Monday, August 1, 2011

Survival of the fittest

Poor Darwin,he gets blamed for everything, and all he did was notice a natural phenomenon, that shook his faith, maligned his name and has been misappopriated and applied to societies- the most unnatural of things. In spite of all the people who argue for Social Darwinism (a complete misnomer, because the idea of "survival of the fittest" came from Herbert Spencer), natural selection kind of falls apart when applied to people.

The wealthy are frequently not financially better off because they are smarter, stronger or harder working. They are better off due to the cosmic quirk of having been born into a more privileged lifestyle. They get better oppurtunities and the means to accept those oppurtunities. End of story. Yes, of corse, occassionally a true rags to riches story catches our attention, but those are rare.

So, it is a never ending source of amusement and annoyance to me that many wealthy people I have met like to explain their privilege by means of Social Darwinism, and yet don't believe in a 100% inheritance tax (Andrew Carnegie, a true believer, did before you laugh at the idea). Society stacks the rules in favor of one group over others- so the next time you hear someone pride themselves on their accomplishments, take a look at where they started out, you might be suprised to find that they haven't actually done all that much on their own, except in their own mythology.

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