could be easily swayed by the emotional events of the moment and the agenda of the media.  No special interest group can purchase legislation directly.  But targeted advertisement campaigns could significantly sway public opinion enough to get what the corporation or lobbyists want.  And no matter how secure any computer system is made, there are always security holes.  With sufficient access and time motivated hackers would find ways to exploit the system for their own agenda, even if only to cause mayhem and get their hacker alias in the spotlight for a moment.  For all of the appeal of a True Democracy, it is human nature that is its downfall.  The reason it can never work is due to the unpredictable and selfish nature of people.  A person is reasonable, but people are not.  A person can make decisions that are against their own interests because it benefits someone else they love.  People will not.  As flawed as our system of government is right now, it is still better than a True Democracy.  We have a solid governmental system, and this significant a change could only result in catastrophic consequences.  The inability to communicate on large enough a scale to facilitate a True Democracy is not the only thing that has stopped it from being used in the past.  It is not a viable system of government.



Works Cited


Internet Live Stats. (2012). Google Search Statistics. Retrieved October 7, 2014, from Internet Live Stats:

The Guardian. (2012, October 15). US voter registrations by state. Retrieved October 8, 2014, from The Guardian:

United States Federal Government. (2014). U.S. and World Population Clock. Retrieved October 7, 2014, from United States Census Bureau:


An Historical Interpretation of the Second Amendment

The debate over gun control versus the right to keep and bear arms is old, and has been a source of controversy and heated debate for a large portion of the United State’s history.  The gun control advocates interpret the second amendment to attribute the right of “the people” to bear arms to a “well regulated militia.”  The “right to arms” advocates interpret  the second amendment to attribute the right of “the people” to bear arms to each individual.  Only one of the two groups can be correct, and the interpretation of it tends to hinge on whether one exams the amendment with a loose interpretation of its language, or a more strictly literal lens.  The original authors of the amendment had something very specific in mind.  With careful reading of the amendment itself, and with consideration given to the previous drafts of it, a clear understanding of the goals and intentions of the authors can be understood, the various protections of our freedoms can be seen, not just to our right to firearms, but the protection of the other rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights, the United States has far less risk of invasion by a foreign military due to our citizens being armed, and each citizen becomes empowered to protect his or her home from the criminal element.

The second amendment is very short, and was written in plain English.  The authors of the amendment wanted it to be clear and easily understood by the common citizen.  The second amendment reads as follows, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” (The National Archives Museum).  The sentence can be broken down into three parts.  Part one consists of, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…”  The second part consists of, “… the right of the people to keep and bear Arms…”  The final parts wraps it up, “…shall not be infringed.”  The first two parts outline the two subjects the author wished to address.  The third section is the action, performed on each of the two previous parts individually.  So, the sentence can be rewritten into two sentences like this.  “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, shall not be infringed.” and “The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”  Both elements are understood to be of equal importance to the freedom of the people, and both independent and supportive of each other.  There is historical evidence to back up this interpretation of the second amendment.

The best way to determine the intent of the authors of the Bill of Rights is to read the various drafts of the amendment prior to the official one.  It sheds light on their mindset, what their goals were.  The first draft of the second amendment, as proposed by James Madison on June 8, 1789, reads as follows, “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person (Library of Congress).”  One should note that the very first thing he discussed was the right of the people to keep and bear arms.  This is illuminating.  The militia was held for the second section.  Mr. Madison chose to address the people first, indicating that the people are of utmost importance.  Also not that the people are not the same as the militia, otherwise he would not have felt it necessary to mention both individually.  Make note of the final part of the sentence.  No person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.  He addresses an individual’s right to their religious belief.  Thus, one can infer that the right of the people to keep and bear arms is an individual’s right, not a right only of the collective to have their militia.  The people are not to be construed to mean the militia, or vice versa.  The people are individuals, and the militia is the collective force of the state, or a group of citizens acting in concert, even if they act against the state.

Having just overthrown the British rule of the colonies, the authors of the second amendment wanted to ensure that the citizens could protect themselves from a tyrannical government, should one arise.  Given that goal, the authors wanted to empower every individual to preparedness.  A firearm, excepting ones used for hunting, are like an insurance policy.  One buys one, hoping to never have to use it, but thankful if the need ever arises.  It is better to have a gun and never need it, than to need a gun and not have it, or worse, not have the legal right to have it.  Yet, the scope of the second amendment goes much further.  The Bill of Rights secures our rights to freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the freedom to gather peaceably to address the government for redress of grievances.  Without the right to posses firearms, all of these rights could easily be nullified.  Without firearms to keep the lawmakers in fear of the people, they would have little disincentive to legislating our other rights away.  Our second amendment serves to protect our freedoms by standing as a buffer between the lawmakers and our other rights.

Since the Civil War, there has not been an invading foreign army on the United State’s soil.  This is due in some measure to the citizens of the United States having ready access to arms.  Any foreign army would obviously have to engage our military, but that would only be a part of their fight.  There are millions of guns in homes across this nation.  Each citizen in possession of a firearm becomes a threat to the invading force.  This serves as a deterrent to invasion (Levinson, 1989).  Very quickly, groups would coalesce together to form mini militias, or to assist local United States military forces.  No other nation has a citizenry that is as well armed as that in the United States.  However, invasions are not always on a national level.  News stories often include home invasions.

I disarmed populace cannot protect itself from criminals.  Criminals choose soft targets, ones that they feel give them a reasonable chance to get what they want, with less risk of personal injury.  The criminal does not want to get into a gun battle with a homeowner, so they will target a home they believe to be unprotected.  The same logic applies to all locations.  Any place where firearms are prohibited becomes a soft target for an armed criminal.  A prime example is a school.  School shootings keep happening because the potential shooter knows nobody else on campus will have a gun.  The criminal knows that they face little threat of opposition when they go after these soft targets.  The police are very limited in their capacity to protect the populace.  They cannot be at every location to thwart any armed violence.  They can only arrive as quickly as possible, and most likely fill out an after incident report.  At that point, the violence and crime have already occurred.  The citizen needs the ability to protect his or her own home, his or her own life and his or her own family.

In closing, the authors of the second amendment put forth a sentence that will forever spark debate over its meaning.  They could have been clearer in the wording, but with examination of their previous versions, the official one becomes clear.  The second amendment protects the right of every individual to keep and bear arms.  The right of the citizenry of the United States to keep and bear arms safeguards every other right enumerated in the Bill of Rights.  It protects our freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the freedom to assemble, and the freedom from unlawful search and seizure.  The second amendment protects the citizens of the United States from their own government, and it provides them a deterrent to would be foreign invaders.  The second amendment gives each person the right to have the means of protecting his or her home from the criminal element, and the right to the ability to protect themselves wherever they may go.  The second amendment protects all of the rights of the United States citizen, not just their right to keep and bear arms.



Works Cited

Levinson, S. (1989). The Embarrassing Second Amendment. Retrieved September 22, 2014, from

Library of Congress. (n.d.). A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation. Retrieved September 15, 2014, from U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774 – 1875:

The National Archives Museum. (n.d.). Bill of Rights. Retrieved September 13, 2014, from The Charters of Freedom: