Talk by Dr Yaron Brook
Is inequality a necessary ingredient for capitalism? According to Dr Yaron Brook, a columnist for Forbes and Chairman of the Board at the Ayn Rand Institute, yes it is. His talk was extremely insightful and provided a view that was new to many. Although I would have opposed Dr Brook's stance at first, his chain of reasoning was strong and his evidence was convincing. However this is not to say there weren’t criticisms, as a few questioned his libertarianism and others wondered whether this mentality would adversely make society more selfish.
Brook began his talk by justifying the existence of billionaires and that we are not poorer as a result of them. “Billionaires make the world a better place,” he said confidently. The talk was filled with controversial ideas, the most striking being the justification of child labour usage. By relating it to the 21% drop in global poverty population in the past decade, he effectively sparked critical conversations that went on long after the talk.
Brook spoke about why he thinks equality shouldn’t be a shared goal, and how it is impossible to make everyone equal due to the differences in skills and preferences relating to happiness. Other things he mentioned were the perceived impacts of taxation, the aims of government policy, welfare systems, and equality of opportunity.
Despite a seemingly pessimistic view, Brook is an optimist at heart. He stands for equality of rights, and believes a system of voluntary tax would yield better policing and benefits. I felt that there were similarities between Brook's ideas and Richard Thaler’s nudge theory.
He concluded his talk by reminding the audience that money is not a determinant of happiness, and that violence is the only obstacle that stops us and each other from developing as a society.