Nozick argues that one of the unchallenged assumptions made by egalitarians is that the have-nots resent the haves only to the extent that the haves possess power and wealth that were unearned. The envious man, if he cannot also possess a talent and success that someone else has prefers that the other not have it either. The envious man prefers neither have it if he does not have it.
An old Russian joke tells of a poor peasant whose better-off neighbour has just bought a cow. In his anguish, the peasant cries out to God for relief from his distress. When God replies and asks him what he wants him to do, the peasant replies “shoot the cow.”
Nozick said that what really rankles the have-nots is the haves who clearly earned their status and possessions:
It may injure one’s self-esteem and make one feel less worthy as a person…
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