Because no two people are born with exactly the same abilities, either intellectual or physical. Throw into that mix the fact of vastly differing life circumstances, and you begin to understand.
No one can ever equalize any of those three things — intellect, physical abilities, life circumstances — across any two people, let alone across an entire society.
Society must provide a framework within which all people have an equal opportunity to flourish. Beyond that, society can’t do anything that doesn’t amount to all really bad stuff.
In a society with equal opportunity there will always be a tiny minority at the top who excel wildly, while another minority at the other end do very poorly. This is the observation that the Pareto Distribution illustrates.
If you’ve decided that “equal outcome” is to be your goal, then you must punish those who succeed wildly, and you must reward those who fail… to equalize everyone’s outcome. See also “Procrustean Bed” to get a feel for how long people have understood this principle.
Well, you need only a generation or so of that before the wildly successful ones realize there’s no point in excelling, so they don’t. Or they move to another country.
Furthermore, it becomes painfully obvious to those at the margins of the low end that there’s no point in their striving for success when they’re going to live the same life as the guy who doesn’t work at all anyway. So they simply drop into the ranks of the takers.
Very, very quickly your society’s producers have all either stopped producing or moved away, while the ranks of your society’s takers grow and grow.
Anyone can do that math. It equals a dying society. A society bound headlong for massive, devastating upheaval.
Here’s the balancing act that a sane society must pull off successfully, to avoid that catastrophe:
- Equalize opportunity completely.
- Incentivize success.
- Prop up those who have legitimately “fallen through the cracks.”
- Prop up those who genuinely can’t succeed, because of something like illness, injury, or other mental or physical incapacity.
- Encourage intact, two-parent families(1)
It’s the maximizing of #’s 1 and 2, while minimizing the temptation for people to take fraudulent advantage of #’s 3 and 4, that is the difficult balancing act for any society.
(1) The data are overwhelming: the single greatest advantage that a child can have growing up is an intact, two-parent (mother and father) family.