Meet Tom. Tom is a carpenter, and a good carpenter at that. He’s capable of building 60 of the common 100 types of American homes with a 100% guarantee of success of quality, and is likely to make himself a good living for the rest of his life averaging between $50,000-$80,000/year.
Were you to compare him in any number of other universes, he will never make more than $90,000 in any version of his life. He is built to be a common carpenter and construction worker and while he might be multi-faceted and capable of building furniture and playing the guitar for a local band, Tom will never do anything better than he does construction.
The best life Tom could have in Mississippi would include a 60-acre plot, a four-bedroom home with a living room, den, large kitchen for his wife Sue to house them and their two children, Ricky and Dicky.
If Tom were never to meet anyone else in his life who could build 60% of American homes, and whose jobs never made more than $40,000-$60,000, Tom would be a wealthy man. If he believed that man could never make more than $100,000 a year, nor build more than 60% of American homes, he would be content and happy with what he had.
Introduce into this closed society Phil, who is an architect and makes $120,000 a year because he’s capable of designing 90% of American homes and is of a much smaller class of men capable of all the figures and engineering calculations required to build a quality, safe home.
Suddenly Tom is no longer happy, and is now angry that is can’t make as much money as Phil. He claims that life is now unfair, comparing his own life to another man’s. Instead of being happy with his own level of excellence, he turns to discontent about his place in life because it appears that higher could be attained, but he somehow isn’t making it there.
Tom begins to believe that Phil has done him wrong, and that it’s unfair. Tom only needs $60,000 a year, therefore Phil only needs $60,000 a year. Tom’s envy grows and begins to plot a system by which Phil must offer $30,000 of his income to Tom, so that both can be “equal.”
Tom puts in the same length of day and level of effort Phil does, why should Phil be paid differently?
Tom convinces other people that Phil shouldn’t only be made to cut down so that Tom can have some of his money, but that Phil should give up $60,000 of his income so that both are equal and that extra money can be given to others who only make $20,000 a year, bringing them up to at least $50,000. That makes it equal, right?
Soon, with this belief spreading, the man who has been living on the street because of his alcoholism and inability to keep a job demands that everyone who makes any money at all should give him his share, because he’s now incapable of better.
Rick sees an opportunity and capitalizes on this growing belief system and tells everyone that money, itself, is evil, and that every man should live equal to everyone else. After all, we’re in the same community, right? It should be fair, according to Rick, who will take from everyone and redispense as he thinks it should be done.
Phil, now deprived of his motivation to make beautiful homes, stops working so hard. Rick, seeing Phil and his belief in the value of hard work and its higher return, assigns Phil to work as a dishwasher, since the dishwasher at the restaurant quit to get paid for not working. Phil is not allowed to quit, because Phil is now a prisoner of the state, and cannot be trusted for his belief in the ability of an individual to find his own success.
Rick, dispensing less than is equitable, keeps much of it for himself, saying it’s for hard times to come as those who used to earn more than everyone else are acclimated to honest living, working a day’s work for a day’s pay, just like everyone else. Meanwhile, Rick and his assistants live on the money and hire Terry to keep everyone else in line, hiring him with promised higher pay and the power with the community’s only gun, since everyone else’s was taken away.
Rick organizes everyone according to what he thinks is best, even though prior to this change Rick failed community college could convince no one to buy his snow shovel in southern Mississippi. Rick is not the brightest salesman, but he knows how to get people riled up. After all, it was his own skill at work.
Soon people quit working left and right, thinking that they money will flow regardless of if they work or not. After all, human beings deserve money, right? It’s only fair. Besides, life is hard. Terry is called in to force everyone back to work, whether they’re good at it or not.
Soon Tom isn’t building homes anymore — something he’s good at. Instead he runs a laundromat, something he hates, and only does well enough not to get fired by Rick, who believes that since man is equal, every man is capable of doing what everyone else is capable of doing. Rick hires Cindy to do Phil’s job, but Cindy used to run the laundromat and knows nothing about houses. Cindy designs houses in a style that Tom’s replacement doesn’t know how to build, so as everyone tries doing a job they neither know nor love, houses begin crumbling, clothes come out worse than before, dishes come out dirty, and productivity across the board drops.
No one is doing what they want to do! No one is allowed to follow their passions because to do so means higher productivity, which would mean higher profits, which would mean disparity of success, which would mean inequality.
Welcome to the birth of socialism.
You have destroyed the unique characteristics and qualities every person is naturally born with, complete with their own passions and pursuits, all because of a misguided belief that success between different people can be compared, and replaced it with central planning by people who neither love nor care for you, and believe they know better than you how to 1) run your own life and 2) run your life in conjunction with other people they don’t know, to their own unique idea of what the world will be best designed as.
Who’s better at running your life? You, or someone else?
Consider this. If Phil had never been born, Tom would forever have considered himself a success. The question rising is this: Just because higher wealth can be made by other people, does that entitle you to it? And if you attempt to solidify the hard-and-fast rules of what man SHOULD have, as if to in a single moment of fluid time freeze what success should mean, when in 100 years man might think a million dollars is an allowance for a seven-year-old, and a 100 years ago five bucks bought an expensive suit.
In a world without Phil, Tom would have been the measure of greed. Phil was born and thus the level of greed rises. But disparity is entirely subjective. What if Tom was never born and the next lowest carpenter could only make $50,000 a year? How about $20,000? What if the wealthiest man in town made only $1,000 a year? Is the level of wealth evil? How about the difference? If Phil made $450,000 a year, but did so making products people needed, is he evil because he’s wealthy? Or because he made something people wanted? Or because he actually kept what he had earned?
When it comes to success, stop measuring yourself against anyone else unless you’re looking for a goal, not for something to envy. You are not designed like anyone else, and are capable in ways and incapable in others. Measure your own success by finding contentment in it, not by judging others for theirs.