Moderate inequalities have both advantages and disadvantages. Extreme inequalities have only got disadvantages and they cause social upheavals.
It is because a doctor is paid a good deal more than a clerk that some people are prepared to go to college and spend six or more years acquiring the necessary skills. Without such differentials in pay, few people would be prepared to spend much time earning nothing while being trained. Long-service managers receive higher pay and enjoy extra privileges compared to new recruits. Men and women with common sense accept these inequalities as fair and just.
These are inequalities based on attributes other that merit. Happily enough, inequalities in employment and income based on race, gender and religion are no longer officially sanctioned worldwide. When they exist, they cause discords and other social conflicts.
Some inequalities have biological origin; people who are by nature muscular and strong will earn more than work demands physical process than those who are weak and easily suffer from fatigue. It is the case also between more intelligent and less intelligent people. The intelligent can acquire the higher skills that enable a person to secure a better paying job.
But while some inequalities are biological by nature, others are social; children of a person who earned his wealth through merit will inherit their parents’ wealth, go to quality schools and acquire the advanced education that will enable them to obtain higher education. Here, we have inequality based on accident of birth.
A child whose parents are poor may be naturally more intelligent than the son of wealthy parents. He may, however, fail to go for secondary and higher education because they lack fees. When such a boy or a girl fails to attain higher education, this is a loss not just to them, but to society as well. High intelligence without education is like petroleum underground, it does not serve a useful purpose. Hence, it should be official policy and the policy of wealthy individuals to assist the deserving poor.
The capitalist system in the West has not experienced the cataclysonic upheavals that prophets of communism like Marx and Lenin prophesied because of charitable bodies. These entities have granted bursaries and scholarships, which have enabled members of lower classes to move upward socially.
Because those who enjoy privileges try hard to keep others in their place, there have been moves for affirmative action in favour of the underprivileged. A person of the privileged group may be better qualified, but those who make appointments may give it to a woman or a member of the minority race if these suffer inequality of opportunity.
While affirmative action appeases some disgruntled members of society, if stretched too far, it creates its own causes for concern. A person who has been denied promotion in favour of a less qualified person may quit the organisation. If he or she was a key person in the organisation, efficiency, productivity and business might suffer. Whatever decisions we make, merit should never be totally ignored. It is people of special abilities who have advanced civilisations.
While it is a matter of course that women in society should attain any position where major decisions are made, the suggestion that there should be equal representation of men and women in Parliament is far-fetched, those who make such suggestions seem to think that the interests of men and women are to borrow a phrase often used by the Nyasaland African Congress (NAC), poles apart. They are not. Any male Member of Parliament (MP) is in some way representing a woman there. That woman may be his mother, sister or daughter. If he supports a bill that is intended to injure woman’s interest, he will be injuring member’s of his own family.
There is in Britain the status called ‘Establishment’ in the United States. Until recently, there was talk about the Wasp, meaning ‘White Angle Saxon Protestants’ members of these groups tended to monopolise top positions both in the public and private sectors
Ours in a young nation where inequalities of opportunities are likely to be based on tribe, region and religion, but we must be on guard against such establishments. If someone is doing a better paying job because they are better educated and if you attain the same education, you can get that same job. It compels people below to improve their abilities through study. This is upward mobility based on merit, Inequalities not based on merit create ill-feeling in society. n