Hello, I honestly have a hard time around this point, as it's making me wonder about the whole validity of the beautiful "you get what you do". Or maybe I just completely misunderstood the point of capitalism. A doubt it is just that, so please don't put me on my mouth "then what you want? communism?".
So, let's say two guys, born at equal conditions, same opportunities, starting with same wealth, and both within the same free-market country began enterprising. OK.
Let's say each one decide to have a each one a baby, those still living in the same country BUT with the son of the rich has the enormous resources of his father to start with, and the other just have to earn it all from zero.
A very more radical comparation would result on comparing the chances of a rochefeller or even more royal family (I know this later comes by public money, but even if we get rid of them they'll later still retain all what they took once) descendants comparing with a little boy in afghanistan or haiti, still supposing they have exactly the same IQ, executive hability, talented ideas, and willpower to enterprise... . Please, don't refugee on "those places have a very limited economic freedom..." then I'd say ok; a poor boy in darwin and a son of a multimillionaire in melbourne (I put australia because it's at the top of economic freedom index).
So, inheritances seems just a big disturbing stone when it comes meritocracy. Any thoughts? Can you please justify it congruently in objectivist terms? Thanks in advance. :-)
In a capitalist system the individual who acquires wealth (other than through force or fraudulent means) has the inalienable right to decide what to do with it -- this is what is meant by a "right to property" which according to Objectivism is a logical consequence of the "right to life". If you are struggling with this idea, then the rest of this answer will make no sense to you -- there is other reading you can do to understand why property rights are a proper and moral prerequisite of a capitalist system.
However, if you understand that property rights are a prerequisite to capitalism, then it is a simple step to understanding that dying does not invalidate a property owner's right to decide what to do with his property -- there is no logical reason why any third party, including the state, should now have greater claim over the property than the deceased property owner. Only the mechanism by which his wishes are made known -- a will -- changes.
The fact that in your example, one son received riches while the other received nothing, has nothing to do with the sons and everything to do with the fathers. It was the rich father's right to give his wealth to his son, or even to destroy it (the latter might be considered immoral in Objectivist terms, but still within his rights).
The rich son may start with more advantages than the poor son. However, capitalism is not about equality of outcomes, nor is it about equality of opportunity. It is about respecting individual rights, and this means allowing a property owner to dispose of that property as he sees fit, before or after his death.
answered Jun 22 '12 at 03:07
Raman Gupta ♦
Meritocracy is NOT an Objectivist value. Even for people who claim it as a value do not practice it consistently. If they did, they should be calling for tall basketball players to have their shoe laces tied together so that short basketball players can have a "fair" chance.