Somewhere along the way, equality of opportunity has been confused with equality of results. Democracy, in theory, creates equality of opportunity. A level playing field, a fair shake. However, democracy cannot guarantee equality of outcome. For instance, giving every citizen one million dollars would be no guarantee of equality of outcome. Thus…
- PERSON A invests their $1 million and makes it $2 million.
- PERSON B squanders their $1 million and goes bankrupt.
Equal opportunity, different outcome.
This is why you can’t force parity.
I was thinking about this recently, not because of the ongoing Occupy Wall Street nonsense, but because of the nixed trade of NBA star Chris Paul to the Lakers. Many experts and fans see this as a blatant attempt by the NBA to force parity. Stung by LeBron Jame’s decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers (small market team w/ no other superstars) for the Miami Heat (big market team w/ other superstars), NBA commissioner David Stern appears determined to spread the love, er, talent around.
Has Stern been brainwashed by the Occupy Movement, or what?
Listen, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert had LeBron for 7 years. Not only did Gilbert fail to re-sign the star, he never got LeBron any great help. (Antawn Jamison? Really?) Whose fault is that?
- Parity will not help Dan Gilbert be a better owner.
- Parity will not help the Cleveland Cavaliers be a better-coached team.
- Parity will not help Cleveland be a more attractive area for an athlete to play.
- Parity will not, ultimately, guarantee Cleveland any championships.
Hey, I don’t blame LeBron for leaving. With apologies to Ohioans, if you had a choice, would you rather live and work in Miami, Florida (beaches, babes, posh spreads, and bling) or Cleveland, Ohio (
beaches, babes, posh spreads, and bling)? That’s what I thought. Cruising in a Lamborghini convertible along South Beach seems a tad better than trolling the shores of Lake Erie.
And, by the way, LeBron still doesn’t have a ring.
This parity thing is over-rated. In truth, Big market teams keep small market teams in business. It works across the board. For instance…
Midlist authors benefit from best-selling authors. Statistics tell us that about 7 out of 10 book titles do not earn back their advance. In turn this means that roughly 30% of the industry is keeping the rest afloat. Which means that authors and genres you don’t like or read are making it possible for you to continue writing and reading.
Parity will not really change how the market works.
Think about it: Would giving the same amount of marketing and promotion to every author increase sales for authors? Possibly. But it still would not guarantee equal outcome. No matter how much you tell me to buy a book, I will still buy what I want. Furthermore, if publishers were forced (which is basically what you’d have to do to implement parity) to spend the same amount on every author, it would actually lead to less money per author and more mediocrity.
Or fewer contracted authors.
A big budget and slick advertising is no guarantee of increased sales. Heck, a $200 million production budget and who knows how many millions in advertising could not prevent The Green Lantern from being one of the biggest flops of 2011. Same is true of the book industry. Just because you throw money at a book does not guarantee it will become a best-seller.
Besides, NOTHING IS STOPPING ME FROM BUSTING MY ASS TO SELL BOOKS.
And that’s what overturns the parity paradigm. Individual achievers. You can start with as level a playing field as you want, but certain people and organizations will always rise to the top. Jerry Buss is just a better owner than Dan Gilbert and no amount of parity will ever change that.
So the Occupy Wall Street folks want to redistribute wealth (which is like me saying that Stephen King should give me a cut of his royalties). Perhaps they should consider that…
Even God does not equally distribute wealth.
Ever heard of The Parable of the Talents? That pesky parable depicts God as distributing different sums of gold to different servants. Then those servants are judged not by how much they have, but — listen — by how well they used what they had. Hello.
Maybe the issue isn’t what we DON’T have, but how we use what we DO have.
Which is why…
- Some kids will always be better students than others.
- Some teams will always make more money than others.
- Some states will always be more popular than others.
- Some businessmen will always make more profits than others.
They are — ahem — the 1%.
There’s a reason why more people live in California than North Dakota. And forcing people to move to North Dakota just to keep things “fair,” is stupid.