By William Letwin
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But this is only the beginning of the troubles. If the difficulty of a job were measured in accordance with the difficulty experienced by any particular individual doing that job, then a person who found a job difficult because he lacked skill or energy or will would earn more per year than if he did a job for which he was better qualified or happier to do. Further, the more skill he acquired in any job, and the less difficult it thus became, the lower would be his annual income. In short, the rule of equal pay per unit of disutility would flatly contradict another possible and plausible rule: the rule of equal pay per unit of output.
Further, the more skill he acquired in any job, and the less difficult it thus became, the lower would be his annual income. In short, the rule of equal pay per unit of disutility would flatly contradict another possible and plausible rule: the rule of equal pay per unit of output. The former rule would encourage people to choose the work for which they were least suited. If, on the contrary, the disutility of a job were measured without reference to how disagreeable any particular individual found it, then different workers would get the same pay for doing that job even though some found it far less demanding or disagreeable than others - a clear violation of the principle presumably embodied in the rule of equality.
For one thing, the compassionate high-income recipient could diminish his suffering by voluntarily giving away as much as he liked of his income. This possibility means that the original distribution need not be made egalitarian by edict. Moreover, if we assume that each member of the community differs in the extent that he suffers psychically from any specific unequal distribution, then a regime of voluntary redistribution would be rationally preferable (from the standpoint of AGAINST EQUALITY: READINGS 27 minimising each individual's suffering) to a regime of imposed equality.
Against Equality: Readings on Economic and Social Policy by William Letwin