What Pains You?


Income inequality is considered a social evil. But, it need not be true that income inequality is unjustifiable. It is perhaps true that some people are brilliant, and work harder. But, there are some clear-cut cases where this simply does not apply. Many workers can raise their income twenty folds by moving from a third world country to a western capitalistic democracy. A large majority of the people on the earth earns far less then they deserve because income is “locally determined”.  This is obvious, but few intellectuals take this seriously enough. Therefore, what pains them is not inequality.

Humility is considered a virtue. But, it is not clear that someone who has a modest opinion of himself accurately perceives reality. It is still possible that they are overestimating themselves. Hitler might claim that he had his flaws. It is not clear that someone who has a high opinion of herself is overestimating herself. Ayn Rand had once said that she wanted “The Fountainhead” to sell at least a hundred thousand copies. But, there are situations where it is perfectly safe to not rate yourself very highly. I think the world would be a better place if people were willing to trust the experts. Experts have spent decades studying subjects of which people know nothing about. They know more than the common public. But, when a common person disagrees with Milton Friedman, he is not likely to think that Friedman could be right. People do not value such humility. Therefore, what pains them is not lack of humility.

When I surveyed the people who removed me from their Facebook lists, they all had a common reason: “I spread negativity.” They do not like too much pessimism, they said. I think they confuse cynicism with pessimism. A cynic can be an optimist, but I do not think it is the pessimism or cynicism that offends them. Bad news sells. People think that good news is “feel-good” pap. Newspapers publish stories on corruption and crimes, but film, food and fashion are considered the three Fs. Everyone thinks that business news is PR. The “India Shining” campaign offended almost everyone. Will people take kindly to it if a politician says, “Poverty is history”? Therefore, what pains them is not negativity.

People often tell me that they do not read biographies, because they are interested in “ideas”, and not in “people”. Some even claim that no one deserves a biography. But, what if it is important to know the intellectual influences of a writer to fully appreciate his work? What if a beautifully written work has intrinsic value? Therefore, what pains them is not that biographies are about “people”.

Feminists take rape very seriously because rape is “Violence, not sex”. But, only 5 in 100 women who are raped suffer serious injuries. Only 1 in 500 women die. Women who are molested almost never suffer any serious injury. So, why are rape and molestation taken very seriously? The newspapers recently celebrated the adventures of a smarty who slapped a teenager who molested her. They even published a picture of her palm. But, if rape is violence, there must be an independent reason why rapists deserve death, and not proportional punishment. Is the independent reason that men are more hostile towards women? This cannot be true. Only a minority of the victims of non-sexual violence are women. Sexual violence is motivated by sexual desire and not hostility. Studies prove that when men beat up women, they use far less force than they would use on a man. When women beat up men, they use far more force than they would use on a woman. Therefore, what pains them is not that rape is about “violence”.

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