Redistribute wealth? No, redistribute respect. [@Noahpinion]
I\’ve always been a communist revolutionary at heart. Inequalities between human beings have always annoyed me, and I have the strong desire to see them eliminated. In American society, we generally discuss three kinds of \”equality\”: 1) \”equality of outcome\”, usually meaning equality of wealth or income, 2) \”equality of opportunity\”, and 3) \”equal rights\” under the law. The first is typically supported by true communists and socialists, and some liberals; the second by centrist liberals; and the third by libertarians and conservatives. The arguments between proponents of the three types of equality are voluminous and endless. And I think all three are important.
But I find that there is something missing from this list. I\’ve come to realize that there is another important dimension of equality that I care about. Maybe more than any of the others. It\’s equality of respect.
I had this realization (as with so many others) while living in Japan. I first noticed it when I was sitting in a \”kaiten-zushi\” restaurant, watching some cooks chop fish. It was robotic, repetitive work, about as difficult – and about as well-paid – as flipping burgers. But my Japanese friend referred to one of those cooks as \”sushi-ya-san\”, meaning \”Mr. Sushi Chef\”. She used the honorific reflexively, not patronizingly or sarcastically. The respect for this low-paid, low-skilled worker was reflexive, automatic. I suddenly wondered if we could get Americans to start calling burger-flippers \”sir\”. The thought made me laugh.