by Max Barry

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Region: 10000 Islands

Exalted anglo-germany wrote:So a worker should be paid as much as a CEO? That's unfair. A surgeon makes more money than a fry cook because he contributes more to the society, and to be a surgeon he had to study and work much harder than a fry cook. A lot of people had the same opportunity as Donald Trump, yet only some made it to the top. It's a combination of luck, talent, determination and background. I think that everyone should have the same opportunity, and from that point, who can climb up will have more money. And by the way, "Gender wage gap" is not a thing anymore in many places.

Depends what you mean by unfair.

As a doctor, I can say that it has indeed taken many years of study to achieve monetary success, and access to that study came about by having the luck and privilege to be born into a wealthy western society to a reasonably well-off middle class family. I then attended a private primary school which taught me the social confidence and bluster needed to get ahead in life. I then went to a boys-only grammar school, which is a state-funded selective institution that can only be accessed by passing an examination at the age of 11, success in which -- I can assure you -- is nothing to do with intelligence and everything to do with practising and repeating a learnable task until it became second nature, thanks to the additional tuition given to me by my parents. That state-funded high quality education then set me in good stead for exam success, as well as introducing me the joys of debate and rhetoric, a school speciality. I then attended medical school, with my education costs met by the state (as I was amongst the last generation where university tuition fees were paid).

So let's check so far. I had birth privilege, a favourable geographic location, parents who helped me, a state that paid for my education. I did my bit too, but we're not talking a meritocracy here -- I got to where I got to because of everything around me, given to me by society and family.

Now, I earn a decent wage. Not a city banker wage, but in the top 10% of incomes in the nation, and in the top 0.1% in the world. For that, I work a 4 day week that is intellectually challenging but physically undemanding, and indeed gives me enough time to sit on Nationstates between patients and paperwork.

Meanwhile the fry cook might work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, relentlessly with only a short break, with intellectually undemanding work, but physically backbreaking work. And if you track back those opportunities, maybe he's in a country where the state didn't pick up his school bill, and maybe his parents were illiterate, and maybe he had to work when he was a teenager instead of studying. Maybe he's got exactly the same intelligence as me, but never had a chance to use that. Maybe he's a lot physically stronger than me, and has greater endurance, but society doesn't financially reward those things so much. Hell, maybe he's just really ugly, and that screwed him in the job and education marketplace. Can't all be as pretty as me, right?

So basically we're saying that because I was luckier, I should have ten times the share of the world's resources. I should own more land, have more food, get nicer clothes, and -- in fact -- get to give my kids more opportunities than his kids?

And sure, maybe not everyone who starts with a billion dollars makes a billion more. But it's a lot easier to go from one billion to two billion than it is to go from zero to one billion. Imagine a race where one guy has a racing car, another has a bicycle, and the last guy is running barefoot over broken glass. The barefoot runner might win the race. The guy in the racing car might steer off the track and hit a wall. But mostly, the stacked odds tell us who will win.

Don't get me wrong, the system is stacked in my favour. But that doesn't make it fair.