Posted by: angmlr007 | 21/03/2011

Equality and Fairness – Why they are not the same, and why we should all work towards a Greater Good

Two men are working as technicians at a workshop. They are largely similar to each other in physical appearance, education, and background, and they deal with the same area of work and customers every day. At the end of the month, they are issued with the same pay check. This is equality. In most cases, what is “equal” is usually judged as being “fair”.

Not for this case.

Unaware to everyone, one of the two men is a cheat. He skives, lies to his customers, and gets the job done with half the effort and takes double the profit from his customers through unscrupulous means. His bosses never hear of his misdoings, because he covers his tracks well. While the more hardworking and honest man is toiling away, he hides and puts in only the minimum effort to get through the day. After all, he isn’t being paid any more or less to work harder, is he? In the end, both of them collect the exact same pay check, which the hardworking man brings home to pay for the bills and support his parents and family, while the lazy man splurges it on himself.

Equality does not equate to Fairness.

The Failure of Communist Ideals

While the above story may not have been the perfect example to show the difference between equality and fairness, it does shed some light on the failure of the communist system.

The gist of the matter goes like this: Everyone gets equal benefits for their work, but this earning is irregardless of the amount of effort you put in, the time you spent on it, how legitimately you get the job done, etc. As a result, in a community of people working collectively towards a common goal, we will have a number of people who will inevitably slack off and collect the same payout as their comrades. Such occurrences eventually spread like a contagious disease, affecting the work attitude and morale of the workers and diminishing productivity. This also eventually led to a series of other problems, including corruption and exploitation of the weaker masses for extensive personal gain.

The communist system, while ideal, is unfortunately unpractical and has brought about more harm than good in the long run.

Japan culture, and the spirit of collectivism

The main issue that plagues communism is that it has neglected our innate nature to be selfish. Once one man is selfish, he doesn’t contribute as much as his peers, and the ideals of “equality” collapse. However, this does not mean that it is impossible to work collectively. I believe Japan is one example of a country where its people emphasize a lot on community and working as a team (in contrast to USA, which is a highly individualistic and competitive society). With everyone working for the betterment of the community they live in, everyone’s contribution doesn’t go to personal gain, but to everyone’s gain. It’s no wonder the Japanese have displayed so much resilience in hard times, especially so recently due to the earthquake-cum-tsunami-cum-nuclear disaster.


My heart goes out to the Japanese people.

The Concept of “The Greater Good”

All of us should take a leaf out of the Japanese’s books – unlike those deluded Westerners who have been blindly condemning Japan by citing the earthquake as a “sign of retribution for Pearl Harbour” (no shit, go check that out on Google). For those of you who are familiar with the Warhammer 40000 lore, you would have probably heard of the concept of “The Greater Good” by the Tau race. The principle advocates that all beings should work together in unison, putting together their various strengths for a combined advancement and success as a race. This ideology promotes cooperation, peace and stability, and minimizes friction within members of the same society/race.

Sounds damn good right? Sadly, I honestly doubt that it is implementable on a large scale for Mankind. Nonetheless, it’s always good to build our community to gravitate such ideals… ain’t it? I can only dream…



  1. Just FYI, grammatically speaking, there’s no such word as irregardless. :)

    And just to add on, I believe economics can explain the behavioural patterns in the way humans interact with one another. Simply put, we all respond to incentives and disincentives (tangible or intangible; for personal gain or otherwise). Nice post too!

    May Lady Luck smile on Japan, so that the Sun may rise up from the depths of the stormy seas. What a triple whammy to Japan: economically, environmentally and (possibly) politically destructive.

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