THE WEALTH OF VARIETY
It is easy to observe, also empirically, that citizens that are at the same time consumers and final users do not act incoherently in their economic decisions, completely arbitrary and fortuitous. If human necessities and hopes did not have a certain direction, if they were not sufficiently stable, they could not be treated as data by the economist or by the manager. The necessary subjectivism in all choices with economic content is not totally unpredictable; there are coherent rules of conduct. In real life, the managers that we all are, act being based on the possibility of organizing the productive resources of agreement with the premature demand of their potential clients and they even frequently go to experts in market research whose job is, in fact, that of discovering those stable trends of human choice. The whole complicated structural lattice of the modern economic system is developed not following a completely fortuitous process, but coherent with the logical rules of conduct of human nature. Those inertias of the conducts demand a differentiated offer and with more and more important added value. In the vanguard of productive orientation, there are qualitative and dynamic values as well as technological innovation and the capacity to perceive the variations of the social environment. There is not only an over-saturation of products given, but also rather the change in lifestyles and action horizons demand the production of new products and services. When education becomes diffused and culture increases, demand transcends necessities and basic objectives and it is attracted to goods that require a more diversified and sophisticated elaboration. The new horizon that we are already glimpsing in the society of knowledge is in the flexibility of an offer that discovers the necessities of demand and submits to them. Service value, serviceability, appears as an emergent factor.
However, all particular and singular people of each historical moment have an original point of view on objectives, on what is good and appreciable, and what is the best. In that valuation nobody can substitute it. A hammer, a marrow seed, Pentium 1200 computer, a digger or a digital clock is seen with different economic eyes by a farmer, a blacksmith, a housewife, a bricklayer, a computer specialist and a judge or sports referee. “There is always reason to judge that which one knows, and regarding it one is a good judge.” There is an inequality and differentiation, innate in man’s characteristics and capacities to estimate relationships of convenience in the diverse situations of life and to materialize or carry out different manual or intellectual tasks.
There is only equality with regard to peoples’ self respect: men or women, children, young or old, tall or short, rich or poor, white, black or yellow, ugly or handsome, healthy or sick; and with regard to equality before the law. The equality of results (that all are the same, that all have exactly the same, whether they work or not) cannot be confused with equality before the law or with equal self-respect. Equality compatible with freedom and responsibility is equality before the legal norms that state coercion should respect and before the rules that men accept voluntarily in their relationships with their fellow men. The defence of equality before the law and before the rules of the game of life, together with respect for freedom, responsibility and competition allows efficiency to appear in the use of resources.
It is only equality from that perspective. In the rest fortunately everything is different, everything is diverse and full of original nuances. Equality in as much as egalitarianism and homogeneity among individuals is an impossibility. It is unnatural to try to avoid variety and inequality. The words of Hayek are significant: The limitless variety of human nature, the wide degree of differences in the potentiality and the individuals’ capacity is one of the most precise realities that the human species offers.” Variety (inequality in this sense) is positive and allows progress. Homogeneity is futile while variety is complementary and fertile. Egalitarianism is monotonous, boring and it impoverishes. The differences enrich the whole. It is a generating variety of wealth, of value. Differentiation also makes human cooperation necessary and convenient, in such a way that specialized and joint action has an effectiveness and is of a greater productivity than isolated individual action.
A five thousand peseta note does not have the same value for someone who only just has enough to buy food, for an employee of an appliance store, for a manager of a successful multinational company or for one of the 10 biggest fortunes of Spain. For that reason we can conclude with Ortega and Gasset saying that “the perspective is one of the components of reality. Far from being its deformation, it is its organization. A reality that seen from any point is always identical is an absurd concept. (…) Two different individuals-it was thought -arrive at divergent conclusions. Now we see that the divergence between the worlds of two individuals does not imply the falsehood of one of them. On the contrary in fact, because what each one sees is a reality and not fiction, it has to have a different aspect from that which another perceives. That divergence is not a contradiction, but a supplement.”
JJ Franch Meneu