• Equal Is Unfair

  • America's Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality
  • By: Don Watkins, Yaron Brook
  • Narrated by: Jeff Cummings
  • Length: 9 hrs and 8 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (610 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

We've all heard that the American Dream is vanishing, and that the cause is rising income inequality. The rich are getting richer by rigging the system in their favor, leaving the rest of us to struggle just to keep our heads above water. To save the American Dream, we're told that we need to fight inequality through tax hikes, wealth redistribution schemes, and a far higher minimum wage. 

But what if that narrative is wrong? What if the real threat to the American Dream isn't rising income inequality - but an all-out war on success? 

In this timely and thought-provoking work, Don Watkins and Yaron Brook reveal that almost everything we've been taught about inequality is wrong. You'll discover: 

  • Why successful CEOs make so much money - and deserve to 
  • How the minimum wage hurts the very people it claims to help 
  • Why middle-class stagnation is a myth 
  • How the little-known history of Sweden reveals the dangers of forced equality 
  • The disturbing philosophy behind Obama's economic agenda. 

The critics of inequality are right about one thing: The American Dream is under attack. But instead of fighting to make America a place where anyone can achieve success, they are fighting to tear down those who already have. The real key to making America a freer, fairer, more prosperous nation is to protect and celebrate the pursuit of success - not pull down the high fliers in the name of equality. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2016 Don Watkins and Yaron Brook (P)2016 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

What listeners say about Equal Is Unfair

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    3 out of 5 stars

While I agree with most of this book,...

...it is a rather shallow treatment of the economic philosophy it espouses. It has too much of pseudo-philosopher Ayn Rand and too little of far better theorists, free market economists, and political philosophers such as Fredrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Jean-Baptiste Say, Walter Williams, Milton Friedman, or Thomas Sowell. For those who want a sound understanding without excessive theory,I recommend any of several books by Thomas Sowell who is the greatest living economist and political philosopher. Audible has approximately 25 of his books. The best place to start is Sowell's Economic Facts and Fallacies followed by Wealth, Power, and Politics and then A Conflict of Visions followed by Applied Economics and finally Dismantling America. Of course Hayek's The Road to Serfdom is mandatory.

The primary title of this book Equal is Unfair without the subtitle America's Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality is too clever by half. The basic point that we should have equality of opportunity rather than striving for equality of economic outcome is valid because achieving equality of economic outcome always leads to universal poverty. Where Ayn Rand and her two followers who wrote this book go wrong is by claiming government has no appropriate role in economic matters. They are dead wrong: the role of government is to establish the rules and apply them equally, without favor.

In my opening comment above I wrote that the approach of the authors of this book is rather shallow in their treatment of economic and political philosophy. I stand by that, but I will add that listening to this book is better than nothing. Fredrich Hayek and Ayn Rand were contemporaries. Hayek's classical political and economic liberalism makes a lot more sense than Rand's unworkable Objectivism which is a form of anarchy. Rand was a great novelist, but fails as a political philosopher. It is to the credit of the authors, both of whom work at the Ayn Rand Institute that they do not go all in with Objectivism.

If one purchases this audio book be certain to download the PDF file of charts/graphs some of which are excellent especially at demonstrating that real income has increased during the last 30 to 40 years. Jeff Cummings does a superb job of narration.

42 people found this helpful

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Mistitled Book

What did you like best about Equal Is Unfair? What did you like least?

If you expect this book to explain why equality is unfair you will probably be disappointed. The central theme seems to be "we are all better off than we were before so inequality doesn't matter, and may even be a myth". The authors jumble and cherry pick a bunch of facts and statistics to make their case. For example they blame the unions for the American car industry's decline in the 1970's, but chose to ignore the fact that the manufacturers failed to understand what consumers wanted and produce cars accordingly.
In fairness, the book description made it clear that the views expressed would be biased. I had hoped, however it would get beyond the level of propaganda, and provide some good ideas for thought - even if I disagreed with them.

20 people found this helpful

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A Passionate and Scholarly work

Would you consider the audio edition of Equal Is Unfair to be better than the print version?

I would say they are equal. Jeff Cummings does a fantastic job in his narration.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Equal Is Unfair?

The comparisons to American ideals and founding principles.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

This book turned out to be so much more than just the issue of "income inequality'. 'Equal is Unfair' goes after all of the major tenets of modern Leftism. Don Wakins and Dr. Yaron Brook raze modern leftism to the ground, leave no stone unturned, and salt the earth afterwards. The book takes down:
The inequality myth.
The Scandinavian socialism myth.
The myth that the successful are 'exploiters'
The economic pie myth.
Leftwing economist Piketty's statistical manipulations.
The "You didn't build that" rhetoric from those like Warren and Obama.
The left's Success=Luck argument.
FDR and LBJ's Great Society programs.
Egalitarianism.
"Social Justice" advocates.
The inculcation of victimhood by the left in poor ghettos.
And much much more....

Any additional comments?

Watkins and Dr. Brook attack every leftwing issue on multiple fronts. They prove their case empirically by taking down the statistical manipulations of the left. They prove their case by showing the logical progression of what these ideas entail. They prove their case morally, by showing what these ideas mean to individual human beings and life on this earth, and finally they prove their case by offering a solid alternative.

17 people found this helpful

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Too verbose

Although I agree with the premise of the book and there is a lot of good content, I found the book average overall because it contained too much commentary, and hypothetical and rhetorical questions for every solid fact it presented.

10 people found this helpful

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Political Equality > Economic Equality- Must Read!

Any additional comments?

An extremely important discussion in the midst of the ever increasing trend in today's culture of divorcing one's self and one's thoughts from reality and rationality. Filled with data, charts, and other references that objectively refute claims of today's inequality alarmists and back up their own.

One of the greatest insights is the only way of eliminating cronyism is to "...create a government that has no favors to grant."

A striking example of the inequality critics' ideology taken to an extreme was that of the horrific Khmer Rouge of Cambodia. One quote from the dictator, Pol Pot lays out the ideology quite explicitly:

"If we can destroy all material and mental property, people will be equal. The moment you allow private property, one person will have a little more, another a little less and then they are no longer equal, and it isn’t communism. But if you have nothing – zero for him, zero for you – that is true equality."

The only true economic equality can be that of the zero, nothingness. Why is this held by some as a moral ideal? The authors point out that, while most egalitarians don't advocate for this extreme application:

"egalitarianism is evil, not because it puts us on a slippery slope to the Khmer Rouge -- it is evil because, IN ANY DOSE, it amounts to waging war on human values: achievement, virtue, independence, intelligence, wealth, opportunity, everything that makes human life and happiness possible. The fact that egalitarianism DOES put us on a slippery slope toward mass carnage only makes matters worse."

I will finish with a quote that summarizes the main debate:

"Americans today face a choice between two moral views. One view upholds JUSTICE: it says that each individual has an equal right to pursue his own happiness and success, and that whatever wealth, income, and opportunities he earns in that pursuit belong to him.

"Another view upholds 'social justice': it says that the government must restrict our freedom to make us economically equal, and that if one person produces 'too much', his hopes and dreams should be sacrificed for the sake of those who haven't produced.

"Either we're all equal in our rights or some people are to be met with burdens and others with special privileges. That is the choice."

10 people found this helpful

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Nothing New

This is all presentation of old arguments. There is no new research or new spins on previous theory. Read Sowell instead.

9 people found this helpful

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Fantastic book

A must read for any person honestly inquiring about inequality in America, This book makes sense of the issues, and offers the implications for the future. Covered are Egalitarianism, Individualism, and the differences between inequality of outcome and inequality of rights. If you want to be at the forefront of the debate, this book is the perfect choice.

8 people found this helpful

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Great book in a time when it is needed

The book is great. Got the audible version. The message in the book needs to get out to more people. Great insight into evaluating stats that are peddled through the mainstream media.

6 people found this helpful

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Great analysis of various arguments.

Great book. great analysis. Unbiased (politically speaking), factual, research-based, and clear. Will be reading this book again soon.

5 people found this helpful

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Inspiring

Excellent read. This book is full of insightful and thoughtful analysis. It's interesting and thought provoking. Many people are dissatisfied with the status quo in the U.S. today as evidenced by the current strange presidential election cycle. The ideas in this book are refreshing and in my opinion would solve many of the problems this country faces today. I would highly recommend Equal Is Unfair!

5 people found this helpful

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  • I nearly did
  • 04-14-17

Such an important book

What made the experience of listening to Equal Is Unfair the most enjoyable?

The narration is excellent.

Who was your favorite character and why?

N/A

Which scene did you most enjoy?

N/A

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

NO

Any additional comments?

This is an important book and demonstrated unequivocally that the pursuit of equality damages the poor as much as the wealthy.
If you've read the Spirit Level you really should read this.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-20-22

Nutty

This has actually convinced me of the merit of the oposing ideas. The arguments here are all on a foundation of silt, highly idological silt.

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  • 1ei1a
  • 11-23-19

Enjoyable book but narrow view

Whilst I agreed with very many of the author's points in this book I do believe the book trivialises reality - espousing that if only people work hard then they will succeed. We know in truth this is not always the case. I am a Capitalist, but my viewpoint is somewhat softer than the author's, I believe in FAIR Capitalism, which I do not believe this book entirely encompasses. It steadfastly hashes out the line that equality is unfair, and to that end I agree that:
- income equality is UNFAIR
- equality of outcome is UNFAIR
- political equality is FAIR
- taxing hardworking individuals in order to provide for those who won't work is UNFAIR
Small gov't low tax regimes are fairer than marxist or socialist regimes because the former does not stifle innovation, ambition and desire to get ahead.

What I do not agree with is the author's stance on the acquisition of wealth (which is not the same as income). Whilst the author is disparaging of the large (ever growing) welfare state and the transfer of payments, redistribution of wealth from those who earned it to those who didn't (a point with which I totally agree) what the author appears to gloss over, is the transfer of wealth from generation to generation: i.e.: inheritance. The author argues that if a person earns his wealth he should be free to do with it what he pleases. But I believe this is true only to a point. When that person dies, the wealth he has accumulated, in my view, ceases to be his because he no longer exists. To simply enable the adult children of these wealthy individuals to benefit from someone else's hard work is absolutely obscene, particularly nowadays given the potential for innovators to amass enormous estates due to Globalisation and the opportunities to sell their ideas worldwide. The children of these people are lucky - no doubt - they will have had no expense spared on their education, housing, every need met. What I do not see as fair is that they then go on to inherit massive fortunes in adulthood. They haven't earned these fortunes any more than the welfare recipients that the author disparages so much.
A second issue I have with this book is the author's insistence that, well, if only a person just works hard they will be successful. The fact of the matter is money talks. Wealthier people have far more access to opportunities and are able to take many more risks than others, inevitably resulting in an ever smaller circle of very wealthy families monopolising the best opportunities available. This is not touched on at all in the book. The way I would tackle this is by going back to the issue of inheritance (discussed above). I would tax inheritance to the friggen HILT. No offspring - NOBODY - should benefit from the hard work of others to the extent that they never have to work a day in their lives because they have been "set up" in the lap of luxury thanks to their father or grandfather's hard work. The tax taken from these large estates, instead of benefitting undeserving offspring, could be used to pay for the communal services we all use (police services, infrastructure maintenance, etc), thus reducing the tax burden on those who are working and in turn providing these people with much more disposal cash to take the risks, innovate and be creative, which is what is now needed to get ahead. Once this inconsistency in society is rectified only then can we say that Capitalism genuinely works.

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  • Allan
  • 08-08-18

Know your enemy!

Interesting look at how those who champion equality are the real enemies of freedom for the individual.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-13-18

Truly Motivational!!!

The 'pie' is not of a fixed size and does not have to be divided. Every one of us can create more. None of the wonderful inventions that make our world possible (whether the indoor plumbing we take for granted and rocket launches that still woo us) arrived by default. They were created by men and women like you and I...

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  • Blakeney
  • 11-13-17

Really well done book!

Detailed and logical. I really enjoyed it. recommend for anyone curious about how inequality works.

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