This quote by Mr. Montag has been stuck in my head for a few weeks:
My sense of equality is an ideal. It’s FAKE. It does not obtain. Here it is nonetheless: No matter how powerful — regardless, even, of an individual’s utility to society — every person’s time is of equal value. That entrepreneurial ability, or test taking ability, or influence peddling ability are rewarded so much more richly than a strong back and a willingness to get dirty, is demented. The system of rewards is indeed a function of a demented religion of financial power. It is a system by which circumstance dictates whose potential will be fulfilled, and whose will lie dormant for lack of training or education or simply the lack of official sanction. Under such a system, circumstance always favors established power, and gatekeepers and nepotists reign.
You can read the rest of his post here.
I agree with him. As I think he has said elsewhere, money is FAKE. So it follows that the accumulation of wealth and one’s ability to generate material abundance has absolutely no relation to the worth or value of the individual. None. Not one iota. This is in keeping, in my view, to the radical notion that individual autonomy (self-ownership and direction) is the overarching, guiding principle for the conduct of relations between human beings (and possibly to other creatures).
Is it fake though? Does it truly not obtain, as he says? If the trappings of human society, and the conventions that are used to transact human relations (including the distribution of goods) happen to be based on a contrived or perverted set of values, that doesn’t invalidate the definition of equality that he describes.
The question is, does it follow that we are obliged to remedy this inequality? That is, if you happen to have been rewarded (under this system) for the accident of being born a white male in the west, is there a moral obligation to diminish yourself in some way? Or is this merely an example of moral luck? It’s not a question about charity. It’s a question about value.