Megan McArdle had a good post the other day pointing out the inconsistency of those who want to tax income at a higher rate because the rich supposedly get utility from spite. That is, the rich are made to feel better than people who have less money because of their relative positions.
She used peoples’ natural endowments for beauty and height as another way that people make themselves feel better at the “expense” of others. She facetiously asked why we don’t throw acid on Cindy Crawford to even out the distribution of beauty in the country. She also noted that beauty, unlike money in most cases, is not earned but is instead an accident of nature.
I think Megan’s point was a good one, particularly in terms of pointing out the inconsistencies of those who favor “cutting the tall poppies down”. I don’t favor it in either case and simply hope for a bit of modesty to restrain peoples’ worst instincts — like puffing themselves up in their minds based on their endowments, earned and unearned. It’s still a good discussion.