By Bryan Caplan
If people envy people richer than themselves, I say we should fight envy, not inequality. A number of people have objected that “Envy is ‘hard-wired.'” They’re right – but it doesn’t matter.
Why not? Most, if not all, of our emotions are hard-wired. We’re hard-wired to resent it when strangers take our stuff without our consent. We’re hard-wired to yell at people who make us angry. And judging from how sexist kids are – even faced with constant adult objections – I’d add that humans are probably hard-wired to be sexist, too.
The catch, in every case, is that “hard-wired” does not mean fixed. All humans may feel these emotions to some extent. But there’s plenty of room to maneuver. You can become less envious than you are. Make an effort to monitor your thoughts and behavior. Count your blessings. Give credit where credit is due. Focus on improving yourself instead of comparing yourself to other people. Spend more time with less envious people.
Will you achieve the nirvana of zero envy? Probably not. But you will become less envious and more enviable at the same time.