Sometimes we ought to begin by defining our terms. This is one of those times. We need to distinguish between justice and equality.
Justice is getting what you deserve. It’s getting what is rightly yours. It is getting what is yours by work, by investment, by inheritance, by purchase, by right, even by luck. Because it is based on deserving, no moral objection can be raised to justice. Equality, by comparison, is not getting what you deserve, but getting what everyone else gets, regardless of contribution or deserving. Because of its distance and difference from deserving, from justice, a moral objection can (and sometimes should) be raised against equality. Equality is justice only in cases and circumstances that really are equal. Given the enormous and immeasurable differences in deserving, in effort, in morality, in natural ability, in contribution, and in circumstance among human beings, a species wherein no two members are exactly alike, the instances of equality being justice are rare, perhaps exceedingly rare.
Yet some folks complain continually about the lack of equality, especially financial equality. They complain, for example, if a particular policy benefits the rich more than it does the poor. But you cannot raise an effective moral objection against a policy for no more morally profound or intellectually responsible a reason than that it favors the rich, or expands the gap between the rich and the poor.
For instance, if I were to cut income taxes by 20% across the board, thus relieving the financial burden on all taxpayers, that policy would favor the rich more than the poor because you can’t cut taxes for those who pay none. You can’t aid non-taxpayers with tax cuts because their tax break is already maximized. Tax cuts favor the rich more than the poor because the rich are the ones who pay the most taxes: The more taxes you pay, the more you benefit. The less taxes you pay, the less you benefit. And if, like nearly half of all Americans, you don’t pay income tax at all, you still benefit because those who do pay taxes still end up paying them to you. They pay them to you by means of the elaborate, punitive, discriminatory, government redistribution scheme now in force in America.
By the same token, if somehow, by my generosity, I were able instantly to double the money of every man, woman, and child in America, I’d think I’d done a rather good thing. But those who oppose policies or actions favoring the rich would complain vociferously because by instantly doubling everyone’s money, my personal largesse had given more to the rich than to the poor, thus increasing the gap between them, as if by being generous I were being unjust. And were I to increase everyone’s wealth tenfold -- an ostensibly good and generous action -- the same sort of consequences would obtain and the same silly criticisms would follow, even though everyone now had 1000% more money.
Something isn’t bad just because it benefits the rich. And it isn’t bad because it benefits the rich more than the poor. It’s bad if it’s unjust, not if it’s unequal.
Or, if you remain incurably addicted to the equality meme, then you ought to oppose our tax laws, which are the very embodiment of inequality, and which single out some citizens for financial punishment and others for financial reward in defiance of our Constitutional obligation to provide equal protection for all. That is discrimination; that is inequality; that is injustice. Yet those who trumpet equality and oppose discrimination press for it full tilt. Against all reason and consistency, they oppose equal percentage tax breaks and they endorse tax code discrimination.