They don’t give you the full picture, they’re an oversimplification. Sometimes they’re useful, many other times they can lead you to the wrong conclusions. Something can seem unfair on average, but might not be the same when you have a closer look at individual cases.
Take income inequality between men and women. It’s a big deal these days, and it’s an important issue.
In America for example, on average, for every $1 a man makes, a woman makes $0.79. No bueno, right? This can immediately make you imagine a man and a woman working side by side, same job, same conditions and responsibilities, with the woman being paid less.
That’s rarely the case, and it’s the wrong conclusion to draw only from averaging out one set of numbers.
Instead, you have to take in consideration that there are many other variables in play. Even when they have complete freedom and equal opportunity, few women choose tech, and few men choose nursing. We have an inclination towards different types of jobs, women like to open different types of businesses than men, men are more likely to relocate for a job, men are more open to having dangerous or physical jobs, women might have more part-time jobs.
How can you expect us to earn completely equal amounts of money as a whole, on average, when we like to do very different types of jobs, not only on a gender basis, but also on an individual basis?
What if there’s a town that has 60% men, which is very business and startup oriented, very competitive, and another town that has 60% women, which is very artistic and relaxed? Men will simply earn more on average.
Take another example, like physical attraction. This example shows how the most average faces are the most attractive, as a general rule.
But what about the weird people? The ones that LOVE really long hair, or they have a thing for brown eyes, bodybuilders or fat people? Do we just ignore them and focus entirely on the average?
A society based on freedom has to acknowledge the differences that makes us human, such as different temperament, intellectual capacity, personal choices or the level of effort we put into something.
We can’t flatten out the curve towards average, toward sameness, we can’t always equalize the numbers without stepping on our basic liberties. Do we force more men to become nurses, or more women to work in tech, just to get the numbers right?
Couldn’t we instead celebrate our differences and focus on equal opportunity instead of trying to streamline and average out every single thing?