I’ve seen the above video linked quite a bit on social networks during the recent past, and while I don’t usually stop to pick up every pebble in the road, I felt a little compulsion to do so with this bit of misinformation today. I don’t have time to debunk the many, many problems in this video, so I’ll just hit the big points. The first and most important is the sources, which are not sources of actual data, and he mixes them inappropriately, producing a graphic that is factually inaccurate. He also mixes the terms “money,” “wealth,” and “income” as if they are interchangeable terms and concepts, which they are most definitely not. He also talks about wealth or income “distribution,” but none of these things are distributed; they are earned by producing goods and services. He doesn’t really talk about just what “equality” is, or why it is important, or to what degree; nor does he make any significant moral argument for it as preferable condition. He just assumes his audience believes it is a preferable condition and speaks as if the point had already been established, or else is so obvious as to deny the time to argue for it. He doesn’t address how any one person becomes “wealthy” (again, a problematic term because he confuses the meaning with other terms like money), but infers that somehow the rich are rich at the expense of the poor, but this is just untrue. The vast, overwhelming majority of the rich are rich because others have voluntarily given them their money in exchange for something they found useful or valuable.
Although the video prescribes no solution to circumstances of “inequality” that he dislikes, any actual “solutions” would involve violence, and ugly means must be taken into account when considering any circumstance, whether they are part of a moral condition or amoral condition.
If you are interested in a more thorough video, please take the time to watch at least the first half (the second half is all debate) of 5th part of Rose and Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose, “Created Equal.” It’s telling of our society that the video from the top has 15 million views, and a sound video making actual moral arguments and using real economics has but 15 thousand.