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Reblogged:Egalitarianism vs. Quality Control

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Ayn Rand puts the distinction between modern egalitarians and the American ideal of equality before the law better than I, so I'll start by quoting one of her more memorable examples:

cattle.jpg
Image by Hu Chen, via Unsplash, license.
To understand the meaning and motives of egalitarianism, project it into the field of medicine. Suppose a doctor is called to help a man with a broken leg and, instead of setting it, proceeds to break the legs of ten other men, explaining that this would make the patient feel better; when all these men become crippled for life, the doctor advocates the passage of a law compelling everyone to walk on crutches -- in order to make the cripples feel better and equalize the "unfairness" of nature.

If this is unspeakable, how does it acquire an aura of morality -- or even the benefit of a moral doubt -- when practiced in regard to man's mind? Yet this kind of motivation -- hatred of the healthy for being healthy, i.e., of the good for being the good -- is the ruling spirit of today's culture. ("The Age of Envy," in The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, p. 144)
Note that I called this a memorable example, and not an incredible one. Rand knew full well that there is nothing more depraved than egalitarianism.

But, in case you don't believe me -- or her -- I have a short story for you, of how the Soviet Union dealt with meat contamination shortly after the Chernobyl disaster:
Not only were the cattle shipments highly contaminated with radiation, the levels were high enough to randomly flip bits in the memory of the SM-1800, which was located in a building close to the railroad tracks.

There were often significant food shortages in the Soviet Union, and the government plan was to mix the meat from Chernobyl-area cattle with the uncontaminated meat from the rest of the country. This would lower the average radiation levels of the meat without wasting valuable resources. Upon discovering this, Sergei immediately filed immigration papers with any country that would listen. The computer crashes resolved themselves as radiation levels dropped over time. [bold added]
What a way -- on top of not allowing individuals to seek opportunity in meeting the challenges of feeding a large country in the first place -- to prevent wasted meat and worse (to them apparently, by their actions over decades) "price gouging" and "profiteering" by those greedy capitalists.

Remember this the next time you hear someone say we need to nationalize an industry. And that goes double for the next time you hear the conventional wisdom that we'd all, say, be eating poisoned food without the government keeping an eye on those "evil corporations."

At best, those who say such things are missing such incentives as: pride in meeting a challenge, profit (and the desire for repeat business that comes with it), and a fear of liability.

At worst, they are hoping you'll forget those things, and go along.

-- CAV

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