from chris dillow here:

For me personally, introspection corroborates all this. I can easily imagine that, with even slightly different upbringing or luck, I would be either considerably richer and “successful” than I am now, or in prison. My “character” is of secondary importance, if indeed it exists at all. As Iris DeMent sang:

And I traveled to a prison; I saw my share of shattered dreams.
Were the tables slightly tilted I could be bound, they could be free.

I mention all this because it’s a big reason why I’m an egalitarian. When I see someone successful and respected, I see – as a tendency with exceptions – not an admirable character but merely the beneficiary of lucky circumstances. And when I see life’s other side – again, with exceptions – I see not bad character but bad luck.
And one reason why I am more attracted than most to the possibility of social change is that the long-run pay-off to greater equality and democracy is precisely the effect it might have in improving people’s behaviour.