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As I’ve been listening to and contemplating the whole discussion around “spreading the wealth”, it’s occurred to me that when the wealth is being spread, there’s more than just wealth that gets spread.

That’s right, the poverty gets spread too.

Of course, calling it “spreading the poverty” might seem too severe, but here’s the thing: people have poverty, wealth, or something in between. If you spread one, you spread it all.

My preference now is to think of it as “spreading the mediocrity”.  As we discussed in the past, providing equal access to economic resources (“spreading the wealth”, or “wealth redistribution”) is going to lead to a society that is motivated to meet the status quo, to do just enough to get by, to even lower itself to ensure that there is just enough work to either get the shared freebies, or keep from excelling into the upper reaches of super-taxation. A large portion of people will simply stop trying to excel.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’d realize that the same kind of model exists with student performance in the public school system.  You’d think that over the years we’d get smarter about how to educate, and granted there are multiple influences on student performance, but one of the keys is the perceived value of success, which is substantially lower in a “nobody loses” world.  When there is real competition promoted, and real rewards for success, you motivate students to go as far as they really can.  Instead of being satisfied with “good enough”, the highly motivated will jump as high as they can, and never be satisfied, always trying to find ways to jump a little higher.

And so goes Society.  And with it, the Economy.  Unfortunately, we’ve spent the past 50 years brainwashing everyone into believing that “fair” means “equal access” instead of “equal opportunity”.   Into believing that “good enough” means “successful”.  We are better and go much further when we are never satisfied with “good enough”.

If you don’t know the difference, that’s okay.  It’s really not expected of you.

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