Socialism’s greatest appeal springs from its promise of economic equality. Many people, upon their first encounter with the ideology, find this promise the very heart and soul of justice. Yet, completely apart from whether such an outcome could or would ever be attained in practice, a great and insuperable problem remains: in a world where individuals always differ enormously in personal attributes and circumstances, in personal conduct and social constraints, it is difficult to think of anything more unfair than forcefully ensuring that in spite of all these differences, everyone ends up with the same income or wealth. The whole idea is an ill-considered, falsely attractive attribute of pie-in-the-sky socialism even if it were possible to bring it about.
Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute and Editor at Large of The Independent Review. His latest book is Taking A Stand: Reflections on Life, Liberty, and the Economy.