Published in The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty – September 1981
by Ludwig von Mises
Men are born unequal and it is precisely their inequality that generates social cooperation and civilization. Equality under the law was not designed to correct the inexorable facts of the universe and to make natural inequality disappear. It was, on the contrary, the device to secure for the whole of mankind the maximum benefits it can derive from it.
The inequality of incomes and wealth is an inherent feature of the market economy. Its elimination would entirely destroy the market economy.
What those people who ask for equality have in mind is always an increase in their own power to consume. In endorsing the principle of equality as a political postulate nobody wants to share his own income with those who have less. When the American wage earner refers to equality, he means that the dividends of the stockholders should be given to him. He does not suggest a curtailment of his own income for the benefit of those 95 per cent of the earth’s population whose income is lower than his.